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Fischer Clothing
A former costume designer applies the farm-to-table approach to her made-in-NY apparel
by Nara Shin
on 25 September 2013
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Operating out of her apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, Kristina Angelozzi is a firm believer in quality over quantity. Sewing since she was a child, she started her own label almost four years ago with the goal of "making sartorially classic, American-style clothing" that's actually made in the US. Using timeless fabrics with structured, clean lines, Fischer Clothing offers modern, approachable apparel that blurs the line between menswear and womenswear—and is sure to cut down on those hours spent rummaging through the racks at vintage stores.

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Raised in Baltimore, Angelozzi worked as a costume designer at Allenberry—a small family-owned resort and theater in Pennsylvania, with a mountain range as the backdrop—where she sewed corsets, lion costumes and period suits, "as much from scratch as humanly possible" for musicals like the "Wizard of Oz" and "The Pirates of Penzance." "We all lived in these little cottages, kind of like a 'Dirty Dancing' situation," she recalls. Angelozzi's fascination with menswear, which she later studied at Parsons, came from the constant exposure to suits, shirts and suspenders.

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After graduating from Parsons, Angelozzi worked at Hanes, the Gap and the now-defunct indie label Mooka Kinney (one half of the founding duo, Rachel Antonoff, would go on to create her eponymous line, a current cult-status hit). Perhaps inspired by Antonoff's decision, which also happened around the same time, Angelozzi quit her job at Gap to freelance and start Fischer Clothing; "I realized if I was going to give it a shot I'd better do it soon before I get too comfy just being a corporate drone."

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Describing her design process, Angelozzi says, "The initial inspiration always comes from the fabrics themselves. One of the most exciting parts of the season is scouring the earth for beautiful fabrics, and letting them tell me what they want to be. Though I do both men's and women's lines, I still try to think of it as a whole and use almost entirely the same fabrics and details." She reveals that some of her go-to sources are quilting fabric stores, "as hardcore quilt nerds will stock up on batiks, ikats and beautiful, less traditional fabrics," and she also researches printing mills around the world for unusual prints or production processes.

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Angelozzi's fall collection was heavily inspired by the Early American Arts & Crafts movement. "Their design principles fit right in with my current state of mind: Live simply, stay connected to nature, maintain integrity, find joy in work and create objects that are well-designed and affordable." She also cites Leslie Williamson's book "Handcrafted Modern," where the photographer captured the homes and interiors of influential mid-century designers, as the "perfect example of how these philosophies translate into architecture, art and interior design." She continues, "When I designed with this mindset, the result was a little homespun, or handcrafted in feeling and the lines are very clean. I used minimal color and the patterns are all hand printed by wood blocks."

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Having the opportunity to examine pieces from the fall collection in person, what struck us the most was Angelozzi's attention to smaller details, which likely comes from her costume-making background. While the same fabric may be used for both women's and men's pieces, the designer chooses different buttons for a subtle contrast; turning out one of the cleanly hidden pockets on a women's top shows an intricate checkered pattern. The fabrics she uses are lightweight and have a natural texture. "I use mostly cotton with a blend of linen, hemp or silk. I try to keep everything down to the buttons made of biodegradable materials, so that when it does finally meet its end, it will break down and go back to the earth."

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The past four years have been a continuous hands-on learning experience, as Angelozzi hand-makes samples in her bedroom, packs orders out of her kitchen and talks to customers first-hand. "I still make about 15% of the production myself and the rest goes to a local NYC factory I've been working with since I've started. They do an incredible job and have a small loyal staff of patternmakers and sewers. It's a great feeling for me to be connected to that part of the process and do a small part to keep the industry alive."

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"America has a huge history in textile and garment manufacturing, which has sadly been decaying all around us for the past century. I like the idea of protecting the craft, as well as the jobs created by it. When I began the line in 2009, it was probably the height of the financial collapse and unemployment was and still is a huge problem. Manufacturing here just feels right; if I'm going to make products, I want to do it the best way possible. If people want cheap, imported products—there's plenty of that already around." Through her commitment to sustainable materials and local production, Angelozzi hopes to contribute to "the shift towards ethical consumption and simple living."

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Keep an eye out for Fischer Clothing's spring line, which Angelozzi describes as "mid-century Palm Springs style" with bold, nature-inspired prints and loose shapes. "It's about leisure and fun," she promises.

To view the fall collection and a full list of stockists, visit Fischer Clothing's website. Prices range from $90 to $160.

Lookbook images courtesy of Edwin Tse, Fischer studio images courtesy of Emma Jane Kepley, product photo by Nara Shin

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