Sophie Kempner Is So New York
After moving to Astoria, Sophie Kempner turned her dreams of opening her own fashion label into reality. At The Pop Bar in the same neighborhood, Kempner recently launched her fashion label SoSophie. The line is meant to focus on men’s effortless sportswear.
She studied fashion design in school, but left early when she had the opportunity to work in the fashion industry. As part of an internship, Kempner moved from her native London to Los Angeles where she shadowed at a company that designed ice-skating oufits. Then, a family friend helped land her a gig in New York with Rubin Singer, a prominent designer who is best known for creating Beyonce’s Super Bowl ensemble.
“That’s where it all started off,” Kempner said. “Also, I had a big fascination with the U.S. and wanting to work here, so I moved to New York.”
Still currently working for Singer, she feels inspired by his hard work ethic, even though his feminine designs couldn’t be further from her own brand’s masculine style. Additionally, Kempner has been able to gain business experience while working with the established designer. As his assistant, some of her roles include dabbling in design development, fabric manipulation and managing a team of people. She hopes to use what she’s learning for her own label in the future.
After moving to Astoria two years ago, she immediately fell in love with the area’s atmosphere.
“Astoria is a very new and upcoming neighborhood,” she said. “I think it’s going to be the new Brooklyn in that it’s very developing and there are a lot of young people here.”
Living in Astoria and having an interest in menswear resulted in Kempner’s determination to create the sportswear collection. The collection, which she deemed “cool and edgy,” features t-shirts, tank tops, snapbacks and beanies with logos such as “SoNewYork” and “SoBklyn.” So far, the SoNewYork t-shirt has received the highest praise due to its simplicity.
In the future, Kempner hopes to expand her label to feature logos for other boroughs. And with a fascination in mens outerwear, she’d like to work on coats and jackets.
Ultimately, Kempner wants “to make a guy look good,” by providing him with chic and comfortable clothing pieces.
“Whether he’s going out to dinner or going out to the bar at night, he could wear my t-shirt anytime,” she said.
Moving to Queens was the turning point in Kempner’s career. She learned to take charge and be present throughout every step of the creative and technical process in building a fashion label. And being known as a local designer is important to her. The label’s pieces are printed locally by Kempner herself.
Not only does Kempner design the clothing, but most of her weekends revolve around photo shoots in Queens and Brooklyn. Some of her favorite locations are ones that create a complex background, like walls covered in graffiti. She researches locations, chooses models, takes the photos herself and then shares them through social media. Influenced by the moving image, she might include video in her presentation of SoSophie soon.
“Maybe in the future I’ll have a team to do it all, but right now I enjoy doing it myself,” Kempner said. “New York inspiring me is what I needed for something to take off, and that’s what triggered the collection that I’ve now created.”
An exhibition of her label is still on display at The Pop Bar, and there’s a Queens store interested in stocking her t-shirts. Kempner also saw a lot of interest when she recently presented her label at the popular Brooklyn market, Artists and Fleas.
The sky’s the limit for this local designer. She’s definitely living out the New York City dream. “It takes a lot of time and hardwork to build it all up,” she said. “But it’s fun if you love it, and that’s the secret, I think.”
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