Alumni Update: Erica Laba

In case you’ve been living under a rock the past month, you know that the Graduation Fashion Show welcomed Max & Lubov Azria of BCBGMAXAZRIA as the School of Fashion’s Guests of Honor for 2013. Concluding their visit, Max & Lubov actually selected four lucky students to join the BCBG team as design interns this summer (congratulations Andrea Nieto, Winbo ShiauKyung Hwa Kim, and Sarah Engelman), and they will join the ranks of another Academy of Art University alumna, Erica Laba, who graduated last year and is currently working as a Design Associate for Hardwovens and Outerwear with the fashion group. We caught up with Erica who shared with us the best career advice she ever received, why she’s not running in heels down the halls of BCBG, and her favorite thing about LA.

What was the hardest fashion lesson you’ve learned? (Either while at the School of Fashion or since working at BCBG)

I remember going on school tours in high school while searching for colleges. One student guide said, “Don’t get into fashion design if you just want to shop and buy clothes.”  That little bit of advice has become more and more true. Fashion is a labor of love. I prick my fingers, carry around rolls of fabric, press and hand cut fabrics daily, all while working long hours. Working between warehouse and design floor makes it hard to saunter to work in 5″ stilettos, not to mention that there isn’t time to daydream about your next ensemble.  We make these beautiful things, but we are not usually the ones in them. It’s comparable to a painter who’s paintings get sold and don’t remain on his own walls.

What is your average day like?

My morning starts with coffee and making my breakfast and lunch. I try to allow for an hour to relax and gather my thoughts before heading off to work. Once I’m at work, I pull bundles from the cutting room and meet with our sample makers. After finding their trims and fixing any mishap, I check my email and make sure all of our samples are passed to the correct department. I do mockups for that night’s meeting, and make up cut tickets for testing fabrics and garments for development. I work with the senior designer when he needs help with developments and ETA’s on our samples. My other co-workers prep samples for deliveries and meetings, and often work on different options for colorways, printways, and fabrications. My day consists of walking a lot to ensure that every department has what they need to push the line forward into production.

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Photos courtesy of Erica Laba.

What do you love most about your job?

My favorite part of my job is that I work with both the main sportswear line, but also with the runway line. I enjoy working on developments, and when our work gets pushed through without too many snags! There are so many things to take into consideration when it comes to putting a design into work. Is the construction cost effective? Can we get more of the fabric? At what price? Does it do well in bulk? Will the fabric be evenly dyed? Will we need enough fabric to make the minimum? Will it sell well? I really enjoy learning about all of these various aspects and seeing how they all come together. It’s important to understand that, although creativity is very important, what you’re selling needs to also keep the business moving.

Photo courtesy of

If you could wear one piece from BCBGMAXAZRIA’s Spring ’13 Collection, what would it be?

I love the coat from look 25. It’s crisp and cool, a perfect jacket for LA weather.

How is LA different than San Francisco?

It’s much like apples and oranges. San Francisco is a compact landscape with beautiful buildings and views everywhere. LA does have some nice buildings and views, but it is a sprawling industrial city as well. There is always a lot going on here, and it is an extremely diverse city in every way.

What are you currently obsessed with? (Fashion, LA, or otherwise)

I am currently loving the food here in LA. Food trucks, restaurants, cooking, and food from friends. I’ve found that breaking bread has made me a lot of new friends, and I have learned a lot about people and other places by trying new foods. LA has some of the best food from all over the world. It is a lot of fun, and sometimes adventurous, finding new places and trying new things!

Photo courtesy of Erica Laba.

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