Fashion, design, sewing- they’ve always been a source of inspiration, creative expression, even necessary skills passed down from my mother who taught me how to sew. She taught my younger brothers and I how to mend a hem, reattach a button, iron, all when we were young children. She imparted upon us the skills she felt everyone might need at one point or another in adulthood, along with words of wisdom. Occasionally, she’d implore us not to become chauvinistic or request too much of women or our future wives.
My mother sewed capes for us to make believe we were superheroes, and with that the idea of self expression through the creative force that is fashion was impressed upon me. I began to sew clothes for action figures and Barbie dolls. I would wonder why cartoons always wore the same outfit, and drew different outfits for cartoon characters like Minnie Mouse and Pebbles Flintstone, and still have the sketches.
Fashion, style, ready to wear, uniforms, formal wear- how we dress and adorn ourselves reflects our emotion, status or position, occupation, ultimately our identity to the world. Ancient man fashioned rings, bracelets, head pieces, ankle bracelets, and garments both rudimentary and intricate or ornate. We continue this tradition to this day, perhaps even moreso obsessed with how we convey ourselves to the world each day.
I have always had the desire to be unique, to stand out. I would shop for the articles of clothing I knew no one else would have, and developed a style all my own. I would customize everything, from my school schedule to my shoes and cell-phone, and began this tradition in childhood. Once I took simple canvas shoes and painted planets on them, and to my dismay boys mocked them saying they looked more like flowers. I was also very drawn to colors, especially pink- and though others would tell me “pink is for girls,” I knew that the color spectrum was not something to be monopolized by a gender or race, but rather something to be embraced and celebrated. I later decided red would be my new favorite color, seeing it as pink’s higher saturated twin, symbolic of great and powerful things like fire, passion, love, blood.
In high school I designed some graphic t-shirts for one of my best friend’s family’s clothing line. Given the name was spiritual in nature, I drew inspiration from religious symbolism appropriately. I had never felt so excited, invigorated as that. I went to Project Fasion with them, and was so taken by all of the designers, the buyers, and the process of design and production. That fire was reignited in me.
While enrolled full time in college, I designed and launched a niche clothing line catering to Greek social fraternities and sororities. I created all the graphic designs and artwork, croquis and illustrations, and learned how to screen print. Once I began receiving orders, I outsourced some of the production, and oversaw all aspects of the business, from creating custom designs for clients to overseeing quality control, shipping, sales, marketing and advertising. I was applying the lessons I was learning in business school, but also getting real world experience in fashion, product development, and areas I wouldn’t and couldn’t learn in business school. When my models didn’t show, I put my designs on and modeled them myself (see photos above…yes- that’s me. My how I’ve changed, huh?)
Fashion Illustrations by Designer/Illustrator Perry Uwanawich