Catching up with Larissa Muehleder is nearly impossible if you’re not already in her circle. She runs her own fashion label, Muehleder NYC.
Fortunately, Muehleder NYC is a clothing brand with unique designs by Larissa herself. (Note: This is not the same as the curated Instagram boutiques that import fast fashion from China and charge shoppers triple for convenience.) The fashion designer also sews all of her samples. And she answers the customer service line. So she can speak directly to the women supporting the brand.
With African American women clocking in as the fastest-growing group of entrepreneurs in America, many have learned that a founder’s work is never done. But with work that’s never done, when does one start? For Muehleder, it was early. -TIFFANY BLACK
Q: We learned you got your start at 16, which is a very young age to understand your calling. How were you able to distinguish the difference between wanting to dress well (which is common in teen girls) and having an interest in designing clothing?
LM: I like this question. My interest in fashion definitely began with howI dressed in junior high. Finding your personal style and really pushing the boundaries of what a shirt or skirt did for you. I think I just had a knack for wanting to create. I’d rip shirts up to create something new. I’d wear two of the same style Timbs but in different colors on each foot. I always looked for ways to be creative as a kid. So when the idea of designing clothing was brought to me by way of the High School of Fashion Industries, I thought hmmm…that would be cool.
Q: Roughly 80 percent of your designs are made from neoprene. How did you discover neoprene, and why is it what you use most?
LM: I originally started using neoprene in 2011 to emulate the Hervé Léger bandage body-con dresses at an affordable price point. But then I started to think that instead of strapping women in to conform them to fit this ridiculous body standard, I should be making them feel free in clothing that still makes them feel sexy. I decided that dresses didn’t have to be form fitting in order to be sexy. And it turns out that neoprene is at its best when you allow the fabric to create the voluminous shape it desires with not much manipulation. It’s also breathable, wrinkle resistant and easy to wash.
Q: We learned that your parents moved around a lot. What city has inspired your work the most?
LM: I think I’m a big melting pot of all my traditions, but mostly impacted by Brooklyn, because this is really where I became who I am today.
Q: Which season inspires you most?
LM: They are all one to me. Because when it comes to fashion, I love it all. I’m inspired by the women who shop Muehleder. I talk to them every day. And I’m inspired by their desire to live life to the fullest and their unwavering confidence to be themselves.
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