By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
Fashion designer Linda Asaf has been a part of the Austin fashion scene for 10 years, working out of her design studio in downtown Austin. Having a passion for promoting the Texas fashion industry, Asaf recently opened her own retail shop known as Design Lab, located in the Oasis, Texas development.
Beyond Asaf’s own ready-to-wear and swimwear/resort collections, Design Lab currently features over 20 unique Texas-based designers.
“The pool of talented Texas designers has been growing and gaining momentum steadily over the years,” said Asaf. “I am so proud to bring this community together in one place for the first time and to showcase all their amazing creativity. It’s a must see for everyone who appreciates original design and supports local talent.”
Design Lab, at 6550 Comanche Trail, Suite 106, celebrated its grand opening on August 14 with all 27 designers there to showcase their unique creations.
“I can’t think of a time in the 15 years that I’ve lived in Austin that so many fashion designers were under one roof at one time,” Asaf said.
The store features men, women and children’s apparel, jewelry and footwear. Designers include Julio Gonzales of United We Art, who collaborates with local artists to turn their designs into limited-edition, unique T-shirts; Mark Kalen, who creates hand-crafted, locally-designed jewelry that’s classic, sophisticated and edgy; and Pearl Southern Couture, a classic clothing collection that represents the rich heritage of the Deep South.
“I’ve always been a huge proponent of local designers and the local fashion industry. I restructured my business so I could produce in Austin,” Asaf said. “It’s in my DNA to open a concept like Design Lab. It makes me happy that I’m supporting more local designers.”
Beyond normal shopping hours, Design Lab will also host special events throughout the year including private parties, product launches, fashion camps, fashion shows, concerts, birthday parties, bridal showers and reunions.
Creating fashion representation
Asaf said one of her biggest passions is to promote the local fashion industry and local designers. She recently worked with a group of residents to lobby the Austin City Council to adopt a resolution that establishes the Fashion Industry Council of Austin — a group of various industry professionals that include designers, stylists and photographers.
The Industry Council’s main focus, in its efforts with the city, is the establishment of its subsidiary apparel and textile coalition, which will oversee an eventual fashion district with an emphasis on apparel manufacturing, creating and increasing jobs. This organization will be known as Textile and Apparel Manufacturing Industries Coalition of Austin (TAMICA.)
TAMICA’s concrete goals primarily include securing an actual space for a fashion incubator, as seen in cities like New York City, Portland, Chicago and Detroit.
Asaf said it’s important for consumers to know how and where their clothes are being made.
She said she was extremely saddened where many textile workers were killed in two major accidents in Bangladesh in recent years. A fire at a textiles factory in 2012 took the lives of 112 workers, and a building collapse in April 2013 cost the lives of 1,100 workers and brought global attention to the unsafe working conditions and low wages at many garment factories in Bangladesh, the No. 2 exporter of apparel after China, according to a report by the New York Times. The fire also revealed the poor controls that top retailers had throughout their supply chain, since retailers like Walmart said they were unaware that their apparel was being made in such factories.
“One of our missions is to create a stronger connection between the customer and the designer,” she said. “If customers are able to have a more meaningful connection with the designers and how it’s made, we’ll be creating a movement of our own.”