No one can accuse Albuquerque-based brand Hopeless + Cause Atelier of giving you the same-old same-old. Owner and designer Dara Sophia Romero is claiming “Edgy Demure” for her own, giving you classic styles with a double take. Her extra details, drool-worthy fabrics, and unexpected mix of materials leaves the customer in love. What’s more? This edge has heart. A percentage of every sale goes to causes near and dear to the designer. Today we learn more about the brand’s leading lady and what drew her to design in the desert.
How and why did you start designing?
Originally, I started creating out of necessity when I was in middle school but I didn’t follow the path of fashion design because of the lack of opportunities in New Mexico. It wasn’t until 2013 while attending New York Fashion Week and seeing a clairvoyant that I was catapulted back into fashion. Originally, my path was as an indie retailer, but when that didn’t work I had a dear friend, Jennifer Riordan, who pushed me to continue on so I formally started designing bespoke fashion for others in 2015.
What is your fashion philosophy?
With an emphasis on the psychological and communicative values behind fashion, my design approach focuses on the impact of the individual on scene and on society. I believe every customer should feel comfortable and confident in what they wear.
How has your design changed over time?
I think I have become more confident in my design overtime and that helps me to push the limits.
What inspired your latest collection ‘Urban Goddess‘?
I love the city vibe – I even used a custom NYC print on the Miranda Dress…but I’m not a fan of crowds because in the crowds, you tend to blend in. I wanted these looks to very much make the wearer stand out.
What is your biggest hurdle building a brand today?
My brand Hopeless + Cause is getting a lot of editorial attention, but I think finding the right niche market is my biggest hurdle. After being in retail, I learned a lot about the business and I am very tentative in my approach to the Atelier. I focus not only on environmental sustainability but the sustainability of my brand. My goal is to create affordable luxury while educating my potential customer about the value of bespoke and small batch production…you get what you pay for. Your wardrobe should be an investment not throw away fashion.
What do you think about fashion today?
I think fashion still has a lot of work to do in creating environmental sustainability. Every other day, I read about brands that are polluting the environment through over manufacturing for the sake of keeping brand value. The utilize deplorable manufacturing practices to add to the bottom line and shareholder value instead of providing value to the customer, the supply chain and the environment. I work with organizations that align with the Hopeless + Cause Atelier brand values. This is why I’m so honored to be a member of Nineteenth Amendment whose focus is to create a platform for upcoming designers to produce sustainable apparel on-demand.
Where do you go and what do you do for inspiration?
It depends on my mood. I find I am equally inspired by the buzz of NYC and the serene and beautiful sunsets of the southwest. I tend to keep a sketchbook with me at all times so when inspiration hits me, I can capture it immediately.
Any tips and tricks of the trade?
I think being authentic to you shines through your brand.
Shop and pre-order Dara’s NYC-inspired ‘Urban Goddess’ collection.
For more information about the designer and her charity contributions, see her About page.