Cathleen Cher, the woman behind the coolest new street lingerie label to come out of the West Coast, named her line after St. Rita, the patron saint of the impossible. With a background in music management, event production & creative consulting, and after a stint working with Kanye West on the Yeezus tour, she is the type of woman who moves forward and says yes – no matter what type of “impossible” obstacle life throws her way. When she tackled designing for women, Cher absolutely found her niche; this debut collection of signature black basics is in heavy rotation in our closet – the pieces are sexy and feel like second skin. We had Anthony Williams snap two of Live FAST faves wearing the goods around DTLA, Strita‘s HQ.
LF: Tell us a bit about you. Where are you from and how did you get started with designing street lingerie?
CC: I’m originally from Fairfax, Virginia, right outside of Washington, D.C. I moved to Los Angeles about 5 years ago. I was originally pursuing acting/writing and then got offered a pretty huge opportunity to work for Kanye West in 2011. After that, I immersed myself in the music industry. Then, last year, over pizza one night with Virgil Abloh (Kanye West’s Creative Director), I told him about an idea I had. I lived a few blocks away from the famed street, Fairfax, where all of the streetwear brands had their shops. I loved the vibe, culture, and lifestyle of those brands, and wanted to wear them, but found it impossible to do so without maintaining my femininity. Every brand was strictly menswear. I thought “street lingerie” would be something inherently and specifically feminine, but with that added street ‘edge’. We also wanted to create pieces that are meant to be seen, layered or not, as part of a woman’s outfit. As soon as I finished describing my idea, Virgil was super supportive and encouraging, and it was in that moment that I decided to actually pursue it. Luckily two of my closest friends out here had a styling + design background, so they made the jump from the music to fashion industry and founding this company way easier for me.
LF: When did the line launch? What’s been the most rewarding aspect of running your own label & business?
CC: We launched in February. It’s only been a few months, but it’s been quite a roller coaster ride. I think one of the highs have been realizing that so many other women really love the vibe and the message we’re trying to get across, and that’s been amazing.
LF: Is it important for you to be a woman-owned business?
CC: I think in all industries there needs to be more women in leadership positions. However, with lingerie specifically, in many ways it’s even more important to be run by a woman. Some of lingerie’s biggest brands: Agent Provocateur, Victoria’s Secret, Frederick’s of Hollywood, have all been founded by men or have men as CEOs. For something that’s created so specifically and intimately for women, I think it makes the most sense to be guided by someone who knows and understands not only a woman’s body and style, but more specifically how lingerie makes a woman feel. I don’t think men can understand that, and that’s so vital to us. We want to create lingerie that makes a woman feel sexy, fearless, stylish, and comfortable in any situation–inside and outside of the bedroom.
LF: How would you describe the line’s mission philosophy?
CC: Strita strives to be a line that is fully supportive of women embracing their womanhood, and also of supporting other women. We also want our pieces to be both functional and fashionable.
LF: Tell us about St. Rita.
CC: I read an interview with Jack White a while ago in which he named St. Rita as one of his favorite patron saints, as she’s the patron saint of the impossible. That already was amazing enough for me (I totally thrive on proving people wrong when they say something is ‘impossible’), but then I dug a little deeper and it was an even more amazing story. Basically, St. Rita wanted nothing more in her life than to be a nun. She came from a well-off family and was forced into marriage to a corrupt and abusive politician husband, which was one of the many things that prevented her from attaining her dream of joining the convent. She finally was able to attain her dream in a very graceful, but forceful way, in a way that she couldn’t be denied. Throughout history, women have prayed to her when they have been in seemingly impossible situations for strength, courage, and guidance.
LF: You named your staple pieces after Los Angeles streets – mostly downtown LA streets. How does living in Cali influence your aesthetic?
CC: We love the concept of layering. I think that’s really big out in LA, which makes sense especially when a day can go from 85 degrees to 55 degrees in a matter of hours. Our pieces look good standalone and peeking out under other clothing. We are also influenced by the design aesthetics of the menswear streetwear brands in LA and interpret them with a feminine touch. All of our materials and pieces are produced in downtown LA, which is important to us for our quality standards as well. We are involved in every step of the process which is only possible because we live in the same city where it’s all made!
LF: Do you design with a type of woman in mind?
CC: Yes, the passionate, independent, fearless, don’t take ‘no’ for an answer kind of woman who knows that sexiness comes from confidence, as well as a well-read mind. We design for those women who aren’t afraid to be feminine and graceful, yet also embrace their power.
LF: Where do you see Strita in 5 years?
CC: As more than just a lingerie brand—a true lifestyle brand. We would also love to be in a place where we can partner up and offer support organizations/charities/companies furthering women’s initiatives. We’re laying the foundation groundwork for these things right now, can’t wait to see where it all goes!
LF: How fast do you live?
CC: I’m always looking for a way to live a little faster.
Shop Strita DTLA here!