The California-based Vaughn de Heart label offers a collection of tshirts, cardigans, hoodies and other assorted staples that put fit, clean design and exclusivity before cheap efficiency. Vaughn de Heart founder RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman realized that when your label starts with a brush with synchronicity you need to run with it, and so he did. After designing tshirts throughout his stint at Walla Walla University in Washington, Palmer-Coleman came to Los Angeles where he saw someone wearing one of the shirts he designed 1,000 miles away. The moment was enough to inspire him to take it to the next level, and he now sees his line as “Something for the underdog, for those who haven’t always been on top.” All of RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman’s shirts are made sweatshop-free with fair trade tactics, and are limited in production — he promises once they sell out he’ll cease making that shirt in order to keep every design unique and special. Check out the gallery of Vaughn de Heart’s collection, and read our interview with its founder RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman below…
The moment that compelled you to start your own line was a pretty heavy in synchronicity, where you ran into someone wearing one of your early designs in a mall in Southern California when your shirt was only sold in Washington. How did that make you feel?
It was the craziest day of my life so far. At the time I was living in Northern California. I was on vacation in Southern California. My friend and I went to the Brea Mall and I was wearing a shirt that I had designed for my fraternity in Washington State a year earlier. While walking around I thought I spotted a guy wearing the same shirt as me. When I got closer I realized he was wearing the same shirt I was wearing, but he had a wife and kids so I thought he must not be a part of the fraternity. I started talking to him and he said he bought the shirt from a thrift store and that he didn’t know what it meant but he liked the design. The odds were too much for me. The one day in our lifetimes when we would walk past each other not one of us but both of us were wearing the same shirt I had designed. I was speechless, I couldn’t talk. For the next hour I barely said anything, my mind was just trying to comprehend what had just happened.
I would imagine when something is that big of a coincidence, you’d be a fool not to pay attention to it. How long between that experience and when you actually decided to start your own label?
Only minutes. As soon as I had that experience it was the push I needed. Before I met him I had already chosen the name Vaughn de Heart, bought a laptop and made designs. All I needed was a push to put my fears aside and dive in. What I got was a shove.
Hit the Jump to continue reading our interview with RoyLyn Palmer-Coleman, founder of Vaughn de Heart…
“When you buy from me you’re not buying from a big faceless company, you’re buying from a genuine person and I let it show in every product and every order…”
So what do you think makes your shirts special?
The first is the fit and the feel. The shirts are a excellent athletic fit. The sleeves hug your arms and they are very soft to the touch. The second is the languages. So far I have used French, Italian, Latin and other languages in my designs. I currently only have one design that is in English. This makes my shirts stand out and get the wearer a lot of attention. The third is the tags. For every design the words on the tagless neck label change. So if you own multiple shirt designs from my brand the labels will all say something different. What I put on the label has a connection to the meaning of the shirt. Which is another detail I added to make my shirts feel even more special. The fourth is that they are all limited edition. All of my shirts are limited so that only a few people will have what you have. I have done limited edition collections where I have only made as little as 7 of an item. This also keeps the shirts special. The fifth is that my garments are made according to fair trade; they are not produced in sweatshops. No one was taken advantage of in the production of my products. The sixth is me. With every order I have shipped out I write a handwritten note to the customer; I have kept a sort of pen pal type of relationship with some of my customers from all over the world. I believe it is because when you buy from me you are not buying from a big faceless company, you are buying from a genuine person and I let it show in every product and every order.
Do you buy your blank t shirts pre-made, or did you design the cut of each t shirt? What qualities do you look for in a cut?
I currently buy my t shirts pre-made. I make sure they don’t shrink a ton after you wash them. I take a picture before and after washing to see if the shirts shrink. Also with my v necks I make sure the V is not too deep. I have tested over a dozen shirts to find the right ones and this has made me and my customers confident in my product. So confident that I have been able to sell shirts where the exterior is blank. The only design on some of them is the Vaughn de Heart neck label.
What’s been your favorite piece thus far in your collection?
My favorite piece is still the first shirt I designed for the brand. The Les gens courageux white v neck. Les gens courageux is French for, “The fearless ones” and it says it on the neck label. The story behind the shirt is that starting a clothing brand was my biggest fear. Because I was so into fashion all I could see was how hard it was going to be to make this brand successful. Once I began, I conquered my biggest fear and am now fearless.
That’s actually the shirt that brought us to you. So outside of fashion, what’s the best piece of design — be it building, car, packaging, fashion, etc — you’ve come across in the last year? Has anything really stunned you?
The best piece of design I have come across in the last year is the Audi R18 TDI Le Mans Prototype 1. It was love at first sight the moment that sleek, black, carbon fiber beauty appeared in my RSS reader. Maybe it’s because I’m a Batman fan and the car looks like an estranged sibling to the Batmobile from the 1989 Michael Keaton Batman movie. Or maybe it’s that I’m a Gundam fan and it looks like the Zaku Mobile Suit. Or probably it’s the fact that the car is black, which in my opinion is the best color for anything to come in (Look at the Vaughn de Heart “Le Magnifique” collection for proof). The car looks so formidable with those blue LED headlights staring you down. The LED’s are also in the shape of the numeral, “1” which is the car’s racing number which are the sort of details that I love and try to create. The car also boasts a 3.7-liter V6 TDI diesel engine. I can’t wait for this menacing piece of design and power to debut.
We completely concur RoyLyn — we’re huge Audi (and Gundam, for that matter) aficionados here. OK so last question: if you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you?
In the cereal aisle with all of the kids cereals. They are the reason I wake up in the morning.