Sharing the Cultures of the World Through Children’s Clothing
Launched in 2002, Tea is a clothing collection with distinctive designs for women and children, inspired by the beauty and culture of other countries through travels around the world. Based in San Francisco, Tea offers a full collection of children’s clothing ages 0-12 that is both modern and wearable. Tea collection is already a popular name among children of celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Samantha Harris, and Alyson Hannigan. Emily Meyer is the company’s co-founder and Chief Creative Officer. “Fusing worldwide cultures and modern design has always been a heartfelt concept for me,” Emily shares. When her niece, Olivia, was born in Europe, Emily realized that she would undoubtedly absorb other cultures’ aesthetics as part of her daily life and that the world was quickly becoming a “shrinking globe,” where everyone could access other cultures and places without actually traveling to them. She adds, “This recognition inspired me to design clothing for children that would be both familiar and worldly.”
Emily started sewing when she was just three years old and with a grandmother who loved to travel and a mother who taught French and Spanish, it was inevitable that Emily’s future would be filled with cultural inspiration and fashion. Her inspiration began in her childhood home in Texas, where her mother introduced Emily and her sister to the languages, arts and cultures around the world. Emily graduated from Parson’s School of Design in New York. While she always gravitated toward art classes, she also enjoyed the puzzle of math. “Design is the perfect field of work for using creativity to solve problems – it’s the beautiful combination of strategy and creativity that I love,” she says. Today, Emily’s work is a daily expression of her creative side while her home is infused with a mix of mid-century design as well as art and objects from around the world, particularly Asia and Africa. Emily looks forward to introducing, exploring and generating extraordinary creativity with her own two young children.
The first Editor’s Pick is the Lace Dress in Heather Gray with its lovely feminine lace v-neck trim and matching lace trim on the bottom hem. This trim was inspired by the traditional Eastern European craft of lace-making. This dress is great for the summer, but can also be worn during the winter with leggings. The contrast of the white lace trim against the heather gray is casual yet girly and adorable. Tea is created around that foundation of ‘practical luxury.’ As Emily cultivated her sewing and design hobby growing up, fabrics were the foundation and she learned to truly appreciate the quality fabrics that withstand regular wear and tear and the sensitivity of which textures are truly luxurious. Her extensive design background lies in companies such as Esprit, Gymboree, Ralph Lauren, and Perry Ellis, in addition to her experience in all product categories like knits, wovens, sweaters and outerwear, with a focus on children’s and men’s sportswear. For the approaching winter, we love the Kimono Robe in Indigo as it is the perfect cozy everyday sweater for both girl or boy as it will add a unique flair to any outfit. It features a vertical weave all around with a practical hood and matching indigo buttons in the front for style. Your child will adore this sweater robe and want to snuggle up to it as it is made of 100% soft Pima cotton. The deep indigo blue goes with just about anything while still adding a splash of color. Also available in Walnut and Prune.
Tea is not just another children’s clothing line because they stand apart from the other lines on the market. Each season, their designers travel to a different country on an inspiration trip. They go there, across the globe, and across the street. Emily shares, “We turn our experiences into original designs of unique beauty, modern style and easy comfort. We love saturated colors mixed with neutrals…we love mixing prints with textures and patterns, like stripes with plaids or prints…we love mixing silhouettes and shapes that are stylish and easy.” While many other companies may say similar things about themselves, only Tea does it the “distinctly Tea way.” A great example of their lively prints and smart use of color is the Autumn Leaves Yoke Dress, where folk meets modern. This wrapped yoke v-neckline in chocolate brown with its flattering shirring contrasts beautifully with the coral pink leaf print design. This pull-over style dress offers easy changing and its long sleeves will keep your girl warm during brisk days. Inspired by the gold leaf detailing in Budapest’s Academy of Music, this pretty dress can be worn alone or mixed with leggings.
Tea comes up with ideas for their collections by having a design team travel to an international location every season to discover inspiration for that collection. The design team immerses themselves in the culture to learn about local textiles, colors, architecture and aesthetics which they bring back to the collections. “We love using natural fiber fabrics like the softest pima cotton and luxurious merino wool. And we make sure all of our fabrics come together in an easy care fashion to fit a family’s active lifestyle,” Emily says. For today’s active child, there is an utmost importance for clothes to be wearable yet durable. The Pointelle Purity Leggings are made with a vertical pointelle stitching for delicate texture and soft enough to use as a layering essential for everyday. The deep prune color is lovely and pairs well with knit dresses and tops.
Emily is the sole creator of Tea as it was her initial vision in early 2001 when her niece was born. After taking time to form the business and get samples together, the first wholesale order was placed in May 2002. Emily still drives the brand direction today along with her small but resourceful team with a fierce entrepreneurial spirit. Her business partner and co-founder, Leigh Rawdon, is the Chief Executive Officer while Laura Boes leads the incredibly creative design team at Tea. In the next five years, Emily hopes that more people will know about Tea and love its beautiful and unique line of clothing as well as its values. She would love for kids and women to wear Tea as an expression of confidence and individuality and in some small way feel connected with a vibrant community of local and global citizens.
The Hungarian Floral Dress is an Editor’s Pick because the feminine detail and girly allure of this printed poplin dress with its full skirt and deep ruffle hem is irresistible. Inspired by the floral ribbons of traditional Hungarian costumes, this dress features a sweet floral print with navy blue border accents that will make your little girl feel like a princess. Currently, Tea is celebrating Holiday Old World Hungary style, with patterns, prints and details inspired by their travels to Hungary, Croatia and Romania. Emily shares her personal favorites from this newest collection, which are the Twill Moto Pants and Canvas Roll-Up Pants for her son, especially when paired with the Moto Jacket or our Danube Stripe Henley. For her young daughter, Emily loves the Kerchief Geo Yoke Dress and the Pleated Canvas Pant with the Old Land Embroidery Top. This blouse is also one of our Editor’s Picks because it is so eye-catching and cute with its soft striped print and exquisite embroidery inspired by traditional jackets in the Hungarian countryside. The craft detail smocking is quality and the color scheme of red and varying blues makes this the perfect top to pair with leggings and jeans. Emily is also buying ahead for a future wardrobe so that when her daughter is older, she can wear the Matyas Tile Sweater Dress and Secession Floral Dress.
Emily exclaims, “There’s something about the way we unabashedly mix color, print, pattern and texture that is unmistakably Tea.” As an example, looking at their silhouettes, some evoke a Japanese kimono style in an easy knit dress for girls, while others are more classic. All designs are always fresh and wearable. Tea takes each season’s cultural inspiration and fuses it with trend aware design and the Tea way of putting outfits together. Tea has always styled dresses over pants and leggings as it has been a staple for them since their start, even before the dresses and leggings trend began. Emily is inspired by a wide mix of clothing designers, from Romeo Gigli, Kenzo and Sybillia in the 80’s, for their exotic to high fashion style and Dries Van Noten since the 90’s. Currently, she loves Marni and Yohji Yamamoto, and is a big fan of celebrity, Maggie Gyllenhaal’s style.
Emily feels that the style of Tea is constantly evoking the distinctive beauty of a global source, while always coming to life as an inspired, original interpretation. Their clothes are definitely for today’s kids and women because they create styles that go easily with wherever people may go, from play to soiree. Their all-new women’s line is available exclusively through Tea’s website and we selected the Rhapsody Merino Cardigan in Coal as an Editor’s Pick for its stylish versatility and quality comfort. This effortless coat-like style with extraordinary stitch details of long vertical weaves was inspired by the striking interiors of the Franz Liszt Auditorium in Budapest. Made of 100% merino wool, this long cardigan is lush and soft with slight bell sleeves. We love this cardigan because it can be comfortably worn all year long with anything, with its accompanying belt or open as shown.
The Lotus Wrap One-Piece in Rose Petal features the classic Tea print, inspired by vintage Japanese textiles and kimono styling with contrast trim. Perfect as a gift or for your special newborn, this footed one-piece with its calming print and pretty pink trim has side snaps for easy changing. While their semi-annual collections are created with a specific destination in mind, there are a few pieces that are still incorporated into each season. Tea’s initial collection was inspired by Asia, specifically China and Japan, where the high value placed on aesthetics was so inspiring to Emily. She loved the motifs, colors, and materials there. This first collection debuted in Fall/Winter 2002, and featured sweaters, hats and blankets that combined Asian influences with essential American practicality. These Chinese Mandarin and Japanese Kimono-influenced pieces remain their signature styles even today. Emily also found West Africa to be a beautiful place and uses the phrase “raw elegance” to describe that beautiful mix of brutal texture and simple elegant shapes like the ladders or “stairs carved from a tree trunk or the signature “mud cloth.” She also loves Northern Europe for its sophisticated mix of color, pattern and proportion.
Emily is happily married and has two beautiful children, 2 and 4 months old. She and her husband look forward to traveling together with their children and introducing them to exploring and discovering the world. In closing her interview, Emily says, “We believe that if the foreign is familiar – it is no longer foreign. It helps us remember that we all more alike than we are different.” She named her line “Tea” to embody an essential part of their brand because tea as a beverage is shared in nearly every culture worldwide, evoking inspiration, warmth and mindfulness. Tea brings families a world of clothes that reflect these same sensibilities by sharing a cup of Tea with the world. The Tea Collection is sold at major department stores such as Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, and over 300 high-end boutiques worldwide. For the best selection and full collection, visit Tea’s website at teacollection.com to shop directly.