Name: Laura Choi
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Hometown: California & New York
Occupation: Designer and Founder, Par en Par
Launched in October 2017, Par en Par founder, Laura Choi elevated resort wear in the fashion world with her sustainable fabrics and modern designs that are perfect for on the go traveling.
Read on to discover how.
In a few sentences, tell us a little bit about yourself?
I grew up in California before heading to the University of Pennsylvania to study marketing and retailing. I interned in buying (one summer at Kohl’s, one summer at Bloomingdale’s). Upon graduation, I started my career in retail in the buying program at Bloomingdale’s, buying and planning in women’s ready-to-wear for four years.
I then moved to launch and operate Warby Parker’s first few retail stores. There, I learned a ton about retail experience design and branding. I left Warby Parker to launch Par en Par, and now operate Par en Par as a sole founder and operator. That means wearing all the hats, from designer to CEO to packaging every order out of my apartment in Los Angeles!
What's the origin story of Par en Par, and what does "doors wide open" mean to you?
After a decade in the retail industry in New York City, I embarked on a two-week solo trip to the desert. I stayed at the artist Andrea Zittel’s retreat, and began my own introspective journey on ‘investigative living.’ Why do I travel? How can I design a life that travel enhances, not escapes me from? What pieces translate between my life in the city, my travels, and everything in between?
The phrase “doors wide open” signals an open-ended journey. For me, the journey is a constant balancing of twos: work and play, time on and time off, relaxation and effort.
I love the idea of bleisure wear, walk us through the thought process?
The concept of a wardrobe that enables both business and leisure travel is interesting to me because it speaks to modern day travel. Especially as an entrepreneur, I try to find both personal and professional fulfillment during travels. I seek inspiration and movement as much as relaxation and stillness. The thought of traveling in athleisure suddenly felt confining and I wanted to define a more fluid wardrobe that translates to every scenario of my travels.
Tell us about the importance of ethically sourcing your materials? Is this something your consumers' value?
I am inspired by the Japanese concept of shibumi, or elegance in simplicity. With nature as an influential part of my travels, I have always been drawn to natural fibers for my travel wear.
For my launch collection, I went to India to source handwoven cotton made by local artisans. Each piece has pockets, is machine washable, and can be worn multiple ways. Being thoughtful with how I consume, source, and create has further connected me with a like-minded community.
Additionally, why did you choose to source from India specifically?
While researching sources of organic cotton, I learned about khadi — a handspun yarn that is hand woven on looms by artisans in rural India. Mahatma Gandhi was a big proponent of this fabric during the nonviolent movement for independence. I came across this fabric in its raw, unbleached state and I thought it was so beautiful. I knew the next step was to go to India to source.
What are your goals for Par en Par moving forward?
My goals are to grow Par en Par to continue to grow slowly and thoughtfully. I want Par en Par to be a brand that has longevity.
Where can we find your clothes in Los Angeles?
I’m currently working on a project local to Los Angeles, to be announced! For now, Par en Par is available at Unionmade Women in San Francisco.
Do you have any other projects/collaborations on the books you'd like the readers to know about?
Par en Par recently launched on Of a Kind. A few other collaborations are in the works but not yet announced.
What does empowerment mean to you?
Empowerment to me means self-respect. I read Joan Didion’s essay On Self-Respect about once a month as a reminder. One earns self-respect through a combination of introspection, hard work and honesty. When I maintain a balance of those three things, I know the confidence I have in myself is a grounded one.
Who are some of your greatest influences?
I draw a lot of creative influence from artists across mediums – architects, film directors, musicians. A recent Nils Frahm performance reminded me of the beauty in simplicity.
What are you grateful for?
As a recent transplant to Los Angeles, I’m grateful for the simple things — time, light, and space. Also, always-ripe avocados.
Do you have a personal mantra or quote that inspires you?
And everything will fall into place.”
– Lao Tzu