You Wish You Worked Here: Inside the Philly Textile Design Company Behind Fashion’s Coolest Prints
We’re serving up some serious office envy in our new series, You Wish You Worked Here, where we take you inside the city’s most covet-worthy jobs. From fashion-focused careers you didn’t know existed to just plain gorgeous desk setups, take a peek inside
the glam life of Philly’s corporate elite.
The old paper box factory in Kensington looks rather unassuming, but step inside and it’s a hub of buzzy creative talent. This is mostly thanks to Leo and Amy Voloshin, a married duo who bought the building, completely rehabbed it and then turned it into office and studio space for other artists and companies (crazy-talented floral designer Sullivan Owen is one of the tenants). The Voloshin’s brainchild is also based here, a nine-year-old textile design company called Printfresh Studio that’s the unassuming force behind some of the fashion industry’s coolest clothes.
Print creation is a rather under-the-radar fashion job, and Printfresh is one of the few studios in the country that does it. Thirty employees (29 of them are women! #girlpower) work on dreaming up and designing prints for some of the biggest names in retail and fashion: J.Crew, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Kate Spade, Macy’s, Nordstrom, ASOS, Zara, Forever 21, Target, to name just a few. Some create brand-new designs; others work on modifying existing prints for clients so that everything abides by intellectual property laws (read: so things like this don’t happen); and others buy, organize and maintain the company’s vast — and positively incredible — vintage archives.
We caught up with Amy, the creative director of Printfresh, to get the scoop on her company and its totally inspiring headquarters, her personal style, and just what it takes to make it as a designer and artist in Philly.
So what does Printfresh do? “We create prints for women’s, juniors, some kids, swim, a little bit of home and accessories, too. We have about 130 clients who we work with on a regular basis. One division works speculatively, so they create a collection of prints that we think are going to be relevant a year from now, and we have a sales team that goes to New York a couple times a week; they’re in Paris right now selling. Fashion designers look at all the designs, and maybe they’ll pick one that they like, maybe they’ll pick 20, and then they purchase the copyright to it. We’ll give them a physical sample, but really what they’re buying is the digital file. And then they manufacture it.
It’s kind of a weird business-to-business sort of thing that people just don’t really know about. If you buy something, say, from ASOS, you think they made it, but usually people like that are buying from companies like this.”
How do artists create the prints? “It’s a lot of drawing and painting. A lot of times the designers will come in, paint for a couple of hours, then scan everything in and start designing on the computer. It’s a lot of research first to find out what’s out there in stores and then think about out what the next thing is. Like, this is what’s happening in stores right now, but a year from now, what’s going to look good?”
“There aren’t that many studios that do this in the US. And because there aren’t that many opportunities [like this in Philly], creating a place where people can design and draw every day is really important to me.”
What about those vintage archives? “We sell vintage [garments and fabric swatches] to designers for inspiration for either shape, embroidery or print. We don’t sell it to the public, but we have been thinking about starting to do that [editor’s note: GDHIOEJFKL!!!]. Somebody like J.Crew would spend $650 and up on a garment that they’re purchasing for a design concept. Some things will go up to $1,200 if it’s really antique or especially unusual.”
Hardest print to create: “Paisleys are the hardest. A print can take anywhere from two hours to six hours of really focused work.”
Favorite designer: “Valentino. And Isabel Marant.”
Heels or flats? “Always a clog.”
Favorite store: “Vagabond is my go-to. I like how homey it is, and they have this great mix of high-end, like Rachel Comey, and then sometimes I’ll pick up something that I think will be a lot and it’ll be, like, $60.”
Psst: Get more inspiration and behind-the-scenes peeks by following Printfresh on Instagram!