Karen MulliganFounder of Pret a Surf
"I never wear the same thing twice."
"I’ve always been interested in fashion. My grandfather was a textiles designer and my grandmother would make things for me out of the fabrics and the textiles that he designed. I still have swatches of his fabrics he made. I don’t remember this but my mother said that I was obsessed with paper dolls and I would make my own paper dolls and dress them and like pin them on my bedroom wall. I guess it started very, very young.
I’ve worked with Annie Leibovitz at her studio for almost 15 years. It’s an incredible experience, and I have been able to do things that I would have never done if I had worked at any other job. Everyday I’m inspired, everyday I learn something new. I didn’t come from a photography background; I actually was in graduate school getting my doctorate in English literature and dropped out. Working with Annnie encouraged and inspired me to have the confidence to start my own line.
I play tennis, I ski, I surf; I do all these sports. Growing up I played sports and I would always end up wearing boys clothing because there was never any good things for girls. When I started surfing I realized that there really was a lack in the market place for women that surfed. You either ended up having to buy stuff that was light pink or flowery or something all black made for a guy. My friend, Jill Demling who is the Celebrity Editor at Vogue and co-founder of Pret A Surf, also loves fashion and plays sports, so together and we decided that we were going to do a mini surf line and see how it goes. We just had our two year anniversary. We are in twenty-five stores. Women are buying it not only to surf and swim in, but to wear out at night. It’s not just a surf line anymore, it has a lot of legs.
We really went back to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s designs for the bathing suits because we realized that if we were going to do a bathing suit or a surf line that was catering to the girl that plays sports, there needed to be more coverage. There needed to be more flexibility in the fabrics, quick dry, sun protection, and all those things. Every season we design two or three unique prints that are usually based on some kind of vintage print or inspiration that we’ve seen.
I love to think about what I’m going to wear everyday; what shoes, what bags, everything. I definitely don’t have a traditional or conservative way of dressing. It’s not about spending a lot of money, it’s just about having a sense and an eye, feeling good, and having fun with it. … I know my stuff very well and I know what I like–I never wear the same thing twice. I repeat pieces, of course, but I’d never repeat a complete outfit." -- Karen Mulligan to Shop Ghost
Karen Mulligan photographed in New York by Stef Mitchell.