Author Archives: Laura Boes

December 3, 2009

destination: korea, our newest collection of inspired children’s clothes

For our Spring Collection, our design team set off to explore South Korea to gather our inspiration for the season. This was very exciting, as I really knew very little about this country…and South Korea didn’t disappoint. In Korea, Isabelle, Tami and I found a uniquely vibrant, energetic culture and a land of exuberant color, ornate architecture and beautiful artisanal crafts. Enjoy!

Laura Boes

VP of Design

Korean yin yang on door Korean Street Scene Dragon on roof of Korean temple

It’s hard to imagine a place that bustles more than Seoul, home to the 1988 Summer Olympics, and the fifth largest city in the world. Everyone contributes to the energy and excitement… we heard so many parents urging their little ones along with a hearty “Gaja Gaja!” (“Hurry up Hurry up!”), rushing from one place to the next. This playful saying inspired our Gaja Gaja! t-shirt.

the Kims in Korea kimchee and other Korean foods Korean temple

In Seoul, we did a lot of exploring with the Kims, Tami’s extended family. They introduced us to Kimchee, the quintessentially Korean side dish of pickled vegetables that’s eaten every day at breakfast, lunch and dinner. We love spicy food, so we fell in love with this dish and decided to honor this staple in the national cuisine with our kimchee boy’s tee.

Insadong street scene Korean masks Korean door knocker

We wandered in and out of Seoul’s distinct, charming neighborhoods with the Kims, and discovered Insadong, a traditional arts and crafts street. We found shop after shop selling traditional crafts like Hanji, handmade Korean paper, used for everything from masks to clothing to furniture. Here, Isabelle and I found the inspiration for our Hanji floral dress.

Through our wanderings, we also noticed wonderfully ornate doorknockers at the entrance of homes as well as temples. The knockers were shaped like dragons’ heads to protect against evil spirits, and we incorporated them into our Heem Dragon polo.

hanbok patchwork jogakbo shopping in Dongdaemun market

At Dongdaemun Market, the largest shopping center in South Korea, we found many examples of Hanbok, traditional curved, high-waisted dresses worn at festivals and celebrations. This iconic, elegant design inspired the proportions of many of our Spring dresses.

We were also charmed by the resourcefulness of the traditional craft of Jogakbo, the art of patching together leftover scraps of colorful fabric for everything from blankets and clothing to wedding gift wrap. Two of our favorite dresses in this Collection are inspired by this patchwork tradition.

temple doors temple stairs Gyeong ju city metal work

As we traveled throughout Korea, we climbed steep stairways to find intricate detail and beautiful colors in ornate ancient temples. In Gyeong Ju, Korea’s historical and cultural center, we were awed by Bulguksa Temple– particularly the geometry of gridded doors and the beautifully painted floral patterns, which inspired us to create textured plaids and colorful prints.

We are so pleased to share our new collection, inspired by our journey to Korea. Enjoy!

March 30, 2009

art in the streets

Walking the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil is the ultimate stimulation of the senses. At any given moment, one can see soaring landscapes, hear the rhythm of a table samba streaming from a café, take in the fragrant smell of tropical flowers and dense foliage, and covering the walls of buildings are beautiful and colorful street paintings.

For a Designer, the patterns, the colors, the styles and characters are the tastiest candy an eye could see. Of course I instantly imagine a color palette, a pattern for a dress, a graphic for a tee!

shown above the Paulista Dress

Shown above the Rio Dress and the Zaba Halter Dress embroidery

Shown above the Oscar Stripe Polo

We were lucky enough to happen upon a piece done by Sao Paulo Artists Os Gemeos (the twins). Now world reknowned, these twin brother artists have come to signify brazilian graffiti art. Their artistic subject matter ranges from political statements to depicting characters from brazilian folk tales and literature.

Their work has become a huge inspiration for color palette and pattern.

Shown above the Cariocas Shirt

In an interview with Art Crimes, the twins were asked if they would ever do a children’s story book? They replied, “maybe…working with kids is very cool and rewarding.” I couldn’t agree more, I sure hope they make one.

September 23, 2008

Tea’s Norway Inspiration: part II

Norway is renowned as the “cradle of skiing” and it is possible to ski there, even in the summer time.

Emily and I wanted to see these snow capped mountains first, so we headed toward Jotenheimen National Park, home to Norway’s highest peaks.

We needed to rest up before we embarked on our journey through the mountains, and found ourselves in the perfect spot. The quaint and eclectic Elevester Hotel sits in the shadows of Norway’s tallest mountain.

Inside, the hotel is decorated with motifs and crafts from Norwegian history.

The upholstery fabric and hand painted designs on the antique furniture inspired some of our winter textiles, as used in our Elevester Floral Dress (shown above).

We were ready to make our way up to the peaks. As we climbed higher, the snow walls began to tower at least 3 feet above our car. I was starting to regret not bringing along some cozy mittens and warmer layers…

…but along our decent, snow gave way to waterfalls and lush green pastures.

We decided to stop in Skjolden, a small town on the other side of the mountains. We were delighted to find that the town was having a local craft fair. Here we met Olga, a sweet woman selling her hand knitted mittens and slippers.

The history of hand knitting in Norway dates back to Viking times and most snowflake motifs and lice patterning that we see on ski sweaters today, originated there. A Norwegian collection would not be complete without a nod to these designs.

Our Skjolden Ski Cardigan and Viking Intarsia Vest (shown above).

At a rest stop we noticed an unusual steeple silhouetted against the setting sun. These dragon head gables are distinct to Norway’s Stav churches.

We went to Borgund to find the only Stav church that has been unaltered since the middle ages.

The intricate framework and gabled roof inspired the architecture of our twirling Stav Dress (shown above).

We ended our trip in the harbor city of Bergen, where even the radiating colors of the 11pm sunset left it’s impression on us.

Our interpretation of a midnight sunset is conveyed through our Ombre Tunic Sweater (shown below).

August 22, 2008

fall 2008’s inspiration: norway

flying into NorwayIn May 2007, Emily and I headed north to explore the vast country of Norway in search of inspiration for Tea’s Fall 2008 collection.

This was my first visit to a Scandinavian country and I was expecting clean and modern aesthetic. Upon landing in this rich country, I was instantly taken by the enveloping evergreens and the woodwork, immaculate even in the airport.

I knew that this was a country that respected its natural resources and proudly celebrated them through craft. I could not wait to see what we would find…


We began our trip in Oslo, visiting museums and taking in Norwegian metropolitan culture.

One notable stop was the Norsk Folkemuseum, which featured 150 reconstructed townhouses, farm buildings, and churches from Norway’s past.

Here, we discovered a style of folk painting called Rosemaling (see below). This style of painting emerged in Norway around the late 18th century. Artists from the more rural areas in Norway would travel from home to home, painting interior walls and furniture. The homeowners would provide warm shelter and food for these artists in return for their services.

The color and detail of these scroll-like floral designs were captivating in beauty and impressive in coverage.

Later, we found that this painting style influenced embroidery in Norwegian folk costume. This discovery inspired us to come up with our own modern interpretation.

(Norwegian Folk Embroidery and Tea’s Inspired Print)

(Below from left to right: Tea’s Rasmussen Floral Dress and Elina Embroidery French Terry pants)

We also found that hand and loom weaving have been a native tradition in Norway, often done by families in times of celebration. There are many different types of traditional weaving, but 2 examples stood out, Billedvev (pictured here), a pictorial tapestry…

…and Rutevev, a geometric style (below).

These flat woven textiles were typically done in village homes found amongst the fjords. We were fascinated by the textures and colors in these textiles, so we headed north in search of some to make our own.

By chance and through a little help from friends that we met along the way, we ended up at the Stalheim Hotel.

A beautiful hotel set atop a 300 meter high cliff, not only does this hotel boast amazing views, it also has a spectacular collection of Norwegian crafts and a reconstructed folk village.

The varied patterns and color we found in Stalheim’s collection of textiles inspired us to interpret them in rich sweaters and bright plaids.

(above: Norwegian woven textiles)

(Above from left to right: Tea’s Stalheim Fairisle sweater, Aurland plaid shirt, and Ingrid Jacquard sweater)

(Emily and me at the lookout from the Stalheim Hotel)

It is hard to be in fjord country without going on a fjord tour. We were in luck as we were close to one of Norway’s most famous, the Sognefjord. It is of the longest and deepest in Norway, an inlet jutting over 100 miles into the country and over 4000 feet deep.

You can’t deny the beauty and massive landscape surrounding you in Norway. We tried to capture this feeling through voluminous silhouettes in this Fall’s collection like the Aurland Plaid Dress and Fjord Coat (both pictured here).