Meet the Maker: Aubrie Pagano of Bow & Drape
Today’s edition of Meet the Maker is the ultimate high tech and high fashion combo: Bow & Drape. It all started when Aubrie Pagano couldn’t find the perfect dress for a wedding. We’ve all been there, right? Well, instead of settling for something off the racks, she decided to make her own. And just like that, Bow & Drape, an online platform for custom fashion, was born. Every piece on the site can be personalized to fit your tastes and is then made-to-order in less than two weeks. Customized clothes delivered to your door? Yes, please!
I’ve personally already customized two dresses of my own (a maxi and an A-line) and love the tailored fit. I get compliments each time I wear them.
The most recent news from Bow & Drape? They’ve just come out with their first line of 3D printed belts! They’re taking classic accessories and adding a high tech twist. I’m totally swooning over all of their 3D printed styles. Check out the Galaxy Belt—it’s one of my favorites. Plus, there are tons of options for the design and materials. Oh, and they make clutches with custom 3D printed zipper pulls, as if we needed another reason to love their stuff.
Guess what else? Aubrie will be joining us on October 4th and 5th at Re:Make! She’ll be participating in our Fashion + Tech panel on day one, discussing creative expression in a fast fashion era. On day two, Bow & Drape will have its very own Make Station and will be 3D printing accessories just for you… ON SITE! You don’t want to miss it. Be sure to snag your ticket to Re:Make here and read on for Aubrie’s story.
To start things off, tell us a little bit about your background and how the idea came about.
I always loved fashion since I was a little girl sketching in my notebooks, but I never really allowed myself to become part of the industry until about two years ago. I had a self reckoning of sorts. I was working at in finance at the time, and knew that I wanted to explore other industries – I was uninspired by the thought of Excel spreadsheets and stakeholder meetings (I know. Shocker). Then one night, while I was tinkering on my Bernina with a pair of self-proclaimed “party pants” I was making for a friend’s birthday, I said to myself “Just face it. You LOVE this stuff.” So I said if the opportunity presented itself, I would make the career jump.
The idea for Bow & Drape came out of a personal need that summer. I was going to a wedding where I would be meeting my boyfriend’s entire family, but I couldn’t find anything off the racks that I felt truly exuded my personal style. So, like a true DIY-er, I ended up making a dress. It took about a month, but when I went to that wedding, I felt amazing in my dress, knowing it was 100% my style and one of a kind. I started Bow & Drape because I want women to feel special in that same way, and to know that their clothing completely embodies the most gorgeous them.
Okay, tell us a little bit more about the Bow & Drape. What’s the one-sentence explanation?
Bow & Drape merges high tech with high fashion, to give you a hand in creating your own products.
What are you proudest of with Bow & Drape to date?
I don’t yet have a puppy or a child, but I assume my feeling for this company is like that of an offspring: I am proud of everything about it! So it’s hard to pinpoint one proudest “thing.” I suppose I would say I am proudest of our progress. Within a year, we have managed to create an incredible fashion line, build an amazing proprietary technology to allow women to customize our line, and have launched industry-leading technologies to augment the experience. When I look back at old wire frames for the original site, or my sketches for the first dresses, I have to smile because it is really quite incredible how much my talented team has been able to progress from that first crazy idea I had.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers or entrepreneurs?
Keep going. I am sure I am not the first person to have this idea, but I AM the first person to do in a big, sustained way against many challenges in the industry. Someone once told me “starting a company is like a constant race against failure.” It has totally felt like a race. And how to you outpace someone in a race? KEEP GOING! Most people get stuck when they get pushback from other people or hear a “no” from a potential partner, or get anxious about an unknown. If you keep chipping away at those big, rocky challenges, eventually they will turn into smooth, sandy wins. Keep going. Chip away at your dreams. They never come true overnight, so be persistent and you will find that they are well-worth the wait.
What’s been the most inspiring thing you’ve seen so far in watching people use Bow & Drape?
Almost no two orders are 100% alike. Women have individual style and they want to express it with their own fashion. That is what this data means. So who is to say that just because an old, foppish French dude thinks drop waists are important this season that I should wear them? Heck no! I have hips! Putting the power of owning your own style back into women’s hands has the potential to make women feel great about the way they look, and that is truly inspiring to me.
Tell me more about the new Fall Collection.
Where do I begin? The Fall Collection is all about a dark, quirky elegance. I say if Florence Welch were a vampire, she’d wear our clothes. We have rich oxbloods and blacks, mixed in with more eclectic pieces. My favorite everyday piece is the Billie Sweatshirt (named after Billie Jean King since it’s a 70’s vintage-style athletic sweatshirt). It’s the softest sweatshirt ever and you can customize it to say anything you like! Rather than selling fast fashion that unravels in one wash and goes out of style as soon as it’s on the rack, we are creating foundational, quality garments that women have a hand in creating. I want to get women back to wearing clothes for more than 20 seconds. These are staple wardrobe pieces they will love for 20 years.
So what’s next for Bow & Drape?
We are constantly thinking about new ways to use technology to enhance our customer’s personal experience with us. Today, actually, we are launching a 3D printed line of wearable accessories using thermoplastics and jewelry grade metals. We are one of the first brands to adopt this technology into wearable fashion and are excited to be at the forefront of this new industry.
The belts are amazing. They come in all shapes: kissing elephants, Egyptian beetles, even a lipstick and compact mirror! Customers can choose their shape, material and belt style (leather or twill, in several colors). We will print and assemble to belt to order and within about 3 weeks, it is theirs to keep.
Have you fallen in love with Bow & Drape yet? Then don’t forget that Aubrie will be joining us at Re:Make on October 4th and 5th. Stop by Fort Mason on the 5th from 11am-5pm to check out her 3D printed belts and more.