Philly might be the most underestimated fashion powerhouse in the country. One woman who embodies Philly's footprint on fashion is Jamie Lewin. Recently named the director of design and trend at Piperlime, an online division of Gap, Inc., the Cheltenham High School graduate was born in Northeast Philadelphia. As a Fashion Institute of Technology grad, it only makes sense that some of the Lewin's fondest memories of growing up in the Philadelphia area include the city's fashion scene. Of course, she loved not only summers down the Shore and the ubiquitous Philly soft pretzels and water ice, but also "taking the train downtown with my girlfriends to shop at Urban Outfitters (when it was where Anthropologie is now) and Betsey Johnson across the street."
The 35-year-old has already held a plethora of positions within the fashion industry, from interning for Paula Hian in Manayunk to owning her own fashion line, Phyl Couture, which could be found locally at shops including Old City's Vagabond. Lewin went on to work at acclaimed fashion brands like Tracy Reese and Gap before settling in to her new, innovative Piperlime position, where she was instrumental in designing and launching the brand's first collection, which debuted this fall. Now, Lewin, who graduated with an undergraduate degree from Penn State, shares how she became Philly's very own Jenna Lyons-like success story.
Philly.com: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in the fashion industry?
Jamie Lewin: My mom's mom was a fashion designer and my dad's dad was a master tailor, so I grew up around so much fashion talent! I didn't realize it was a career path for me until I took a design course freshman year of college and fell in love with it.
Philly.com: What was your first fashion gig?
JL: My first fashion internship was actually in Manayunk with Paula Hian. Shortly following I interned and then worked at Armani Collezioni in New York.
Philly.com: How did you get your foot in the door?
JL: Senior year of college I literally sent my resume to every company I would have wanted to intern with in NYC. After a few interviews I was offered one internship at Marc Jacobs and one at Armani. Armani actually paid so the rest is history!
Philly.com: What has been the highest point thus far in your career?
JL: All of my experience has led me to now and I couldn't be happier designing for Piperlime. The real highlight for me is whenever I see someone wearing something I designed. It's the best compliment and reward! I also love to travel and attend Fashion Week, so I feel very lucky to get to do what I love as part of my job.
Philly.com: What have you found has been your biggest challenge?
JL: There is just never enough time! Everything moves a mile a minute and some days I wish I could clone myself to get it all done.
Philly.com: What's some advice you have for local kids looking to break into the fashion industry?
JL: Go to school for design, get an internship in the industry, listen and learn as much as possible. There is so much to learn and you can't skip steps.
Philly.com: Can you describe the responsibilities of your role as director of design and trend?
JL: My main role is to lead the team in designing the Piperlime Collection. I create concepts (themes and overall seasonal direction), color palettes and work with my team to design all of the pieces in the collection. I partner with our creative team to create our look book each season and to determine the trends we want to highlight with the other brands we carry on our site.
Philly.com: As a fashion expert, what are some of your go-to tips for the perfect outfit?
JL: My tip is to always balance something feminine with something a little tougher – for example, I'll pair a frilly top with distressed denim or black leather pants. No matter what you wear, though, you should always be comfortable in it and feel like yourself. Confidence is always the sexiest thing you can wear.
Philly.com: What are some trends readers can look out for in Spring/Summer 2015?