Established in 2010 by Stephany Sensi, her eponymous Sensi Studio is the only place to head if you’re wanting a beautiful handwoven handbag, a beach-worthy Panama hat or a wafty embroidered dress that suits the summy climes (Sensi started with her Ready-to-Wear line in 2014).
All the pieces are lovingly made by skilled artisans in Ecuador where tradition meets the contemporary for a line that can be worn on the beach or to a party. Next stop, a swimwear range to complete the Sensi Studio look and we couldn’t be more excited.
Felicity Carter: What was your first fashionable memory?
Stephany Sensi: My first major fashionable memory was when I went to my first fashion show in Milan, which was while I was studying at Istituto Marangoni. We went to a Dsquared show, and I remember the whole energy of the show, the music, the models, and the cool collection they showed. We got to go backstage and I met Naomi Campbell who closed the runway that day. I loved it, and it still inspires me to this day!
FC: What lured you into the fashion industry?
SS: I love how you can express yourself, your personality, and your creativity through fashion. What we wear, and the way we wear it can say so much about us without even having to open our mouths. I love how the major fashion houses like Prada and Marni create such conceptual pieces in their collections. The idea that fashion as a dream, as an escape, and as something larger than life spoke to me personally, and that’s what really attracted me to do what I do.
FC: How would you describe the Sensi aesthetic?
SS: Sensi Studio has a very fresh and young vibe. When you’re wearing a Sensi Studio piece, you’re evoking a sense of summer all year long, which I hope is evident in the collection.
Each piece reflects an attitude that one is constantly traveling, and a feeling of being on vacation.
Sensi Studio embraces local artisans who create our product in a very technical and skilled way, but the visual design reflects a modern sensibility. It’s this contrast that makes the brand so eclectic, which I think sets us apart and makes us unique.
FC: Where are the pieces made and tell us about the process…
SS: Sensi Studio is based in Ecuador, where I’m from. We make various handmade products, focusing in particular on genuine Panama hats, handwoven handbags, and resort type ready-to-wear. All pieces are 100% manufactured in Ecuador with an artisanal concept. The product is made by using traditional basket weaving techniques which date back to pre-colonial times. We use mostly Toquilla Straw, which is a very high quality raw material that’s a locally grown type of palm that produces the best types of Panama hats.
For our accessories, the process is completely manual. The straw is processed and color dyed, and afterward, it dries in the sun. Then the artisans use this straw to weave either at the weaving centers or from home. A lot of our weaving ladies are mothers and work from their homes. This is mostly in the Andes region of Ecuador, where there are the best artisanal weaving communities. We have to divide the collections’ production in different towns because some towns only specialize in certain styles and colors, so we must adapt to this. The semi-finished product is then sent to us at our factory, which is where apply the final touches to the hats and bags (ribbons, trims, hand embroidery, etc).
The ready to wear is made by us, and then hand embroidered in small towns around the Andes too.
FC: Which is your favorite piece, and how do you wear it?
SS: Baskets, I wear straw baskets every day. It really gives any look a cool finishing touch. For example, I love to travel with an easy pantsuit, flats and a natural color straw basket from my collection. I go to the beach a lot as here in Ecuador as we have great weather for the most part of the year, so a huge beach basket, a cover-up or easy button-down shirt, and a bikini is most likely what you’ll find me wearing.
FC: You started your R-T-W line in 2014, how would you like your label to evolve further?
SS: I want to have the brand pass the test of time, stay relevant, cool and innovative. I truly love the brand and how it helps all the people involved, especially our artisans, so I want the brand to continue doing wonderful collections so that we can also continue our presence of being sold in the best stores. I would love to complete the overall Sensi Studio look with swimwear. It is in the pipeline and will have the same design aesthetic as the rest of our current collection. It will also be produced here in South America.
Shop the collection at sensistudio.com.