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Studio Tour: Han Starnes

by Lauren Chorpening Day

A clothing line born of inspiration from New Zealand is now made in Nashville, TN — and crafted with wool grown in Wyoming, Oregon and Colorado. The purpose of this three-year-old line has been to create timeless, sustainable clothing that will look great for years to come. After Han Starnes studied textiles and fashion in NZ, she and her husband, Brock, moved back to the States to start her namesake clothing line, Han Starnes.

After a few years, Han’s production outgrew the space in the couple’s East Nashville home, so Han and Brock looked to the structure in their own backyard. “We built this studio in our backyard. When we moved into our house a few years ago, this was an existing structure — only a concrete slab and metal frame. We used it as a screened-in porch for the last two years, but this year decided to finish it off and make it my design studio,” Han says. “I designed the whole buildout and selected the materials. We decided to keep the existing structure as much as possible and design around it. Before we moved in, the space was previously used as a car mechanic workshop.” The couple transformed this previously mechanical outbuilding into 500 square feet of creative inspiration. The white walls, floors and furniture mixed with wood tones, vintage machines, and impeccably made garments is an aesthetic that has the Han Starnes brand written all over it.

Han’s studio has allowed her to carry out the vision for her minimalist clothing line more than ever. “We believe that the objects we choose to surround ourselves with and the clothes we wear matter,” she says, “and thus care deeply about the materials our garments are made of and how they’re produced. We are interested in creating a connected experience for the people who make and wear our pieces.” This backyard studio follows suit with the brand’s care-driven mission statement, creating a better product — and as Han hopes, a better life — for their consumers. –Lauren

Photography by Laura Dart


Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
The 500-square-foot studio is where the concept, technical design and production of the Han Starnes clothing line happens. Han and her team work in this bright space to create sustainable, wearable pieces.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
The studio is efficiently filled with everything Han needs to produce her simple, stunning line with her team.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"We use vintage knitting machines to make our knitted garments," Han says.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"My brother-in-law built all our tables in the studio," Han says.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
Han's vintage chairs, spinning wheel and handmade tables give her studio an aesthetic that feels like the brand she envisions - timeless, practical and beautiful.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
Han shares, "I think I'm most thankful for the natural light, where it's located, and its size."
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"I have always been attracted to textiles, especially really textured and handcrafted ones that show the story of the fiber," Han says.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"We only have a few plants in the space right now," Han admits. "My goal this year is to expand my collection of plants!"
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
Han and her team sample their designs on this sewing machine before deciding whether or not to add them to their collection.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"We use wool that's in grown in Wyoming, Colorado and Oregon. We keep our wool scraps to include in packaging online orders sometimes," Han says.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
Han puts a focus on the origin of her materials and the sustainability of the clothing. Each part of her design process acknowledges her desire to create pieces that are worth keeping for years and years.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"Our storage room holds our sampling yarn and a few finished pieces. I'm very thankful for these tall shelves," Han says.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
Pieces from Han Starnes' 2015 Fall/Winter Collection are stored on open racks in the studio. The neutral palette of the line is reflected in the rest of the space.
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"We used white denim fabric to make a divider for the changing room," Han says. "We used the existing metal support beams to drape the denim."
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"I really wanted a clean, open space with a lot of natural light. Choosing white for the walls, ceiling and floors really helps it feel open inside."
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"What I love most about my studio is the sunlight."
Studio Tour: Han Starnes | Design*Sponge
"The existing frame that we built everything around is solid metal," Han says. "A tornado could come through and it would probably stay standing!" Han and her dog, Meg, pose outside of the backyard studio.

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