Joan Vass was not your average designer. With no formal design training her early career path took her into the art world, alongside her painter/sculptor husband, as a writer, editor and museum curator.
As a hobby, she began to knit, then to design hats and sweaters to be knitted. Before long she discovered there were quite a few women anxious to knit up her creations in exchange for the flexibility of working from home, so she built up a cottage-industry-- by women, for women-- to produce her designs.
But the small number of pieces that can be made in this way, individually and by hand, and the high cost of the resulting products dictated that Joan Vass' quirky, handmade, limited-edition pieces could only reach a fortunate few. So, in 1984, she joined forces with a large South Carolina knitting company to produce a distinctively Joan Vass collection of practical, wearable, knitted cotton separates under the label Joan Vass USA.
We were then scouring the market prior to opening PlainClothes. Just as we do now, we were looking for clothes with style, quality, wearability and a fresh point of view; clothes that will help us simplify our complicated lives.
Eureka. That's just what Joan Vass USA was-- the right clothes at the right time. We bought the collection immediately and enthusiastically in time for the PlainClothes opening. To our delight the collection became a mainstay of the wardrobes of many women who shopped with us in our early days and remained so for several years.
Eventually Joan Vass USA became so popular that freestanding shops were opened across the country. We are happy to have found Joan Vass and introduced her to our customers long before that happened.
Designer Joan Vass died on January 6, 2011. Ave atque vale.