Ever wonder what happens to those people who quit their job to “follow their dream”? Well, Hawaiian undies label Gypsy provides a compelling example — young fashion designers, take note!
Gypsy offers the kind of laid-back, stylish underwear that one would expect to see on a sun-kissed beach goddess who can’t decide whether to swim or stroll or tan (or all three). The label grew out of creator Kate Ruggiero’s desire for a pair of comfortable but cute panties to wear around the house on a lazy Saturday morning. Now, these chic handmade panties, made of soft fabrics and offering ample coverage, are garnering huge buzz and an international clientele.
The story of Gypsy began when Ruggiero moved to the Hawaiian island of Oahu from bustling New York City, leaving behind a career in fashion. Feeling like a gypsy for the first time in her life, she decided it was time to follow her dreams. After being gifted with a sewing machine by some friends, Ruggiero decided that she wanted to create swimwear.
“Everyone warned me how I may want to ease into working with bathing suit material since it’s a tricky fabric to work with,” Ruggiero recalls. “Around the time I was given the sewing machine, I went back to New York for a vacation and went fabric shopping. I found some really beautiful stretch fabric. I had two pairs of undies that I loved and I cut them up and basically redesigned them so together they would be the perfect pair. It started out just for fun.”
What started out as a hobby designing for herself, and eventually for friends, has now become a full blown career. As Gypsy becomes more and more talked about, Ruggiero maintains that she still designs from the position of what she herself would like to wear.
“I try to keep my personal taste in mind, so keeping the styles and fabrics really unique and beautiful is really important to me,” the designer explains. “The feeling of Gypsy is modern vintage, unique but classic.” Ruggiero points out that what sets Gypsy apart is that each piece is locally handmade from quality fabrics that she sources herself, not something you find with department store panties.
The comfort of her customer is always in the forefront of the Gypsy philosophy as far as Ruggiero is concerned.
“I love the romance and dreaminess of really being down to your true self and wearing something that just makes you feel pretty,” she explains. “I wanted to make something that makes any woman feel beautiful and comfortable.” Inspiration is also drawn from her new home of Hawaii, the beach, travel and the free spirit lifestyle that Ruggiero has embraced since leaving New York.
Appropriately, Gypsy’s latest collection is called Wild Heart, an infectious riot of colors and patterns that makes for some really beautiful underthings. And if you like your underwear neutral and seam-free, Gypsy delivers for you as well.
“I had been daydreaming about a beautiful pair of tie-dye undies and basically could not find them anywhere!” Ruggiero says when asked about what inspired the collection and its central piece, the tie-dye brief (above). “I wanted tie-dye that looked feminine and unique without looking too hippy trippy … I spent months searching for the right fabric and then slowly came across the lace pieces which I felt were a really great, soft complement to the tiedyes I had found.”
On the search for some unique prints to tie it all together, Ruggiero came upon the stand-out mermaid and daisy patterns seen in the collection.
Going forward, Gypsy will be launching a new bandeau bra to complement its trademark underwear as well as swimwear, which Ruggiero is excited about, as bikinis were why she initially decided to try her hand at a sewing machine. A woman who has chased after her dreams and caught them, Ruggiero keeps reminding herself of the life philosophy that ultimately led to the creation of Gypsy: Follow your heart.
“Growing up, my mother raised me through all difficult decisions using that phrase,” Ruggiero recalls. “And ironically, when I began Gypsy, a very close friend reminded me of the phrase as the only way to live and conduct my business. No matter how much you doubt yourself or what your fears or hesitations in life are, things will work out if you simply listen to your heart and believe solely in what you want.”
Ruggiero’s optimism and sunny outlook can be seen in her happy designs and in her business philosophy. “I believe that business can create social change, especially when it is born from a place of need, inspiration, and reinvestment in a community,” she explains. “That is how this whole adventure began. I followed my heart to Hawaii. Then, despite all fears, I followed my heart to begin Gypsy. It has never failed me. I am grateful for every step of this exciting adventure.”
Take a look at some more great shots from the Gypsy lookbook, photographed by Daeja Fallas.