It’s no secret to anyone who has worked in fashion that it is one of the most wasteful industries. Particularly since the release of fast fashion documentary, The True Cost in 2015, consumers have finally started to be more conscious of what they buy and where it’s from, and a wave of retailers and brands have responded to the demand. Enter Viscera, a brand, brick-and-mortar, and 3D printing studio based in downtown Oakland that was born out of owner Ari Takata-Vasquez’s desire to offer women an option to buy fewer but better things.
A former project manager who studied architecture and city planning (as well as a self-proclaimed design geek), the Hawaii native realized shortly after earning her master’s degree from UC Berkley that she wanted to go down a completely different path. With Viscera, the goal was to stock only goods made domestically and help women create their own “uniform” — which would ultimately limit excess. But don’t mistake Takata-Vasquez’s concept for creating a more minimal closet to be restricting. Rather — as she sees it — once a woman realizes what works on her and what she’s comfortable in, she’s able to have some fun with it. And beyond that, shoppers can feel good knowing anything they buy at Viscera is sustainably and ethically made.
Inspired by her mission, we recently chatted up Ari to learn more about her brand/shop, the best way to pare down your own closet, and what she loves about living and working in Oakland.
Even though a lot of people told me it was impossible, I've stuck with all USA-made goods.
Tell us a bit about how you settled on the philosophy behind the shop?
I came to the realization that people are so disconnected from the process of how their things are made, whether that's clothing, home goods, or even food. I wanted to see how good design and ethical production could go hand-in-hand. Even though a lot of people told me it was impossible, I've stuck with all USA-made goods.
Dressing minimally doesn't mean sacrificing personal style. What are some of the easiest ways women can inject more personality into their wardrobe?
It's all about knowing what your “uniform” looks like. My rule is that my outfit is always an A-line or high-waisted look; I'm 5'2" so I need a little help in the height department. Knowing your personal silhouette is like having your signature on your outfit. It's subtle but I think that's the best way to express your personality in fashion.
For a woman who wants to seriously pare down her closet and make everything more versatile and timeless, what are five items she should definitely own?
A piece of statement outerwear, a little black dress (with pockets), a silk top that makes her feel confident, comfortable (but stylish) shoes, and a nice watch.
What's the best thing about working in downtown Oakland?
The thing I like best about working Downtown is that I live here too; I'm just an 8-minute walk from the store and so it really feels like my home and community.
Who are some of your favorite neighbors? And why?
I love Two Jacks Denim because [owner Tommy Mierzwinski] also does all USA-made clothing and is dedicated to quality. I also love the food scene here in Oakland. You can catch me at Hopscotch, Aburaya, or Alamar almost weekly.
Fill in the blanks.
When I have a day off I ________.
Hang out with my dogs and watch Netflix.
The piece I wear over and over is my _________.
Leather jacket with matte black hardware.
My style muse is __________.