Katie McClure studied textiles as an undergrad at the University of Texas, but she needed a bit of an epiphany to convince her that creating clothing was her calling. “I was always intimidated by creative professions—I didn’t go to a fashion school like Parsons, so I really didn’t feel like being a designer was something that I could do,” explains Katie, who did a stint in human resources before making her way back to the land of fabric. It was a vacation to Bali that gave her her first push: “I was looking for a loose tunis, and I couldn’t find the cut I wanted. But I loved all the motifs woven into these really beautiful handmade fabrics,” she remembers. It occurred to Katie she could design her own pieces, but it wasn’t until her sister, Erin McClure Breen, left her teaching gig and suggested going into biz together that the pair set her caftan plan in motion.
After doing a research deep-dive into sustainable production (and racking up a whole lotta frequent-flier miles from their local Houston airport) the sibling duo decided Bagru, India, was the place to bring Katie’s loose (but never shapeless!) cuts to life. They launched their line, Mirth, in 2016—and Katie still pinches herself every time she visits the artisans handling production 8,000 miles away. “It’s always a ‘wow’ moment to see people creating things that I just thought up in my head! And to have customers want to bring them into their closets,” she says. The one thing that does get old: Eat, Pray, Love jokes—she’s heard every last one of ‘em. —courtney conway