The arduous demands of the business of fashion design are ones routinely tackled by a rare coterie of dedicated darlings across the nation and around the world. While process, energy, and inspiration may vary between them, much of the motivations and passions are shared. Finding and connecting the dots of this shared experience helps to not only amplify the journey of the designer and introduce us to a new talent, but it also manages to bring us all a little closer together.
In a continued effort to share various fashion designers’ experience, a visit to Philadelphia is a must. Yesterday, we connected with Victoria Wright, a rising star and Philadelphia based designer who is committed to creating fashion that caters to the individuality of each woman’s style. Her line is feminine, modern and effortlessly chic.
Q: What were the first steps you took in the world of fashion?
Victoria Wright: As a child I always knew I wanted to be some sort of artist or designer. From an early age my mother taught me art history and encouraged my creativity. I always enjoyed drawing people, especially women dressed in elegant ensembles. I just loved to dream up intricate dresses and to put a whole look together on paper. When I was about 12 or 13 years old I realized that there was actually a career out there where I could do just that and go a step further: bringing those looks into reality. So, I worked very hard to learn everything I could about how to create my designs. I bought a pattern making textbook, took sewing classes, and got my first job as a Fitter’s Assistant at Anne Bailey’s Bridal.
Q: Where did you receive your training?
VW: I began my official training at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City. I became very homesick in my second year there and made the decision to return to Philadelphia to study at Moore College of Art and Design. Not only did I have a great scholarship to attend there, but I found I much preferred the smaller class sizes and the personal connection students were able to make with the professors.
Q: Did you begin as an apprentice or intern in another fashion house or did you just start out on your own?
VW: While in college I interned for two companies: Walter Baker, and Rebecca Taylor. After graduating I freelanced and interned at Urban Outfitters and Club Monaco. These were invaluable experiences because I was able to really see how both small and large fashion companies were organized and run, I learned the process of designing and production, and so much more. I also realized that creating my own company was the only way I would have complete creative freedom. So, when given the opportunity to join the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator, I took the leap and created my own brand.
Q: Can you tell us a bit about your current project/s? What is the mood of your latest collection?
VW: Currently I am working on Spring/Summer 2017. Working in fashion, you must always be about a year ahead in order to keep up with the fast paced fashion calendar. The designs and details about this collection are still under wraps, but stay tuned to hear more! Currently, my Spring/Summer 2016 collection is available in stores for purchase. I love this collection because it is so dreamy and feminine. I call the collection “Romance in Provence” because it was inspired by a fantasy about the French countryside, the rolling hills of lavender, and finding love in this beautiful setting. I actually took a trip to France with my boyfriend, (who happens to be French), and we had our own romantic road trip as we travelled to a little village in Provence to do the photo shoot.
Q: Where do you find inspiration? for this current collection as well as past collections?
VW: I find inspiration all over. Street style from around the globe, art exhibits, vintage fashion, films, you name it! I feel most inspired when I am travelling. I just love to see how people from different places dress, where they go for leisure, and to experience their culture.
Q: What drives you to work/to continue making collections each season? Where does the desire to design come from?
VW: I’m driven by a deep desire to express myself while also helping others helping others express their selves. In addition, I love to create clothing that will make women feel confident and beautiful. Seeing how my designs have the ability to transform a person, and to boost their confidence is so rewarding!
Q: What in your personal life or in your history most influences/energizes your views on fashion?
VW: Definitely the fact that my mother taught me art history growing up. Since she really promoted and encouraged my interest in art from an early age it helped me to grow creatively and to develop an appreciation for historical dress as shown in the various art works that I studied with her.
Q: Is your design style influenced by any designers? If so, who and why?
VW: I always keep an eye on what other designers are doing and find a lot of inspiration from the runways. There isn’t really one particular designer that I look to now to influence my designs. I have always admired the work of Oscar De La Renta because of how sophisticated and timeless the designs are.
Q: Can you share why you have chosen to produce your line in New York?
VW: I produce my line in New York City because there is a wealth of resources in the garment district and it is really not too far away from my studio in Philadelphia. I am able to oversee production and ensure that the highest quality work is being produced. And I am very proud to say my collection is all made in the USA!
Q: Yours is presently a wholesale business model; could you share the reasons for your choice and how your business/choices have changed over the years?
VW: If you look at contemporary designers who are successful and well known today, you will see that most if not all of them work on a wholesale business model. My choice to be a wholesale business model was simply to be in line with my competition and to allow for future growth of my company. Working on a direct to consumer business model would not allow for my company to grow past a certain point because being one person I would never have the time to reach as many customers as I can by being in various stores. It also makes the most sense for production. My wholesale accounts will order several of each style therefore helping me to meet my factory minimums and taking away part of the risk.
Q: What would you like to see happen in the Philadelphia area to help the fashion industry to grow?
VW: It would be great to see a revitalization of Fabric Row and to see more factories willing to work with small designers in Philadelphia. As I said, New York City is not too far, but being able to produce things in Philadelphia would be even more convenient and helpful to revitalize the Philadelphia fashion industry as a whole. If the resources were here in Philadelphia, designers would not feel obligated to leave to go to New York City in order to pursue their dreams of a career in fashion. This way, there is just another option out there for young designers graduating all the amazing design schools we have right here in Philadelphia.
Q: Any advice for the student to design?
VW: My advice to any design students out there is to intern and work for fashion companies while you are in school/ post graduation. This is the best way to figure out how the industry works and who you are as a designer without spending your own money creating a start-up. After that experience you will be better equipped if you decide to start your own business.
Victoria Wright’s collection can be found on her website and in a variety of boutiques in the Philadelphia area.