The 8 Ball: Leah D’Ambrosio
WOL HIDE: founder and designer, Leah D’Ambrosio is all about comfort and natural cover. Leah explains why a holistic approach to design is so meaningful to her. She also walks us through a go-to meal that brings her comfort and what designers she is wearing at the moment.
When we think of Wol Hide, we think comfort and natural cover. Can you talk to us about the materials that you use to create this feeling?
I’m a homebody and a creature of comfort so I always want to create pieces that are easy and cozy. When sourcing fabric and yarns, I carefully look at both their fiber content and their feel, how they’re going to feel when you’re wearing them. For me it’s all about the interaction with the product, I want to make you something that will last and will be a steady go-to in your closet for years. Our easy styles are made with 100% organic domestic cotton which is so soft, our sweaters are made mostly with alpaca, cotton and wool. I use a lot of the natural colors of alpaca, wool and organic color grown cotton yarns. These are all basic fibers, it’s about using what the earth provides and not overusing it.
We know that you design with a holistic approach. Can you explain what this means to you?
To me, this means taking the whole picture into consideration when designing and choosing materials and being transparent about my choices. I’m not doing anything revolutionary but I truly care about the product, the wearer, the supply chain and who’s making the products. These all take priority over the bottom line. My factories and some materials might not have all the certifications that a larger brand would need because those are expensive and they’re small businesses but I’ve made the judgments for myself and I have steady, growing relationships with my producers. Sometimes I use alpaca yarns that are blended with a little bit of Polyamide. I’ve done my research on, and spoken with the yarn manufacturers and while I don’t want to overuse it, I feel ok with this. It helps to make a better product and keeps the alpaca from being too heavy when it gets bulky.
I think there’s a lot of mistrust in the fashion industry and a lot of confusion about sustainable fashion right now. There aren’t any rules, no one has the right answers. So for me, a holistic approach is saying that I care a lot, I do my research and I make the choices I think are best which are driven by so much more than cost.
Your personal most cherished Wol Hide piece?
When I first started the brand, I was making everything myself so it would be one of those pieces. I think the chair throw that I used to make would be my most cherished if I had to choose. It was a bulky throw with rolls that were stuffed with roving and inspired by sheepskins, they took forever to make! I’ve been working out how to have someone else make these so hopefully they’ll be back next year.
Pennsylvania must be beautiful during the Fall. Can you tell us about your morning routine right now?
It is! My studio is on the 3rd floor of my house so I usually get up, get ready, sometimes walk to a yoga class, or just cook a quick breakfast, drink some coffee, take care of my dog and then head upstairs. My husband and I recently moved to a neighborhood in Philly with a lot of trees, pretty gardens and it’s near a huge park with hiking trails. I have a nice view of the changing leaves from my studio and when I need a break, I’ll walk my dog and stare at some plants. There’s always some new flower or changing leaves or plants on our walk.
A go-to meal that brings you comfort?
I love to cook and I’m such a seasonal eater. Right now I just want roasted squash and fall veggies but some kind of pasta is always comforting for me. With pesto or fresh tomatoes and basil in the summer or a slow-cooked heavier sauce in the winter. I also love making fresh pasta on occasion. In the winter, making my mom’s chicken stew with dumplings is the ultimate comfort.
Your go-to Fall outfit? Who are you wearing at the moment (besides Wol Hide, of course)?
My go-to Fall outfit is jeans and a sweater of course, with the Box Bomber currently in heavy rotation but I’m also excited about some new and old favorite pieces from talented friends - a wool button-up shirt from Town Clothes, a patchwork silk dress from Milena Silvano, a leather bag from Are Studio and a coat from Atelier Delphine.
Can you speak about minimal dyeing and avoiding chemical processing and why this is important?
There’s so much beauty in raw materials. If you use quality, natural fibers, they don’t necessarily need to be dyed or coated so they don’t wrinkle, that’s part of their character.
Thinking about the processing of our textiles to me, is as important as how they look, for our planet as well as our bodies. In grad school, I took a chemistry class on dyeing and finishing and it completely opened my eyes to the world of chemical processing on our textiles. The production and runoff are clearly horrible for our planet and the people in these factories. Our skin is extremely absorbent so any chemicals left on the materials will be absorbed by our skin and bodies as we wear them.
I’ve also been thinking a lot about the circularity of a garment’s life, it’s recyclable and biodegradable if it’s a natural fiber without harsh chemicals.
What Wol Hide piece should everyone have in their closets right now?
I would have to say a Box Bomber, a Rib Hat and a Poncho, and a pair of Easy Pants too!