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Behind The Scenes

The Ambit Reading List

Back in the pre-dial-up days, Wray Serna and Amber Jimenez had full Book It! pins. Spending their childhoods in central Illinois and eastern Washington respectively, the two girls behind the pared-down clothing line Ambit were big page-turners, and their affection for a good read has fueled their desire to create. “Growing up in such rural environments made us more creative, I think. We would make up clothing for these characters in our heads and imagine their environments, which has helped so much during the design process,” notes Amber. These are the picks that were pivotal then and the ones that are holding their bookmarks now. —courtney mccarroll Wray, then1. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott2. The Tailor of Gloucester by Beatrix Potter3. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett “I was a bit of a country bumpkin who was obsessed with gardens, mystery, fairytale-like wonder, and tea parties. We used to spend a lot of time traveling on bike tours in the Midwest—my parents were professional bike racers when I was a kid—and we would stay in old, old bed and breakfasts filled with 19th century things. The Beatrix Potter book is about a little old tailor who has to make an embroidered suit in a short amount of time. He falls sick and little mice make it for him—something I always dream would happen at Ambit.” Wray, now1. Savage Beauty: The Life of Edna St. Vincent Millay by Nancy Milford2. Hedy’s Folly: The Life and Breakthrough Inventions of Hedy Lamarr, The Most Beautiful Woman in the World by Richard Rhodes3. Various biographies on Frida Kahlo “I’m reading biographies about interesting, strong females I identify with or adore in some way.  One of which is Savage Beauty, a badly but interestingly written biography about Edna St. Vincent Millay, a bisexual poet who traveled all over the world and grew up in rural Maine. Frida Kahlo is another sexually ambiguous and inspiring lady artist I love to read about. These women inspire the way I think about art and design.” Amber, growing up1. The Biography of Florence Nightingale by Lytton Strachey2. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott3. Thomas Edison: Young Inventor by Sue Guthridge “I think all of these the books had characters who were a bit unconventional and adventurous; in that aspect, they really spoke to me. I grew up in the country, and it was easy for me to imagine that I was living in another time. I would collect old hats and find amazing fabrics, brocade, and velvet curtains and drape and sew horribly constructed dresses out of them.” Amber, now1. Reborn: Journals & Notebooks, 1947-1963 by Susan Sontag2. The Complete Perfectionist: A Poetics of Work by Juan Ramon Jimenez3. I Put A Spell On You: The Autobiography of Nina Simone by Nina Simone “I love, love, love biographies and journals. I find it interesting that clothing is such an integral part of every person’s life that shows in the writing every time—even though it is rarely something that is focused on.” Score Wray and Amber’s inspired edition: a gray-blue silk tanks with rows of buttons that those March girls would love.
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Meet Ambit

Though ambit is a French-derived word meaning limit or scope, the Brooklyn design duo that adopted the term seems to have a pretty limited sense of limitations. In addition to masterminding their line, Wray Serna (left) is an art teacher, and Amber Jimenez works as a milliner for the legendary Albertus Swanepoel. “It sounds cheesy,” laughs Amber, “but I think about Ambit as a kind of mirror for always pushing ourselves.  The reflection of Ambit is literally in everything that we do and what we believe in—that, yes, we can work full-time and design our own label on the side. We like to push it to the edge to make it possible.” That drive is what motivated the California College of Arts & Crafts classmates to get this thing going in the first place, and while they have no interest in being boxed in, they do exercise restraint when it comes to design, as evidenced in the minimalist shapes and clean lines of their collections. The girls are also extremely environmentally-conscious when sourcing materials and executing their visions. As Wray explains, “We’re committed to having a sustainable company that makes as small a footprint on the environment as possible—and we want for that to show through in our clothing.” In that sense, capping your sphere of influence is a good thing. —courtney mccarroll The duo made us a wispy, minimalist slate blue tank with 22 buttons. That’s right: 22. Check it.
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Wray Serna Gets App Happy

A few of Wray’s outfit pics on Cloth. Back when Cher Horowitz was cataloging her closet, the iPhone was still a good decade off, but if she was working plaids and spearheading a Calvin Klein revival in 2012, she’d be all over the app Cloth that Wray Serna and her boyfriend, tech editor Seth Porges, launched in December. Since Wray is a teacher and a designer—she’s one half of the whimsically grown-up clothing line Ambit—she knows that ease of use is key but gets what an aesthetically minded lady would want, too. Behold and download. —courtney mccarrollScore Ambit’s super-cool Of a Kind edition—an all-buttoned-up blue silk tank—now. It’s bound to find its way into many a favorite outfit pic. “Seth and I developed Cloth after he watched me try on outfits and take photos. I was preparing for a trip at the time, and when I do, I like to try everything on in outfit form and photo-document it. Then, when I unpack, I look at photos for references on what to wear.” “You know how you have those days where you feel like you don’t have anything to wear but then you remember last week that you rocked your clothes so hard and so good? That’s why I document them. Seth and I talked about it and decided to combine resources and make an app that doesn’t clog up your iPhone camera roll.” Get yourself a video tour. “After some late-night meetings with our developer and graphic designer—sometimes after already late-night meetings for Ambit—we gave birth to the Cloth baby. We wanted to give it a social-media aspect, too, giving people the opportunity to upload looks to our blog. Every few days, we decide what outfit makes the cut and post it.”
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