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Eye for Design: Allison Skoglind Interviews Nyla Jano

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Back in 2009 designer Nyla Jano made a serendipitous trip to Southeast Asia that would inspire the creation of TORRAIN. Since then the company has grown in leaps and bounds and clearly shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, as TORRAIN’S product lines and reputation continue to gain momentum, it appears she may just be getting started.

As a writer, I was excited to start working with TORRAIN as soon as I realized how closely her company reflected her lifestyle. She was the real deal. And I also saw her potential and determination to pave the way for other designers striving to bring an edge and voice to sustainable fashion. Forever curious, I sat down for an interview with Nyla to talk about her world of designing:

Q: When did you first become interested in designing?

A: I started deconstructing and sewing clothing when I was 15. I always had a vision of what I wanted to wear but it was difficult to find clothes that matched my vision so I just made my own.

Q: How would you describe your creative process?

A: At the start of each season, I pay attention to what people are using and wearing on the streets and for outdoor activities. I think of how I can improve the quality of products that I already have and make them more suitable for travel and durability and which items should be discontinued. I also think of what types of bags could be used for different purposes, i.e. wine totes, coin purses and yoga bags. I look at magazines and fashion blogs and research different materials that could be recycled and used as trim, handles, lining etc. I seek out inspiration through travel and going to art shows and craft fairs. Then I draw the design and specifications in Adobe programs, get the materials ready and begin the sampling process.

Q: What’s the biggest challenge about being a designer?

A: The approval process from transforming an idea to an actual product can be complicated when production takes place overseas. It can take a long time to achieve a high quality product and many things may get lost in translation. Also, sometimes you have to forgo what you’d like to design for what will sell.

Q: In a town full of promising designers, how you stand apart?

A: The materials we use are all recycled and the graphics on our bags are unique. They are also very lightweight and waterproof. I strive to combine functionality with sustainability and style.

Q: What is the most important aspect of designing?

A: Reading your market, staying fresh and maintaining their interest while upholding your trademark items and brand image.

Q: What local designers inspire you? Why?

A: Some local brands that inspire me are Poler, Nau, Truce, Nell and Mary, Tumbleweed, and Alchemy Goods…to name just a few. I appreciate their innovation and values as well as their consideration for the impact of their designs.

Q: What is your advice for the next generation of designers?

A: Start small and ensure the quality and strength of each of design before producing a big line that spreads yourself thin, is difficult to manage and forfeits quality and brand image. Have basic, classic items with a few statement pieces and always strive to use sustainable materials. 

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