Amy Matto has always been passionate about fashion, and she’s always had a lot to say about it. When she and her then-boyfriend, now-husband bumped into Michael Kors and Donna Karan during their Caribbean vacation five years ago, she had a lot to say as well, but she said it later to her boyfriend. Most of the statements began: “If I had a fashion line, I would…” To which boyfriend finally replied, “Just do it!”
Fast-forward five years and we find Amy sitting in her gorgeous 12th floor studio on 38th street, in the heart of New York City’s garment district. Now, she’s the founder and designer of a contemporary women’s dress collection that has been worn by the likes of Halle Berry and Sharon Stone. Her line is entirely manufactured here in the city, and she maintains a great relationship with her factory, which is only a few blocks away.
Amy put in the leg work to get where she is, literally. She didn’t have any formal training in fashion, because, she explained, you just don’t go to school to become a fashion designer when you’re from Wisconsin. So, once she decided to break into the industry, she hopped on the subway and spent two years traversing the garment district, learning everything she could about the business.
During that time, a friend got her a short gig working as a manager for a large national brand. When she got there, she was struck by the irony of selling clothing meant to represent “The American Dream” that was entirely manufactured in China. That was the moment that she told herself, “If I do this, I’m going to do it here.” That epiphany may have also inspired this adorably ironic Amy Matto “Made in USA” t-shirt:
Amy launched the line in 2009 and began selling dresses out of her living room on Central Park South. Things gradually grew to where she is now, and she hopes they’ll continue to grow. Walking by Grand Central Station the other day, she spotted a woman on the street wearing one of her dresses. “Whenever I see someone out wearing my dress, it’s like the first time all over again,” she told me. “I just love it.”
Check out Amy’s website for more gorgeous dresses like these: