Designer Spotlight: Monica Wesley, founder of Uye Surana
One of the highlights of the last edition of LingerieFW in August was Uye Surana’s presentation. It was the perfect opportunity for visitors and press to see her designs on live models and see the ultra-comfortable garments up close.
The designer and founder, Monica Wesley, recently sent us images from her SS14 collection — a range of lingerie and loungewear inspired from vintage salvaged dishware that washed up on a beach in Brooklyn, NY.
“Our Spring Summer collection contains effortless clothing pieces that can stand alone or layer over our delicately detailed, yet unique lingerie,” says Monica of her brand’s SS14 offerings. “The collection mixes soft pastels in an array of shiny silks, hand-dyed speckle silks, mesh panels, bits of lace, and unexpected sporty details.”
It’s a beautiful collection and we enjoyed learning about Monica’s brand story. Wanting to share, we’ve put together this intimate Q&A for our readers to enjoy and learn more about Uye Surana:
Q&A with Monica Wesley, designer and founder of Uye Surana
“I’m very hands on and I like to work with my designs through all phases and see them progress. I also like having a strong sense of the environment that it’s made in.”
Monica, for our readers who might not be familiar with your brand, could you give us some insight into what Uye Surana is all about?
Uye Surana is a collection of fashionable lingerie, loungewear, and transitional clothing.
It’s great to know that your collection is made here in NYC. Could you talk to us about why you chose to manufacture here stateside?
I’m very hands on and I like to work with my designs through all phases and see them progress. I also like having a strong sense of the environment that it’s made in.
Above: Uye Surana SS14 T Silk Bralette #C717B paired with #C410B Silk Cutout Tap Shorts. Photo by Bill Walters.
With your desire to keep your line both layerable and easy-to-wear, could you tell our readers what you do in your collection – from the fabric selection to your designs – to accomplish this goal?
We use a lot of lightweight, unstructured fabrics, which lend well for layering. Our bras feature beautiful, yet less traditional design details that work well when incorporated into an outfit. Like pairing it with a semi-sheer top or exposing it with a Low Back Tunic. While the collection remains versatile in its functionality it also doesn’t require too much thought to wear.
Above: Uye Surana at LingerieFW. Photo by Alberto Lama Photography.
You recently presented your fourth season at LingerieFW, what was that experience like?
Especially with this season of designs I felt it was very important to show the looks live on the models so people can view the details in person.
Could you walk us through the development of your SS14 collection?
Last summer I collected vintage salvaged dishware that washed up on a beach in Brooklyn. It consisted of chipped pastel ceramics in pale green, blue, pink, and milk glass. There was this really beautiful contrast between the manmade and natural corrosion.
This really informed my colors and fabrications. I used an array of pastel colors, which I mixed slight differences and tones in design details and trims throughout bras, panties and swim pieces. While other aspects of the collection feature brighter hues like the Lace Bandeau in royal blue with silver hardware and hot pink accents. Nylon lining allows for it to be worn swimming, but its removable straps also make it a good option to pair under tank tops. This is a key example to the versatility of Uye Surana in its combination of lingerie, clothing, and loungewear allowing for multiple uses throughout many pieces.
Above: Uye Surana SS14 Mesh & Silk Softcup Bra #C713B with matching Mesh & Silk V-Panty #C708G. Photo by Bill Walters.
Hand-dyed speckle silks in coral and blue, which is a technique I developed a few seasons ago, spoke to the washed and worn aspect of the inspiration.
Key pieces and shapes from past seasons were updated with these themes. While new themes like v-shaped cut outs were added to tap shorts or created interesting contrasts with the V-Trim tee.
What’s your favorite piece in the SS14 collection?
For SS14 I fell in love with our hand-dyed speckle silk material, which I used to update a simple silk brallette by adding a speckled silk bar in the middle and detail at the back straps.
Above: Uye Surana SS14 Low Back Tunic #C525B with Lace Longline Bra #C714D worn underneath. Photo by Bill Walters.
How do you feel retailers could take advantage of Uye Surana at their boutique or online store?
While Uye Surana compliments other fine lingerie and loungewear brands it brings a more fashion-oriented, yet wearable aesthetic to lingerie and loungewear. Whether the garment emphasizes comfort or just looks really pretty, these are pieces that women will wear both as lingerie, but also as clothing.
In your brand story, you give us some wonderful insights into how your family helped nurture your creativity. Could you give us a specific example of how your father taught you to hone your creative and business sense? Any insights and examples from your mom?
My mom taught me how to make things from a very early age. She sort of let me make anything I could think of. She taught me how to sew and it sort of took over. All my creativity moved into developing textiles and clothing.
My parents taught me money management from an early age and I watched both of them pursue different self-employed and small business paths. I knew I always wanted to do the same, but for something that I loved.
Above: Uye Surana SS14 Bias Slip Top #C606C. Photo by Bill Walters.
What’s next for Uye Surana? Do you have any events coming up we should let our readers know about?
This February we will be exhibiting at CurveNY for the first time and we are excited to bring Uye Surana to a larger audience.
We’re also planning Fall 13 and Spring 14 trunk shows with select lingerie retailers to allow them to preview the collection with their customers.
If any retailer wants to get more information about your collection, how can they get a hold of you?
For interest in carrying the line or further inquiries contact firstname.lastname@example.org. For Spring suggested retail prices range from $43 – $265.