In 1974, she began a non-profit making company helping knitters market their skills. She created designs for hats and sweaters, which she supplied to these women.
In 1976 she started designing woven garments, adding coats and daywear to her collections.
Incorporated in 1977, her eponymous collection expanded into sweaters for both sexes. Using the same local artisans, the designs were unique, limited and beautifully crafted. Demand for Joan’s quirky unstructured knitwear grew during the 1980’s prompting large scale production at Signal Knitting Mills in South Carolina under the label Joan Vass USA. Encompassing all the components of a complete wardrobe – sweaters, trousers, skirts & dresses, the aesthetic remained the same, with fine fabrics, natural fibers and ageless designs.
In 1980 she introduced 3 new lines, including a menswear line.
Vass has also established a reputation for her clothing lines, which are distinguished by their lack of both shoulder pads and applied decoration. Her most popular line is Joan Vass USA.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Vass designs were perennial favorites, enough so that she opened stores across the U.S., including shops in New Orleans, Chicago, Dallas, and New York. Her designs could also be found in high-end specialty shops and better department stores as well, including newer Vass labels for plus sizes and sportswear. In addition, Vass had segued into jewelry and footwear, known for her distinctive designs.
The Joan Vass brand continues today with renewed attitude. Building on the tradition of luxurious knitwear since its inception over thirty years ago, this is a collection of understated elegance. Classic silhouettes have been modernized using fabrics that envelop the body in comfortable luxury. Soft silk cashmere sweaters, multidimensional knit jacquards, jerseys and interlocks are styled in ways that pay tribute to the unique aesthetic that is Joan Vass.
Timeless, chic and uniquely American, Joan Vass is the modern woman.