Top by Primary | Image by: Libertine Images

Let’s be honest, fashion affects us all.  We often associate it as a representation of who we are and how we feel or how we want the world to see us.  As I have become older and more confident, my love and admiration for fashion has evolved into a profound appreciation for design, women entrepreneurship and the pursuit.  I am a proud fashionista who follows the latest trends and fills my closet with unique and original – high quality pieces.

Through my journey into the complex and nuanced world of fashion, it brings me immense joy when I stumble upon hidden gems, unbeatable deals and of course, the fresh faced and bold young woman designer who is eager and willing to collaborate, explore, and assist fellow women like myself. When I stumbled upon Primary, I knew I had found something special. As soon as I reached out to the creator of this label, I knew I had also connected with a distinctive and kind soul. I adore everything this label puts out, waiting impatiently to see what updates are available on their instagram account composing wish lists on what will end up in my closet next.

Primary has a defined vision.  Primary is a “girl powered, internationally minded, creative studio” that makes fashion essentials. Modern, sleek, fun and individualized, Primary began in 2010 in New York City. Founder Cleo Schroeder, originally from Canada, moved to New York and took a leap of faith and started her collection years later with only 10 pieces. “I moved to New York to go to Parson’s School of Design.” Cleo tells me.  Because of her attraction to natural fibers, durability and longevity of items, her vision propelled and soon turned into a mix of leather garments, exotic handbags, washed silk draped apparel designs, and a jersey range made of tencel and modal; fabrics made from wood pulp.

Primary is thriving today in 2016. Read the answers to the questions I ask Cleo about Primary.  It’s hard not to fall in love with the brand and the designer.


How and when did you get into the world of fashion and design?
My first fashion jobs were in the movies ~ I worked in the costume department for films in my hometown of Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver has been called “North Hollywood” for the amount of production companies and Hollywood films being shot there.

What does fashion mean to you?
Fashion initially started as a creative outlet for me as a designer, but really fashion is just a means of expression without having to say anything.

What is your inspiration and has it changed over time?
I’ve always been inspired by real girls, by street style and the way clothing can make you feel. That hasn’t changed at all.

Describe the type of women who would wear Primary?The women who wear Primary have a strong sense of who there are and let fashion be dictated by their moods; our clothing can be worn under a blazer for work or with a tie up flat for a bohemian summer weekend. It’s really about creating a wardrobe that works for modern women’s multifaceted lives.

Do you collaborate with other designers and if so who?
Yes! I love collaborating with other designers that are making cool pieces in a different category. Our first collaboration was with the LA based sisters of the fine jewelry line ‘Carbon & Hyde’. And we are doing a collaboration with Montreal based handbag line “The Stowe” for Spring 2016.

How were such collaborations born?
Both collaborations were born out of admiration and friendship.

Who are your fashion icons and why?
Most of my fashion icons are musicians; I admire that creative freedom of expression.

What excites you the most about fashion?At the moment, it’s the new media and finally talks about restructuring the entire fashion system that has been in place for so long; with the possibility of moving the Fashion Weeks & Shows to a consumer spectacle rather than a trade show; since that’s what it already has become. The current fashion system doesn’t benefit designers, retailers or even consumers; so it’s an exciting change to see how the system gets rehauled.

Describe your own fashion style.
I like to reassess my wardrobe and style every season; that may mean bringing on a new pant shape (right now it’s the high-waisted cropped kick-flare jean), picking up a new hat, or a new piece of jewelry I can layer everyday. What always stays is a strong sense of me; which is essentially a tomboy, that transitions into a French girl when I travel (classic pieces mix well), a bohemian in the summer (who doesn’t love that vibe) and a studio 54 disco-queen by night ( I just can’t shed my love of jumpsuits, leather fringe, embroideries, sequins, lurex and lamé)

What is your favorite piece from the fall 2015 collection?
Our leather motorcycle has been a core for a few seasons, but we brought it back because it’s still essential!

What is next for Primary?
What’s coming up immediately is that we’re moving our studio to Brooklyn! After 4 years of being in the garment district in New York; now that we have moved off the fashion system ~ we no longer need to be directly next to our factories. So we’re excited to start the New Year in a bigger more creative environment and building our team.

Now how badass is this chick?

We’re giving away a gift from Primary! A timeless black pencil skirt! A you need to do is like the picture on social media, follow us, and repost it! (You must like all handles mentioned) Good Luck! 

Primary’s Social Media Handles:
Instagram: @primary_newyork

Ariella Laya’s Instagram:

Magnolia’s Social Media Handles:
Instagram: @magnoliayyc
Twitter: @Magnoliayyc

Editor Update: a few spelling errors and links have been corrected in this article.

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