From the magazine: Perfect fit

From the magazine: Perfect fit

A model wears clothing by Brentwood-based designer Krista Larson.
A model wears clothing by Brentwood-based designer Krista Larson. courtesy photo

Fashion designer Krista Larson on universal sizing and local living

Clothing by Krista Larson has always been labeled “one size fits most.”

The fashion designer began her career more than 20 years ago, selling hats on consignment, then slightly oversized and boxy clothing. She says, half joking, that she didn’t know how to make a pattern when she started out. But flattering, loose-fitting clothing has become her signature.

Based in Brentwood, Krista Larson Designs is now an internationally distributed name in women’s fashion. The clothing line has been featured in major magazines and on runways in Paris, but its founder remains true to the values of handmade and local.

“I’ve always liked loose clothing,” Larson said. “I like to be comfortable, but I also want to be stylish and not frumpy. That’s a word that’s thrown around a lot with oversized clothing.”

But there’s more behind the “one size” label than comfort. It can also make for a healthy body image and happy customer.

“I think it’s hard, especially for women. We vary all over from top to bottom, size-wise,” Larson said. “You could be a size 6 in certain brands, and 2 in another, and 10 in another. And depending on that day, it might influence your attitude. It might make you feel bad. So, I’ve always been a proponent for no numbers.”

Unlike the controversial junior’s clothing company Brandy Melville, whose one-sized Taylor leggings only fit “x-small/small,” a single pair of Leggins by Krista Larson Designs will fit women of sizes ranging from 2 to 18. The stretchy pants are ideal for layering over, which is another cornerstone of Larson’s style that lends itself to a variety of body types.

Krista Larson Designs, based in Brentwood, makes flattering, comfortable clothing that fits a variety of sizes.
Krista Larson Designs, based in Brentwood, makes flattering, comfortable clothing that fits a variety of sizes.

Larson likes to layer fabric of different types and weights to maximize texture, and the fabric is often purposefully wrinkled or gathered.

“I’m somebody who likes texture,” she said. “So today, on a rainy day, I’ve got on army boots and pants, and I’ve got on a couple different sweaters and a scarf, creating several different textures throughout the whole outfit.”

Her clothing line is known for offering upwards of 50 fabric varieties, allowing clients to personalize any look. Each piece is also made unique with additions like vintage buttons and flea-market lace.

Larson says her personal style is a reflection of her lifestyle, and dependent on the weather.

“Sometimes, due to changes in lifestyle, we adapt,” she said. “I bring three dogs to work, and I have two kids, and it’s raining…. I won’t be wearing a fluffy skirt on a day like today.”

The label has been shipping out this year’s spring collection to retailers since early winter, and recently debuted the fall line at fashion shows in New York and Los Angeles. The clothing is available through her website, but there’s no longer a Seacoast boutique carrying it. However, Larson is a locally invested business owner.

“I know a majority of manufacturing is done overseas, and similar-looking items can probably be bought much cheaper than mine,” she said. “But I feel like I’m supporting local people.”

Beyond that, Larson said, she insists on overseeing production so each garment is made well and correctly, and she has no intention of moving to make that happen elsewhere.

“I don’t know how people get in product from other countries and find out the sizes are off, or the color is wrong, or just not the way you want it. I don’t even know how I would go about doing that, but I haven’t wanted to find out,” she said.

She’s lived in cities and traveled to the world’s fashion capitals, but prefers the sense of community and slow pace of rural New Hampshire. Her family and longtime employees live nearby, and she travels less lately.

“I’m down to earth,” she said. “I’m pretty grounded.”

“(Helena Bonham Carter) was a big fan of my clothes and would wear them often. That was pretty memorable.”

She said runway shows are hectic and stressful, and she could do without the drama of potentially having all her new samples confiscated at an airport because of a paperwork oversight.

“It could be, in theory, somewhat exciting,” she said. “But in reality, I’m here in New Hampshire and life is good.”

She has experienced some very exciting moments in the fashion industry. For one, actress Helena Bonham Carter invited Larson to the movie premier of “The Wings of the Dove” in Boston. After meeting there in 1997, they corresponded through letters, but eventually lost touch.

“She was a big fan of my clothes and would wear them often. That was pretty memorable,” she said.

This spring, Larson is fulfilling a demand for more prints, and hers are one-of-a-kind. One of her fabrics features a custom print of a hand-drawn butterfly. It comes in either bold colors or a subtle but on-trend black and white version. She’s also showing muted daffodil yellow and lilac purple this season.

Larson is influenced by nature, and always has a camera with her outdoors. She has designed prints based on her owl photographs, and one on an abstract painting she made for her daughter.

Larson is always accompanied by a few large dogs, who have found their way into her brand identity via hang tags.

“They’re always with me,” she said. “They’re in the car, they’re at work. They’re like family. They are family.”

Larson said her fondness for dogs comes down to unconditional love.

“Though I do get backtalk,” she said.

More of Larson’s collection can be found online at KristaLarson.com.