As a youngster growing up in Milwaukee, fashion design was literally the last thing on Lizz Wasserman’s mind. “I thought I was going to be a detective…or the president,” she deadpans. She ended up heading toward academia, thanks in large part to her parents who both held advanced architecture degrees from Harvard. But, after a year at University of Wisconsin, she was feeling disillusioned and withdrew in favor of traipsing around the Czech Republic, learning the language and making her own clothes as a hobby.
It wasn’t until she came back to the U.S. and re-immersed herself in the world of books and study groups—majoring in social theory—that she began to think seriously about fashion as, like, a career. If your brain didn’t automatically make the connection between social theory and design—and we feel you—Lizz has an explanation: “Half of my thesis was about how people express themselves through clothing, and it’s definitely my main interest: How people dress and why they want to dress a certain way.”
Once the final paper was polished off, Lizz nailed down a plum job in Philly designing for Free People and then Urban Outfitters, and, in 2009, she was compelled to try her hand at her own collection, which she titled Popomomo (post-postmodern movement, a cheeky nod to her sociology roots). Everything she designs is made from sustainable materials on the West Coast, where she and her husband live surrounded by those talented, artistic groups of friends you thought existed only in the ramblings of Patti Smith. But Lizz is not so caught up in her world to have forgotten about her first real passion, detective work. “I still think about it all the time,” she says. “Whenever I see cops running, I think, ‘Could I do it?’ I think I could!” —erica