Chrissie Miller of Sophomore Thinks There’s Plenty to Learn From Groupies

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Chrissie Miller says she's been dressing the same since she was a kid, with a good pair of Levi's and a perfect T-shirt. But when it came to shopping for casual tees, the simplest things were the hardest to find. So she made them herself. Miller's line, Sophomore, capitalizes on affordable basics for men and women. The pieces are simple, contemporary, and yet edgy, capturing the chill essence of the downtown scene (Jen Brill and Bijou Phillips starred in her look books, and Cass Bird photographed them). We caught up with Miller to talk trends, urban inspiration, and what you can learn from films about groupies.

If you could describe the woman who you want to wear your clothes, what would she be like?
There are pieces that are basic enough for my parents to wear and others that are more young and edgy. We're the cheapest thing at the most expensive stores — which I love. I love that you can go to Opening Ceremony and find something that's $60.

Where do you get your inspiration?

Lately I have been watching lots of rare films from the seventies. I just watched a documentary about washed-up groupies that follow around the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin. They were actually naked in a lot of it. But it's interesting to see what the silhouettes were when they were wearing clothes. And then there's this great movie called Little Darlings, one of Matt Dillon's first movies, and it has really cute T-shirts and sweatshirts and jackets, which is more of our Sophomore style.

What's the first designer item you ever bought?
Betsey Johnson! Going to her store on 60th Street was very exciting as a teenager. She had this period in the nineties that was a lot of black sheer tops. A lot of people were buying her flowery stuff, but I was more into her more gothic seventies-looking stuff.

What trends do you personally like for fall?
Dark colors and dark metal, tights with long T-shirts, oversize blazers, beat-up penny loafers, and zipper skirts.

A look from Sophomore's spring 2009 collection.Photo: Colin Simmon

Are there any trends you wish would go away?

American Apparel. Is it just me or are the clothes starting to look like Halloween costumes?

Who are your favorite designers?
Isabel Marant for great basics, more fancy T-shirts. She has a T-shirt that I wear all the time — it was $200 and made of linen. Balenciaga I find to be really exciting, it always hits me. And Proenza Schouler feels like it's on the mark every season. I love Opening Ceremony's shoes and Margiela's bags and shoes.

Where do you shop in the city?
Opening Ceremony, No. 6, Curve, and I Heart.

What’s one thing you really want to buy right now?
I really want the Balmain fringe boots! But, they're too expensive — over $1,000.

What's the one thing you can't live without?
A good pair of jeans. I have a pair of Levi's that I've had since high school. I think they're a 517. I love that silhouette. Not too high-waisted, only a little past a bellybutton, tight, and a little bit wider than a straight leg. It's one of those things that whether in or out of style, I'll always wear them.