Sophia Roe’s Japanese Grandma Inspired This Disco-Chic Workwear Line

Wini Lao
Every day is different for Sophia Roe. Depending on her workload (and her mood) the chef, food stylist, and wellness advocate might be: traversing the city sourcing props; sharing real-ass shit with her followers on Instagram Live; at home painstakingly testing recipes. The Brooklynite estimates that she takes 20,000 steps a day managing all the moving parts of her multi-hyphenate career — which started in the kitchen of a Vietnamese restaurant. Today, Roe's successful empire includes over 250,000 followers on Instagram, a cookbook set to launch in 2021, and a disco-chic workwear collaboration that draws style inspiration from her Japanese grandma.
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My grandmother was Japanese, so I’ve always kind of been inspired by that sort of simplicity and structure, but with fun palettes.

Sophia Roe
Her newest output is a capsule collection with chef-wear brand Tilit, a Lower East Side-based purveyor of sturdy kitchen duds to chefs and restaurants around the country. Roe applied her signature “Japanese grandma disco-chic” aesthetic to a smartly designed workwear suit, available in a range of electrifying hues that are meant to be mixed and matched. “My grandmother was Japanese, so I’ve always kind of been inspired by that sort of simplicity and structure, but with fun palettes,” Roe shared. “When you go to Japan, you see that everybody looks so good all the time. All the time. Even if they're wearing prints or mixing prints with colors, the one thing that's always done right is a really great [outfit] structure, shape, and balance," she explained. Using this harmonious trifecta as the base of her inspiration, Roe added in her own style flourishes: from elongating the traditionally shorter jacket length to slightly cropping the pants — because, as she stated, “to be able to see a rad sock is important to me.”
The collection is a departure from the traditional chef’s drabs of “a utilitarian assortment of grays, khakis, olive greens, and navies,” explains Tilit co-founder Alex McCrery. But this jubilant and meant-to-be-seen palette seeks to serve a wider audience of makers and doers far beyond the kitchen; “If you’re a stylist, producer, art director, carpenter — if you make cool shit, whatever that means,” says Roe. In addition, Tilit's co-founder Jenny Goodman adds, “The story of the chef has evolved over time, and that there’s a lot of ways to have a career [in food]. A lot of our chefs do work professionally in kitchens, a lot of them have their own businesses, or are freelance food stylists, and they need a work and life uniform too.”
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[We’re] playing around with bright colors in light of how dark the world is — it feels like an important time to brighten your life up a little.

Alex McCreary
Given the dire straits of the food and restaurant industry that comprises much of Tilit’s customer base, says Roe, “I don’t think we could have possibly done [the collection] without a charitable component.” 10% of the proceeds from the rainbow-bright assortment will benefit Edible Schoolyard, a non-profit that partners with New York City public schools to provide hands-on cooking and gardening education. If that’s not enough to make you feel warm and fuzzy about the cheerful collection, consider what McCrery points out: “[We’re] playing around with bright colors in light of how dark the world is — it feels like an important time to brighten your life up a little.” 
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