This month's insider is a Mens Accessories Designer who is really not one to be categorized as his focus is more about the craft. His brand "Avery James" is a series of pieces that are edgy yet androgynous. They are items that represent the challenge of societal norms much like he does. It is a line that you should not take at face value and the same can be said about him because there is much more than meets the eye. So, let's get into the exciting background of this Designer:
KF: Well, Mark, I must say that I was impressed by your passion for art and creation. So, my first pressing question is , how did you break into the fashion industry, where did you get your start?
MJ: My first job was for a small, eco-friendly denim start-up in NYC. I was the Head Designer of the mens collection. Since then, I have worked on projects for well known global labels such as Kenneth Cole, including designs for start-ups that raised money through crowd funding.
KF: What has been your experience thus far in the industry?
MJ: Well, I love the creativity, peoples ideas, the way it has evolved since I started in 2009, but to be honest, the scene in NY has felt a little dry and behind the rest of the world.
KF: It's funny, I have been thinking the same thing about the fashion industry in NY. The energy of fashion in NY is gone. What do you think about the current direction of fashion and the consumer?
MJ: You have all of these big players that are trailblazers in the early 90's and now that the department store is becoming obsolete, these companies are having a hard time figuring out the future of retail. The problem is they want to hold their relationships with stores like Macy's and Wal-Mart and they don't give a s*** about quality product and consumer interaction. They are aware of it, but they put very little into doing anything about it. Hey everyone, direct to customer via internet is a real thing! Customers are smart, they don't want your cheap s*** at a mark-up when they can find better quality at a reasonable cost!
KF: If there were anything about the fashion industry that you would change, what would it be?
MJ: The camaraderie. I've never met so many trolls and negative people in one place than my last office job. I can't believe how miserable people can be. It really sucks the creativity and motivation from you if you're not careful!
KF: In light of your sentiments on the industry, what would be some advice you would give to aspiring fashion designers?
MJ: Research this industry. Learn the reality of it, the struggles, the rewards. Ask yourself, what can you do to make a difference? Study the impact this industry has on the world and our environment. The more people with open eyes, the better we can make it. I would also recumbent checking out "A True Cost" on Netflix.
KF: Sage advice! What would you say is the most important skill a designer needs or should master in order to be successful.
MJ: Do not complain, find a solution.
KF: Okay, so we have covered all of the high points of the industry. So , I am curious, what are your thoughts on design school?
MJ: It's good for networking, but try to avoid as much student loan debt as can because I promise, you'll learn more in the field than the classroom. Any school in this country is a business.
KF: Let's talk a little about your line. You have your own mens accessory line called Avery James, describe the Avery James man:
MJ: He is whoever he wants to be. I have an aesthetic, but it's up to you to rock it. It's more unisex than mens so women can rock it too.
KF: How would you define your design aesthetic?
MJ: Clean, sophisticated with bold silhouettes. Preferably multi-functional and timeless yet ahead of its time in some cases.
KF: I agree. I have seen your work and it looks great! Well , I have one more question for you, what are your thoughts on the future of fashion and the industry as whole?
MJ: I have hope that with the evolution of technology, we will stop turning a blind eye to s***. Where is the leather from? Are the factories practicing fair labor acts?
KF: Fair enough. I think those are questions that everyone in the industry should give consideration to when sourcing raw materials and developing product. Mark James, it has been a pleasure. Your raw and honest opinions about your experiences and your thoughts on the industry were very refreshing!
MJ: Thank you for letting me share them. I think it about time that people get a sense of what's happening.