It’s easy to get swept up in doom these days. With bad news coming at us from every platform at seemingly every moment, it can be easy to feel bogged down. So we might as well take the proverbial sunshine wherever we can get it—and however we can get it. Enter Samii Ryan.
The streetwear and loungewear designer uses her eponymous label to inject our lives with a healthy dose of joy. It’s not toxic positivity, but rather a look-on-the-brightside mentality. With comfy yet flattering silhouettes, pastel hues, cheerful patterns including florals and smiley faces, and collaborations with the likes of Esther Bunny and Sneaker Politics, Samii Ryan the brand is tasteful nostalgia. It’s childhood memories made contemporary.
Here, Ryan reflects on this design mindset, as well as being in business with her husband, and using fashion as a form of self-expression.
Your line is rooted in nostalgia—how do you decide which pieces of our past to tap into for new collections?
A lot of our nostalgic pieces are rooted in the collaborations and licenses we choose to work with each year. When we create new styles for our collections, we often reference styling moments or important details from an iconic piece. When we partner with brands like Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, or Mr. Men Little Miss, we really try to utilize their assets and let those take the lead so that it immediately draws people’s attention and taps into some core memories.
Early-aughts nostalgia is having a moment right now. Why do you think that is?
I think that nostalgia is having a resurgence because of the feelings those pieces gave us when they first came out. It’s more carefree, a bit more vibrant, and showcases forgotten fabrics like velour and rhinestones that really create a moment. It brings us back to times when things were simpler, and we were able to be more expressive with our personal style without having to worry about what someone might think.
There is so much minimalism out there in fashion, it’s nice to see a brand like yours embracing color and graphics. Why are those elements important to your work?
Color for me is important because it showcases a mood and incorporates personality. Anyone can dress in neutrals and toned-down pigments. For us, we like to bring out a feeling of positivity and kindness and the color palettes we choose for our collections are inviting and embrace uniqueness and individuality.
Who are some of your biggest fashion inspirations?
To be honest, I have a lot of friends in the industry that I really look up to and that inspire me daily, but it’s difficult for me to think of a specific fashion inspiration. It’s so hard to grow a brand and each day has its own challenges, so when I see people I know accomplishing their dreams it really drives me to work harder.
How do you see clothing as a form of self-expression?
Clothing definitely dictates how I’ll feel on a certain day, and it can truly showcase my mood and personality. Some days I wake up and want to wear lipgloss and pastel clothes, and other days I wake up and have a dark smokey eye and wear a vintage band tee. Showcasing who you are, or what you’re feeling, through your clothing is so fun to me—and I try to keep that in mind when I’m designing each season.
Why was it important to you to offer customers the ability to make their orders carbon neutral?
In my opinion, it’s the least that we could do. Nowadays, there are so many important causes to care about, but for apparel specifically we must recognize the impact that production is having on our environment. By offering carbon neutral orders, we’re able to work directly with EcoCart to donate to important causes around the world, plant two-plus trees per order, and significantly reduce our carbon footprint as well as our customers’. It’s a small step towards sustainability, but it’s a start—and something we hope to build on this year and into the future.
When you are done working for the day, how do you unwind?
These days, being nearly eight months pregnant, sitting on my couch while drinking tea and watching reality shows is how I unwind. I always love to get some snuggles in with my son before his bedtime; that helps relieve any stress that I may have had throughout the day.
You run your business with your husband. What’s it like being life and business partners? How do you balance those two relationships?
It’s quite amazing and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Working with my husband is incredibly fulfilling for me because he truly is my other half. He is kind, patient, hardworking, and has mastered skills that I don’t have. I feel like we are always working, and our life is our business—so it can be difficult to differentiate our personal and business lives, but I think that’s what makes it work so well. We both care equally about what we’re working towards, and because of that, our wins feel greater because we’ve accomplished them together. Evan is an amazing dad, so we can have our personal time with our family at home and make sure we always do breakfast and dinner together at our dining room table every night. We also eat lunch together every day, so I guess we just really love being around each other.
What makes you feel truly at home in your own space?
Whenever I get home, one of the first things I do is change into my cozy sweats. I feel at home when I am comfortable and able to enjoy my family’s company around me.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.