Arts & CultureFashion

Designer Profile: Leah Braunstein of Gestalt Goods

Leah Braunstein is a 22-year-old Portland native and senior product design major at the University of Oregon. Braunstein and her friend Sara Birns collaborated to make timeless women’s clothing. They went as far as starting their own fashion line, Gestalt Goods. Though Gestalt Goods is currently at a stand-still due to Braunstein and Birns’ time constraints, Braunstein still creates her own impressive pieces separately.

Fashion writer Dorie Pagnano sat down to interview Leah Braunstein about her inspirations, problems and passions concerning Gestalt Goods. 

Describe the brand’s style.

“The brand is meant to be loose clothing for women, that are timeless pieces – something that you can just throw on if you’re in a hurry, but still look glamorous.”

What made you want to start a clothing line? 

“I’ve always been interested in fashion. My mom started teaching me how to sew when I was in fifth grade. Now, I really love to sew and I really love design. I don’t know if apparel is where I’ll end up going in the long-term, though.”

What’s your inspiration for the line?

“The inspiration for our line came from addressing the idea of psychology in fashion. We looked at a lot of images of Rorschach tests and optical illusions and wanted to incorporate the same effects from these images into our line. We looked at images of how loose clothing fits different body types and how different colors look on different skin tones. When we were looking at fabric, we considered the weight and texture of what the fabric would turn into. We constantly asked ourselves how the end consumer would feel about every specific aspect of the garment.”

Have you run into unexpected challenges?

“Yeah, totally. Our mock-ups don’t fit the way we totally wanted them to. We met with a couple people because we were thinking if we do get our designs to be perfect, the point where we would want them to be, how do we mass manufacture them? So we met with this woman at Columbia so she could help us figure that out. It would just be so expensive to start doing something like that. You have to pay double what you would sell it for to get a mock-up, and then you have to order things in at least one hundred. We also met with a woman who was a professional pattern maker, and she definitely helped us out a little bit more because they don’t offer that sort of stuff at UO or even at the craft center.”

Going forward, what do you want to do to restart the brand?

“Perfect the patterns and stuff that we have. We went and found fabricant samples that we liked, but didn’t have the money to buy it. So buy some stuff and make a couple of the pieces.”

Favorite part of everything so far?

“Creating something that is your own. That’s my favorite part of product design. In everything I design I create a mood board on Pinterest for inspiration. For our line we were designing, we drew inspiration from darker images, our color pallet was very muted containing blacks, greys and tans. We were looking at things Rorschach tests and optical illusions, we wanted to incorporate the how what your wearing affects your mental state, not just designing something beautiful.”

What’s your ultimate goal?

“Well I’ve made other pieces not involved with Gestalt that have been great, but nothing from Gestalt is finished yet. It is still a work in progress. Sara doesn’t want to do apparel, but I would like to do apparel, and there are some really great companies in Portland. I am going to continue to make my own pieces.”

If you are a designer and would like to be featured in the Emerald, please email Dorie Pagnano.


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Dorie Pagnano

Dorie Pagnano