Studio Tour: Tara St James’ Airy Williamsburg Work Space

Tara St James of Study shows us around her bright Brooklyn studio.

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Catherine Blair Pfander
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Montreal native Tara St James launched her collection, Study, committed to delivering sustainably crafted fashion with the same level of craftsmanship and careful tailoring she'd brought to her previous endeavor, Covet. We swung by the designer's airy Williamsburg studio for a closer look at her process.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Having launched her new collection in 2009, St James strives to keep the collection from being pigeonholed into an "eco-friendly" niche. "I want people to be interested first because they love and want to buy the clothes, and discover that it's sustainable later," she explains.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
That said, the brand's eco chops are tough to ignore, having won the prestigious Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award last year for its efforts in sustainable design (which include everything from using waterless dye processes to collaborating with Indian lap-loom weavers who work in electricity-free environments).
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Each season, St James works to literally "study," or explore a specific element of production through her collection. "For next spring I wanted to explore the idea of transparency," she said, "not just with the textiles and materials—which are kind of sheer or see-through—but also transparency of production." Here, an image that inspired the transparency concept.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
While St James tends to gravitate toward simple shapes and classic patterns, she says digital prints as well as funky dye techniques (like this cool shibori-dyed oxford shirt) are becoming increasingly important for Study.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
"I think I'm getting girlier," laughs the designer, referring to this bold digital pattern (manufactured with AirDye, which offers a unique, waterless dye process).
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Likewise, this playful shoulderless sundress from Study's current season has a definite girly-girl appeal.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Nonetheless, St James' menswear background (she studied classic men's tailoring in Montreal before relocating to the States) definitely comes through in the collection. Here, one of her sketches for a single-button blazer.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
While all the garments are pieced together in New York's Garment District, a number of St James' fabric treatments (including knit work) is done in-studio. Here, the knitting machine used to create a number of Study's plush sweaters.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
St James is extremely hands-on with the finishings and detail-work involved in the line. "I'm really liking this cross pattern lately," she explains of an unusual hand-sewn textile being developed for the next collection.
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Catherine Blair Pfander
Likewise, this cool, grid-like print was created using pieces of wall plaster tape (inspired by builders in her studio installing a new shelf unit). Check out the complete Study collection at www.study-ny.com.
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