Spotlight On: Eco-fashion Designer Lara Miller

     I could not begin my journey of sharing environmentally conscious brands without starting with Lara Miller.
     I was introduced to Lara Miller's designs at my first StyleChicago event.  I was new to Chicago and curious about what the city had to offer.  I also couldn't pass up drinks, passed appetizers, and goodie bags.  After hitting the bar, I walked around the crowded gallery space where designers stood behind booths and racks of merchandise.  I took note of leather bags, silk dresses, and sparkling jewelry, but my only purchase of the night was a Shannon skirt by Lara Miller.

Photo by Helen Berkun via

      The fun colors, useful pockets, and material that felt heavy enough to wear without my skirt flying up from the slightest breeze drew me in, but Lara's commitment to using organic fabrics and being handmade in Chicago sealed the deal.  The price point was a bit higher than the average brand in my closet, but to support a local business committed to remaining sustainable and high quality was worth it to me.
     After that night, I signed up for the e-mail list and started to follow Lara on Twitter.  I was always in the know about new collections, events/trunk shows, and sales.  I learned about the clever, convertible "flip" dresses/sweaters and also found out that a lot of her other pieces can be worn in multiple ways.   I drooled over all the cozy, organic knits and hoped to eventually own more Lara Miller designs.
     Around the holidays last year, I was able to obtain the Anna Scarf Tunic, Terry Three Piece Set, and the Donna dress:
Me in the Donna dress

     Love that the dress has straps that can be worn in different ways:

Photo by Helen Berkun via

     I discovered that she was a former director of the Chicago Fashion Incubator, a program I have mentioned in a previous post.  The Chicago Fashion Incubator provides studio space and workshops to up and coming designers in Chicago - complete with showroom space and having their merchandise sold in Macy's on State Street.
     Being the head of a small business, she is at the helm of her own social media accounts and engages with her customers.  She invited me to her studio in October to check out her latest collections - Spring/Summer 2012 and  Autumn/Winter 2012.
A rack of Spring/Summer 2012 pieces.  My favorite is the striped Spencer Flip Cardigan

A rack of Autumn/Winter 2012 pieces.  One of my favorites is the William Flip Jacket but my favorite piece is an un-pictured 'Ellen' Sweater - a navy blue sweater with purple dot patterned detail on the sleeves and back.

     I was eager to finally check out the flip cardigans in person and chat with one of my favorite local designers.  The personal interaction made it even more important to me to be mindful of who, what, and where I am wearing.  It meant a lot to connect with the person designing the clothes I own or want to buy and to see where they are made.
     She is an avid runner and was just in Las Vegas for the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon.  I was able to catch up with her before the race to learn about one of her upcoming projects - an iPhone app meant to make keeping track of your favorite looks and designers easy.
     Purely Fashion is going to be "a clean, direct and exclusive way for you to connect with your favorite designers and find out what they're creating next."  I was able to check out Lara's test version and it looks really promising!  I love looking through websites to clip my favorite looks into an Evernote notebook for inspiration, but it takes a lot of time to go through slideshows, label/organize everything, and there isn't really a way to keep updated.
     With the Purely Fashion app, you are able to upload, like, and comment on looks as well as "follow" looks from your favorite designers so you are always up to date.  Many of the app developers and members are in the fashion industry so it is a great way to stay ahead of the curve.  Purely Fashion is still in development and is currently invite only.  Check out their website to learn more or request an invite.
     I hope it will work on an iPad2 even if it still displays in iPhone size or I can add it to the list of reasons why I need an iPhone!

     Lara Miller's designs can be purchased from her website, at various trunk shows and events, and select boutiques.  Check out her website for more information.