Designer Spotlight with Cassandra Dittmer

Cassandra Dittmer

Have you always wanted to work in the fashion industry? What inspired you to become a brand consultant and fashion stylist?

I always wanted to be in fashion from a young age.  I grew up in the country and fashion was not very prevalent.  My mom and I used to study runway shows together - it was our bonding moment every season! I was enamored by the process of creating a garment from a young age and my grandmother was a very talented seamstress.  Everything from sourcing fabrics to the people behind the garment has been an interest of mine since I was little.  My first internship was with a stylist in LA and I haven’t looked back since. 

When did you realize that incorporating sustainability in fashion is crucial to protect our planet?

I’ve always loved working in fashion, but when I learned about the negative impacts that fast, and especially ultra-fast fashion is having on people and our planet I knew that I needed to re-work my approach to help people shop more sustainably, and partner with like-minded people and brands who shared my vision for working towards a more responsible fashion industry. I feel very lucky that I get to collaborate with and see incredible sustainable solutions on the rise, but there is still a long way to go. 

How did Conscious Design Studio come to fruition and why did you choose to focus on designing wardrobe staples that are fluid? What are your thoughts on genderless fashion?

CD Studio was born during lockdown, where our clothing requirements and values shifted. I noticed a gap in the market for sustainably made, elevated wardrobe staples that would be able to be worn way beyond lockdown. This was the primary inspiration for our first collection, and we’ll build on the idea of core capsule collections for seasons to come. Fashion is such a great form of self expression, so I wanted CD studio to be accessible to all, which is why we wanted each piece to be genderless, and size inclusive. I love seeing how each customer styles and wears our pieces to reflect their individual personality- it’s a real highlight of having a brand. 

What are the benefits of capsule wardrobe pieces that can transcend seasons? 

Longevity is so important when it comes to investing in fashion, I always come back to the idea of ‘cost per wear’, making sure we are purchasing pieces that fit our body shapes, lifestyles and that can be treasured, worn and loved for years to come. Each piece I design for CD Studio has to be desirable, but also be able to transcend seasons to ensure it’s a piece that has wardrobe longevity, moving away from a disposable attitude to fashion. 

How has the transition been bringing production from Bangladesh to LA? Why is it an important attribute for your brand to be locally made and has the city influenced your approach to design in any way?

The initial motivation was to consider, and try to reduce, our brand’s carbon footprint and to establish closer and more transparent relationships with our manufacturing partners. As we worked through development and production for our first core collection, we realized the importance of more direct access to our factories and vendors so we could be more hands-on and in control throughout the process. Even when working with accredited factories, we found transparency and communication to be the most challenging when working abroad. It’s been really special to start the process of making CD Studio locally in LA, and something we are very proud of. Me and my team are based in LA, so I think we’ve been influenced by the laid back, but functional and elevated style of the city, something that our first collection definitely reflects. 

Are there any other sustainable components that you would like to share that are a core attribute to your brand? What have you found are the benefits of organic cotton in your pieces?

When I had the idea for CD Studio, sustainable design and production was at the heart of the brand. In particular, designing pieces that filled a gap in the market, and that I knew could stand the test of time. When it came to fabrics, I wanted to try and focus on natural fibres where possible, and in particular using GOTS-certified cotton for the majority of our first collection. The Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent third-party certification of the entire textile supply chain. Where we have to use synthetic materials for stretch, we try to use innovative recycled fibres where possible. It’s going to be a constant journey to always look for the most responsible and innovative options for us as a brand, and we look forward to evolving as we grow. 

How has your career in styling helped to influence your brand and the way that you design?

I’m in a unique position where I hear directly from clients what’s missing in their wardrobes and the items they wished they had. This was really where CD Studio was born, using this insight and data to create the products that were missing from the market, and make them in the most sustainable and accessible way possible. 

What kind of positive change do you hope to make through your clothing brand and fashion styling endeavors within the next 5 years? 

With everything I do, whether it’s styling or through my brand, I always want fashion to be a tool for expression and joy. However with that joy, comes a responsibility to educate ourselves and ask questions about how the clothes we buy are made. Until legislation comes into place, it’s down to us as active citizens and consumers to support brands that are acting responsibly, and are open and honest about their supply chains. I feel very lucky to be part of this exciting time in the industry, and hope to be part of this positive change. 

What is the greatest lesson that you have learned thus far in your career and through creating your own clothing brand?

Creating a brand with your values in mind will take more time but is worth it in the long run.  It's important to stay humble and consistently curious!  I am always eager to find ways to evolve and continuously become more sustainable in everything we do at CD Studio and beyond.