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Before outfitting LA blogstars and mega popstars like Beyoncé and T. Swift, Line & Dot design director April Oh once dreamed of a career in fine arts. The talent behind the contemporary-cool local label relocated with her family from Seoul, Korea to Garden Grove in OC when she was in the 11th grade, a move she says led to a surprising path into the fashion world.
"It was the early '90s and I was so into fashion," she says. While working at a local clothing boutique during high school, "instead of organizing clothes, the store owner always asked me to style the mannequins. It was so easy for me, and I started to notice fashion and trends."
Although Oh's first love was painting and illustration, her mother insisted that she "go for something 'realistic,' like design." After earning her fashion design degree at FIDM, Oh found herself "thirsty for Japan's avant-garde style"—so she hopped on a plane to Tokyo and learned to speak the language in a year in order to study at the prestigious Bunka Fashion College. (Alumni include Kenzo Takada, Junya Watanabe, and Yohji Yamamoto—NBD.)
Her fashion journey brought her back to her roots in South Korea, where she worked at the beloved "character brand" Morris' Coming Home. "They don't say 'contemporary' [in Korea]; instead, they call them 'character brands,'" she explains. The homesick designer eventually returned to the States and found success starting her own label, Hot Sauce, before becoming a founding designer for another LA-based brand, Aryn K.
Now, Oh weaves her Paris street style-meets-Japanese modern aesthetic into Line & Dot, where she's been for the past four years. "With Line & Dot, I'm trying to evolve—designers can just go in one direction very easily; we're very stubborn," she says. "I want to design for women of every age, and our customer is up to her late '50s."
We grabbed a (non-alcoholic) drink with the cool Downtown dweller not far from her home base at Verve Coffee, where we chatted about her favorite food haunt, the pair of shoes she can never give up, her current Instagram obsessions, and more.
What are you drinking today?
Green iced tea. Usually I drink warm tea, but it's hot.
Facebook or Instagram?
Instagram—It's like a mini Tumblr for me. I'm very into the Man Repeller, but I like her website better. I follow mostly street style photographers and fashion editors, like Miroslava Duma [of Buro 247].
In a parallel universe, what would you be?
Probably a painter. That's my other dream; I [would] stay home and paint all day.
Favorite Downtown haunt?
My favorite is WoodSpoon, it's homemade Brazilian [food]. The owner is cooking with her soul.
Skinny jeans or bell bottoms?
Are you spontaneous or a planner?
I'm always a planner. I don't want to be like that but this industry makes me this way.
Favorite junk food?
Corn Nuts, the original flavor.
How many pairs of shoes do you have?
I have a lot of shoes, but I'm not crazy about them. I have about 50. After the season I usually get rid of them or I give them to someone else.
What's your favorite pair?
My favorite is [the Milla shoe] by Isabel Marant—I cannot get rid of them. It's from last year's collection, it has a thick wood heel and a butterfly-like bow on it.
Window or aisle seat on a plane?
It depends. If I'm flying for a long time, I'd rather sit at the window. If [it's] New York, I'd rather sit at the aisle.
Would you rather change the past or be able to see the future.
I wouldn't change the past—I'd rather see the future.