Young designers Meghan Lavery and J’aime Lizotte met on a beach in Maine 11 years ago. Dissatisfied by current trends and fashions, they set to work creating their own clothes. This friendship was only interrupted by their departures to different colleges.
Lizotte went to Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston for her BFA in fashion design. Her style is greatly influenced by her love of clean lines, menswear, and particularly silhouettes.
Despite the wet snow that spun its way down outside, Lizotte, one of the designers of ShapeShiftRNYC, braved the Boston weather for an interview with Blast. She drank a cup of jasmine tea in the cafe, wearing ShapeShiftR’s leather and powernet bodycon dress from its fall 2009 collection and a long-sleeve black shirt (her mother’s) which she cropped mid-asymmetrically mid-waist. Dangling from her ears were her favorite earrings by Pretty Young Thing: a gold triangle on a gunmetal chain.
An internship with Armani Exchange in men’s knits and sweaters helped strengthen her skill in detail and color-blocking.
It also "definitely gave me an idea of what the industry is like," Lizotte acknowledged, "working for a corporate company."
Lavery specialized in tailoring at the Fashion Institute of Technology in NYC. She had studied jewelry design and metals in Maine, which developed her interest in form. She received her BFA in 2005 and went on to an apprenticeship with AsFour (now threeASFOUR).
ShapeShiftRNYC came to creation when Lizotte moved to New York last May and happened to catch up with Lavery. As soon as Lizotte arrived, she contacted Lavery.
"I was like â€˜Hey, I’m in New York,’ and she was like, â€˜Well, I’m in Brooklyn!’ We were showing each other clothes, bouncing ideas," she said. The two soon found that they had a lot of the same thoughts and similar styles. They meshed perfectly, and a partnership was born.
The line originally started out from a fashion blog. "We were on the same page as far as concepts, inspirations," Lizotte said. "We just decided to go for it and start a line."
The blog has since helped ease the strain of working both in Boston and NYC.
Last summer, the two created ShapeShiftR. The line is, as Lizotte noted, "motivated by changing form" and constant motion and change in silhouette. Geometry greatly inspires the collection, as do shapes (especially triangles and prisms) and scene-themed imagery.
"Layering is big for us, and texture. We like to use different materials. We like to make our textures," Lizotte said. The line also features knits, but focuses more on tailored pieces mixed with softer pieces. This blending and conversion and juxtaposition of textures and styles are what define the label.
For being fairly new, ShapeShiftR’s already has two collections finished. A few looks were featured during Boston Fashion Week last fall. When their first collection came out last summer, they showed their work to Pixie Market (1000 Stanton Street, New York), who picked up two of their looks for fall.
ShapeShiftR’s doesn’t have any upcoming shows since the designers are primarily focused on working on their spring and summer lookbook, as well as their fall and winter collection which are soon to follow. Their spring and summer lookbook is out now and can be viewed online.
The line became something very personal to both of them: "We make things we want to wear," Lizotte said. "We like pieces that are easy to wear, very edgy and black."
The presence of black is also strong in the label, as well as a few nudes. "We don’t use a lot of color," Lizotte explained, "because it’s really about the silhouette."
ShapeShiftRNYC is very professional cool, for the twenty-something to the forty-something. But as Lizotte affirms, the line is more about "taste" than demographic. They are inspired by such designers as Alexander McQueen, Alexander Wang, Preen and threeASFOUR.
Music also helps the inspiration process. Lizotte noted that as she is working in her studio, "I’ve been listening to a lot of Italo-disco and Twilight Ritual." Iconic figures like Klaus Nomi also motivate ideas and styles
However, the line comes together, not through these external inspirations, but by how well the two designers work together and how well their designs fuel each other.
"We use ourselves as inspiration," Lizotte said.
The partnership has been a bit like a marriage, she said.
"It just happens — it’s so — I don’t know how to explain it, it’s just this thing that works, and we just love it so much. We do so much together. It’s not like one person does this and another person does this. It just works."
Then Lizotte added, "I’m glad I’m doing a partnership. It makes it so much fun."
Their next collection for fall and winter is coming out very soon (Lizotte — as excited as she was — could not reveal when). But she did divulge that the new line would have curved seams and they would be using a lot of piecing styles. Shapes and proportions were also going to be played with.
Starting their own label has been hard, they admitted, including lots of work and a lot of time. "I don’t sleep much," Lizotte laughed, and then pointed out how in both her and Lavery’s life things had to be sacrificed or prioritized.
Their line, Lizotte started, then paused before declaring, is like "their baby."
As for what’s upcoming for ShapeShiftR, the designers acknowledged that the fashion industry is struggling. Which means for them, things may be, well, a bit a little rough for awhile. However, Lizotte is optimistic about where ShapeShiftR is at now and where it is headed, as well as the fashion industry.
"I think right now is a good time for new things — like this — it’s a struggle coming up with the means to get things going," yet they are determined to stubbornly stick it through. Working on ShapeShiftRNYC is "doing what we love, making clothes we love."
Cold slush rained down outside, and the caf© chatter intensified as the afternoon carried on. The designer took a sip of her tea.
"You’ll see more of us," she said, but refrained from going into detail. "There’s things that’ll be happening soon."
She smiled and added, "I’m excited about it … You know when you love something that it just comes together?"
Lizotte paused, trying to find the words to express just how much both she and Lavery have invested in their line.
Finally, Lizotte smiled and said, "It’s just happening that way."