My Favorite Outfit: Designer Zara Marin Franks

Berkeley-based knitwear designer Zara Franks specializes in crafting beautiful hand-dyed scarves. The founder of Venn Apparel,  Franks studied socially conscious design at California College of the Arts in San Francisco and prides herself on getting back to quality in American craftsmanship. Recently she’s become “obsessed with landscapes,”  especially sunrises and sunsets, in the design of her pieces. “The challenge there is to translate them in a way that I’m satisfied with,” Franks says. “I can’t copy a sunrise. I don’t want to. But I can use yarn as a describer.”

Looking through her cozy, earth-tone pieces reminded me that this particular installment of “My Favorite Outfit” seemed like the perfect way to kick off April. After all, the leap into spring means summer (fog) is right around the corner—and that means you’ll be needing a scarf wherever you go!

Name: Zara Marin Franks

Age: 24

Occupation: Knitwear Designer

Where I live: North Berkeley

What I’m wearing: “I’m wearing one of my sample scarves as a headband, a pair of vintage clip-on earrings I bought for a dollar at Bambino Thrift Shop (profits go to Oakland’s Children’s Hospital), Modaspia‘s striped cotton 3/4 sleeve knit top, my favorite pair of old jeans, Vivienne Westwood for Melissa peep-toe flats, and of course one of my own scarves—my most-loved prototype from Fall  ’11.

Why this is my favorite outfit: “Everything is nice and worn in. Its also my work-wear: A scarf, a top, the oldest, comfiest jeans, and the oldest, comfiest shoes. I’ll throw some earrings on just in case I have any meetings that day.

I’m really loving my latest discovery: Modaspia. Their textiles and craftsmanship is stellar. Melissa is one of my favorite brands because they’re responsibly produced and they make the most comfortable flats known to man. And as far as scarves go, I always wind up adopting proto-styles that didn’t make it into the final line up … my  little mistakes.”

When I wore this outfit: “On any given day.”

How I’d remix this outfit: “I might swap the jeans for a summer skirt and lacy fishnets if I need to look a little less casual. Or if it’s not summer, I’d definitely add a long woolly cardigan and my riding boots.”

Last place I shopped and what I bought: “Emergency sunglasses at my local thrift [shop].”

Why I got into fashion design: “I chose fashion design because I didn’t want to turn my other passions into a job. I wanted my other passions to remain innocent and indulgent—fashion could never be this way—and could also bear the burden of the work world and thrive in it.”

What fascinates me about knitwear: “Knitwear is kind of the ultimate to me. You are creating your own textile and garment or accessory simultaneously. I don’t like the idea of cutting into fabric somebody else designed, dyed in colors somebody else chose. Knitwear has also made a real craftswoman out of me: it’s a lesson in attention to detail and the proper and improper way of making.”

What piece I’m coveting for spring right now: “I’d really like to find the perfect lingerie-tank to replace my old one, and maybe not in black. I’m trying to get back into color.”

My favorite store of all time is… “Actually, I don’t have any one favorite store but I definitely have a favorite genre: The Curiosity Shop. They can be found in almost any town and usually feature an assortment of old gadgets. I find a tremendous amount of inspiration in old things. They’re usually past their prime (broken), but you can tell they’re better made versions of what we have today.  These antique items, especially antique apparel items, remind me to take the ‘better-made’ approach rather than the ‘quicker-made’ approach in my work.”

If I weren’t a fashion designer, my other career would be… “An equine behaviorist/trainer.”

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