Your Weekend With Otis

Ellie HottingerComment

The best basics are the ones you keep going back to yet can keep reinventing.  I've tasked the Otis Sweatshirt to be exactly that, and styled him to take you through your entire weekend. 


I'm a big fan of mixing casual items with dressier ones to create multifunctional and transitional looks. Pairing Otis with a silky jogger and classic black heels will take you from your desk to dinner or drinks, feeling polished without being overly fussy.


95% percent of the time I am in denim in some capacity. Either my trusty jorts or my 501 Skinny Levi’s are my go-to’s. Both complement Otis for the perfect Saturday ensemble whether you’ve got a casual day planned or looking for something a little more sassy.


Loungewear that doesn't look like you just rolled out of bed? That's the good stuff. Just right for brunching and running your errands to prep for the week. Comfy, classic, chic--exactly what the Emah Essentials are meant to be : ) I’ve mixed Otis with the Porter pant & the Scout short for two laid back luxe options. 


Ellie HottingerComment

If you’ve been following along for some time you’ve likely gathered that ETL is on a mission to be a sustainable brand without subjecting to traditional practices of larger retailers. 

I throw out bits and pieces of ETL’s mission here and there but I want you to know exactly what your are supporting and exactly what I do to make sure that the practices of this business align with the mission I am projecting. So here is your cheat sheet: 


Not every inch of fabric can be made into ETL garments, but every inch CAN be used for something. After the patterns are cut out, the pieces that are too small to use can still be recycled and used for a variety of things from stuffing punching bags to grinding to a pulp for paper. Most recently I’ve partnered with local textiles artists, Maggie Dimmick of Ethel Studio. <— Go check out her work! 

Speaking of recycling fabric into paper, ETL’s hang tags are made from exactly that. Our friends at MOO have created a recycled product option made from 100% cotton t-shirts—talk about coming full circle. 


Organic cotton production is chemical free, and therefore does not contribute to water contamination.  It also uses less carbon, less fuel, & less energy. Bonus effect? Organic textiles are more allergy friendly than synthetic. 


ETL does not use any dyes, hence a lot of neutral & natural colored garments. (Not mad about that.) Garments made with colored fabrics means they were sourced from dead stock fabrics, which you can read more about below. 


Dead stock fabrics come from larger retailers & manufacturers who have excess material and do not want it to go to waste.  Critics of dead stock fabrics argue it is not truly sustainable because it is “supporting producing more than one needs in the first place”.  While I understand this position, I politely side with it being a sustainable option, especially as industry giants work to shift their practices in this #fashionrevolution. There are fabulous companies making it their mission to eliminate this waste and find good homes for these materials to be given a new life. *Enter Emah The Label.* 


I talk a lot about #supportinglocal but it’s not just about the end product. Sourcing materials from local vendors on the back end cuts down on excessive shipping, sampling, and processes that impact the environment.  The same applies to producing garments locally as well, plus there are far less outrageous overseas minimums one must meet. 


Creating only what you need not only eliminates inventory chaos but also saves materials and cuts down on wasted items. This is where ETL’s made to order method comes into play, and also why you won’t typically see sales on the site—there’s very little I need to get rid of ; ) Sale seeker hack: join Emah The List for 10% off your first order, as well as exclusive offers for subscribers. 

Now go tell your friends! 

Buy Less, Choose Well

Ellie HottingerComment

Your dollar is your vote. But when it comes to sustainable fashion, what you DON’T buy is just as important as what you DO.  That being said, it is not lost on me that having new clothes is about more than just acquiring things.  Fashion is form of communication (one in which i actively partake) so I cannot sit here and tell you to simply stop consuming. However, altering the cadence at which we purchase and furthermore what those items are, can create an astounding ripple effect. My intent is not to dilute participation in the fashion industry, but rather shift it. Starting with some Rs: 

  1. RESEARCH // Consumers have an immense amount of power, and companies have an immense responsibility! Supporting brands who are making efforts to revolutionize such an ancient industry is so critical. Align your values with your products! 
  2. RETHINK // Versatility is everything. If I can’t imagine at least 3 different ways to style an item, it likely won’t serve me well.
  3. REDUCE // Curate your basics. Fortunately for me there is really no separation between my personal and professional wardrobe so a good set of staples can take me through just about anything. (I essentially live in denim, white tops, black separates, & of course Emah The Label)
  4. REUSE // You don’t always have to buy! Intentional or not, Rent the Runway has become a sustainable alternative to shopping. Don’t forget about options like this when it comes to weddings or special events. 
  5. REINVENT // I will preface this by saying that sometimes I get a little TOO scissor happy and cut before really thinking things through but that has more to do with my lack of patience than it does with the possibility of successful transformation. Favorite go-to’s: literally anything denim, especially vintage. pants into shorts, skirts & dresses into mini’s…you get the idea.
  6. RESURFACE // Speaking of vintage…this too is a sustainable option! The “damage” is already done to get them here so give these pieces a new life! Most garments made prior 1980 were still manufactured in the USA so you are also likely also supporting local production : ) Bonus: fat chance anyone else will have something similar. 

Wearable Art --> Hangable Art

Ellie HottingerComment

Not the form in which fabric typically hangs on my rack and I love it.  If your walls have been jealous of your body for getting to sport ETL, they are officially in luck. These limited edition tapestries are made from scraps of ETL fabrics that were too small or oddly shaped to cut into more pattern pieces for future garments.  This method of repurposing fabrics has me extra excited about sustainable practices, and already brainstorming future projects like this one. These whimsical, textured, & colorful works of art will add some serious fun to gallery walls, or will spice up a wall that is perhaps just a little too bare or lonely.  


Wabi Sabi

Ellie HottingerComment

Wabi Sabi was the theme of my senior thesis collection.  It’s a Japanese concept that embraces the imperfect and the incomplete, offering that these qualities are what make something unique and beautiful. the inspiration stemmed from wilted flower petals that I became completely obsessed with. The change in both color and texture from their “death” captivated me and emulated this principle so perfectly even before I knew what it was.

I still think about this every time I see wilting flowers, and what a lovely reminder it is! Not only as it relates to objects but to humans and to life as well. Every so often the flower shop next door to me adorns it’s steps with petals and I go nuts for it. I love it. Scroll to see Wabi Sabi in action as the day wore on and so did the petals.



Ellie HottingerComment

Transparency is a huge thing for me.  I value it in almost every sense: personally, professionally, fashionably (sheer blouses had a major moment in my closet). But when it comes to business it is absolutely necessary. Not only internally but also externally as consumer knowledge is incredibly powerful. So what does transparency mean at Emah The Label? I want you to know where your clothes are coming from, who is making them, and the mission you are supporting when you buy them.

Here are some things you may not know about ETL: 

  • All garment tags and business cards are made from 100% recycled paper
  • We use recycled textiles, and fabrics made with organic fibers
  • All garments are made in the USA paying fair wages for labor
  • Production is done on a made to order basis

Let’s unpack that last one because that is a HUGE shift in the way Emah operates.  While ETL collections have always been comprised of small batches and limited edition items, it wasn’t being done in the most efficient way to move forward.  Switching to made to order production means less wasted material, optimized labor, and more time and resources that can be funneled back into making ETL better as it continues to grow. 

With that, production will still be limited, keeping your wardrobe that much more unique. So how can you be sure to get first dibs on an item? Join Emah The List! Subscribers will be the first to know when new collections drop. 


Patched Up

Ellie HottingerComment

I often feel a sting of guilt about for being part of an industry that is so materialistic.  I don’t mean in the sense of being obsessed with wealth and possessions, just literally how materials are at the very core of what makes fashion possible. 

Textiles are often what inspires me.  The colors, the textures, the prints, the way they drape, the way they can be transformed—there is so much possibility when telling a three dimensional story. But as I put more and more focus on how I can grow my business in more sustainable way, I cannot in good conscience pursue the use of certain textiles when there are alternatives that minimize environmental impact.

One of the ways I’ve managed to make unique garments that don’t go against my philosophy (as it relates to sustainability), is to utilize fabrics that larger companies would have otherwise discarded of.  In fact, this is why ETL often sells only one or two units of a particular design. There simply may have only been enough yardage to cut a couple of garments. Patched Up, my most recent capsule, does exactly that but to a more granular degree.   

Fabric mills often showcase their latest collections by creating swatch books and distribute them to retailers who then make their selections.  At the end of each season, these swatch books are no longer relevant to companies that rotate their fabrics and are thrown out.  The patches used for “Patched Up” come from the swatch books of mills among the most exquisite in the world (Loro Piana, Dormeuil, Solbiati).  The care and innovation involved in the mixing of fibers, the dying of yarns and weaving of these fabrics is unparalleled. 

Determined to give these small but beautiful samples a second life, I decided to patch them together to make full pieces. While they most certainly take on a different look and feel when patched together, they now have another story to tell.  They represent something else entirely than for which they were intended, but the care is still there… 

Oh and as an added bonus, all the tops are reversible! Four different sizes, four unique garments, 8 different looks. 


TY, Leandra

Ellie HottingerComment

Leandra (Medine) Cohen made an interesting point recently that totally stuck with me. She said when she was younger she imagined herself becoming a fashion designer but explains how writing really suited her because it was a way to procure results immediately. (Note: I paraphrased.) THAT I thought, is exactly my problem as a designer. I am so eager to get to the end, so antsy to move on to the next thing buzzing in my brain that I struggle to devote a proper amount of time and attention to my current project. 

Even in design school, I was often scolded (I use that term lightly) for eliminating steps or cutting through corners (literally and figuratively) because my patience was nowhere near the level it needed to be.  Especially during a time meant solely for developing your skills and understanding each element of your craft—how could I have been so careless!? 

I’ve known this to be a weakness of mine for some time. While I’m working to find a better balance between embracing the process and moving forward, here’s hoping writing will be of some assistance.  It is not my intention to turn Emah’s blog into my personal diary but I’ve also decided there are no rules here. Holler if this is resonating with you.  If not, you can find your way to the shop page : ) 

P.S. If you haven’t already, go listen to Episode 60 of Monocycle with Leandra Medine: A Conversation With Lena Dunham, it’s brilliant.

ETL x KS Fashion Showcase

Ellie HottingerComment

I’m a big fan of collaborations.  I believe any time there is an opportunity for two or more parties to bring their strengths to the table and provide a unique product or experience, everybody wins. 

We see this take form in a variety of mediums across a variety of industries but it has become incredibly popular within the design community. 

What is often seen as a highly competitive arena, is now finding more ways to be a supportive one.  The belief that there is enough room for everyone to succeed is thankfully becoming increasingly contagious. 

This season I had a unique opportunity to throw a collaborative event with custom menswear brand, Knot Standard.  While we target different markets, design completely different products, and operate on opposite scales, we still have a fair amount in common.  We value quality materials and construction, we champion unique garment details, and we welcome opportunities to support other creatives. 

Rather than put together a traditional runway presentation, we planned a showcase to display our new collections in a more social fashion.  Hosted in the Chicago Knot Standard showroom, we gathered for a night of appreciating both the art of clothing and the community that supports our work. 

P.S. Treats by Bake Me Off--so cute & so delish, I recommend using if you are in the Chicago area!

P.P.S. In addition to creating limited edition womenswear, I also style custom menswear looks with Knot Standard! You can book an appointment with me to do so here: http://www.knotstandard.com/ellie/



Ellie HottingerComment

This story does not reveal any new secret you don’t already know.  It is a tale as old as time that there are no shortcuts when it comes to creating something you can take pride in. The funny thing is that it took my 10 year old Shih Tzu-Poodle, Shady, to remind me of that this morning.  

I took Shady on his first walk of the day as I was sipping on my first coffee of the day. While I had no reason to rush back home, I still looked to turn at each corner that would cut down the length of our walk.  Shady however was running the show and quietly but firmly let know that we would be walking the whole neighborhood, not just the block.  

Upon my return I was greeted by my sister who was wondering why we took so long.  I told her that Shady didn’t want to take any shortcuts this morning and that’s when hit me.  That this would be my lesson for the day.  It’s a simple one but in this moment it brought me peace since I am often anxious to find the next step, to see results, to get to the end goal.  Maybe you are too.

Slowing down does not equate to lack of productivity.  In a world of instant gratification and filtered success, I struggle to let myself marinate the moments in between.  These are moments to be mindful of as they offer time to reflect and to learn.  

Reflecting on my work resurfaces feelings of pride, offers details to learn from, and inspires me to keep going. 

Keep going.


Ellie HottingerComment

Feburary 3, 2017

Generally I am into all things raw: raw tuna, raw edge hems, raw emotion.  So when I heard about RAW Artists, I knew it had to be good. So what exactly is it? RAW Artists was founded to shed light on emerging designers and artists of all mediums.  From dance to photography to fashion—it’s all happening and it’s all here.  With shows going on in major cities all over the globe, it is a celebration of the arts like no other.

On January 25th I had the honor of participating in the RAW showcase: “RAW Chicago Presents CUSP”.  My collection for the show echoed the elevated separates that make up Emah The Label, but with a bold desert palette and textured, comfortable textiles.  As per usual, I am coveting tie backs and elastic waistbands.  Both aesthetically pleasing and comfort maximizing—I can’t help but give them the attention they deserve!  These dark and moody images are so opposite the bright aesthetic I tend to gravitate towards and I am totally digging them! Enjoy! 

XX Ellie

Photos by:

Lenny Gilmore //  http://lennygilmore.com/

Alexander Hawn //  https://AlexHawn.smugmug.com/

Venue: The Metro // http://metro30.metrochicago.com/


Morgan Sostarich, Amanda Weinper, Annamalis Sharp, Marielle Schuchardt, Cali Kvistad


Ellie HottingerComment

November 27, 2016

Envision: imagine as a future possibility; visualize.

How do you visualize when you don't know what is coming next?  How do you imagine which decisions you will make when the future possibilities are so uncertain?  This was my reality as I was preparing for the Fall 2016 Envision show.  

I had made up my mind to leave my job and to leave New York City, but didn't quite know what my next steps would be.  It was during this time that I committed to participating in the show and so it became very clear what the theme of my collection would be: transition. 

Transition: the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.

This transpired so naturally into the clothing, and I identified so strongly with the pieces that came to be.  I learned that as we transition, we take some things with us, and leave others behind, a concept I applied both literally and artistically to the collection through various elements that flowed in and out of the garments to tell that story. 

This collection and the story it tells was pivotal for me both personally and professionally, and is one that I am very grateful for--I hope you enjoy!

Runway photos by Josh Stokes.

Styling by Amy Shetler.

Models: Ignite 

Blurred Lines Between Work & Hobbies

Ellie HottingerComment

May 28, 2016

Maintaing (or rather striving for) balance is always a priority of mine no matter which aspect of my life it pertains to.  This can be particularly difficult when it comes to my work and my hobbies, especially when working in a creative arena.  While it is often tricky to separate the two, or decide where to focus my energy in order to attain that balance, I am coming to terms with the fact that it is OK for some lines to be blurry.  This became clear to me most recently in a  project where I was determined to incorporate one of my oldest and dearest hobbies: painting.    

Painting has always been not only incredibly enjoyable but also wildly therapeutic for me.  In high school, I took every painting class available to the point where an "individual study" course was created for me and a couple of other art students who just couldn't get enough.  I loved spending the hour after lunch in the sunlit studio of the school.  I felt completely removed from the rest of my day, a welcomed interruption from the rigid demands of my other courses. 

When I entered the apparel design program in college, my studio hours became understandably more focused on the art of clothing design and construction but I missed the form of expression I found in painting.  Now, I have found a way to bring painting back into my life while still pursuing fashion, in the most obvious form: paint the clothes.  While treating textiles in this manner is still very experimental for me, I welcome the opportunity to grow in a new direction, and learn something new along the way.     

Do you have a hobby you have lost touch with? Can you find a way to bring it back into your life? Do it! Do more of what you love and more of what makes you happy : ) 



Ellie HottingerComment

November 30, 2015

As a designer and an entrepreneur, I am constantly keeping my eyes open for inspiration.  Not just for what I will create next, but for everything that comes along with building a brand, such as finding fun and fresh ways to get the product into the market.  I am thrilled to share the details of Emah's latest adventure in doing so. 

Last year I met the two amazing women behind Kon-Dor.  If you haven't already familiarized yourself with Kon-Dor, you should take a few minutes to do so.  Not only do they create beautiful and high quality hand bags, but they are redefining what it means to have a mission behind your business.  I am so inspired by the way these women emulate the ethos of their brand, and exude tremendous positivity.

This holiday season, Kon-Dor and Emah the Label are joining forces along with three other inspiring designers: Carla Speck, Monasita, and OAO New York, to create a weekend pop-up shop in downtown Manhattan.    

On Saturday December 12th, we will be at 149 Elizabeth Street from 10am-7pm.  I am so honored and exciting to be collaborating with these hard working women for such a great event. 

Here are some of the items Emah will be showcasing at the shop:

  • Tops hand painted by Callie McDonald, and hand made by Ellie Hottinger as part of the EMAHxCALLIE collaboration project.
  • Tops hand painted and hand made by Ellie Hottinger
  • Runway items from the Spring 15 show
  • Miscellaneous pieces from the Emah archives

To learn more about each pop up shop participant, visit their websites listed below and follow along to keep up with their stories! 

Hope to see you there!






Ellie HottingerComment

October 12, 2015

Anyone who knows Callie McDonald knows she is the doodle queen. However, do not be fooled by the elementary connotation of "doodle", for these are not your average scribbles. They are pure magic.  While Callie is experienced in a variety of artful mediums, it is her relationship simply with markers that fascinates me the most.  Her ability to transform blank space into a wonderful, whimsical, makes-you-feel-magical piece of art, is something I wanted to bring even more to life- and what better way than to give it a body?

Emah and Callie are coming together to bring you the ultimate version of wearable art.  Our "EMAHxCALLIE" capsule collection will include two different styles of tops, each hand painted with a unique print by Callie.

For more on Callie and to view samples of her work, visit http://www.callie-mcdonald.com, and see below for sneak peak at what is to come!