With the self-proclaimed goal of one day having a retrospective exhibit of his work at The Costume Institute of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, designer Andrew Christian is fast on his way there with his line being sold in Kitson, Patricia Fields and Fred Segal boutiques. As a designer, Andrew Christian quickly gained national fame and exposure by appearing on such reality shows like Oxygen's The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency and Bravo's The Fashion Show.
Andrew Christian - Men's Underwear
JH - Tell me a little about yourself. Where are you from?
AC - I'm a small town boy at heart. I grew up in Fresno, California, a small farming community. Although I now find myself surrounded by very good looking model types, I like to think I still retain my wholesome values that I grew up with.
JH - What does fashion mean to you?
AC - Fashion is about change and is ever evolving. That's one of the great things about my job is that it never gets boring. There is always something new, creatively, for me to explore in my work.
JH - When did you realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?
AC - I was about 15 when I realized I wanted to become a fashion designer. I used to go to underground under-age clubs as a youth and it was my goal to create a new outfit every week to wear. I was always making something for either myself or my friends. That's when I was approached by a local boutique to showcase my designs in their boutique. When I realized I could make money doing something I already loved, that's when I really applied all my efforts into fashion design.
JH - What was the first article of clothing you ever designed?
AC - The first article I designed and created properly was this really cool zip front collared T-Shirt. The fabric was multicolor and had an interesting visual effect that's hard to describe. I made the sketch, made the pattern and sewed the garment myself. This was when I first started going to fashion school. Prior to that when I was in high school, I really didn't know much about patterns and sewing, so I would just wing it with a glue gun.
JH - How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?
AC - It really depends on why type of garment and how complicated it is. For a pair of underwear from start to finish about 30 minutes. As for a pair of pants, anywhere from two hours to three hours.
JH - Describe the general process you go through to design and realize a piece of clothing.
AC - The design process starts with the fabric. My design is all about comfort, because underwear is the closest thing to your body, so you want it to feel as good as possible. After I have decided on the fabric, then I will come up with a certain cut I would like to use. A lot of my cuts are derived from my personal need or want for a product. I then play with color and combinations of colors to make a cohesive collection. I love playing with colors and how they react together or can play off each other. Once I have decided the design is complete I work with my production team on fitting the garments. We sometimes go through 5-6 fittings on a pair of underwear before we release to production. I guess you can say I'm a perfectionist.
JH - Who are some of your favorite designers?
AC - My favorite designer is Karl Lagerfeld. He is so prolific and always seems to keep innovating and introducing new concepts and ideas. He doesn't rest on his laurels and is always pushing boundaries, this is why he is still relevant. I also love the fact that he has created himself as an iconic image, even people who don't follow fashion can recognize him.
JH - How do you select your models?
AC - Casting, casting, casting. I see so many models on a weekly basis it's pretty crazy. Once I held an open casting and 300 people showed up, there was a line around the block. I can tell you that was a long day.
JH - Do you consider yourself an artist?
AC - I consider myself 40% artist 60% business person. I think to be successful in fashion you have to be business savvy these days and market yourself correctly. There are tons of really talented designers out there that don't make it because they are lacking the business side or somebody to back them up. At the end of the day we cannot create if we are not commercially viable.
JH - What matters to you most as a fashion designer?
AC - The most important thing to me is how my products and designs change peoples lives. Yes, the underwear looks hot on models, but they are really designed for real people with real bodies in mind. If I can make somebody feel better about themselves or have more confidence then I have done my job. I once met a guy who told me he used to weigh 300 lbs and lost 120 lbs so that he could fit into a pair of Andrew Christian underwear. I never thought that my creations could have a positive influence and healthy change on somebody's life. It's truly an honor.
JH - How do you prepare for a fashion shoot or show?
AC - I always like to take a zen moment and meditate to myself. It's sort of the calm before the storm. Fashion shoots are really hectic and you have to think on the fly, but when all is said and done I am so happy when the shoot is over and I can convey my artistic vision to the public.
JH - What advice do you have for aspiring fashion designers?
AC - Be focused and persistent. I had many years of struggling and trying to get my foot in the door, but I never gave up. I have had so many people say no to me or didn't understand my vision, but I stuck with it and never gave up.
JH - How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
AC - California metro casual. There is an easy California lifestyle to my designs, but I also keep in mind I sell my garments worldwide. It's actually really cool that so many people from so many differing countries can identify with my designs. It's even better when I am half way around the world in Europe or Asia and run into somebody wearing one of my designs.
JH - Where do you get your inspiration?
AC - I am inspired by life, light and color.
JH - What are your favorite fabrics to work with and why?
AC - I love bamboo fiber. The best thing about bamboo is that it's super soft, the drape ability is excellent as well. Bamboo is also a sustainable fiber and more eco friendly than cotton, so it's a win-win.
JH - Future Plans?
AC - My focus for 2013 is expanding my sportswear line. It has been hugely successful in 2012 with most styles selling out as soon as they come into stock. What a lot of people don't know is that I started my company designing sportswear, but it's when I started making underwear about six years ago when people really started to take notice of me. I am also introducing a jewelry collection this year. I'm really excited about the jewelry, it's really cool designs at a great price point.
For more on designer Andrew Christian - Check out his site.