Natalia Allen, Clothing Designer, Woman Entrepreneur
Natalia told me that she was always picky. As a kid, her mother would take her shopping for clothes and she would walk around and find nothing that worked for her. The fabrics were not right, she didn't love the cut, she wanted it longer, etc. Her mother was a smart women, she gave Natalia a sewing machine and taught her the basics of sewing. Soon Natalia was making her own clothes and she would literally sell them off her back to friends in high school. It is not surprising that Natalia chose to go to Parsons after high school.
Natalia could be labeled as a serial intern. It was through that where she learned the real trades of the garment center. She worked at the Gap part-time in the visual merchandising area in college. She also worked at Ralph Rucci, an underwear company and Christina Perrin. The one company that really caught her attention was from a group of people who came out of the ITP department at NYU who were working on a wearable collaborative technology. It made Natalia start to think about that merger.
In 2004, Natalia graduated from Parsons with the distinct honor of getting the designer of the year award. She had presented a high tech fashion collection with an online site merging textiles and technology. She was working with lasers to get rid of all the seams. It was an honor to be put in the category with other graduated notables such as Alexander Wang, Donna Karan, Anna Sui, Thakoon and Marc Jacobs to name a few.
She was able to graduate and begin consulting. There was a huge article that had come out in NY Magazine about all the designers that had graduated from Parsons so she leveraged that to get consulting gigs. The creative director of Donna Karan contacted her when she saw the tech fabrics she was working on. They literally set aside a budget for Natalia to think differently about new fabric concepts and designs. They wanted someone to think deeper which is why they kept her as a consultant instead of bringing her into the company. She did that for two years.
Her next gig was at Calvin Klein working in the mens division developing a new line of denim. The denim has this very cool rusted feel that was very American and iconic. It was 2008 when she completed the project and then entire world teetered. It was an interesting time. Natalia was also doing a project for British Tel-com reporting to the head of design. Her value has always been that she is a disruptive thinker and taking those thoughts through a process and executing on them. She cares about how the product is made, where does it come from and how can we do it better?
Natalia was elected into the World Economic Forum where she began to speak globally about the intersection of production and design with technology. It is through interdisciplinary design where she started to talk and think about sustainability and changing the way products are being developed.
She loved speaking around the world and going to beautiful places but through a chance meeting in 2011, as she had been thinking about starting her own company because it would so much more gratifying if she could use the products she talks about and create them herself. Someone asked her what that would look like and gave her the funding to start.
The first 3 months in her own company, she spent going around to different factories and learning technique. At Parsons you learn alot about design but not about production. So she trained herself working backwards and taking internships at factories to learn the rudiments of manufacturing.
Natalias products are seamless. The fabric is super light. The dresses weigh less than 4 ounces each. The vision is not to have a fashion collection but a line of essential foundations for a woman's wardrobe. Going back to sustainability she wants to make sure that the items she makes are architecturally sound and of great quality so you can continue to wear Natalia's clothes for years to come.