Features__ Elizabeth Kiester’s Wanderlust
Elizabeth Kiester of Wanderlust Store
After working as the fashion director for both YM and Jane Magazine, Elizabeth Kiester made an unprecedented career move. In 2008, she left behind the city streets of NYC and set up shop in tropical Southeast Asia.
Wanderlust is the name of both Elizabeth's design label and her collection of boutiques in Cambodia. There are two locations in Siem Reap (home of Angkor Wat) and one in Phnom Penh (Cambodia's capital city). Each store has a bright and friendly atmosphere. Patterns and colors collide on the clothing racks and in the bowls full of accessories. It's not your typical NYC scene, instead it's a lot like Cambodia itself--but more organized.
Although the same dresses, shoes and jewelry are in all Wanderlust stores, there's still a particular charm to the original one in Siem Reap's Old Market area that makes it worth a trip. The back opens up to a small courtyard and above the desk there's an inspiration board that includes the likes of Hello Kitty and Iris Apfel.
Elizabeth is passionate about fashion and making clothing that “speaks a global language, stuff that translates everywhere and anywhere.” That's the whole idea behind Wanderlust--affordable handcrafted clothes that look great no matter where you are. Yes, handcrafted. From the menswear-inspired Sumatra shirt dress to the pleated Bora Bora top, each piece was designed by Elizabeth and hand sewn by local Cambodian women, who put their skills to use without working in a sweatshop.
“Inspiration is everywhere,” Elizabeth told hearty, “Colors, textures, fruit, nature, the way the sun changes the colors of things, the old tiles on the floors of some of the old buildings, Van Molyvann, 60’s Khmer pop culture, the way someone makes a cute and funny outfit from what they've found.”
As well as gearing up for her second collaboration with Madewell and selling her Wanderlust clothes to stores all over the U.S., Elizabeth perfects the art of shipping packages from East to West. Now you can get a taste of Wanderlust delivered right to your door. But, if you ever get a hankering to travel to Cambodia, make sure you head to one of the Wanderlust locations for a dose of the real thing.
Alley West in the Old Market, Siem Reap, Cambodia
21 Street 240, Phnom Penh, Cambodia