Meet Veronica Marrinan, founder of Litany, a clothing line that creates garments inspired by “waterfalls and 18th century french blouses” custom made to fit your body. A cradle Catholic and graduate of Fashion Institute of Technology in New York (FIT), Veronica holds degrees in fashion design and entrepreneurship with minors in art history and English. After working in the fashion industry throughout college, she co-founded Litany in 2020 to create a space within the industry where women feel seen, known and loved. She believes that when we are wrapped in awareness of our own worth, we are able to bring that into the world and change it on a person-to-person level. In this interview with Radiant, Veronica shared how she is bringing healing to the fashion industry.
Radiant: Where did the inspiration for Litany come from, and how did it all begin?
Veronica Marrinan: I am from Long Island and Olivia, the co-founder, is from Arizona. We both came to New York to study fashion design at competing schools. We joke that we wouldn’t be friends if it wasn’t for Jesus because we met at the Catholic Center at New York University.
After college we both dreamed of Litany, which we named after the Litany of Saints, but we thought it would be something we would do in our 30s. But while I was doing photography and Olivia was discerning religious life, we realized that right now might be the only time we could do it together.
Olivia is really good at taking a concept and finding ways to express it through clothing, and I am skilled at taking that expression and making it into clothing. I studied fashion design and entrepreneurship at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and my capstone was a business plan for Litany. When I showed it to Olivia, she was really excited about it, especially because she only had one year left before entering the Dominican Sisters of Hawthorne, New York. It was such a gift to start Litany with her, and that she was willing to create something that she would be leaving behind.
Olivia was in Arizona for several months during COVID, so we designed the whole collection over Skype. Now that she is in the convent, I almost feel closer to her because I know that our relationship is so much deeper in Christ, and we are still united in our prayer.
Radiant: One of Litany’s goals is to heal the wounds of the fashion industry. What are some of these wounds, and how does Litany hope to heal them?
Veronica: Through our experiences in school and internships, it became clear that women are told that they’re not good enough. The fashion industry gets them to buy things to help them feel good enough. They are told, “you’re not good enough, but if you buy this, you might be, maybe … you might make it.” Too often the fashion industry opens opportunities for the devil to speak lies to women about their lack of worth. I think it shows a bit how fashion is a vehicle that we can take and reclaim. We want to tell women “you’re beautiful, wonderful, and we want to support you in that, and here’s a garment that can go with you.”
There are also several companies that have made-to-measure shirts for men, but nobody has done this for women’s fashion. I think a large reason for that is because they know that it’s going to literally change the entire infrastructure of how everything works, and that’s scary because then you have to rethink everything. Realizing that we could honor the women we are creating garments for and make them custom made is really important to us. So often you put on a garment and it doesn’t fit right, and you just accept it. Women literally have to fit themselves into a box, right into the garment. We want to change that mentality.
In one of my former jobs, I was working with a young model. She had this heaviness about her, and it was a harsh wake up call for me. I could tell that she was absorbing lies about herself, and it was deeply affecting her. On a set, there’s really no time to make a meaningful connection with someone, and I knew that with Litany that was something we would have to change. Now we have really meaningful conversations with people on set. What it comes down to is that in the fashion industry there is this idea of productivity being the top thing, but once you put the person at the center, priorities shift.
Radiant: At Litany, you care for people, the planet, the soul and the fashion industry. What are the ethics of your clothing line?
Veronica: It’s a circle. As we’re designing, we are thinking about the woman who is going to wear the garment and what her life is like. We want her to feel that she is seen, known, loved and very aware of her worth when she puts it on.
As we design we are working with 78% of natural fibers like silk, wool and cotton. That is really important to us because microplastics get into the water supply when you wash them. We are also thinking about how much fabric is being used for each item. We can see exactly how much fabric is needed and we send exactly that much fabric out. We are not using fabric that we don’t need to sell, so it is less waste.
We also ensure that our laser cutters have a good work environment, because sometimes they have to work under hard conditions. My rule of thumb is that if it’s a job that I don’t want my mom or little sister to do, then I don’t want anyone to do it. I want it to be dignified work.
Right now, I sew each garment on my grandmother’s sewing machine, and we try to package our materials in a way that is good for the environment. I feel like we are told that we have to compromise somewhere, but it was really important to Olivia and I that Litany would aim to improve each part of the supply chain.
Radiant: What does sustainably functional mean?
Veronica: Olivia came up with this term. It comes from the idea that garments should be something that can be worn multiple ways over the course of your life. To be sustainably functional means we create garments that either have a space to allow for altering, or it gathers so that you can change it as your body changes and wear it at least two different ways.
Radiant: What are some of your favorite pieces in the Lourdes collection?
Veronica: In terms of what I like to wear, my favorite is the Celeste top because I can throw on a pair of jeans and go out to dinner with my boyfriend. I feel very heavenly when I put it on. It’s actually named after a girl I met when I was volunteering in the baths at Lourdes during Easter week.
If I had more places to go, it’d be the Bernadette dress because of all the different ways you can tie it. I’m waiting for the day when we have a party when COVID is over and I can show up in that dress.
Radiant: Tell me about what readers can find on the Litany blog? (I especially loved looking through the “Life cycle of a Litany garment.” It was so helpful and transparent!)
Veronica: We built the blog to create a small community where people can learn about sustainable fashion. We hope that it can be a space where people can connect with other creatives who are pursuing beauty and want to pursue it in a way that is dignifying for people and dignifying for their environment.
Radiant: What are your words of wisdom for other women who may want to start their own endeavor, whether it be a new business or their own blog?
Veronica: It can be really scary to start something that’s close to your heart. It’s easy to struggle with the fear of being vain, because we want to share the talents we have, but God wants us to share our hearts with the world. I think that as long as you are in communion with God and have a prayer life, God is going to bring his grace into that and use your work for good.
I also think it’s easy for us to compare what we want to do with everyone else’s. So often we shrink ourselves because we think that what we want to do isn’t big enough or good enough, but as long as you start with what you can do, it’s going to grow. The world needs it.
God wouldn’t put these desires on your heart if there wasn’t a purpose for them. Start with what you can do. For us that meant just making made to measure garments and buying the fabric as we do it, because that’s all we can afford to do right now.
God will bring people into your life who will help you make this happen. I’m rooting for you!