EMMA: Hi Bris! I’m so happy to connect with you in this virtual space—thank you for taking the time to answer these questions!
In the descriptions I’ve read about your clothing line, Yessenya, you express a desire to restore a respectful relationship with our clothing so that we value our garments and treat them with care. Could you share the story of a garment that you love that inspired this perspective?
BRIS: There wasn’t really one specific garment that inspired me, but that perspective started when I learned about the negative impacts in the garment industry. Since I wasn’t able to afford or yet create sustainable and ethical clothing, I wanted to shift the way that I viewed clothes. The resources used to create clothing are so valuable, from seed to sewer, and appreciating the resources and work will encourage us to treat our clothing as something valuable versus disposable.
E: When did you begin to craft garments? Could you tell us a bit about Yessenya and how you came to design and fabricate your own label?
B: I started making my own patterns when I attended the apparel program at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. While in school, I learned more about sustainable fashion and it inspired me to start Yessenya. I started in 2017 and continue to focus on quality construction and evolving towards work that brings awareness to the impacts the garment industry has on people and the environment.
E: It’s exciting to watch perspectives about clothing shift as education concerning the fashion industry and sustainability increases—it’s encouraging to see this conversation grow and engage critical concerns! How do you approach fabrication and design with longevity in mind?
B: I really focus on the combination of fabric and proper construction methods to make garments last longer. For example, I will make sure there are reinforcements in areas where there will be stress points, and fit is really important so that the garment becomes someone’s go-to item. When possible, I like to make adjustable parts so a single item offers additional ways to wear it and be used more frequently. The Daydream blouse is a good example of this. Lastly, I highly recommend gentle garment care and avoiding high heat to better preserve clothing. These are my go-tos for maximum longevity.
E: The tagline for Yessenya feels so playful and empowered. When I read “Curious. Thoughtful. Free,” it feels revolutionary in a profoundly joyful way. I’d love to hear more about what significance this holds for you and how you translate that into your garments.
B: Curiosity is especially significant because it leads to learning new things that inspire me and push my creativity forward. It's a very child-like act that offers freedom versus restriction and that’s how I want to experience my life. Being thoughtfully curious is being mindful of how our choices impact the world around us. The way I explore curiosity through my clothing is with experimentation, attention to detail, and unrestrictive design of my silhouettes. I think the final pieces are a translation of my curiosity.
E: I’d also enjoy hearing a little about what you love most about your craft and what you find to be the most challenging about it. What is it about textile work that impassions you?
B: I love that garment making is thousands of years old and a very human thing. I love the process overall from fabric sourcing, to pattern making, to sewing. My favorite part, but also the most challenging part, is pattern making and testing the samples in development and fitting. It’s really a lot of problem solving which is something I enjoy.
E: As we conclude, I’m curious to know what else inspires you more broadly. What have you been thinking about lately? Where, if anywhere, are you being called into movement or change?
B: Something I’ve been thinking about more lately is farming and the issues in agriculture and migrant farmworker rights specifically. I am surrounded by an incredible artist community and it has inspired me to discuss and share information on other topics through art. I’m inspired to create work beyond wearability, and experiment with sculpture-like garments that are more educational than functional, to help inform and bring awareness on issues in the fashion and agriculture industry. I hope to begin to experiment with this more this year and be more vocal about these issues.
E: Thank you, again, Bris! I’m looking forward to your capsule at Burke!
Shop the Yessenya residency collection HERE!