Introduce yourself. Where are you originally from? Where did you learn your craft?
My name is Abby Moriarty and I am from Minneapolis originally. Growing up I always was a creative kid, I could spend hours sewing clothes for my troll dolls or decorating my hand built dollhouse with wallpaper scraps my parents gave me. I moved myself out to Los Angeles at 20 years old to put myself through fashion school. After graduation my first job was in Knitwear. From there I propelled fast into a career as a Knitwear Designer. In 2008, I moved to NYC to work for Express, then moved onto Calvin Klein where I spent 8 years of my career, ending as the Vice President of Women's Design overseeing all categories of Design. Due to restructuring about 6 months after Raf Simons arrival I found myself (and my entire team) without a job. That was when I sat back and thought about what I really wanted and what the future could look like.
After a lot of thought and reflection I decided I wanted to create a brand that could tell a story that I could be proud of. I decided to focus on timeless essentials; the classic American made Tee shirt. I wanted my brand to be artistically driven, not trend driven. I wanted my brand to be made in the US from US grown materials, I wanted to sell direct to consumer so that I could really give my customers what they wanted. I looked at all the things that bothered me about the industry (fast, fast, fast, disposable, wasteful, the adverse effects on the environment, price gouging, the wholesale model, I could go on but you get the idea) and decided to take everything I have learned and do everything I could, to do something different.
That is when I created 1 9 2 0 and founded it on modernist design principles that honor simplicity, form and function over unnecessary frills with a focus on shape, color and material. We are a collection of refined, elevated T-shirts for men and women.
S H O P 1 9 2 0
Explain the story behind the name of your company, how and why you chose it.
The brand takes it name from the year that the T-shirt was officially entered into Webster’s Dictionary.
What were some of your original inspirations behind creating a company dedicated to high quality t-shirts?
I have always been drawn to the simple complexity of the T-shirt; how it withstands time and trends while consistently maintaining relevancy and modernity. My travels around the world have been an inspiring influence on my career and life. Through my travels, I discovered that I naturally gravitated towards Scandinavian modernist design and 1 9 2 0 leans on the same essential principles that made some of best designs of the modernist era still relevant and widely regarded today.
Why do you think the T-shirt is such an important piece to have?
The Tee shirt to me is everything. Your favorite Tee shirt can be as important to you as anything. When you find the perfect fabric, the perfect cut, it is the piece you dread the laundromat losing and cannot imagine your life without. It is the piece you can wear on a Saturday with denim, it is the piece you can dress up and throw a jacket on top of, or tuck into a trouser and take a meeting. The tee shirt is incredibly versatile and timeless. It is an American classic that I believe should be celebrated.
What is something valuable you have learned through working with multiple brands in the fashion industry?
The value of exceptional leadership; I get totally giddy about that. Before launching 1920 I was VP of Design at Calvin Klein and lead a team of 13 designers. Great leadership can empower lives and careers, it's absolutely amazing how you can help to shape so many lives and achieve great success through simply being a good leader.
What has been your greatest struggle obstacle so far? How did you continue to persevere through those adversities?
It has been most difficult being a one woman show and wearing the hats of design director, fit technician, accountant, marketing director and shipping and logistics manager… all in the same day! But it has been a challenge that drives me to do better and has opened my mind to learn a new batch of skill sets that I maybe would have never used before. Flexing all of these muscles daily now makes me feel whole. When you think you cant, you realize you CAN!
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to yourself about starting your brand and business?
I would have taken more advice from my merchandising friends. I would ask more questions and not be so stubborn thinking I could do it all on my own the first time perfectly. Ask. Seek. Listen … while also trusting your gut!
Do you have any hacks for starting a small business?
I suggest starting a business that relates to your industry, something you have great knowledge in, and ask questions. I enrolled in night classes at F.I.T. before launching, studying aspects of the industry that I was not as versed in; such as writing business plans. There are so many resources out there, use them. Talk to friends who have started businesses. Champion each other, learn from each other, share and lean on others.
Your favorite emerging designer (aside from yourself!) right now:
I follow a lot of Scandinavian Design. I love seeing how brands such as Ganni and Dagmar have grown over the years. I am also in a children's brand hole right now so I am discovering children's wear for the 1st time. I am loving Bobo Choses, Nation and Tiny Cottons.
What is your favorite album to work to?
Rhye or Sade. I can't have anything too disruptive or I lose focus.
S H O P 1 9 2 0