Good Life: The Mix: Tastemaker: Sarah Van Aken

How custom clothing designer Sarah Van Aken started designing uniforms

Who: Custom-clothing designer and Center City resident, with models showing off the uniforms she designed for snazzy Izakaya, the Borgata’s newest eatery.

Where she got her start: Designing bespoke shirts for men under the label Van Aken in her Rittenhouse studio.

How she got into uniform design: She met Alfred Portale, chef/owner of NYC’s famed Gotham Bar and Grill, at a cocktail party in Philly in 2006. He dug her style, and asked her to create uniforms for both Gotham and Gotham Steak, his Miami spin-off.

Also see her uniforms at: Supper on South Street, and NYC eateries Forge and Rouge Tomate.

Philosophy: “Staff are the ambassadors to the restaurant.”

How she conceives designs: Van Aken uses trend-forecasting books in combination with classic elements (like wrap dresses) and a restaurant’s decor for inspiration.

Biggest challenge: “Finding fabrics that can hold up to industrial-strength laundries.”

Next: Sava, a women’s contemporary ready-to-wear line in early spring, and a continued commitment to social responsibility: “I own a fair-trade production factory in Bangladesh and want to do something comparable in Philly, so I can give back and create jobs in the city.”

Around the Web

Be respectful of our online community and contribute to an engaging conversation. We reserve the right to ban impersonators and remove comments that contain personal attacks, threats, or profanity, or are flat-out offensive. By posting here, you are permitting Philadelphia magazine and Metro Corp. to edit and republish your comment in all media.