Interview with Tara St. James of Study NY

Study Short S Tshirt

Tell us a little about yourself: A little? I like organizing socks.  And email inbox folders.

Where are you from? When and why did you move to New York? I was born and raised in Montreal where I studied menswear tailoring and design.  I moved to New York in 2004 to start a clothing company called Covet (under the umbrella of another brand).  I love Montreal, it's an incredible city, but I outgrew the fashion industry there very quickly and was drawn to the pace of New York.

When and why did you start Study? In 2009, after working on Covet for 5 years, my design career was going in a very different direction from that of the company I worked for, so I decided to leave.  Starting Study happened somewhat accidentally.  I was a part of the sustainable design community in New York (because Covet was made using environmentally friendly materials) and I was invited to show at NYFW when the GreenShows started.  I had no collection to show, so I started Study.  That was my first collection, for the Spring of 2010.

What does sustainable mean to you? I have a checklist of sustainability tenets (see attached), and on my blog.  If I can check off at least 3 items from the list with each garment, then I will consider it sustainable and therefore eligible to be branded Study.  But checklist aside, I don't believe another human, animal or the environment should have to suffer for fashion.  It's as simple as that.

Where is Study produced? Study is designed and developed in my studio in Brooklyn, and produced entirely in New York City's garment district (aka midtown Manhattan)

Study NY Studio

You say that you don’t subscribe to a traditional fashion calendar. Why have you moved away from this? The fashion calendar never felt right for me.  When I started Study in 2009 it was with a collection called The Square Project, a collection of zero waste garments made using squares, and it was intended to be more of a research project than a collection – hence the name, STUDY – but I was quickly absorbed into the fashion system and therefore the calendar.  It took until now for me to realize that I didn't have to subscribe to anything, and I could create my own calendar.

What is your definition of an ideal wardrobe? A combination of classic basics (for me that's a stripe tee, jeans, oxfords, a blazer and pleated trousers) mixed in with unexpected updates on the classics.  I like to praise the virtues of a minimalist wardrobe, but when I find something I like (ie. I design something I need), I tend to own 4 or 5 of the same thing in different colours and fabrics, so I'm not sure I'm practicing what I preach.

What does it mean to design a garment with zero waste? Zero waste is a philosophy in pattern making. Timo Rissanen would give a better definition than I could, but basically it is a combination of fashion design and puzzle making, creating a pattern that utilizes all the fabric when it is cut (rather than repurposing the leftover scraps for unnecessary ornamentation on a garment).

Do you have any future or ideal plans for Study that you would like to share with us? Now that I have eliminated seasons from my calendar I have opened myself up to a lot more collaborations. I have a shibori dyed t-shirt group coming out for Ghostly Records, and a print collaboration with Jason Cantoro, a screenprint artist from Montreal, as well as a weaving collaboration with a cooperative in Uganday, which I'm very excited about.

Study Shorts

How old are you? 36

Describe what you are wearing: In the summer I wear a lot of stripes, usually navy / off-white, with jean shorts.  I just counted, I own 8 stripe tees.  Don't ask why.

How would you describe your personal style? Who or what influences your style? I'm still very influenced by menswear.  I have a strong affinity for anything loose fitting but well tailored, with subtle details.

Study NY Studio

What do you never leave home without? Keys, phone, wallet, keys, phone, wallet...

What makes you feel beautiful? Ambika's hand crocheted bikini

What is your favorite spring recipe? You'll have to check out my Pinterest board for recipes, I tend to make whatever is in the fridge, but I do like to experiment a lot.  We've been eating a lot of fish tacos with homemade salsa this Spring.

This entry was originally posted on Zoe's Fashion Feed on 05/22/2013 under Designer Interviews