Image courtesy Susie Crippen
Interview

Susie Crippen

07.03.13

Los Angeles based Susie Crippen is the designer behind CRIPPEN, an effortlessly chic womenswear line of travel-friendly and timeless wardrobe staples. As one of the founding partners of J Brand, Crippen spent six years revolutionizing the world of denim and proving her knack for clothes that are flattering, practical and simple. After her departure from the company in 2010, Crippen indulged in her wanderlust abroad, traveling extensively and thinking about the contents of her suitcase. Inspired to curate the foundation of a woman’s wardrobe, she assembled a team in her garage-turned-office, and in 2011, CRIPPEN was born.

Interview

I love the inspiration behind the line and I find myself in the same travel-packing predicament. How do you see the line evolving?

Most of my inspiration comes from what I want to wear. I want to create clothing that has longevity and gets better with age and never looks out of date. I am an advocate for creating a collection that is the foundation of a woman’s wardrobe so she can wear it her way and with other pieces she already owns. I want it to fit seamlessly into her life. So, in terms of evolution, I see the line expanding on that principal into other categories beyond apparel.

How did your experience at J Brand prepare you for this line?

I had no experience in manufacturing or design when we started J Brand, so the entire process was ‘learn as you go.’ The phenomenon of our success was a rare thing in this industry, and the fortune of that has never been lost on me. There were some aspects of the business that I understood: PR, aesthetic, customer and fit. I trusted my instinct on those aspects, and they panned out. In addition, there were strategic choices I implemented that kept the company growing and our customers intrigued. I always thought of J Brand as a “brand”, not a jean company, and that informed every choice I made. Those elements of the business I brought with me to CRIPPEN.

Do you have partners in CRIPPEN?

Yes, Matt Walker started a company called The Dock and he is the partner I dreamed of, prayed for, and he showed up. He was the only person I considered, and we talked for six months before we agreed to become partners. A business partner is a huge part of your life and I wanted to be sure, as did he, we were on the same page about every aspect of how we wanted to run our business. He is a magnet for great people and wants those people around him to grow and thrive. Every day I am grateful he is my partner.

Is this collection more personal for you?

Very much so. The line bears my name and I have the opportunity to lean into what that means for me and how I want to interpret my aesthetic. When I started the line, it felt daunting, but now I have found a real sense of freedom and joy in that process.

You left J Brand when it was sold in 2010. Did you know immediately you wanted to start another clothing line?

Yes. I also knew and was advised to take time off. What I wanted to do went through several incarnations before it felt like the right plan for the market and the right plan, for me.

What pieces define your wardrobe?

My Margiela stamped lizard boots, Vintage 501XX Levi’s, CRIPPEN Indigo India top, Black cashmere sweaters, CRIPPEN Alex oversized t-shirts, Vintage Navaho Squash Blossom necklace, CRIPPEN Little Dude jeans, Vintage sterling Rolex, Céline Black Luggage Bag, Oversized button down Oxford shirts, and my stacked gold ring collection.

Is the collection sold in New York? What is the price point?

Yes. You can find our collection at Henry Lehr, Tiina the Store, and Zoe. It retails between $150 to $995.

Where are your favorite places to travel?

I will travel anywhere once. I want to go back to South America and Spain and spend some time there. I still have not been to Africa and that is a lifelong dream of mine. I have a big trip in my head that just needs to be worked out…I have a feeling I may never come back!

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