Street fashion aficionado and design extraordinaire, Tiffany Ruiz is the latest addition to Alternative’s Los Angeles Design Lab. Coming from a lifelong interest in fashion which led her to a design career, this California girl has what it takes to create super comfortable and fashionable pieces for our brand. As Alternative’s Women’s Designer, Tiffany brings tons of creative ideas to the inspiration board in order to build the brand’s seasonal collections.
What is your design background?
My grandparents were both in the sewing business. They had a manufacturing company downtown, so I’ve been around the area since I was just nine years old and knew from a pretty young age that I wanted to be in fashion. I started my studies at a community college where I began to make and sell purses and t-shirts. A few years later, I decided to get serious about starting my fashion career so I went to Brooks College to major in fashion design. Soon after graduation, I started working for a small company, Porridge Clothing, and after three and a half years I landed a job with Splendid Clothing, where I worked for over three years.
What inspired you to get involved in fashion design?
My Grandmother – she’s my biggest inspiration. She was the first person who introduced me to fashion and taught me how to sew at a young age. From the time I first learned how to use a sewing machine, I became fixated on creating my own wardrobe.
Who are some of your design idols and fashion icons?
Marc Jacobs. I love how fun and playful his clothes are and how you can see his influence from music, art and vintage elements in his collections. I also really love Band of Outsiders because of how simple their clothes are. The brand takes elements of men’s fashion and manages to create very feminine collections out of them. Even though runway shows are fun to watch, I think that street fashion is my biggest influence. It’s amazing to see how people wear clothes in their own personal way and style. A t-shirt could be worn and interpreted in many different ways. Clicking through street blogs is my favorite past time. Some of my favorites are: Painfully Hip, Chicfeed and 15-year-old Tavi’s RookieMag.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would describe my style as having a dorkish charm. Meaning my style is a little bit of geek fabulous while at the same time being classically girly. I believe that everything needs a cardigan and my biggest accessories are my glasses and rings that have been passed down to me from my great grandmother. I’m obsessed with vintage tees and love to mix and match them with dressier pieces like skirts and layered under dresses. I think everyone needs a few favorite tees that can become their signature look.
What fuels your creativity as a designer?
I constantly look for inspiration outside of fashion to get a fresh outlook. For instance, movies, music and art all inspire me. I really enjoy going to local art galleries and some of my favorite artists are street artist Banksy, Alice Neel and Stella Im Hultberg. Ever since my grandparents introduced me to downtown LA, I’ve been heavily influenced and it’s become a part of my fashion design aesthetic.
Tell us a little bit about what you’re currently working on.
The upcoming fall collection was the first season that I worked on at Alternative and I was really lucky to collaborate with Julie Goldstein, an artist that works with wood carvings. Her work really set the tone for the fall 2012 collection because we worked with fabrics that had texture and created go-to pieces that were easy to wear, allowing the fabric to be the star of the style. I think what’s so special about Alternative and what I’ve admired even before I started working here is the passion the brand has to create pieces that are made to integrate into your closet and adapt to your personal style.
Photos by Stephen Zeigler