For Isda Funari, ‘inspiration is everywhere’ 

Isda Funari is one of the founders of Isda and Co., a 20-year-old San Francisco-based clothing design company that creates stylish yet comfortable clothing for women between the age of 35 and 65. She was also responsible for the popular Esprit designs in the 1980s.

What inspired you to start a clothing line?

I was designing a men’s line and I had a strong desire to design women’s clothing again. I had designed for a younger audience in the past and I wanted to start designing clothing that reflected where I was at that moment. I have found as a designer I need to design what I believe in or I am reaching for some unknown.

Why was it important for you to create Isda and Co. in 1989?

Twenty years ago, there were few options for clothing between dressing like a teenager and dressing in a more structured way. I was not a teenager, and neither were the women around me. I wanted to address the needs of women like me. Today, Isda and Co. still designs for the woman who wants to express her confidence and sense of style.

Did you always want to be a designer?

I was a good student and could have gone in any direction, but the choice was always clear: I knew I wanted to design and create clothing. I taught myself to sew by making clothes for myself in high school. Once I learned it was possible to actually make money designing clothing, I followed in the footsteps of a friend and studied design. I realize now that I will always be designing — clothing, houses, furniture or wherever my heart leads me. Designing is part of me.

How did you get into the fashion business?

I studied design and after graduating, went to work first as a design assistant at a sportswear company and left five years later as the head designer.

How would you describe the style of Isda and Co.?

The Isda and Co. look is stylish, sophisticated and urbane, yet comfortable and wearable. Women feel good in the clothes and we describe the look as “any-age cool.”

Where do you find inspiration for your designs?

Travel is always a muse. I also watch women going about their lives and I am often turning my head at some wonderful style a woman has put together for herself. Also, art, especially modern art and modern architecture also inspire me. Yet, inspiration is everywhere and you just have to stay open to the moment it appears, like a gift.

How would you describe your personal style?

Anyone who knows me will say I always wear black, and for the most part it is true! I’m a minimalist, but I’m not rigid. I have been influenced by the Japanese aesthetic for clarity. I often feel I’ve gotten to the right answer when you can’t take anything else away.

Do you have a philosophy you live or work by?

Trust your best. It sounds easy but it’s really quite hard.

Who do you turn to for support during tough times?

The best human being I know — the man I’ve lived with for 35 years.

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Sarah Haughey

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