The Podolls is the eponymous line of relaxed, wearable, and effortlessly beautiful handcrafted clothing for women from husband-and-wife team Josh and Lauren Podoll. The San Francisco-based lifestyle brand is rooted in sustainability, global stewardship, and a commitment to centuries-old techniques and craftsmanship. Fit and style are paramount to trends and each piece is crafted by hand using high-quality, globally sourced materials. Slowness is Beauty is a phrase that encapsulates the essence of the brand. It is more than just a nod to the slow fashion movement; it's a way of life.
Josh and Lauren Podoll (nee Berdell) met in 2003 during Lauren's time as a buyer for the iconic denim-centric San Francisco clothing company AB Fits. Josh, a painter/photographer turned t-shirt designer, came into the store to discuss his ideas for graphic tees. The two bonded in their passion for art and design, and their entrepreneurial spirit was ignited. Lauren left AB Fits to help shepherd the t-shirt brand (then named Josh Podoll) into retail stores across the country, and it evolved into a joint creative venture between the two of them. Unsatisfied with the t-shirt options available to them, Lauren and Josh decided they would create their own – one that had a more feminine shape and that was manufactured with US-grown organic cotton. Soon after, the now married couple expanded the line to include button-down shirts, skirts, and other garments; and in 2010, they changed the name to The Podolls. Their collections were sold at boutiques and department stores across the US and they began to develop a loyal fan base.
Lauren and Josh's approach to fashion design has always been seen through an artistic lens as they share a background in fine art, photography, and painting. The Podolls’ collections are inspired by artists, art forms, international cultures, and nature. Each collection features original prints hand drawn or painted by Lauren or Josh, digitally printed on sandwashed silk. Their forthcoming Spring 2016 collection draws upon the intricate and abstract wire sculptures of the late Japanese-American artist Ruth Asawa. Underlying themes of shipwrecks, ropes, knots, and the ocean emerge with airy materials like gauze, linen/tencel, organic cotton chambray, and hand woven raw silk, in a subtle palette of naturally dyed indigo blues and neutrals.
Each garment aims to be versatile, timeless and flattering to a range of women. Tunics, dresses, and tops often have flowy yet sophisticated silhouettes. There are Japanese-inspired pieces like kimono tops and wrap dresses; tabard wraps that are hand-knit in Peru using 100% Alpaca; and cropped trousers made with soft, drapey cupro fabric. All reflect an effortless, modern elegance and an inherent integrity.
Lauren and Josh have a deep appreciation and love of ethnic prints, traditional textiles, and fabrication techniques, and often develop their exclusive fabrics in Japan and India including ikat, khadi, and narrow-loom chambray denim. These fabrics are hand woven and naturally dyed by skilled artisans using time-intensive methods. The garments are then sewn by hand in San Francisco and sold in their two Bay Area brick-and-mortar shops and in retailers across the country.
Lauren Podoll is co-founder of The Podolls, the collection of sustainably made, globally-inspired clothing for women. She grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and moved to North Carolina to attend Duke University where she earned degrees in both psychology and art history. She returned to San Francisco, spent a year at a high-profile advertising agency, but still felt creatively uninspired.
She had a brief stint in interior design, but then decided to venture into fashion. She began working at the iconic denim-centric store AB Fits as a sales associate and then a buyer. She was passionate about discovering and curating brands to introduce to the loyal customer base at the store. It was during her tenure as buyer at AB Fits that she met her now husband and business partner Josh Podoll. Josh was an abstract painter turned t-shirt designer who was meeting with Lauren to discuss ideas for his graphic tee company – then called Josh Podoll. Lauren was smitten with Josh and inspired by his creative and entrepreneurial spirit. With her knowledge of fashion brands and the one-on-one customer fitting experience, coupled with her retail store contacts, she decided to partner with Josh in launching the company. It had been a childhood dream of hers to be a fashion designer and the dream came true. They got married, changed the brand name to The Podolls, and expanded into a full collection of women's clothing.
Lauren's approach to fashion has always been to curate or design clothing that makes people look and feel beautiful. She's a believer in the idea that how you look and how you feel are intertwined, and creates clothing that empowers women to feel confident and creative.
Today, Lauren and Josh own and operate two brick-and-mortar shops in San Francisco and Burlingame, and The Podolls line is carried in retail stores across the US and Canada. They live in San Francisco and have a four-year-old son named Dashiell.
Josh Podoll is co-founder of The Podolls, the collection of sustainably made, globally-inspired clothing for women. The Iowa native was originally pursuing a career in the fine arts, when an idea to create graphic t-shirts and a serendipitous meeting with a girl changed his trajectory.
Josh had just graduated from the Maharishi International University with a degree in photography when he decided to embark on a journey to India. He was deeply inspired and transformed by the culture and art that surrounded him there. Josh's lifelong appreciation for the fine arts was galvanized by the street art he saw and photographed in India. The complex layers of hand-painted street signs told the stories of each era as paint chipped away and revealed hundreds of years of history. He returned to UI and enrolled in the Masters of Fine Arts painting program. Upon graduation, Josh traveled to New York with his portfolio, and to his surprise, his top choice gallery, Feature Inc., signed him on the spot to represent his work.
Josh moved to San Francisco, and decided that he needed to supplement the humble earnings from the sale of his paintings, so he began making drawings and graphic text pieces to be screen printed on t-shirts. He took the prototypes to one of his favorite local clothing shops, AB Fits, and met with the buyer, Lauren Berdell. Lauren and Josh quickly bonded in over their love of art and commerce. The two set out to launch the t-shirt brand together – then called Josh Podoll – and got married shortly after. They soon changed the name to The Podolls and expanded beyond the tee, designing and producing a full line of women's clothing.