Designer Dossier: Alexis Mera

Alexis Mera

This atheisure line is taking your wardrobe from sleep to street, literally.

Unless you prefer to make incessant outfit changes like Miley, we’re of the camp that less is more. 1 outfit to take you seamlessly from sleep to street and back again? Yes please. Introducing your new hero: Alexis Mera. The new line of Made-in-NY knitwear effectively blends the worlds of lounge, sleep and athleisure, resulting in versatile, minimalist silhouettes transitioning from daytime to nighttime, weekday to weekend, yoga to brunch (to beyond).

Designed in Ditmas Park, Brooklyn and produced in New York’s Garment District, FIT grad Alexis Mera Damen launched the line with an athleisure focus after earning her chops working for major brands including DKNY Sleepwear, Lucky Brand Sleepwear and Tommy Hilfiger Sleepwear – not to mention coming from a textile-entrenched family history dating back to the 1800s.

Find out what drew Alexis to athleisure, her top 5 fave spots in Brooklyn, and why she’s committed to leaving a social footprint, below.

Designer Alexis Mera Damen
Designer Alexis Mera Damen I Photo credit @alexismeranyc Instagram

You come from a fascinating family lineage ingrained in the textile & garment industry – stemming back to the 1800s! Did you always think you’d end up following this path?

I actually didn’t ever really think about it. When I was young I wanted to be a Veterinarian, and then as I got older I wanted to be an Interior Designer (I actually started at FIT in the Interior Design Major). Quickly realized that wasn’t for me, and decided to pursue the Fashion Merchandising Management major – somehow, here I am! 🙂 My parents/grandparents never pushed me in any certain direction.

In the 1900s your grandfather opened up a women’s textile shop in The Netherlands. Is the shop still around and have you ever had a chance to visit?

No, the store is not there anymore, and unfortunately I never had the opportunity to visit it. I know my father did though!

Damen textile shop, Netherlands, early 1900s I Photo credit Damen family
Damen textile shop, Netherlands, early 1900s I Photo credit Damen family

Your line successfully blends the landscapes of athleisure, loungewear and sleepwear. What in particular drew you to these market segments?

I honestly just wanted clothing that I could wear everywhere (and I though other women might want this too). When I combined that idea with my background in sleepwear, Alexis Mera came to life.

The athleisure segment in particular has really taken off of late, amongst both the fashion industry and pop culture. What do you think has propelled this growth and popularity?

I think it’s a lifestyle. I think more and more people are living/trying to live a more healthy life. Whether it be exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, or trying out the latest juicing fad, it’s very prevalent. We all need/want clothes to match our lifestyle. 🙂 It’s just another way to express it.

It’s no surprise given family history you’re very selective about the textiles and fabrications used in Alexis Mera. How do you go about deciding which fabrications to use and what are your biggest sources of textile inspiration?

Yes, the fabric we use is very, very important to me. Our styles are more on the basic/minimalist side, so I really want women to be impressed when they pick up a piece to try it on. I’m really just inspired by comfort. I don’t like itchy, stiff fabrics. As for prints – when I source new ones, I comb through racks and racks of prints and usually there are about 10 that I LOVE, the tricky part is narrowing them down. I definitely look for print designs that are trending, but I also look for prints that instantly catch my eye and that I feel a connection to (sounds silly), but it’s true!

Alexis Mera

You’re an avid supporter of keeping production in New York’s Garment District. What are some of the challenges you face and what about keeping production in New York is most important to you?

The biggest challenge is production costs. But, I think it’s worth it. I know who is making my product, I see them, I speak with them face to face, and most importantly, I see and visit the facilities weekly during production.

What silhouette would you say is your collection’s most versatile piece?

Definitely our Dorchester T-Shirt Dress. It can be paired with leggings and sneakers or even over jeans. Wear it alone with sneakers as well, or throw on a skinny belt and heels and you can wear it out. It also makes for a great beach cover up, and of course it’s super comfy to wear on it’s own to bed.

We love that you’re committed to leaving a social footprint with every sale. Donating 10% of revenue to non-profits (year-round) is no small feat! What about aligning with Step Up in particular spoke to you?

Step Up is on a mission to empower young women through mentorship programs. They believe in educating women, so they graduate high school, go to college, and join the next generation of women in the work force. Their success rate is 100%. I believe an education lasts a life time, and that everyone deserves to be given the opportunity to succeed.

What’s next for Alexis Mera?

More prints, more prints, more prints!

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What are your top 3 DO’s for taking Alexis Mera pieces from sleep to street?

  1. Roll out of bed (in any of our pieces!) and throw some sneakers on.
  1. Wear our dresses to the beach.
  1. Wear our joggers to yoga.

What are your top 3 DON’Ts for taking Alexis Mera pieces from sleep to street?

Honestly, there are none! We pride ourselves on being versatile. 🙂

What 5 wardrobe essentials must be in every woman’s closet?

  1. Slouchy tee.
  1. That pair of skinny jeans that fits like no other pair.
  1. That pair of boyfriend jeans that are more comfortable than any other pair.
  1. Sneakers for everyday wear.
  1. A great leather moto jacket.

Top 3 favorite textiles/fabrications of all time:

  1. Jersey Knits
  1. Denim
  1. Lace

Top 3 sources of fitspiration:

  1. My trainer.
  1. Food…need to workout so I can enjoy more food. 🙂
  1. Seeing results.

Top 5 favorite spots in Brooklyn:

  1. Prospect Park for jogging.
  1. Ditmas Park for taking a stroll and looking at beautiful homes.
  1. Café Madeline for their BLT Sandwich and Buttermilk Biscuits.
  1. The waterfront in Williamsburg to catch your breath and enjoy the view of the city.
  1. Brighton Beach for a quick beach trip (during the week when no one else is there!).

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If I weren’t a fashion designer, I would be: That’s an interesting question. I’d love to know.

If I could have any 1 person in the world (past or present) wear Alexis Mera, it would be: Beyoncé

If you were to find me at the gym, I would be doing: Depends on the day. Monday is leg day, Wednesday is arm day, and Friday is cardio training day.

…and wearing: Capri’s, a supportive sports bra, Nike kicks, and a tank! I wish it were more interesting. 🙂

If I could only do 1 yoga pose for the rest of my life, it would be: I’m working on getting into just one of those poses at the moment – flexibility is not my strong point!

My workout power song is: No one song in mind, but when I jog I usually listen to David Guetta radio on Pandora.

My perfect weekend is spent: I want to say sitting on the couch relaxing with my husband – but I usually get restless doing that. I really enjoy a productive weekend. I like to get up in the morning with a purpose.

If you were to find me at the bar, I’d be drinking: Pinot Grigio

If I could pack up and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, I’d go to: A place with a beach, good food, good company, and where money doesn’t exist. 🙂

T-Shirt or Tank? Tank

Prints or Solids? Both – depends on the mood.

Coffee or Tea? Tea, always tea.

Peanut Butter or Nutella? Both?

Indoor or Outdoor Workouts? Outdoor for cardio, indoor for weights.

Cardio or Yoga? Cardio.

Pump up the Jam or Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)? Everybody Dance Now.

Early Riser or Night Owl? Early Riser. I IG @alexismeranyc I Twitter @alexismeranyc

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