Rarely do I see a line of kids clothes and think, “Hmmm, I wonder if this comes in adult sizes.” But Oil & Water, a sophisticated new line of rain gear for girls designed by Darien resident Amy Wismar, has me thinking exactly that. Unfortunately for me, Wismar’s rain gear with fashion forward styling and a sprinkling of couture detailing are only available to girls size 10. The fashion forward line includes a frilly opera coat, a metallic gold field jacket, a slick tan and red macintosh, and a mod 60’s style cape with faux fur lining…puddle jumping just got a whole lot more stylish.
I had a chance to catch up with Amy and learn about how she launched her rainwear line…here’s what she said!
Fairfieldista: Did you work in the fashion industry before starting your own company? What did you do?
Amy: No, I didn’t! But wow have I learned a lot these past 2 years! Before, I worked in the telecommunications industry doing marketing/marketing communications/events for many years. There is a lot of creativity designing sales campaigns, events and parties … but my ‘right-brained’ self was craving more.
Fairfieldista: Why did you decide to design rain wear for girls? Why that niche?
Amy: I have always sketched clothes even as a little girl… but once I had quit my marketing job, I was looking for a creative outlet. I decided to sketch and make a muslin mockup of one of the ponchos I had designed. We went on vacation with friends who had at one time owned an outerwear company and he said ‘just go have some samples made’ So I did! And the story begins there… I decided to make it a rainwear line afterwards, to really make it a niche… I didn’t want to compete with every clothing line that made a coat, jacket or cape. That was too much. I wanted a smaller market – fashion rainwear was it. While many designers may make one piece, an entire collection of fashion forward, designer rainwear was unique.
Fairfieldista: I love the designs – they’re so fun, yet practical! Tell us about what went into designing the jackets and what’s special about them.
Amy: What is special about this line is the detail in each of these coats that you rarely see in rainwear; doublestitching and piped trim, logo’d hardware, fully lined even the inside of the pockets, faux fur lining on some and the list goes on. I labored over every jacket being just right down to the smallest details. Secondly, I sourced fabrics from multiple vendors until I found the vendor that would make the fabric I was envisioning. We created the houndstooth gold print on the white jackets and then coated them with a matte coating. We created the tan weave print until it had the perfect amount of white woven into the tan, and we customized every color of patent. This makes them truly unique. And the handfeel of the fabrics is soft and comfortable to wear. The patents and metallics have an underlying knit tricot fabric that makes them soft and flexible.
Fairfieldista: How did you source the fabrics for the rain wear?
Amy: I went to TexWorld and other shows, as well as used consultants to help me find the fabric resources. Although it would have been easier to have my factory source the fabrics from one provider, I ended up sourcing from various providers and countries to get the highest quality and most luxurious handfeel by fabric type.
Fairfieldista: Where are they produced?
Amy: I initially started working with a factory in NYC Garment District to make my samples and also produce the line. But it was too costly for them to make, as the coated fabrics were breaking the machines. So they moved the cut and sew to a factory they source to in China, but kept the account and account person here in NYC. It would be my dream to be able to someday make them here. Another detail – my patterns, grading and marking were all completed here in NYC to ensure the sizing and patterns were correct before sending them overseas.
Fairfieldista: In addition to purchasing online and at the Darien Sport Shop, where else can Fairfield County moms find your jackets?
Amy: O&W will be available in New York boutiques which I will soon list on my website. A new boutique ‘DOT’ is opening in Manhattan and another new boutique in Brooklyn ‘Numi Numi’ that will have Oil & Water for their grand openings. We are also going to be available in stores in New Jersey, New Orleans, LA, Boca Raton, FLA, and hopefully Texas and California soon!
Fairfieldista: Now the most important question When are you going to design jackets for women – I am in love with the ponchos – so much cuter than my boring yellow slicker and more fun than a classic trench!
Amy: Thank you – I’ve been asked that so many times recently which is a great compliment! …and maybe my next venture!
Photos by Alix Martinez Photography, courtesy of Oil & Water.