Last week we shared a link in our weekly newsletter to Gamine Co., a new line of “honest workwear for women”. Not surprisingly, it was one of the most clicked links in our recent emails. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know more about the brilliant mind behind the brand, founder Taylor Johnston.
As a horticulturalist at the beautiful Isabella Gardner museum Taylor found a need for well-made workwear that could stand up to days of playing in the dirt. With the release of her first pair of dungarees, I am sold on her entire mission. Gamine is a brand after my own heart, one that values authenticity and functionality. Not to mention we share a love for dogs, gardening, and making good food.
Read more about Taylor in our interview below …
What is your background?
The people who know me best will tell you that I am a non-linear person. Maybe it goes back to my mom’s constant advice growing up that ‘boredom comes from within.’ I think it made me realize how fortunate I am to be born here, at this time, and with freedom of choice… I guess the short answer to this is I’ve been a horticulturist now for the last 11 years. I’ve worked on flower farms, botanic gardens, and private estates growing all kinds of edibles and ornamentals. I am most myself when I am in the garden. Right now I’m proud to be a horticulturist at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Before starting at the Gardner, I went on hiatus (graduate school) to study Philosophy. I wanted to know more about nature in a non-tangible sense. Being a professional gardener can get you thinking deeply about nature, a coherent concept of time, perfectionism, and more. When I finished writing my thesis and returned to my trade I found myself driven by an old fashioned way of thinking about the work: there are no shortcuts to success. It’s all about getting your hands dirty, not complaining, making mistakes, and doing the work for many, many years. My mentors tell me it’s dangerous to think of yourself as an expert in anything – I think that this is eternal advice.
Why did you start your store?
I always thought about women’s workwear while getting dressed to work in the field. At the time, I generally wore thrift store pants, high-end knockoffs, and even tried mountaineering gear. Each fell short and I became burdened not only by the lack of performance, but also adding to landfills, and supporting questionable manufacturing overseas. Looking back, this whole thing really crystallized while installing the infamous Nasturtium vines in the central courtyard of the Gardner Museum. I found myself working in front of Bill Cunningham’s lens. Later, when I saw the photos in print in his column in the NYT , I realized that I wasn’t presenting myself in a way that built upon the proud tradition of the predecessors in my field. When I went looking for work clothes that were functional, beautiful, and made with transparency, I quickly ran up against the unfortunate reality that what I was looking for didn’t exist. Enter the founding of Gamine Co., a trade-inspired, edited collection of beautiful workwear goods for women. In keeping with the outstanding tradition of American-made workwear, the collection highlights American utility and construction, tailored silhouettes, and natural fabrics that define graceful, good-humored beauties who work with their hands.
Where can we find you online?
The shop can be found at www.gamineworkwear.com. You can follow me getting dirty in the field and playing with flowers on instagram @gamine_co. I also share my thoughts on workwear design on twitter @gamine_co.
What is one thing every woman or man should own?
Everyone should own at least one pair of really great jeans.
What music are you listening to right now?
Currently really into Shovels & Rope and going back through the Thievery Corporation catalog. And ever since I started at the Gardner I’ve been getting more serious about classical music, and opera. It’s really great, you can download concerts for free from the Museum’s website. Baby steps, you know?
If we came to your house for dinner, what would you serve us?
I’d try to live up to my theory that all gardeners are great in the kitchen so I would make you Yotam Ottolenghi’s soba noodles with aubergine & mango.
What is women’s fashion to you?
Yves Saint-Laurent and Coco Chanel really said it best: Fashions fade. Style is forever.
Thanks so much, Taylor! (All photos from Gamine Co.)