After working as a Designer in the Fashion Industry for over 30 years I found myself at a point where no one wanted to hire me anymore. At first I blamed myself and tried to see what I was doing wrong. Where had I screwed up? What was wrong with me? I had worked for so many different companies, large and small, domestic and import making a lot money for them for many years.
I knew and understood the business. I have always been creative and able to create best sellers whether it was putting a new spin on a 5$ T shirt or creating a beautiful boutique yoga sweat outfit. Why didn't anyone want me anymore? After going on a few interviews it became clear. The directors who were interviewing me were in their 30's and I was in my fifties. Who wants to hire someone who could be their mother? I know when I was Design director many years ago I would not have either. So I had to face reality. I was not going to get another job like what I had.
Yoga Sweat outfit for San Francisco City Lights
I got a freelance job Designing an activewear line, Blue Canoe and am still doing that right now. This has been wonderful for me. But not enough. I went back into the trade I learned before I went to Design School, tailoring and alterations. I got a job at Nordstrom, where I still work part time. I do fittings and tailoring for them. I found myself in place of despair. Was this going to be my life now? There had to be more. I am a Designer! After trying to do a line similar to what I was doing at San Francisco City Lights, boutique activewear I realized I couldn't compete with the lines already established. I had to do something no one else was doing. I had to dig deep into my soul and create something authentic. I had bought a raincoat in London a few years back on one of my shopping trips that was really special. It was printed in a fun retro print. I decided that would be my inspiration. I would create fun unique coats that were statement pieces that stood out! That's how my line started.
My first Best seller at San Francisco Community Fashion week!
I showed my line at San Francisco Fashion week and was noticed by Sunshine Powers, owner of Love on Haight. She asked me if I would like to make tie dye coats for her shop. I said yes! So I've been making those amazing coats for over 4 years now. When Ray Dalio wore one of the coats to Burning man Vanessa Friedman of the New York Times wrote an article about the coat, how unique and great the coat is!
Ray Dalio @ Burning man wearing PhilineSF
Boots Riley @ Sundance Film Festival wearing PhilineSF
It's funny I never started out making coats for Burning man, but Burning man found me. This made me want to go there and check it out. I finally went this year and had an amazing experience. In this way, making my coats has led me to find myself, my healing and my clarity of who I am. Making the coats has led me to meet so many amazing people, Boots Riley, Film producer, Laura Kimpton artist and may more interesting people who love what I do. This is what keeps me going in my business. Even though I don't have funding I somehow inch along. I know that my life would be empty without the coats so I really have no choice. Whenever I go into fear about the money, somehow something incredible happens and I'm able to keep going.
Me having fun at Burning man
Here's my latest Collection:
What an inspiring and honest story. Sharing this can provide hope and healing for others going through similar experiences and shines the light on the realities of ageism. Brava to you for finding your creative fuel to keep going and trusting your wisdom and talent.
Philine you are one of the most talented designers that I’ve had the privilege to work with. I love that you pushed through and found this beautiful niche. You are an inspiration.
I appreciate the honest and inspirational story :) So excited to continue seeing your creative work!
You are an amazing designer with the greatest thoughts & ideas that you bring to life! Never stop being you & never stop creating magical pieces of clothing to the world to enjoy.
What an inspiration you are! So talented and resilient. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to work with you. It’s tragic how agism is so rampant in fashion and many other industries. Thanks for speaking out on the topic.
Of course, you’ve been discovered. I can’t believe it took so long!
Stunning coats! I need to move somewhere cooler so I can buy one!
You are such an inspiration. So proud of you
Hey Philine! I love the coats – and I love your writing! Great to hear how the story unfolds in beauty, creativity and FUN!!!! Hope to see you this summer. Cheers from Berlin to San Francisco… XOXO Nerine