Petite women usually face one of three choices when choosing fashion apparel:
1. The outdated petite section of a department store.
2. The hyper-trendy junior’s department for teens.
3. The vast selection of clothing for the average 5-foot-6-inch woman.
SF State fashion student, 5-foot-3-inch Pamela Borja, 22, and her older sister, 5-foot-2-inch fashion alumna Sheena Borja, 25, grew tired of the minimal clothing selection offered to them.
They decided to do something about it.
Their clothing line, Tamiece Petites, made its debut last year, with clothing proportioned to fit and accentuate the female bodices of those 5 feet 4 inches tall and under.
“A lot of people are looking for petite clothing, but it’s hard to find, so they end up having to alter their clothes. We wanted to fit that niche,” said Sheena Borja. “Our clothes are fitted for petites 5”4’ and under. Style-wise, it’s very feminine with urban influences.”
“Having a sophisticated twist,” added Pamela Borja.
Tamiece’s ready-to-wear line has the average inseam of 30 inches, with sizes running from X-small to large.
The sisters’ vision, cited from their Web site, states, “Instead of constructing clothes that make us women taller, as what some petite lines try to accomplish, we design with no boundaries and allow petite women to feel stylish and proud of being shorter than the rest of the world.”
The Borja sisters work out of their quaint, small studio space on the lowest level of their parents’ house in Daly City. Design sketches grace the walls, along with photographs of their spring 2007 line, Mestiza — launched during SF Fashion Week last year — and fabric is scattered everywhere throughout the room.
While sketching out their designs, the sisters blast different types of music. It’s the music, they said, that inspires their creativity and sets the tone for each collection.
“What inspires me is not really visual, it’s more [auditory],” said Sheena Borja.
For their new fall/winter 2007 line, they listened to mellowing sounds of Electronica music. This influenced the “casual, but sophisticated, chilled street mode” of the new collection, said Pamela Borja.
“We’ve toned down to more everyday fabrics, rather than nighttime, occasional wear,” said Sheena Borja. “We used a lot of sweater and metallic knits, silk jersey material…. The color palette is black, gray and eggplant.”
For spring 2007, they used silk jersey, charmeuse, chiffon and stretch satin material.
When creating their designs, they use each other as muses.
“While I’m sketching, I picture stuff that [Sheena] would wear, that would look good on her,” said Pamela Borja.
The sisters explain that sketching is the creative part of the fashion designing process, but the rest is all business.
“It’s like 10 percent fun and creative, but the actual clothing and marketing for your business is so technical,” said Sheena Borja. “You sketch, samples are made, [you] bring them to stores, go to a buyers’ trade show that is eight to12 months in advance, buyers place orders, and finally you deliver.”
After studying at the Paris American Academy in France in the summer of 2005, the sisters made the decision to create garments to debut for their fall/winter 2006 collection, with strong support from family and friends.
“In Paris, art was everywhere; in their culture, in their architecture, in the people. It made me want to make something that beautiful,” Sheena Borja said.
But what really inspired her, she said, was her boss, Charlene Scheil, a designer who started her own dress line called “Charsa.”
“I remember Sheena telling me, ‘we’re gonna do it, we’re gonna do it,’” said Pamela Borja. “[Charlene] really motivated her and told her you don’t have to wait till you’re 40 to start something, you start it when you feel like it’s time. Well, we felt like it was time.”
Sheena Borja currently works as Scheil’s assistant.
The name Tamiece comes from the Tagalog (the national language of Philippines) word “tamis,” meaning “sweet.” Of Filipino and Russian decent, the sisters said they decided to incorporate their Filipino culture into their fashion by using Tagalog words, such as “puso,” meaning heart, and “anak,” the word for child, to name coordinating tops, bottoms, dresses, and the collections.
The Borjas have been working with independent contractors from all over the city and in the Bay Area to make their clothes. They’re currently designing their spring 2008 collection. Pamela Borja will be featuring her personal designs, apart from Tamiece, at SF State’s fashion show in May that will be held in McKenna Theatre.
The Borja’s new line, for fall/winter 2007, will hit two local stores in the city, R.A.G. on Octavia Street and Mingle on Union Street, this month. The retail price ranges from $60 for a top to $130 for a dress.
“I have sold their modal Kitana tops and long-sleeve boat-necks tops in assorted colors…. I was excited by their trend-conscious, sexy but warm, and wearable pieces,” said Blakely Bass, the owner and curator of R.A.G., who’s been selling Tamiece since 2006.
Bass was very impressed, she said, that the Borjas were two sisters working together on such a well-made and well-presented line at such a young age.
“Slowly but surely we’re getting ourselves out there,” said Sheena Borja.
Visit them at www.tamiece.com. You can also find their clothes at www.indieshopper.com.