An Interview with Carrie Asby of Sutter Larkin

Sutter Larkin believes that a positive image on the outside starts with feeling good on the inside. To get there, one-of-a kind designs are used to bring out the best in each individual who puts on a Sutter Larkin ensemble.

Head designer, Carrie Asby, brings Sutter Larkin to life by mixing colors and textures unexpectedly and creating harmonious results. Each design had its own playful twist. Read more in our interview below.

Tell us about family background – geography, culture, language, and religion.

I was raised in the beautiful state of Oregon. My parents are outdoor enthusiasts and have respect for our role on this planet. “Take only memories; leave only footprints” was taught to me at a very young age. My mother also taught alternative energy to high school students through the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. In our house, we didn’t just talk about the 3 R’s (reducing, reusing and recycling) we lived it. Being an environmentalist is not a title for me; it’s who I am.

Sutter Larkin Poncho

Tell us about your story – education, prior work, and so on?

I’ve known that I’ve always wanted to be a designer. Right out of high school I moved to San Francisco to make an attempt. I wasn’t ready for it and got totally overwhelmed; I was 18 without any experience. With my tail between my legs, I returned to OR. I ended up getting into advertising.

After attending Burning Man in 2008, clothing design found its way back into my life. I was making costumes for the event as a way to express myself. I started wearing some of those items out.

20 years after I left San Francisco, I returned. This time wiser, with more life experience. One night out, my entire ensemble was designed and created by me. We were in a bar directly across the street from wear I lived when I was 18. A woman approached me, inquiring about my outfit. She was convinced I was an established designer.

That was my sign to get back into fashion. So I left my 20-year career in advertising and dove right in.

How did you get interested in ethical and sustainable fashion?

There wasn’t another option for me, really. Being an environmentalist is who I am. Designing clothes is what I do. First starting out, I was surrounded by eco-designers, too. We were a community supporting each other and growing together. They definitely influenced me.

What makes slow fashion better than fast fashion?

First there’s the bottom line: you get a better return on your dollar spent. Slow fashion is better quality and will last longer. Slow fashion also tends to be local which helps with community and employment. It also has the ability to adapt and adjust; nimbler.

Climate change represents one of the biggest medium- to long-term threats to human survival in reasonable forms. The Government of Canada, NASA, the David Suzuki Foundation, The Royal Society, The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and numerous others discuss this. Ethical and sustainable fashion relates to it. The reductions in hydrocarbon production from sustainable materials seem imperative sustain the further deterioration of the atmosphere, the biosphere, and the environment. What seems like the responsibilities of ethical and sustainable fashion companies in the prevention of climate catastrophe?

Fast Fashion is the second dirtiest industry in the world, next to big oil. That pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it? If the fashion industry evolved to sustainable practices, images the impact.

What is Sutter Larkin?

Sutter Larkin celebrates individuals, not the masses. I create one-of-a-kind garments that enhance your one-of-a-kind style. Every piece as unique as the person who wears it.

As part of my “thoughtful design” practices and the love of this beautiful planet, I only work with responsibly purchased materials. This could be either rescued cast-offs or up-cycled vintage gems. I take the unwanted and turn them into the wanted.

What inspired the title of the organization?

Sutter and Larkin are two streets in San Francisco that cross. On that corner I failed as a designer. 20 years later, on that same corner, I was discovered as a designer. That’s where I get the same of my line, Sutter Larkin.

What are the main fibres and fabrics used in the products?

I try to work with all natural fibers as much as I can. However, my first protocol is that they are being prevented from going into the landfill.

Who grows, harvests, designs, and manufactures the products of Sutter Larkin?

As of now, I do it all. I design for the collection then collect the materials. All of this is done be foot, bike or public transportation. I clean with vinegar and backing soda and air dry as much as possible. I cut, sew and assemble, as well as tag. Then I photograph and write text for each item and post to my store. Last, I market as much as I can.

Did someone mentor you?

No. I learned everything from rolling up my sleeves and diving right in.

Have you mentored others?

Not yet, but I plan to.

What might make men more involved in the fashion world in general?

More involved? I would say that men are heavily involved already. Despite the fact that most fashion brands are catering mostly to women, very few are led by them.

What might make men more involved in the ethical and sustainable fashion world in general?

The bottom line. Educating them on eco approaches that will be more profitable in the end.

Will having men in the discussion and on-the-ground improve the implementation of children’s and women’s rights?

Absolutely.

What personal fulfillment comes from this work for you?

When my fans send me notes on how they got stopped on the street because of the way they were carrying themselves; they were walking with confidence because they were wearing a Sutter Larkin just for them. I love hearing how good they feel.

Any other work at this time?

I teach yoga and style, as well.

Any recommended authors or fashionistas (or fashionistos)?

Stacy London.

Any recommended means of contacting, even becoming involved with, you?

Right now, I would love consultation on how to get in front of my audience. Email is the best approach. carrie@SutterLarkin.com

What seems like the greatest emotional struggle in business for you?

Getting my collections in front of the right market; having people understand the price and value it.

What philosophy makes most sense of life to you?

Yoga.

Any feelings or thoughts in conclusion based on the conversation today?

A lot of content/questions. Are you familiar with the book Made to Stick? It’s a great guide to getting ideas/messages across clearly and concise. It’s a great read. I highly recommend it.

Thank you for your time, Carrie.

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About the Author

Scott Douglas Jacobsen researches and presents independent panels, papers, and posters, and with varied research labs and groups, and part-time in landscaping and gardening, and runs In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal.

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