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Starting today, this season’s edition of ReadySetDC’s indie DC fashion runway show concept gets expanded into a weekend long Eastern Market take-over of designer meet and greets, shopping, and yes, catwalking too.  This year’s featured designers include some old faces and new: Artaya, Cote Minou, DeNada Design, Derringer Friday, Durkl, Espion, Ginger Root Design, Hugh & Crye and SaintCHIC. To let you prepare for what to expect this weekend, we sent them all a dozen questions and here’s what we got in return:

  • How did it all begin?

DURKL: DURKL began with 1 tee shirt in 2005.  We have since grown our collection to include denim, outerwear, accessories and more.  DURKL is internationally distributed in boutiques all over the globe, including China, Australia, and Europe.


(photo from DURKL fall/winter lookbook)

GINGER ROOT: Ginger Root Design opened its doors on September 18th, 2010. The clothing and neckwear in the shop are designed and sewn by the 2 owners, who love to repurpose and show people how eco-friendly can be classy. The art and accessories at Ginger Root are created by local artists, with the one exception of Metal Musings–a jeweler out of Wisconsin, who is also the mother of Ginger Root owner, Erin Derge.

Ginger Root Design was born out of a combination of events. Kristen Swenson moved to DC with a waitressing job in September of 2009, and by November she started her own tailoring business (by the name of ReVamp) out of her apartment in the Shaw neighborhood. Three months later, Swenson was in need of an additional tailor and called up her best friend in Minnesota, Erin Derge. By the end of the conversation, Erin agreed to move out to DC within the month. The girls quickly became busy with new customers and discovered their niche of repurposing old items from people’s closets that they weren’t wearing, but also couldn’t quite seem to let go of. The girls loved working with customers on how they could redesign and update the item into their new “favorite” item.

After 2 months, it became clear that the friends had already outgrown their apartment tailoring shop, and they began to look for studios. One very important day, Swenson and Derge sat out on the sidewalk enjoying the sun after a long day sewing, and they both admitted to their crazy dreams of each wanting to open their own shop. Both girls, trying not to give away their excitement said “That would be nice…” and realized without even saying it that they were going to make it happen. The girls found the perfect space and realized that there was the slightest possibility of having their own store–they just had to transform the space in 6 weeks…while each tailoring 60 hours a week. So obviously they went for it.

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(the ginger root girls)

DERRINGER FRIDAY: Derringer Friday was founded by two friends from Athens, Georgia, expatriated in the great city of Washington, DC.

SAINTCHiC: That’s a loaded question. It began when I only wanted to wear dresses when I was 3. It began when I used to wear mis-matched shoes in the 80’s. “It”, actually begins every day. I’m always doing something exciting, going somewhere exciting and designing something new. Now, I’m not even sure which “it” you’re referring to, but “it” has surely begun and will never end.

ESPION: Sitting on the floor of my mother’s closet as a little girl. I would marvel at all of the beautiful things in there: the way the silk felt, the way the leather smelled, and when I got tired and wanted to nap I’d choose this incredibly soft, warm cashmere coat to wrap myself in. More recently, the ESPION collection came from a Bardot pink remnant of double faced cashmere I had in my stockpile of fabrics. I was thinking I want to wrap myself in that and walk down the street and just feel fabulous! So I sketched the dress and by the next morning the whole collection was done. It felt like a gift…I had never been so inspired. I really felt ready.

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(ESPION looks)

  • Tell us about the name, and why of all the other names available in the world, why, why did you choose it?

DURKL: DURKL is a word we made up to establish our brand.

GINGER ROOT: We’re just two redheads getting back to the roots of handmade.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: We’ve always liked the classic approach of naming a clothing house after the founder or the lead designer (Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Chanel, Rubinacci, LL Bean), a practice also employed by many leading non-clothing firms like Jack Daniels, Ford, and Carl’s Jr. Not content to leave well enough alone, we created pseudonyms and then lent fictitious names to the company rather than our real ones.

SAINTCHiC: SAINTCHiC is all about repairing the karma of the fashion world. We (the fashion world) suck in the best way possible. We over-do everything, call people fat, and sometimes throw phones at assistants, which is bad. So sometimes I feel like a SAINT (by making donations from the profit of the line, and trying to be as sustainable as possible), and I always feel CHiC, so it just made sense.


(photo: SaintCHic)

ESPION: I chose the name ESPION because I’ve always been drawn to the spy culture. I have all of Ian Fleming’s James Bond books. The Bond movies, especially the old ones, depicted a lifestyle that I love, one that I live in tiny pieces throughout my every day life. Just buying a sexy new gadget thanks to the late genius, Steve Jobs or pulling on a sexy pair of latex tights from Agent Provocateur, it makes me feel amazing…. and I’ve had some amazing experiences. I am never tired of the glamour and mystery of the spy culture.

  • Who/what is your style inspiration?

DURKL: America is our style inspiration.

GINGER ROOT: Al, the hologram guy from “Quantum Leap.” We can’t explain it, we just love everything he wears.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: Southern peacocks, Savile Row, stiff upper lips, Italian playboys, cowboys, and well dressed professors in university liberal arts departments. And also, pretty women, because let’s not pretend that has nothing to do with the desire to dress well.

SAINTCHiC: For the S/S 2012 capsule, I’m overly inspired by Peggy Guggenheim and West Africa. Travel is a big inspiration. Peggy G was a bohemian modern art lover who died in Venice, so some of my fabrics are from Italy. Some of my fabrics are also from West Africa

ESPION: My style icons are Tracee Ellis Ross, Kate Moss and Gwyneth Paltrow. They change often as I have many different women whose style I absolutely love, even when they’re having an off day, it’s still great. On the other hand, my inspiration has been me. This brand is extremely personal to me, it is everything I would buy if it was already out there.

  • Define “stylish”?

DURKL: DURKL is stylish.


(photo from DURKL fall/winter lookbook)

GINGER ROOT: Being stylish is just expressing your individuality through your clothing. Have fun and don’t be afraid to take risks. As long as you like it and feel confident, you’ll look great.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: For us style is all about self presentation, so someone being stylish has more to do with being comfortable in one’s skin and having the presence of mind to elect how you to present yourself to the world and less to do with wearing any one piece, or type, of clothing.

SAINTCHiC: STYLISH is knowing what works and what doesn’t.

ESPION: My definition of stylish is pretty broad. Even as my taste is very well defined I appreciate and really love how so many different people put themselves together. It’s just getting dressed with confidence, rocking something you can tell wasn’t found blended up that way on a mannequin. Being “stylish” makes people on the street walk up to you and say “you look great” even though it’s something they never thought to wear. It inspires.

  • if I was to compare my collection to a song/movie/book it would be?

GINGER ROOT: “The ArchAndroid” by Janelle Monae. We listened to it a lot last summer/fall while we were opening the store and working on our first collection, so there’s tons of memories associated with that album. Plus we love how her fashion and music totally have a modern/retro mash-up. It fits our style very well.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: Most of our clothes are inspired, to at least some extent, by the collected works of Mr. Conway Twitty.

SAINTCHiC: “Glass Table Girls” by The Weekend


ESPION: Song: Kanye West’s Power, Movies: The Thomas Crown Affair and Diabolique, Book: The Alchemist (great story of the rewards of faith and perseverance)

  • In an ideal universe I would get to dress….(insert name.s.)

GINGER ROOT: Janelle Monae, Florence Welch, Joseph Gordon Levitt

DERRINGER FRIDAY: George Clooney, Ryan Gossling, or in a back to the future scenario, Neil Armstrong.

SAINTCHiC: 2/3rds of the population. I’m thinking world domination.

ESPION: Beyonce, Michele Obama, Jennifer Lopez, Kerri Washington, Gwenyth Paltrow, Alicia Keys, Scarlett Johannsen, Brittany Spears, Taraji P. Henson, Kerry Washington and on and on…


(photo: Ginger Root)

  • If I could make over one person in this whole wide world it would be? (insert name and describe what
    exactly you would do to them)

GINGER ROOT: While we know she already has amazing style, we’d love to get Michelle Obama in some of our eco-friendly designs. She has a perfect platform of showing how repurposing and redesign can be classy instead of crafty. We would love to recycle one of her old event dresses, re-cutting it so she could wear it again, and it be completely unrecognizable from before. Also, we make custom Lady Ties…so she could riffle through Barack’s tie collection and pick out something that’s a little worn or maybe less “presidential” and we would make her a new accessory (which would go perfectly with the pencil skirts and sweaters we’d dress her in for fall).

DERRINGER FRIDAY: The obvious answer here would be a celebrity or some other public figure, but this being America–where no one person is any more important than anyone else (dammit)–we’d make over someone at random. Our advice would be highly contingent upon individual circumstance.

SAINTCHiC: Kim Kardashian, I’d make her dress more like Kourtney.

ESPION: My dream makeover would be Britney Spears, I would give her platinum blonde hair and vamp her style up. I would add some very grown up things into her wardrobe like pencil skirts and and body hugging sheath dresses, mixed with latex tights, sequined rock star blazers with the power shoulders and on and on! I would love to work with her.

  • I say DC fashion you say….

DURKL: … we say DURKL

GINGER ROOT: … emerging.


SAINTCHiC: Quiet but getting louder.

ESPION: It’s here! The right eyes need to find it and showcase it.


(photo: Derringer Friday men by Brandon Bloch)

  • Why are you stoked to do fashion:District (presuming you are stoked, of course)?

DURKL: We are always stoked to do fashion district, especially this year in Eastern Market

GINGER ROOT: It’s always cool to see what other local designers are up to. And we’re really excited about what we’ve been working on for fall, so getting feedback will be fantastic. Plus we still get giddy watching our models walk the runway.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: We are stoked. Why? Jordan and the rest of the ReadySet team consistently put on a great, well executed event, and we feel privileged to continue to be a part of it.

SAINTCHiC: Totally stoked dude, because, well, all of the beautiful people will be in the building.

ESPION: I love this group of people for what they do and the way they do it. They are so stylish and cool, everything is done with the relaxed elegance that I love. It’s so DC.


(ESPION looks)

  • Whose collection are you most excited to see and why?

DURKL: We are really excited to see everyone else in the show.

GINGER ROOT: We always love to see what Artaya’s been up to. She uses bright colors, bold prints, and clean lines to create some truly amazing garments. And THEN you notice her handmade paper jewelry. Totally awesome.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: It’s a split between Durkl and Hugh and Crye–talented guys behind both lines.

SAINTCHiC: I’m only excited to see mine.


(SAINTCHiC dress)

  • Why should people come to your booth/location/hub and spend all their hard earned money there?

DURKL: People should come to DURKL and spend their hard earned nickels because we work really hard 2047 on our seasonal collections.

GINGER ROOT: When you come to Ginger Root Design (1530 U St. NW), you can not only check out our line (designed and produced entirely by us in the backroom of the shop), but also find jewelry, accessories, and prints by eleven other local artists. You can meet the people that create the items for sale, actually seeing where/who your money is going to. Plus- you score some one-of-a-kind clothing and accessories. It’s a win-win situation.

Screen shot 2011-10-13 at 10.09.03 PM

(Ginger Root lady tie)

DERRINGER FRIDAY: Well, one of the nice things about accessories is that you don’t have to spend all of your hard earned money to get something new to spruce up your look. Other than that? We have well designed, well made, and unique ties that will make you look fly as fuck, should you elect to wear one.

SAINTCHiC: They should spend their hard earned money at my hub because I’ll have an exclusive top there for under $50, and parts of the profits will go to the DC Fashion Foundation.

ESPION: The ESPION collection is made of heirloom quality, investment pieces. The clothing is handmade and expertly tailored, designed and constructed to fit in your wardrobe for life. And it is also made to measure, to fit your body like no “off the rack” garment ever will.

  • What is the 1 thing you feel no man and/or woman (I guess it can be 2 things-one for a man and one for a woman) should go without this fall?


GINGER ROOT: For women, our lady ties are a fall accessory staple. They’re perfect for work, worn over a blouse or sweater, or pair them with a vintage dress and lacy black tights for a night out. Completely versatile, and we can’t get dressed without them. As for the dudes, we’ve got to say that a man in a vest gets to us every time. There’s something about a guy in a well fitted vest, with a button down shirt -sleeves rolled up- that we can really appreciate. Goodbye summer t-shirts, and hello to a more tailored fall.

DERRINGER FRIDAY: A tweed or waxed cotton tie. Use it to add some unexpected texture to your wardrobe.

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(Derringer Friday Tie)

SAINTCHiC: No man, man woman or child can go without the SAINTCHiC CLOAK. I’m not biased by those who like to cross dress. Hahaha! Seriously though, the CLOAK and the ERGO are actually for Women. Men shouldn’t go without their best girl by their side (wink).

ESPION: A man needs a proper double breasted cashmere coat, in the 60’s style of Mad Men. It’ll keep him looking quite Bond-ish all season long. A woman should have a piece of fur. A vest, a muff, a hat, etc. Whether it’s real or faux, this season she has to give her wardrobe the supercharged shot of glamour that only fur can inject.