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California Dreaming With the Surf-Inspired Brand Calle del Mar

Photo: Calle del Mar

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Calle del Mar, the Brooklyn-based, California-inspired label founded by designer Aza Ziegler, looks exactly like what its Spanish name — which translates to “street by the sea” — suggests: clothing that’s often associated with dreamy, vintage photographs of SoCal skaters and surfers circa 1970.

“Because I grew up there, I’ve always been obsessed with the vintage lifestyle of California. I romanticized surf and skate culture, and ultimately started collecting vintage athletic uniforms that reminded me of it,” says Zielger.

While laid-back varsity sweaters and T-shirts in faded blues and reds are mainstays in her collections, they’re also filled with fanciful, traditionally-feminine offerings like appliquéd pleat tennis skirts with matching open-back crop tops, as well as short-sleeved fur shirts, and electric green fur-lined raincoats.

Zeigler’s Instagram is full of photos from her latest collections alongside images of candy-colored surfboards, California coastlines, and celebrities and models wearing Calle del Mar. Beyoncé proteges and sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey are repeat fans, wearing Calle del Mar onstage and in photos with Beyoncé herself. Their stylist even used one of Ziegler’s sequined skirts in their debut music video for “Drop.”

“A lot of people I know that see them in my clothes are always like, ‘is that your stuff?’,” says Ziegler. “It’s definitely a good feeling when someone recognizes your work without reference.”

She currently splits her time between Los Angeles and Brooklyn and has since stopped creating collections that follow the current fashion schedule — an idea she got from fellow designer friends and mentors Darlene and Lizzy Okpo, the designers behind William Okpo.

“I’m doing a lot more direct-to-consumer, which I think is more manageable for a smaller brand,” says Ziegler. “I admire people for the way that they build their brand, and Lizzy and Darlene have been so inspiring in that sense. They definitely beat to their own drum. They do whatever they want to do and make it work.”

Keep an eye out for new pieces this fall, where you can expect plenty of new colors, tons of sequins, and Ziegler’s foray into knitwear.