Inside Erin Robertson’s South End studio, there’s an eclectic mix of trinkets, uncut fabrics and brightly colored garments. A key focus of the room is a fluorescent banana—a fruit that appears across the fashion designer’s work—hanging on the wall. In 2016, Roberston won Project Runway season 15 and was recently name Boston’s Best clothing designer. Robertson is set to open Hourglass, a pop-up boutique and content studio in collaboration with interior and product designer Nicole Fichera on August 22. We visited Robertson at her studio, where she chatted about sustainable fashion, reimagining the traditional fashion calendar and being a brand and a human on Instagram.
What inspires your designs? Overall, I think the thing that inspires me the most is to empower whoever is wearing it. What gets me really excited is making a standout piece, something that is a conversation starter or something that gives you courage to maybe give a talk or go on a date.
Would you ever separate your Instagram into a personal account and a brand account? I don’t want to. I think that’s what makes me unique and special is that I’m a human. I’m not a brand. I mean, I am a brand, but also it’s the idea that @An_Erin is a way of living too. It’s having fun. Obviously I have hard times and get emotional and not everyday is great but when it’s not I just don’t post. It’s so funny when people are “taking a break from Instagram.” Just take a break, you don’t need to announce it.
Do you have any tips for someone interested in more sustainable fashion? There’s so many things online. Like watching how to embroider or how to embellish. You could just play around with something that you already have. There’s plenty of people who have made cool tutorials on how to redo a scarf or take a T-shirt and do something else with it. It’s one of those things you have to learn some new skills or a technique. I actually want to do a workshop on repurposing your old clothes and kind of like Erin-izing your garment.
One of the things that I’m proud to do is I’ll go to Fabric Place Basement or even Mood, their fabrics are from older seasons and collections from businesses that sell them. So it’s kind of like a secondhand fabric store. Or I’ll do my own printed fabric from Spoonflower, which is also sustainable.
What is your favorite vintage shop in Boston? Boomerangs is awesome. They’re really cool, and also I love AIDS Action. I do a lot of shopping on eBay. That’s my jam. I got this vintage Obermeyer ski suit, it’s fluorescent and it’s a matching set. It was like $30.
I try to stay away from fast fashion, but I do mix. Every now and then it gets me, and it’s one of those things of not being too hard on yourself. It’s a thing to unlearn. If I’m going to buy something from Zara or some fast fashion place, I’m going to want to wear it forever. I think that’s the way to start thinking about shopping. I’ve actually been wanting to get old clothes that I think are really cool and just tweak them to make them look a little modern and give them a new twist.
Inside Erin Robertson’s South End studio. Photo: Ruby Vishnick
Erin Robertson is opening Hourglass, a pop-up boutique and content studio in collaboration with local artist and designer Nicole Fichera on Aug. 22. Photo: Ally Schmaling
What are some of your top beauty favorites? Sephora satin lip stains. They are amazing because you can eat snacks and they don’t come off. I love that. I’m really into my eyebrow pencil, it’s Anastasia Beverly Hills. Eyebrows are my favorite. I recently got a few colors that I’m really excited about. I got this red eye cream from Make Up For Ever, a teal eyeliner and a hot pink eyeshadow. I like a bold pop with a pop. I usually coordinate my make up with my outfit.
What type of outfit do you feel best in? It depends because I’m honestly so moody. So sometimes the most comfortable thing is sweatpants and a sweatshirt and I’ll rock it with heels if I have to go outside. Or not, I also love my slipper Uggs. One of my favorite things is a dress that’s fitted with cute frilly shoulders and pockets. Like cute, but you can eat lots of snacks in it.
Your website is currently undergoing some construction, can you give us any hints of what we can expect on the new site? It’s just going to be better organized. I’m having my friend Nicole help me out with it. I’m really excited to have a lot more control because I used to have this guy and I’d have to do everything through him. If I have new product, I can just put it up. Before I couldn’t do that.
I don’t really do seasons. I’ve actually been thinking about the way I want to see seasons and I was thinking about astrology and that there’s seasons of emotion. Emotional seasons, not seasons of the weather because sometimes it’s really hot in the summer and then really cold in the same season. I’m trying to rethink the fashion industry, what we’re being fed. I hate the “It bag of fall 2019” stuff. You should just want to buy something because it makes you happy, so that’s why I like emotional shopping or emotional seasons.
Hourglass Pop-Up opens Aug. 22 through Sept. 24, 1327 Boylston St., Boston hourglass.boston; Wed.-Sun., 11 am-7 pm.
UPDATE: Hourglass is running its second iteration at 1323 Boylston St. open now through the end of December 2018; Thurs.-Sun., 11:30 am-7 pm.