I was scrolling around on Instagram and looking at all these gorgeous pics of Made in Hawaii brands when I happened on the IG of Vermilli Hawaii and immediately started following! The prints were so pretty and the cuts seemed so flattering...just totally approachable for all body shapes and sizes. After drooling over pics for a few months, I finally ran into Nicole Vermillion, owner and designer, at the Made in Hawaii festival. I got to feel the fabrics in person and was sold!
This month, we decided to highlight this local brand as we start to head into the warmer spring and summer months. Vermilli is full of tropical prints, comfy fabrics and versatile work-to-play pieces. So we sat down with Nicole to dive deeper into her brand.
(Vermilli Owner and Designer Nicole Vermillion)
C: Have you always had a passion for designing? How did Vermilli get started?
N: I had always loved sewing my own clothing and wanted to start a fashion line, but felt like it was out of reach... I thought the only place to actually produce clothing was China. I started working for a small manufacturing start up company in 2012 and met many designers on the island. As I met designer after designer on the island, I realized that it was possible to manufacture here in Hawaii!
(Vermilli Summer '18 Collection: Mimi Top and Palolo Pant)
C: Many customers comment of the softness of the fabric. What is modal and why is is such a great fabric option?
N: Modal is a natural fiber that blends really well with spandex (to make it stretch :) It was created in Italy in the 1990s and I actually found this fabric in college and made all of my clothes out of it! I really think it sets my brand apart to use a natural, (mostly eco-friendly production process too), soft and comfortable fabric. And I've recently found a company to custom print on this fabric too!
As you're sourcing fabrics for your brand, how do you determine which prints and colors to buy? I'm sure there are so many options!
There are SO many options!! I have a few different processes to choose, but I mostly go with my gut instinct when choosing prints and colors. I do pay attention to the Pantone colors released for every season, but I think that Hawaii has it's own style to some extent. Blues will never be out of style here :) I also do a ton of "market research"...aka window shopping! It's always helpful to get inspiration from the larger brands in Waikiki and Ala Moana.
C: What are some of the most popular styles for Vermilli and what do you consider when designing a new cut for the brand?
N: Hmmm, I've found that my most popular styles are cuts that flatter almost every body type, for instance the Valentine Dress and Janica Dress. Which is funny because Vermilli is a very heavy dress brand. And I hardly wear dresses, haha :)
Also, my Delia Pants that I launched this past winter have blown everything out of the water! I think it's because the market is lacking a basic pant that looks good on everyone and is comfortable. And of course the pockets are the best!
I do try to remember that everyone is shaped so differently. When I'm creating a new Collection, I try to design at least one dress style for each category:
Trendy/Specialty (new Akela Dress)
Also, I take in a lot of feedback from my customers and store owners...an example of this is the Devynn Dress, a fuller, more flowing version of the Jimmie Dress. It's been a huge success so far!
(Vermilli Summer '18: Valentine Dress)
(Vermilli Summer '18: Akela Dress)
C: You've recently launched swimwear in the brand! How did that come about and what do you find is so different when it comes to designing swimwear?
N: Yes! The swim line was always in the back of my mind since beginning; because I surf a lot and live in Hawaii, it seemed like a no brainer. But it took a really long time for me to figure out the proper way to sew them! (every seam has elastic in it and big manufacturers use compressor machines to feed this elastic through...I do not have access to that haha). Once I figured out the proper tension and elastic to use, it became easier to create the designs I thought would be best for my line.
There are so many things that are different between swim and clothing! Swim is more basic, classic cuts and lots of fun prints that change all the time...clothing is a bit trendier.
(Vermilli Summer '18: Aviva One Piece and Dakota Top w/Amazon Bottom)