Feather cuffed velour sets, rhinestone embellished cowboy hats, deconstructed sneaker corsets. This is Her Fruit.
The “wearable art” clothing company created by communications senior Malia Sine was launched at the start of the new year. By up-cycling vintage fabrics into avant-garde outfits, Sine’s sustainable fashion brand features pieces that are both handmade and one-of-a-kind.
“My clothing is very different,” Sine said. “The things that I make, people either love it or hate it.”
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While finishing her senior year at Cal Poly, Sine has made it her mission to educate her generation about sustainability, especially in terms of fashion. She deconstructs vintage materials and redesigns them into unique pieces, hoping to make Her Fruit ”a dreamy universe of sustainable opulence.”
Video by Grace Nielsen
Reporters Baharan Abdollahi and Grace Nielsen interviewed Sine, and organized the interview into the Q & A below. Sine’s answers have been edited for length and style.
Give us a quick summary of what your business is all about.
“Long story short: I’ll go to vintage shops and thrift stores to find vintage fabrics and clothes with designs I like. I don’t want to waste material or buy it brand new, I want to use what we already have in the world and make it into cuter things so that our generation will want to buy my pieces rather than turning to fast fashion.”
How did you choose the name Her Fruit?
“So Her Fruit kind of came to me right away. I guess it could come off as sexualizing girls, but I didn’t really take it that way. I thought of Her Fruit as the things she loves, her accessories. That’s Her Fruit.”
What sets Her Fruit apart from other brands?
“My main message is sustainability. I’m trying to teach our generation about what sustainability is, how to be sustainable, and how to boycott fast fashion. That’s what people don’t know; places like Forever 21 and Boohoo are so cute but so bad for the environment and for the people they are outsourcing the manufacturing to. I created something of my own to share with my friends and to teach people more about sustainability because I don’t really think it’s become an issue that people have heard about until very recently, myself included.”
What does sustainability mean to you?
“It’s an everyday decision that you have to make. It’s not just about clothes — it’s small things you can do to preserve the non-renewable resources that we have on the earth. We have to try our best to not be selfish and think about what our world is going to look like in 10, 20 years for future generations. It’s about trying to live the best life you can while giving love back to the earth.”
How would you describe your brand and the style of your pieces? Who do you envision wearing them?
“When I was researching, many sustainable brands sell very bland, white and neutral colored pieces. I thought we needed something catered more towards our generation — more trendy, more colorful — so I tried to play on that. I think our generation is at the forefront of sustainability issues, so that’s the demographic I’m reaching for. A younger aesthetic, for people in their 20s.”
“I wanted to start off with bigger, really different pieces to make a statement. I like playing with colors and different patterns. It’s definitely not everyday wear, but really it’s up to you how you want to wear it and where you want to wear it. It’s up to my buyers. “
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Walk us through the process of creating one of your pieces.
“Pinterest boards let me find patterns and styles that I like and anything that I can pull inspiration from. Even printing out pictures and creating mood boards really helps me see my vision. I didn’t really learn to sew from anyone, so I don’t sketch out my designs, it’s all more in my head. I use a mannequin to fit my designs on, but I haven’t learned how to pattern-make yet for different sizing. Right now, my pieces are more adjustable and stretchy so that they can fit a variety of sizes.”
Who would you say is your biggest style inspiration?
“I look up to a lot of different brands. I have been trying to support more Black-owned businesses, and everything I see is so powerful and creative. One brand that I really love, Frisk Me Good, is where I got my inspiration for the sneaker corsets I have made. I modeled for the woman who started the brand, Cierra Boyd — she pioneered the concept of the sneaker corset and I thought they were so cool. I didn’t want to copy exactly what she was doing, but we talked about it and found ways to make mine a little different because I would never want to take away from someone else’s original design. So ours are different, but definitely the same idea. I really look up to her.”
How do you feel when you complete a piece/sell a piece to someone?
“When I first started, I was so impressed by the fact that I was even able to sew because I started from nothing; I didn’t have any experience. I didn’t start off amazingly, but once I got the hang of it, it was so fun to see people’s reactions to my creations because I’m so passionate about my work. The shoe corset is actually the first thing I sold and one of my favorite pieces. It was bittersweet because I didn’t want to part with it but I wanted to share the love. It’s really exciting to see that people like what i’m doing and are there to support me. It’s super fulfilling.”
You mentioned on your website that some of your clothes are gender inclusive. Tell us more about that.
“After I named my brand, I had a realization that maybe the name wasn’t gender inclusive. I didn’t know if the name would make it less appealing to anyone outside of girls. I have had some male models, and some of my clothes are definitely unisex. I just really want to be gender inclusive and that’s one of my future goals. Right now I think the majority are pieces that girls would wear, but once my techniques become more sophisticated, I want my brand to appeal to a broader range of people.”
Do you think you would have launched your brand this soon if it weren’t for COVID?
“I think it definitely kickstarted it. Obviously because of quarantine, we were stuck at home. I was having cabin fever, so if I didn’t have that time to take on a new hobby I probably wouldn’t have been able to sew as much as I did and focus on that. Obviously there have been a lot of bad things that have happened because of COVID, but looking at the silver lining, I definitely think it gave me a lot more free time to play around with the things I love and explore my passion.”
Where do you see Her Fruit going in the future? What’s your plan?
“Right now I design everything, I make everything, I source everything. It’s a one man show. I don’t know if I see this going into a multiple employee operation; it just depends on how it grows. I am still in school and I have a lot going on, but I do see myself continuing this in the future. I really hope I can get the word out about sustainability to people, even in a small way; that’s what’s really important to me.”
What would you recommend to someone who is on a budget, because sustainable brands are generally more expensive?
“Many sustainable brands are more expensive because more goes into creating a sustainable product, so the price goes up — which can turn people away because they can buy the same thing for so much cheaper other places. I used to get packages all the time from these fast fashion brands, because they’re cheap and they’re also trendy and I’m a college student on a budget. I’ve now resorted to thrifting which is so fun, or Depop, where people can buy and sell used clothes.”
Where do you see sustainable, vintage, and gender inclusive fashion going from here?
“I think it’s going to be huge. It’s going to be the next big thing. I really do believe that our generation is going to be the change in this world. Things like gender inclusivity and sustainability are going to become more and more accepted. Even the dresses that I’ve made, I’ve had guys model them, which I think is so cool. Yeah it’s against the norm, but I think it’s so important.”