D.C.’s got style. With everything from cute streetwear to tailored suits, plenty of people turn heads just walking down city streets. But who’s making their clothing, helping them decide what looks good and dreaming up the latest in fashion? It’s the designers of the city, the tailors, the entrepreneurs. Here is one of the 14 must-know figures in fashion from the DMV. Check out our October Issue for the full coverage.
Menswear designer at Andrew Nowell Menswear
District Fray: How do you transform an idea in your head into a sketch and then into a real piece of clothing?
Andrew Nowell: For me it starts with the fabric. At the start of each collection, I select a group of fabrics to work with. The designs I sketch are based on the feel, characteristics, performance and drape of the fabric; not every fabric is suitable for every design. From there I just imagine what I can shape the fabric into; it’s kind of like soft sculpture and engineering in a sense. I’m actually engineering material made of fibers for the human form. It has to be functional, move with the body, be comfortable and aesthetically pleasing to the client.
Your Instagram describes your outfits as a combination of sportswear, urban style and Savile Row. What elements do you pull from each? Why do you think they fit together?
Sportswear for the ease and comfort, urban style for the swag and Savile Row for the rigors of the tailoring process.
What “aha” moments or favorite memories have you had while working in fashion and design?
Seeing my collection on BET’s “Rip the Runway” two years in a row. I saw my name on TV and 5 million other people saw it, too. People think designers are living this wonderful life of constant partying with celebrities, models and waking up at 3 p.m. Actually, it’s a lot of hard work, anxiety and stress. We’re always on the hunt for that elusive “new next thing.” There are so many people to satisfy and then you have the press, customers, bloggers and social media to contend with. It’s always that moment right before the collection goes out when a designer is at their most vulnerable. What you’ve spent the last six months working on is out on a runway for 15 minutes being scrutinized by strangers. Those 15 minutes will determine the future of your company and if there will ever be a follow-up show or collection. Fortunately for me, the collection was well-received by the top execs at BET and the viewership.
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