Iconic Sportswear Designer Heather Verran

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing sportswear designer extraordinaire Heather Verran. In the small world that is Los Angeles, I later discovered that Heather’s sister is amazing event photographer Sheri Determan that I often run into at events. So creativity truly runs in the family for these amazing ladies. 

Sheri, Olivia who is Heather's daughter and Heather
We are family! Sheri, Olivia, Heather’s daughter and Heather. Photo courtesy of Sheri Determan Photography

If you are of my gender and have worn the likes of The Gap, Zella, Shape Active and/or other notable activewear designs at the gym or around town (this is So Cal after all and casual, comfortable style reigns supreme), then you have surely worn Heather’s amazing designs.

One of Heather's innovative designs for the Shape Magazine line. Photo courtesy of Trevor Dixon of model Julie Nelson
One of Heather’s innovative designs for the Shape Magazine line. Photo courtesy of Trevor Dixon of model Julie Nelson

Verran is a third-generation native Californian, was born in Hollywood, California. She spent her childhood in Glendale, a suburb of Los Angeles.

Growing up in the golden age of the So Cal surf & skate culture, fueled by music art and film has had a lasting effect on her work. An athlete herself, she spent summers surfing the beaches of Southern California and winters skiing at the Lake Tahoe ski resort of Squaw Valley California. An expert of art history and design theory, she designs innovative active wear based on a foundation of performance, fit and fabric technology. She has extensive experience leading design teams for companies such as The Gap, New Balance, Zella, C9 for Champion and C&C California Sport. She is currently the Senior Director of Design for Shape Active, a licensee of the SHAPE magazine brand.  Heather has also collaborated with many of the world’s most successful female athletes and celebrities.

When asked about how she achieved her countless successes, Heather said,”There aren’t any more overnight success stories in fashion anymore. You really have to work hard in this line of work. Really working hard, never giving up and learning and growing as a designer is very important. If you keep working and learning, you will find an area that you can specialize in and truly grow as a designer. Also, you have to have an entrepreneurial spirit. Not having a big ego helps, because you have to get along with others as it’s such a collaborative effort. You can’t ever succeed alone. You have to partner with sales and production.”

She received her BFA from the Otis Art Institute Of Parsons School of Design in Los Angeles.

Heather’s father was an Emmy nominated special effects engineer who worked closely with Walt Disney and at NBC studios in the post-war era. He collaborated on notable animated features such as Fantasia and the first computer animated film, Tron. He also edited popular television programs such as Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In, The Flip Wilson Show, Bob Hope and Dean Martin television specials.

Her mother, a native New Yorker, was the daughter of the Metropolitan Opera’s Head librarian, Harry Schumer.  He traveled the world amassing volumes of rare operatic scores that are now a permanent collection at Lincoln Center’s library.

She has lived and worked professionally in fashion design and merchandising in Los Angeles, Paris and New York City.  Her work has taken her around the world several times to create fabrics and designs with the most innovative mills and factories in active wear.

As for how she got involved in designing women’s activewear, Heather replied,” I already had a background in couture stitching. I freelanced and was a brand consultant who was brought in house to foot locker. I saw the potential in the activewear segment. Back then, this genre was in two camps, either generic women’s wear or performance wear that looked like men’s lines, but taken down to women’s sizes.”

“I plan to stay in activewear. There’s so much to be done here with all the new technologies evolving in fabric and performance is very compelling,” she added.

She resides in a brownstone in the East Village of Manhattan with her fourteen-year-old daughter, Olivia. More info about Heather at http://www.heatherverran.com/

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