Photo: Courtesy of Vena Cava
If you haven't heard much on the Vena Cava front lately, it's because Sophie Buhai and Lisa Mayock have been toiling under the radar for the past couple seasons — and their efforts culminated in some Big News announcements earlier this month. The indie sweethearts are relocating to L.A. and partnering up with big hitters LF USA in the next phase of their brand's design life. What does that mean? It definitely doesn't mean selling out or watering down the Vena Cava vibe we've grown such affections for. We sat down with the VC ladies to talk about the team-up and what's in store for them (and you!) in upcoming months and years.
Tell us how the partnership came together.
Sophie: "It all happened very naturally but very quickly. We reached a point where we realized that in order to take the brand where we wanted it to go, we needed a strategic partner to help with the back-end. We were sick of getting caught up in logistics and wanted to spend more time on the product and on being creative. LF reached out to us. It was a strange psychic thing and everything fell into place."
Why do you think they're the best partners for you to work with right now?
Lisa: "We've been working with LF now for a few months, and it's far beyond what we had thought it might be. They're experts at sourcing, tech design, fabrication, manufacturing, and many other things that can be extremely difficult for a small brand to get a handle on. But at the same time, they understand that we're the experts when it comes to our brand and our customer, and are totally open to letting us continue to do awesome and weird branding projects like our online garage sale, non-fashion-persons' Fashion's Night Out, zines and anything else that helps our brand maintain its 'personal-ness.'"
Photo: Courtesy of Vena Cava
What are your biggest hopes for Vena Cava over the next year...the next five years?
Sophie: "We are excited to expand the collection and create a diversity of product with LF's resources. This year, we are content concentrating on really perfecting the clothing, but down the line, we have big ideas for shoes, jewelry, home, and menswear. We are going to continue with our zine and would love to one day have a store that contains a succulent garden, a juice bar, and a bourbon tasting station. We want to keep pushing the idea of what a fashion brand can be. We are very inspired by the Biba store from the '70s and they way it overlapped into so many categories. Vena Cava cat food or binoculars, anyone?"
Tell us about the lastest collection...what are we going to want for ourselves?
Lisa: "We're really psyched about our neo-noir, large-scale florals. They're bright but have an underlying dark quality — they're not too 'pretty.' The studded tuxedo with tails is another fave — it's what a female lion tamer would have worn in the '70s."
You two are really good about taking inspiration trips. Where have you been recently and what's on the agenda coming up?
Sophie: "We were last in Vietnam. We really want to visit Sante Fe, Joshua Tree, or Marfa next. The Southwest is very inspiring right now."
You recently moved back to L.A. — how has that been, and will you two continue to be bicoastal?
Sophie: "It's been a long-time dream of ours to have bicoastal headquarters. It's a very out-of-the-box idea and it's proven to be really amazing for the way our company functions. We have access to the culture of both coasts, and are now able to divide and conquer. We're back and forth a lot, and the brand has a much broader presence now. We are both from L.A. and it's a big part of Vena Cava's DNA; we are very inspired by Art Deco, Hollywood nostalgia, and makeshift garage-sale dressing. The balance between both coasts in really reflected in the product."
With both of you hailing from the West Coast, are there any plans in the works for a Vena Cava boutique?
Lisa: "We've talked about having a store from Day One. It's the fantasy we fall into talking about when we're exhausted from work, but still want to feel productive. We see it as being both a labratory to test out new ideas, and a second home where all of our favorite plants, books, records, zines, and snacks live. We have a lot of other interests beyond clothes and see this as a way to articulate that."
With the hot weather upon us, what's your best style advice for summer dressing?
Sophie: "Pale pastels and Santa Fe hues feel very refreshing right now. We just want to dress like retired writers who live in Sante Fe — the woman who has been wearing her same Mexican chemise and French sandals for 30 years...."
Interview by Christene Barberich