Creating and finding beauty in the world is always a motivating force for us, as well as a constant source of inspiration. From our globally-inspired embroideries to the classic beauty of natural silks, Johnny Was has always been about authenticity and timelessness, while always looking forward. Hence, our new collection, Calmé. It’s the first time we’re exploring all organic textiles, primarily sourced and created in the US, and with an understated charm and stripped-down aesthetic that is just plain cool and beautiful. Here, we pick the brain of Wanda Weller, the brilliant designer and muse behind this concise collection. Not only was she the Design Director at Patagonia for many years, but also helped establish the Fashion Sustainability program at Otis College of Art & Design in Los Angeles. She has a gorgeous aesthetic, as well as a mind for all things simple and green.

JW: Tell us about Calmé?
WW: It’s about introducing an organic collection made of all natural woven and knits. When I first started thinking about it and sketching, I was inspired by the idea of taking a pause; when you go into a Johnny Was store there’s so much spirit, color, and beauty, and I feel like this line is more about a quiet energy, a calm (hence the name). There’s a quote from this Leonard Koren book that says “pare down the essence but don’t remove the poetry”. I kept thinking of that while designing, how something can still be understated but exciting.

JW: With your background in sustainable fashion, what parts were the most important elements for you to include?
WW: I wanted to use plant-based dyes and all organic fabrics. The initial collection is twelve pieces and everything is made in Los Angeles except for a couple of the pieces which are created overseas in the same facility that Patagonia uses.


JW: What were your inspirations when designing the pieces?
WW: Well, a woman who comes into a Johnny Was store is always looking for something different, and even though the Calmé Collection doesn’t have lots of embellishments, I made sure that each piece has an interesting twist or unexpected detailing—I didn’t want to create just another plain t-shirt. For example, a few of the pieces have a subtle a cover stitch down the back that is either in a tonal or contrast color—my favorite is this gorgeous fuchsia that we’re calling bougainvillea. Also, since these pieces are about the essentials as well as simplicity, they work beautifully with all the other Johnny Was collections. The idea was California easy, breezy pieces that are easy to mix and match, but still interesting enough to stand on their own.

JW: What’s your favorite piece from the collection?
WW: I love the drop crotch pants! I call them the Palm Springs pants because they are the quintessential weekend getaway piece. I wore the sample I had all the time while I was traveling and I did not want to take them off. I also really like the swing tank with the pockets at the bottom—they are perfect for carrying your cell phone.

JW: How do you see the line evolving over time?
WW: For me, it’s always about the awareness of the environment and what’s going on in the world. Initially, we were exploring each season is different, maybe one season will be about exploring plant-based dyes and another will be about subtle stitching that is indigenous to a certain region in the world. Of course, first and foremost, it should feel great, fit great and be pieces that you’re excited to own.
Go here to see the whole Calmé Collection.