Spring may be the most fun season to invigorate your wardrobe with new colors, patterns and prints. And Western Wake residents don’t have to look to global fashion houses and national retailers — talented designers are just around the block. Discover three clothing lines based right here in the Triangle that are utilizing drive, hard work and Southern spunk to succeed in an insider industry.
Rosie Olive Designs
The birth of her daughter, Olive, inspired Elle Parkinson to try her hand at making children’s clothing. Hours spent deconstructing Olive’s dresses and experimenting on the sewing machine helped Parkinson build her knowledge of apparel design. Parkinson’s first order came only 4 months after creating her first dress.
At the encouragement of family and friends, Parkinson entered Belk’s Southern Designer Showcase in 2013, a competition to find up-and-coming designers who embody Belk’s signature “Modern, Southern Style.” For the competition, Parkinson produced a completely custom 13-piece girls’ collection with fabric she also designed.
Left: Dot Floral Dress, $42, Rosie Olive Designs
Right: Olive Signature Dress, $42, Rosie Olive Designs
Out of 300 entries, Parkinson’s Rosie Olive Designs was selected as one of 13 winners, launching her into a whirlwind process of refining her original collection, collaborating with Belk and eventually seeing her designs for sale in 29 Belk stores across the Southeast.
Pictured left: Elle Parkinson
“It was really exciting to know that all that hard work paid off,” said Parkinson. “Winning the competition was an eye opener to the business and to what I can challenge myself to do.”
Rosie Olive Designs, named for Parkinson’s mother and daughter, showcases fun, girly prints and lively colors with hidden details centered on the brand’s central theme: olives. Sizes range from 2 to 10.
“In big events in my life, I have pictures and memories wearing items from Belk. To be able to create that for somebody else is such a huge honor,” said Parkinson.
Available at Belk.
Zankhna Parekh could easily fit right into the New York fashion scene. She is beautiful, petite and elegant with a two-year stint at Glamour magazine under her belt. But her heart is in the Triangle, where she hopes to garner a strong local following for her namesake brand.
A mother of three, Parekh is inspired by and designs for busy moms and real-life women who are on the go yet want to stay on trend — a perfect fit for the family-oriented Triangle area.
“It doesn’t matter how good you are in shape, after three kids things don’t go back the way they were,” said Parekh.
Left: From left: Gray Check Button Down, $84, Golden Yellow Chinos, $74, and Tie, $48, Lumina
Princess Shift Dress, $119, Zankhna Parekh
Pearl Necklace, $98, Stella & Dot
Owl Dress, $42, Rosie Olive Designs
Right: Grecian One-Shoulder Dress, $159, Zankhna Parekh
Ring, $29, and Earrings, $39, Ivy Cottage Collections
Bracelet, $39, Stella & Dot
“I started designing with moms in mind, accentuating the areas that we are comfortable with, but disguising the areas that we are not as comfortable with.”
Pictured right: Zankhna Parekh
Parekh released her first collection in the fall of 2013, which was immediately picked up by two area boutiques. Her line is feminine and polished with a hint of global flair. Customers and fans would never guess that Parekh has no formal fashion training and first enjoyed an 11-year career as a physical therapist.
“I had no contacts, I didn’t know where to start. Fashion was something that was calling for a long time and once I put my mind to it, it just snowballed.”
Available at The Art of Style in Cameron Village, Gioia on Ninth in Durham and zankhna.com.
The Lumina Clothing Co
As an architecture student at N.C State University, Barton Strawn began designing neckwear. He sought a creative escape from his heavily technical studies and used his own penchant for Southern style as a springboard.
Fast forward four years and Strawn’s Lumina Clothing Co has a successful Kickstarter campaign, bustling online business and a downtown Raleigh storefront on its resume.
“In the early days we were very very Southern,” Strawn said. “We were all about seersucker and crazy bright plaids.” The brand’s aesthetic has toned down some, incorporating European influences along with the ginghams and plaids of its Southern roots. It’s a middle ground that Strawn feels appeals to customers north and south and has the company well-placed for growth.
Left: Boyfriend Shirt Dress, $109, Zankhna Parekh
Bangles, $22, Ivy Cottage Collections
Micro Dot Button Down, $92, Lumina
Navy Chinos, $92, and
Tie, $48, Lumina
Right: Gray Check Button Down, $84,
Golden Yellow Chinos, $74, and
Tie, $48, Lumina
“In New York, Southern style is the new cool. We’ve gained a lot of traction there as a result,” said Strawn. “Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good. We just happen to be in the right segment at the right time.”
Pictured right: Barton Strawn
“When we first launched the company our goal was to try to provide pieces that were 100 percent from the Carolinas,” said Strawn. “We found out that’s extraordinarily difficult, almost impossible. But we’ve been working really hard on providing that. That’s something that we don’t want to stray away from.”
Currently, Lumina products are all made in the U.S., and Strawn hinted that an exclusive collection of shirts made strictly in North and South Carolina is in the works.
Lumina’s staples are crisp button-downs, colorful chino trousers, selvedge denim and of course, patterned neckwear.
Available at The Lumina Clothing Co in Raleigh and luminaclothing.com.
Left: Signature Bird Dress, $42, Rosie Olive Designs
Right: Summer Loving Maxi Dress, $159, Zankhna Parekh
Clutch, $90, Earrings, $39, and Bangles, from $18, Ivy Cottage Collections
Micro Check Button
Down, $84, Trenton Jean, $108 and Tie, $48, Lumina
Find it Here
Rosie Olive Designs
Belk, various locations
123 E, Martin St,, Raleigh
Ivy Cottage Collections
2017 NW Cary Parkway, Morrisville
Stella & Dot
Shot on location at MacGregor Downs Country Club.
Special thanks to Charles Spivey, Jennifer Rowe and Olive Coe for modeling and to Denise Hutter of Images by Denise for hair and makeup.
MacGregor Downs Country Club
430 St. Andrews Lane, Cary
Images by Denise