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How the Founder of Roxy's Active Lifestyle Inspired A New Line of Perfect Silk Essentials

Tiger Tiger/AQC

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Lissa Zwahlen Theony knows a thing or two about designing for on-the-go women. After founding Roxy, the LA-based talent went on to design for streetwear-turned-Target label Mossimo and eco-minded basics brand Alternative. Now, the local designer is blending her expertise in the action sports lifestyle industry and her Cali-cool aesthetic into a new line of wardrobe essentials.

Enter AQC, a collection of sleek silhouettes in elevated washed silks. Priced from $200 to $400, the line is comprised of minimalist tanks, frayed edge tops, breezy pants, and more closet staples in wear-with-anything hues. The latest range will be available for pre-order on May 15th; a selection of pieces are currently shoppable at footwear brand The Office of Angela Scott's Melrose boutique.

Below, we sat down with Zwahlen to find out what inspired her to go from designing surf merch to silk pieces, why it was important for her to work with local dye houses, and more.

What was the "a-ha" moment that led you create your own label?

I've been a life long fan of a simple [tee and] my t-shirt drawer can attest. But, I felt I needed to upgrade my daily look without losing that casual-kind-of-sloppy I loved. I was hell-bent on making a t-shirt out of silk that could get me through the complicated gamut of my life of—coffee/work/errands/basketball games/bookclub—looking half-way put together.

I knew if I could nail it, I would be onto something. The concept fit my style, my background and sensibilities on every level, and at some point, I had to trust my instinct.

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You have extensive experience in the action sports lifestyle industry—how is AQC different?

My experience at Roxy, Mossimo, and even Alternative has honed my radar for iconic t-shirt styles which always prove to be bestsellers: A muscle tee, racerback tank, a vintage sweatshirt—all the classics made in jersey or fleece can be elevated instantly in silk. So really, it's my past work evolving to fit a different set of experiences.

What inspired you to work with washed silks?

I was trying to imitate the way a worn t-shirt felt on your body a closely as possible, and a t-shirt doesn't become a favorite until its been washed a few times, right? I tested a lot of fabrics, landing on a charmeuse with a bit of lycra, [which] gives the silk a heft that mimics cotton jersey. By washing and drying the garments, they break down to create a soft weathered piece with the intrinsic polish of silk. Perfection!

Why was it important for you to work with locally-based dye houses?

I think working with local trades is key to creating unique product. Nothing beats standing side-by-side the one who is dipping your silk into a vat of dye. Understanding how long it sits, in what size container does it sit, how much agitation, hung or tumbled dry—[these are among] many small factors add up to a very specific outcome. You'll never get that kind of grasp working afar. Plus, it makes it way more fun to become partners with your people!

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Did you have any particular muses in mind as you were designing your spring collection?

I'm after the modern girl who goes gangbusters all day only to reboot for evening. She's casual polished unstudied and chic. Most of all, wants and easy solution to be comfortable and look great. I have 22 girlfriends and counting...

When you're not busy designing, where are a few of your favorite places in LA to unwind?

I am transfixed with Downtown and the rebirth of the city. My career started on the 13th floor of Eastern Building on Broadway and 9th, a sleepy derelict corner that you scurried through at best. Today my studio is not [even] a block away.

I'm thrilled to see the vibrancy of the area and watch the people change from the weekdays to the weekends— Al's bar was the spot in the Arts District, now [it's] brunch at Zinc. The more I travel around the city the more I love it. Honestly, it's the most interesting thing for me to do—I'm not big on relaxing.