Design Notes, Episode 3

Fashion designers Lizzy and Darlene Okpo

Design Notes is a show about creative work and what it teaches us, hosted by Google’s Liam Spradlin. The third episode features Lizzy and Darlene Okpo, the designers and sisters behind New York-based fashion label William Okpo. In the interview, Lizzy and Darlene detail what gives their line its identity, the personas that shape a collection, and the intersection of expression and utility in fashion design.

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Watch highlights from episode 3 of Design Notes, featuring fashion designers Lizzy and Darlene Okpo


On working with your sibling "We're constantly pushing each other, and I think that's the beauty of being partners and family too—you're able to be very honest." — Darlene Okpo

On adapting to change "Nothing is ever set in stone. Things get thrown at us and it's like how do we face our challenges? Can we get over them? We have and we've learned, which has been the greatest part of the journey." — Lizzy Okpo

On building personas "I observe on the train—that’s my design inspiration. I just watch and I look at what they're reading, their hair type, their glasses, what type of bag they have, what dress. I really observe and I build that character." — Darlene Okpo

On making the ordinary unordinary "That’s what we figure out before we start a collection. How to make something that's so everyday for all of us, but tweaking it to allow us to show off our bodies or feel comfortable in a new way, instead of just putting on another pair of jeans." — Lizzy Okpo

Handy info and links for this episode:

  • William Okpo is named after Lizzy and Darlene’s father
  • The Ms. Pope Jumpsuit features an unexpected silhouette that disguises it as a dress
  • Selvedge denim has a denser weave and clean, durable edges; The raw red denim mentioned in the episode is used to construct pieces like the Pope Medley and Yasmine Tank
  • See the Triple Cuff Jean and more photos @williamokpo
  • Architectural Digest asked Lizzy and Darlene to unpack the inspiration behind their 2016 Fall/Winter collection
  • Download a PDF transcript of Design Notes, Episode 3

How to listen and subscribe:

Coming soon: Our next episode is a special edition, recorded during SPAN Pittsburgh. Tune in to hear guest host Aaron Lammer talk with Luis Von Ahn about how growing up in Guatemala informs his work, the invention of the Captcha, and how reciprocal learning between humans and computers manifests in the language-learning app DuoLingo.