Derek Guillemette, founder and creative director of INTER-PRET.us, was no newcomer when he launched the brand almost two years ago. With a mother who made her own clothing, and careers at fashion giants Bloomingdales and Rent the Runway, Guillemette knows the world of fashion. Creating the brand around the idea of the perfect black pant, INTER-PRET.us quickly grew into an entire collection. Based in New York City, the brand emphasizes the importance of responsible manufacturing by following a model that allows them to manufacture on a small scale, purchase materials honestly, while still selling them to the public at a reasonable price. A brand with incredible origins and phenomenal business procedures, we talk with Guillemette to find out more about himself and INTER-PRET.us.
How did you become involved in fashion design? My mom made her own clothes and when I was born she started making mine and even made us matching suits once. When I was old enough she taught me how to sew and I starting making dresses for my sister’s dolls out of scraps of fabric. I was always fascinated by how a certain look can transform the way you feel and express your mood. I also always loved art- sketching, painting, sculpting and the creating something from nothing. I love fashion because you combine art with utility. My goal is always to create a piece that will be loved and worn many times. I always think of the velveteen rabbit story. I launched my first INTER-PRET.us collection after working in merchandising at Bloomingdale’s and Rent the Runway, and taking classes at FIT on the weekends. I had all these ideas for new shapes that I just couldn’t get out of my head, so on a whim I bought a sewing machine and started cutting apart my favorite pieces and re-sewing them back together in different ways. My friends called me Frankenstein. I wore some of the pieces to parties and people wanted to buy them so I thought I should try launching a full collection and so INTER-PRET.us was born. The name comes from the idea that fashion today is about interpretation- what fascinates me is how different people interpret the same piece and change the way it can be worn.
What materials do you most like to work with? I’ve found that my niche is relaxed, modern tailoring, so I like wovens that are a little stiffer so they can be sculpted. I usually like to create a new shape in a twill, and perfect the fit and the way it lays on the body, and then re-interpret the pattern in a drapier fabric to see how it changes. Whenever I’m looking at new fabrics I always have to get a sense for how the fabric will drape and move. For the intended shape there’s always a way that is just right, and I’ll keep looking until I find it. I have no problem looking at hundreds of swatches and only finding 1 that I like. I’m particular, but I’m supposed to be, right? I mostly use fabrics from Japan and Italy, because they have the best hands. When you touch one of my garments you should be able to tell right away it is special.
How does your geographical location influence your aesthetic? New York City completely influences my designs. There’s still a slight edge and grittiness to this city, and whether I intend to or not, it always works itself into my designs. It’s subconscious. I live in the epitome of urbanity so I’m going to design clothes that express it. I create clothes that work with what women in this city do- they have to move and be comfortable and be versatile. They are clothes that work with a New York lifestyle. I know a lot of women do not have time to style themselves, so I build a lot of that into the details. You can just easily throw them on and go, but you still look incredibly chic. They’re effortless. And of course everything comes in black!
What’s been your greatest professional achievement to date? Other than being featured on Heaven Has Heels? Getting onto the cover of the Australian Magazine Life & Leisure was pretty surreal. I got a ton of traffic to my site and all these orders from Australians. It’s cool to think people are walking around Sydney wearing INTER-PRET.us. I love how e-commerce makes it so easy to reach a global audience.
What’s one thing people would never guess about you? Other than fashion I’m obsessed with cars, especially those from the late 80’s and early 90’s. Everything from their design to performance to the way they sound. I love to drive stick shift. I’m looking for a red BMW 325i from 89-91 5 speed. It was lightweight and had a great engine. So much fun to drive. — Inter-pret.us