Bay Area Roots Meet Abroad With Permanent Collection
Two curators from Northern California are providing reimagined, timeless pieces to add to your ‘Permanent Collection’ with their label.
Finding a coat that will last you a multitude of cool weather seasons while still maintaining its shape and quality isn’t as easy as one might assume. Fanny Singer and Mariah Nielson came together with their retrospective art and design careers to each bring something special to the table with their brand, Permanent Collection.
In 2012, Singer and Nielson met in a London bakery—both were in the city studying at the University of Cambridge and Royal College of Art. Having many friends in common, it was almost inevitable that they would meet. And interestingly enough, they are both from around the Bay Area. Singer expressed, “The kinship was very immediate—so much shared material and experience and aesthetics.” What led to their instant connection was Nielson’s vintage, wool coat that Singer admired, “I just remember sitting across from her, like, wanting to take it off her back!”
Nielson’s beloved vintage coat had held up incredibly well for as many years as she had been wearing it, sparking this idea of, not necessarily redesigning, but reimagining classic coats with high quality fabrics that would last you years, if not decades. Initially thinking they would work together on curating exhibitions, they both got distracted by the thought of this project.
The idea, at first, was to just reproduce a few coats—sell some to their friends as well as have some for themselves. But, when more people started expressing their interest in having one, they realized, “do we have an idea here? Like, maybe it has some legs,” Singer expressed.
Launching in 2016, Permanent Collection has never had a primary focus in being exclusively clothing. Instead, have a collection of objects that both Singer and Nielson are interested in. Singer, whose mother is the widely known chef Alice Waters, mentions this could mean something along the lines of working with functional objects that her mother has collected or collaborating with artists estates, including Nielson’s late father, legendary artist J.B. Blunk.
“Having that context, that really has come to bare in our collections through our own experience of being their children—children of two people that, are not exactly perfectly aligned but somehow similar and rigorous aesthetic.”
As to why the brand is called Permanent Collection, Singer explains that when they were choosing pieces to remake, they wanted to feel as though they had a really classic, timeless design that would have relevance for decades to come. With backgrounds as curators, they’re both looking to discern garments that have long term value by reinterpreting pieces with new materials- keeping the main component of the original design that makes it so withstanding through time.
The coats of Permanent Collection don’t exactly pop out. They’re very paired down and restrained but elegant and lasting at the same time. With an effortless ease, they go with just about everything. In a time when many brands are peacocking their garments to make noise, it’s entirely refreshing to see something so intrinsically simple and quiet.
When the brand first began, the first few collections of clothing contained multiple pieces. But, from now on, there will just be single releases every couple of months instead. Singer, whose mother has been a strong proponent of the slow food movement. expresses that their brand is inherently slow fashion. “There’s a slowness to how we select things, the consideration that we give all of the products and then the way that we try to manufacture, which is sustainable.”
As for what the hope is for the brand in the near future, Singer expresses an interest in making bigger items and expanding their categories. As of now, Permanent Collection is mostly clothing, jewelry, publications as well as paper goods designed by various artists. Singer will continue to elaborate a kitchen collection they are working on with her mother. “It was always with the idea that the rubric for this project could be really elastic and accommodate all of the things we wanted to do.”
Next month, Permanent Collection will be opening a month-long store in Larkspur at the Marin Country Mart. Since they are primarily an online brand, this is an intimate way for people to come and see the products in person, especially as the holiday season approaches. “We’re hoping that it almost in a way it projects what we want this brand to look like going forward.”
// Visit PermanentCollection.com. Photography by Anthony Rogers, styling by Kathryn Zerbe, modeled by Kaitlyn of SCOUT.