BY NICOLE BARLEY
PHOTOGRAPHS BY CAYLA ZAHORAN
When Kiya Tomlin contemplates style, it goes way beyond what she’s wearing. The designer recently opened a new showroom in East Liberty’s Indigo Square, a sunny space filled with yards and yards of fabric — Tomlin admits to being a “fabric-aholic” — along with a moveable drafting table, adjustable dress forms, pin boards, clipboards filled with prospective designs, and lots of energy. She likes to keep the doors open, hoping to invite passersby to venture in and find out what a design studio is all about. Tomlin’s enthusiasm for the pieces she creates is clear. She is dedicated to creating clothing for all body types, as she knows herself how difficult it can be to buy off the rack. “My clients know they can come to me, no matter what size and shape, to create a garment perfect for their body,” she says.
In her studio, Tomlin operates with a four-tier design hierarchy:
1.) Ready-to-wear collections, pieces sold at trunk shows, and off-the-rack items — These are all part of a larger plan to mass produce her designs.
2.) The Fitted Dress — This basic sheath can be styled in countless incarnations depending on fabric, sleeve and hem length, and neckline. “This is the dress that you will always look and feel fabulous in. Dress it up, dress it down with accessories and layers to make it suitable for a multitude of occasions.”
3.) Made-to-order pieces — These are custom-fitted items drawn from her seasonal designs.
4.) Collaborative design — Rather than custom design, Tomlin offers clients the opportunity to work with her to design a piece that is unique to them. Taking into consideration their input into certain design elements, Tomlin is able to create a meeting point between her design and the client’s personal style.