Angela Sison of Conrado fashions describes her design style as “a city-to-beach-inspired curated line of women’s essentials.” The designer certainly has a background that incorporates both lifestyles. Ms. Sison was born in San Francisco, raised in the Philippines where her mother owns a garment factory, studied design in San Francisco, and has worked in the fashion industry in New York City, California, and Paris. She currently splits her time among San Francisco, Manila, and the Vineyard, where she shares a home with her boyfriend, Noah Mayrand.
For the past few years Ms. Sison has sold her designs variously at the Chilmark Flea Market, craft fairs in Brooklyn, and pop-up shops in the Garment District in New York City. A few stores across the country also carry her line, and she does a brisk online business selling the clothing she describes as “reflecting a lifestyle of beauty, comfort, and versatility.”
“I think the ideal woman for my designs is someone who is adventurous and confident about herself,” says Ms. Sison. “They’re a little bit creative. They love to travel, and want to be comfortable but still look good.
“My favorite fabrics are natural — linens and cottons,” she says. “They’re breathable and work best with my more comfy style. You can layer them. I do simple silhouettes that flatter a bunch of body types. The most important thing about a simple silhouette is the fit. Most of my styles run from extra-small to extra-large, up to a size 14.”
There’s nothing predictable about the Conrado designs. The line has its own sort of structural identity. The dresses, jumpsuits, pants, skirts, and tops benefit from freedom of movement design, yet they are not the typical flowy pieces that have become so popular of late. Ms. Sison’s choice of cotton or linen as opposed to fabric blends dictates design. Her interesting silhouettes rely less on soft folds than interesting architecture, which gives the looks a more cosmopolitan, fashion-forward feel.
“I try to design things that are modern in a way,” says Ms. Sison. “Some kind of twist in style but still classic.” The Conrado line will appeal to a wide range of age groups. “Some can be worn by a teenager, or some by their mother. I’ve designed in a way that I can give new styles to women.”
The Johanna Jumpsuit from the Summer 2018 collection has an almost vixenish 1950s appeal with its tie-up top and high-waisted bottom, but there’s also a sturdy tomboyish quality to the loose-fitting garment. Despite their relative simplicity, many of the pieces have interesting details, like the split hem on the Remy pants, a diagonal slope to the hem of the wide-legged Wynn Jumpsuit, or a side tie or back tie on a simple top.
The fabrics themselves make the garments unique. Ms. Sison is dedicated to recycling, and all of her pieces are created from dead stock fabric (never sold to consumers before being removed from sale). She started her business using leftover material from the family factory, then searched out other sources. “The more I researched, the more I realized that there is a lot of excess,” she says. “I partnered with a few jobbers who buy the excess. There are warehouses full of fabric. It’s scary how much waste there is in the fashion industry.”
Conrado styles are all limited in quantity due to the use of dead stock fabric. The pieces are produced in the Philippines in the small factory run by Ms. Sison’s family. She oversees the process on a regular basis.
Ms. Sison grew up in the fashion industry. Hanging out in her mother’s factory, she learned the business from the ground up. “I’ve always been involved,” she says. “I remember as a little girl going in on Saturdays, counting buttons and trimming thread. By the time I was 10, I was already sewing things for myself.”
The designer earned a B.F.A. in fashion from a small art school in San Francisco, then moved to New York to intern with various designers, including Jason Wu, who designed both of Michelle Obama’s inauguration dresses. She went on to spend a year in Paris working for a menswear design label. Further increasing her versatility, Ms. Sison worked for Old Navy in San Francisco for four years, designing baby and toddler clothes. “What I learned most was how to organize myself as a designer,” she says of her time at Old Navy. “Thinking more on a business scale.”
The designer’s line is named for her grandfather. On her website she describes his influence on her design aesthetic. “He truly embodied the whole persona of the traveler. What he wore and what he did was seamless. I want my pieces to embody that same freedom of traveling.”
Ms. Sison has obviously inherited her grandfather’s love of travel and exploration. She has combined her various life experiences to design a brand that can go from city to beach seamlessly. She describes her line as “New England meets the tropics with the effortless California vibe.”
You can shop for Ms. Sison’s designs at shopconrado.com. Citrine in Vineyard Haven also carries a selection of her pieces.
This article by Gwyn McAllister originally appeared on mvtimes.com.