Making it in America with Laura Tanzer Designs

lauratanzerOn April 30th, LFA member Laura Tanzer Designs will be hosting the first in a series informing and discussing the importance of quality, production, and skills in the U.S.  Several other local designers will also be attending the event to celebrate U.S. and Tucson-fashioned garments.  Local First Arizona intern, Julie Carmody, sat down with member, Laura Tanzer, to talk with her about her work as a fashion designer and the importance of supporting American made fashion. Can you tell us a little about your business? 

"I design and make clothing and I use beautiful fabrics that typically I get from France and Italy. I also incorporate my own art and digital prints on silks and cottons and linens. That’s the really fun part because it’s from start to finish. I have pictures from my travels from all over the world, and because being an artist I see things that people don’t see, I take pictures of unusual things. So I take those and then I manipulate them in Adobe Photoshop and I create what is known as a repeat, so that I can make an all-over print and print that on fabric. I use a digital printing process which is very sustainable, there is no water use and the energy use is really, really low for the printers. I love modern technology, it’s so great! It’s almost an immediate gratification. Like in the old days, the people who did prints had this whole long process—this eliminates it all. And it captures all of your colors perfectly."

What made you decide to open a business in Tucson?  "I live here. I was in New York; I was in fashion and I did that for a number of years. I wanted to learn about business so that eventually I could open my own business. My travels took me to Tucson. I thought -- it’s the internet age. I can open a business wherever I am."

Why is it important for you to support other local businesses in your community?  "We all need to support each other and we need to build our economy, and I think if we all work together we can do that."

How do you go support other local businesses?  "We source our food locally. I try to do as much of my administrative business locally. For example I work with West Press to make my business cards and fliers and that kind of stuff. Unfortunately there are no fabric companies out here so I have to do that in New York. But whatever I can do locally I do. My husband and I like to frequent many local restaurants."

How did you become involved in the Made in the USA movement?  "It was just a natural extension of what I do and what I am intending to do. So my aim, along with a few other people – we have a coalition, the Arizona Sewn Products Alliance – we are working together to create a manufacturing center here in Southern Arizona. Made in America to all of us is really important for quality and control and unique products that we don’t have to make eighty bazillion of them… you can make limited runs and you don’t have to worry about some factory saying “you have to have ten thousand minimum”."

What do you think is the most important thing people need to know about fashion made in the USA?  "That they’re getting a well-crafted and beautiful and quality product."

What can you tell us about the event you are hosting?  "Oh this is so exciting!! A couple things are going to happen. I will be showing this documentary, Make It In America, and it will be on a continuous loop so you don’t have to show up at a certain time, you can just come in which is great."


"We also have one of the people that contributed to that documentary, Dennita Sewell, she will be our guest of honor and she’ll probably give a little impromptu talk, so there’s no timeframe for that - probably sometime around five or six.  She is also the Fashion Exhibit curator at the Phoenix Art Museum so she’s coming in just for this.  It’s going to be really great and I hope people can come. It’s on Thursday, April 30th and we’ll be opening the doors at four and probably stay open until eight or nine. We’ll have refreshments, it’ll be fun and with a lot of interesting people. "

To register for the event, visit the Eventbrite site here.  The event is free, but a limited number of tickets are available.