I am not a clothing designer. I actually don’t know much about clothing design, pattern drafting, or the current fashion industry. I know how to sew well, but am mostly self-taught through exploration and trial and error, minus the handful of times as a kid when I sewed with my mom. I have been touted by a friend in the fashion industry as “the best textile picker”, which is something I am proud of, and I have achieved master’s-degree-worthy applique skills (though merely in my own mind, no one in fashion education has ever told me that). I have enough self-confidence to allow these things alone to lead me to developing my own brand of clothing, which I call Breed.
The truth is, however, that Breed didn’t start out about clothing at all, it was simply about creativity. When the name “Breed” was chosen it was picked as a synonym for the phrase “to create”, and was simply about the art of making something. Anything. Clothes, jewelry, even people. I wasn’t making children’s clothing at this time, but the transition was natural when my world went from being a young adult struggling to find herself in a corporate world, to embracing becoming an aunt, and eventually a mother. And Breed fit, in so many ways, it was just perfect.
I love making baby clothing. Babies, to me, are the most beautiful people in the world. They don’t have preconceived ideas about the world, and definitely not about fashion. They are like little works of art, and we can “decorate” them however we want, and photograph them, and express our style in a way we may never chose to do for ourselves, for fear of judgement of “not fitting in”. When you start having children you often get asked the question “when did you get baby fever?”. My response, more often than not, is “I didn’t. I got baby clothes fever”.
Fashion hasn’t always been my favorite expression of creativity, sometimes, even now, I don't know if it truly is. Writing was my first passion, and probably should have been my first clue that I was not the average kid. It, quite possibly, could have been my career. When I was 9 I wrote an essay entitled “My Life as a Cat”. It was a humorous piece about a day in the life of a cat. It was one page of notebook paper, handwritten in pencil. My 4th grade teacher loved it, and made a big deal about telling me that it was a wonderful piece of writing, and I was a promising writer. That compliment alone fed my passion, and I started writing all the time. Every day after school I spent time filling notebooks with stories about young girls and their struggle with being who they were. The girls were often struggling to fit in, as I was, while wishing everyone else was more into standing out, which is really contradictory, but the way I often felt. One thing they all had in common was their clothes. I loved to write detailed descriptions of their outfits, which were always the trendiest name brands, because, after all, that’s how you fit in, right? By wearing the right clothes.
Upon entering Junior High in the 7th grade I had one goal, to be popular. To fit into the right crowd, get invited to the right social gatherings, go shopping with the popular girls, and be on the right teams. I wanted to be highly social, so I talked a lot. Maybe too much, as I have decided in my adult years I am actually pretty socially awkward, and prefer to be alone with my thoughts. Not to misinterpret this as I do not like people, quite to the contrary, I love people, I just do not feel like I always fit in. But I am ok with that now, as I realize I would rather be anything but ordinary.
Since David Bowie’s death, which often happens when a highly respected creative cultural figure passes on, I reflect on what makes a true artist. He was bold, and brave. He went “there”, time and time again, without hesitation. His music and visual presentation of music videos was artistic in every way. I truly respect his legacy, and want to be more like that. It presents a struggle, as every day I still try to fit in in an effort to sell my creations, while wishing the world was more about standing out.
So, I will never be a clothing designer, because there are things about me that won’t sell out to an industry of mass production that tells people they should all look the same. I struggle to find an audience that is as passionate as I am about clothing as an art, rather than a necessity. I struggle with the concept of selling versus creating. Most of my ideas stay in my head. The ones that make it onto paper often find they are stuck there, because I have put production above artistry on more than one occasion. I struggle, because beyond my desire to sell enough to make a living, I want to see my art displayed on the little people I create it for, the little people I want to “decorate”. But, in this moment of clarity about what it means to be a true artist, I am determined. Making clothes is my current endeavor, and I will do it with as much passion as I wrote my first novel at the age of 15. I am committed to put out there my best work, collections as I see them in my head, not what can be made the quickest or most fits in with current culture. I am committed to put together clothing that is more art than necessity, and to find the audience that appreciates the concept that the art we love doesn’t have to be hung on a wall, exclusive to those who enter our homes. It can be worn, and it can be captured in the daily lives of our greatest creations, our beautiful children, and ourselves.