Cool Ethical Label St. Roche's Founders on Laurel Canyon's Coolest Haunts

Co-founder Sue Stemp reveals what inspires her designs.

Photos: Courtesy of St. Roche

The idea of sustainable fashion isn't just a marketing hook these days — it's a full-on movement, and our conscious closets couldn't be happier. St. Roche is among those turning the so-called eco-friendly "trend" into a norm with its boho-luxe womenswear, which we envision on LA's cool ladies of the canyons.

It's no surprise, then, that married founders Sue Stemp and Paud Roche are based in Laurel Canyon, the LA nabe synonymous with rock 'n' roll residents like Jim Morrison, The Mamas and the Papas, and other '60s and '70s icons. (In fact, the Stemp/Roche clan live in an abode that was once home to Led Zeppelin.) Their designs ($198 to $375) —which include a ruffled lace blouse fit for Michelle Phillips and a Rajasthani-inspired embroidered tunic worthy of Joni Mitchell — celebrate the spirit of their bohemian borough, but with a modern twist.

"We live and work in Laurel Canyon, so being surrounded by beautiful nature is constantly inspiring and calming when I'm designing," Stemp tells us. "Also, this is a colorful neighborhood full of interesting creative people."

We asked English transplant Stemp (a CFDA member who previously worked for Alexander McQueen and Tocca) to share a few of her favorite neighborhood spots. Keep reading to learn how her and her husband's industry experiences inspired their move to be more mindful, what they hope other fashion labels can learn from them, and more, and see her favorite Laurel Canyon hangs at the end of the interview.

Photo: St. Roche
Photo: St. Roche

As an ethically produced brand, how did your experiences in the fashion industry shape your priority to be more mindfully made?

Corporate work trips to China put me right off that model of fashion manufacturing; we wanted to make clothes that were more authentic, with more of a handmade original quality. However, what really shaped our business into being more mindfully made was having children, moving to the West Coast from New York, and embracing a healthier lifestyle. Above all,  it heightened our awareness of global environmental issues. 

What do you hope the rest of the fashion industry can learn from St. Roche?

That it is viable for a small independent fashion brand to choose the responsible option whenever possible when selecting resources and the supply chain, and that every little bit helps us all to become more sustainable. 

The same technologies that have enabled worldwide supply chains for huge global brands also now enable us to connect with smaller manufacturers and artisans easily in ways that would have been impossible a decade ago.

We also hope we can help change the perception that eco-fashion can appear modern, cool, and importantly can be affordably priced. 

What can we expect from the brand in the future? 

An upcoming collaboration with British artist Hugo Guinness, as well as a custom bridal veil line, and for Fall '17 (which I've just started developing) we'll be increasing our knitwear, which is all made in Peru.

St. Roche's Sue Stemp on Her Favorite Laurel Canyon Spots

Photo: Pace Restaurant

Pace Restaurant: "This is our local, farm-to-table, romantic and delicious go-to spot. Afterwards we usually pop into the fantastic Laurel Canyon Country Store next door after and pick up some English chocolate on the way home."
Pace Restaurant, 2100 Laurel Canyon Blvd., LA, 90046; (323) 654-8583

Photo: Storer House

Storer House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright: "Built by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1923, this is one of the four Mayan Revival style textile-block houses in built in LA. It's a private residence, but you can still observe much of the stunning façade from the street."
Storer House (private residence), 8161 Hollywood Blvd., LA, 90069

Photo: Google Maps

Blue Heights Drive Overlook: "This is one of our favorite 360-degree views of LA. You can see everything from the Hollywood sign to DTLA and the beaches far off in the distance."
Blue Heights Drive Overlook, accessible via Kirkwood Drive from Lauren Canyon Boulevard

Photo: Megan Friend/LA Weekly

The Jim Morrison House: "[Doors frontman] Jim Morrison's house where he lived with his girlfriend Pam [Courson], located on Rothdell Trail, or 'Love Street' ( just like the famous song). This was built in the early 1920s and is situated directly across from the Country Store."
Jim Morrison House (private residence), 8021 Rothdell Tr., LA, 90046

Photo: Nobody Hikes in LA

Fryman Canyon Rainforest Hike: "Starting from the Nancy Hoover Pohl Overlook in Laurel Canyon at Mulholland Drive, this is a well-kept secret. A narrow trail winds down to a stream and then onto Tree People."
Fryman Canyon Park, 8401 Mulholland Dr., Studio City, 90046

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