There’s a whole lot of love behind the success of the clothing line Everly and it’s designers, Adriana Leaw and Fabiana Choi. The Korean American sisters grew up watching their parents nurture and run a clothing line in both Brazil and the U.S., and realized that somewhere deep down in their hearts that they had developed a love in fashion/retail as well.
Their passion for what they do on a daily basis: looking at trend after trend, designing, creating mood boards for the upcoming season is definitely one of the components to why their line is still very much alive, but the main reason is what their hometown Brazil has taught them: love. As Audrey carried on the interview, which felt more like a natural conversation, we discovered that the love and respect they have for each other is really why Everly has worked out so well. Not only that, but the signature image of Everly wouldn’t exist without their amazing aptitude of balance.
As close as they are, they in no doubt believe and know that they have two very different personalities: Adriana, the older sister, is more conservative and Fabiana is more likely to take risks. When asked if they fight over business and designing decisions, they both revealed that they rarely argue. If there does come a time where they see differently on a certain design, they are able to either compromise or trust the other and go with her choice. In fact, their differences in style is a blessing in disguise as their aesthetic tastes catch each other’s extremes. For example, if Adriana pushes a piece to more of the trendy side, Adriana’s preferences in the classic, clean lines look will bring it back to the perfect middle. While during the middle of all of this, we wondered how arguments and disagreements could not be in the picture, and then our question was answered when they began to talk about the place they spent most of their lives in: Brazil.
While we believe Brazil is a place full of exoticism and the beautiful wild, the dynamic duo sees Brazil a place where they saw an ample amount of genuine and sincere love. Claiming that everyone in Brazil is loving, kind, and family oriented love is what they really got out of growing up in Brazil. Another Brazilian characteristic that stayed with them was the vibrant and assorted colors in the country. The various colors of the place is why they believe they are so attracted to bold colors and daring prints.
We have a lot of thanking to do for Brazil’s smart teachings of color and prints to the sisters as we can find a lot of those two out there styles in their line, Everly. Describing the Everly girl as normal but quirky, a risk taker but always polished (can you see their two different personalities?), Audrey magazine is thankful for creating a line that’s young, fresh, and will immediately make us stand out in a crowd full of stylish girls. Adriana and Fabiana take essential and basic styles, like the shift dress (their favorite), and are able to add spunk and a twist to it that makes it Everly. However, at the same time the line manages to keep it still feminine, flirty, and most importantly happy.
Happiness and brightness is what we instantly saw when conversing with them and we see why Everly is the way it is. The love and respect that they have for each other is why their clothes is so perfectly balanced with two different takes in fashion. We hope that when the day is cloudy and gray and/or when the crowd of girls is swallowed in a sea of boring and uneventful trends, the clothes of Everly will help us change all of that.
Continue reading for the interview and a sneak peek at their Fall 2012 line!
AM: Can you each introduce yourselves, where you guys are from, and what you do?
FC: My name is Fabiana Choi and I’m the designer for Everly. My main job, really, is kind of overseeing from start to end. Beginning with research, trends, runway reviews, designing, sourcing fabric – meeting with fabric vendors, doing fits – Adri is actually our fit model. Yea, pretty much I manage our design team and then I just oversee everything from start to production until it goes into the showrooms.
AL: My name is Adriana Leaw and I am the co-founder of Everly Clothing. Fabiana and I were both born in Brazil and I moved to Los Angeles when I was 6 years old…what I do is work in the showrooms, I do sales, I deal with all the customers so I get all the feedback from everyone and we’re constantly talking to each other about what’s working, what’s not working, and doing fits, and if we don’t like it we just drop it.
AM: How is it working together? I know you guys are sisters. I’m sure there are differences. Do you guys ever argue?
FC: I mean we’re very different: personalities and just the way we think and stuff, but crazy enough we don’t really argue. We don’t or if we do come to a point where we kind of see things differently we always come to a common ground really quickly. We let each other speak [our] minds – well, I let [Adriana] speak [her] mind.
AL: I think it’s easier working as sisters because we’ve just grown up together and we know how the other person is so there’s no filter: you say what you want. It’s not like we have anything hidden in our hearts or anything, everything’s just out in the open: if we don’t like it we say it. There [are] times when she really loves something and I’m like, “no this is not going to do well or this is not our girl” but if she really loves it then it’s like let’s just do it and we’ll see. Fabe is the one that kind of pushes the style and even though that maybe a little out there, it does do really well, so I think that’s how we’ve been able to evolve.
AM: On your website, it says that you guys are able to bring 2 different personalities into your clothing line. Is it safe to say those personalities are yours? If so, can you guys describe them?
FC: I think if anything I’m a little bit more experimental. I think not only with designing, but just in my personal life [as well]. I just like trying new things. If somebody’s like, “okay let’s go do this” I’m like, “okay let’s go do it.” So I think with that it’s helped me not be afraid to try new things even here in our workspace but with Adri I think she’s a bit more…
AL: I guess more classic and conservative: things that are black and white, clean lines. If Fabe wants to take it really trendy and I’m like, “no” we’ll push it back and we’ll sort of meet in the middle of things and then that’s kind of how thing’s been going so far.
FC: I think it’s really worked out well for us just because it’s not too out there to a point where girls wouldn’t be able to wear it but at the same time with Adri’s strength we’re pulled back to reality so just meeting in the middle has created our Everly girl that a lot of different girls with different styles are able to wear.
AM: Describe the Every girl.
AL: Well what I imagine the ideal girl being is: she’s normal but then she’s a bit quirky. She’s able to dress feminine and flirty but also she’s not afraid to take risks in her styling but she always looks polished.
FC: I think for me the whole idea of the Everly girl is she can be [whomever] she wants for that day. So with whatever piece that she has she could either mix it up with high-end, she could mix it up with vintage – she can wear it on her own. I just like the fact that she can have a lot of different personalities but she is very feminine and she is very polished.
AL: And happy.
AM: I know personality and mood plays a lot into what you wear for that day but the season has a lot to do with it as well. With that being said, fall season is coming up. What can you tell our readers what to wear for the fall and how transition from spring to fall?
FC: I think transitioning into fall would be best to pick out key pieces that stand out for you. I think in the fashion world right now we have so many different types of styles that you can kind of drift into many different styles. With this season we’re launching “Holiday.” I think holiday is really important this year just because of all the shimmers and people just want to stand out just because trend is kind of so normal in a sense [where] everything is kind of neutral, so I think that’s why like this summer [there were] pop colors, bright prints, [and] bold colors. It just looks so good when people are wearing it so I think even with holiday just the whole shimmer, the sequins is like standing out and it just makes a really big statement. I think [with] a sequin short or sequin skirt or even like a blazer you could mix that up with anything solid or print into your own style.
AL: For us I would say this summer a really big trend that we’ve been going with is the shift dress. We’ve done it in so many different styles, so many different prints, solids, a bunch of textures, fabrics; so I think with that summer piece you can easily transition it into to wearing it with leggings or jeans and with a blazer and where it was a summer dress before now its because its short its kind of like a tunic you can wear it with jeans or leggings and it can go forward it into fall.
AM: With all of those key pieces in mind, what should every girl have in their closet?
FC & AL: A shift dress.
AL: They should have a shift dress. It doesn’t have to be ours but they should have a shift dress, sleeveless or ¾ sleeves. They should have a color denim, black blazer, button down collar, shirts.
FC: We feel like the dress trend went on for a really long time and it’s always going to stay but we really feel like people kind of want to start exploring separates like denim and tops. I don’t know if it’s more comfortable but we just kind of feel like people are breaking out of like the dress trend wanting to try more like vests, blazers, you know like layering different things like that. But we feel like, we were talking about this yesterday, but we feel like the shift dress is like the ideal dress because that was the dress that we’re kind of known for so it was really neat to kind of see so many different types of girls wearing it and we just saw it more into so many ways. Now the high low trend is in so even transforming our shift dress into a high low into like a long sleeve like its still the shift but it kind of has a new twist.
AM: You guys must wear your line almost everyday, but who else would you guys wear?
AL: Well we just came back from London week so we have [a] closet full of Top Shop.
FC: We love Madewell. We love basics so we tend to have a lot of fun when designing our line because we’re able to express what maybe sometimes is too loud for us but uhm Saks and bloomies is kind of a go-to because you have so many to choose from.
AO: Vince, Joie. I think those are all the basic, classic looks though. Theory I mean things like that.
AM: Do you guys like Madewell’s sister line J. Crew?
FC: Yes, we love J. Crew.
AL: I like Madewell better though. J. Crew is like very proper. She likes J. Crew.
FC: Yea, I like J. Crew
AM: What about Anthropologie?
FC: Yea we love Anthropologie. I think with Anthropologie too we like how it makes us feel when we’re in that store. Just the experience that we have in there is not just only looking at clothes but I think it’s everything from kitchenware.
AM: Does growing up in Brazil have to do with anything maybe?
AL: We always say because we grew up in Brazil we moved here we have a Korean background our vision in life is very similar. We’ve just grown up together so I think in that sense that’s why the line is sort of we see eye to eye often just growing up together like seeing what beauty is together. People in Brazil are so loving. I think that’s what we got out of it: the love, everything, they’re so family oriented everyone is so sweet in the streets or anywhere you go and I think that’s sort of what we got out of Brazil just the love, the warmth.
AM: Anything style wise from Brazil?
FC: Actually Brazil trend is really like evolving. One thing we’re obsessed with in Brazil is their bikinis because everyone goes to the beach. Style wise they’re very proper.
AL: There’s a lot of button downs, white shirts with jeans.
FC: It’s kind of weird because like everyone in Brazil you would imagine everyone being so crazy and wild and exotic but it’s not really like that.
AL: Everyday fashion is not really like that
FC: So we feel like L.A. is more like crazy and open
AL: But with Brazil there’s so much color there that’s why we’re attracted to bold colors. Our line is mostly a lot of prints so I think we’re drawn to that because of growing up there.
AM: Have you guys ever thought about creating your own separate lines? How’d you guys come up with doing a line together?
FC: I think when the opportunity came up one thing I knew was I didn’t want to do it alone and at that point we were just kind of discussing like what we should do.
AL: Our parents have been in the industry for more than 20 years since Brazil actually so my parents grew up with clothes they started their own business in Brazil they came here and continued manufacturing and with that we just kind of wanted to do our own line.
AM: But no thoughts of creating your own separate lines.
FC & AL: No.
FC: Working alone is just I don’t know is hard it’s scary. We really believe in the energy we kind of give each other and with the people that we work with and if anything we feel like that plays a huge role in our success.
AL: We’re always balancing each other out like when I’m having a really low day she’ll kind of get me up and vice versa because there are times when we are just utterly exhausted and crazy but I think it’s our energy is balanced.
AM: Going back to growing up with clothes, what is your earliest fashion moment?
FC: For me, I think is [when] my mom actually needed to go to a trade show with one of her designers to New York and she took all of us with her. We all stayed in one room [even] with her designer. We just followed them everywhere they went. I didn’t really understand what we were doing, but that was a work trip. I guess there was nobody to take care of us or something so she took us along with her and yea it was fun. I don’t think it was necessarily about clothes, but it was just the fact that it was mom’s work trip and she was going with her designer and we just kind of looked up to her and was like oh that’s mom’s designer. I remember even like it was time to go to sleep [the designer] was wearing pajamas and her pajama was really pretty with all these like flowery prints and I think just the title put her in like a different [place].
AL: That is my earliest memory.
FC: I think we have a lot. We would get to our parents’ warehouse and just run around the fabrics and those clothes racks. There was always something.
AL: I think growing up with it though we never thought we would be in it. We really thought we were so different. [Fabiana] is so artsy and I was really into school. We never thought we would ever be able to work together. If somebody told me that 10 years ago I would’ve never believed them, but it just kind of came together.
AM: So when was that time that you guys knew you wanted to do this: going into the fashion industry.
FC: It was when my parents reached a point where they were kind of deciding if they should keep going or if they should stop what they were doing and I think at that point we were both working somewhere else and we didn’t like our jobs. I came in working for my parents first and I worked under them for 3 years and then I was just learning. I don’t think I ever knew what was really going to happen but as time went by little by little you kind of develop ownership like I could do this. Adri came into work as well.
AL: I came in 2007 and I think in the beginning it was just kind of working for my parents you know just seeing how things work.
FC: It was a job.
AL: Yea, we really didn’t care I think and when we got to a point where we sort of said ok let’s do this together then we started trying to really work at it and really making it our own and that’s when we developed Everly. I think in the 6 month mark I started really seeing reaction from our customers. It was a very slow process though. One customer would come and then two and then they would come back and I was like oh people are really liking it. I think in the 6 month mark was where we really realized we just keep going with what we love. I think that’s what we’ve been doing and that what we have to keep doing so we’ve just been doing what we like and if we don’t like it we’ll just drop it and keep going.
AM: Being Asian American and trying to make it in the industry I know is tough. A lot of Asian American designers are coming up like Forever 21 and Phillip Lim. Do you guys have any advice for struggling Asian American designers?
FC: I think one thing that we really realized was you have to believe in your product and you have to just believe in passion because if you don’t have that who’s going to have that for you? I want to say hard work, but I know that everybody works really hard, so I think it’s just kind of a mixture. It’s a mixture of balance because only working as well like you’ll run out of fuel, so just balancing things out. People really need to work hard but just because you work hard that doesn’t mean you’ll make it you have to live you have to be happy.
AL: My advice for them would be, show your face. People want to see who’s behind the brand. For us I remember when building our website we didn’t want to put a picture of ourselves. It was something we discussed and we didn’t want to do it because we look like two little girls, we’re Asian and we felt like that would be off putting to some people but when we decided to put our picture there and write our story that’s what really [drew] people to our line and it’s kind of crazy too because we get a lot of emails from random girls or customers and they love our line and they don’t care that we’re Asian and I think they really actually love it even more because Asian designers are up and coming and they think that we’re a little different. Don’t be afraid to show your face.
AM: Favorite childhood or favorite past time memory?
FC: Washing my dad’s car.
AL: In Brazil, we used to walk the parks all the time and feeding the ducks in the pond.
AM: Occupation other than designing?
FC: I really want to live on a farm one day…I’m just drawn to that. I think it’s just [how] it makes me feel.
AL: I would probably be a blogger.
AM: Talent you would like to have?
FC: Break dance.
AM: Go-to comfort food?
FC: Shabu Shabu.
AL: Tomato Soup with cheese.
AM: Treasured possession?
FC: Engagement Ring.
AL: My mom’s vintage Chanel bag.
AM: Always makes me laugh?
AL: My husband.
FC: Quotes: “When life throws you lemons, squeeze it in people’s eyes.
AM: What I love about being Asian?
FC: Food and culture.
AL: The sense of community.