Fashion and Art Curator Joi Desiree Berry sat down with Anthony James, a twenty-five-year-old fashion designer from his self-titled brand, Anthony James Online, to discuss his path as a fashion designer, education, his own perspectives on ethics and sustainability in the fashion industry, and what is next for his brand.
J: Tell us who you are and how you would describe your brand?
A: Hello, my name is Anthony, born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I started designing my own clothing in late 2017 and started a brand named ABSTRACTDyouth, which later changed to my name. I like to describe my work as the journey of finding a balance between 70s psychedelic and funk mixed with grunge and gothic kind of vibe.
A: Back in 2016-2017, I started playing with my first sewing machine and reworked a bunch of things considered “uniform”, like certain jackets, tops, and denim clothes. I really just never stopped creating and trying new things and perfecting those new things. I got into [the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, NY] in 2019 and to this day studied the structure of fashion more closely. Honestly, as far as education, I give a big credit to the focus on technicality in school. Having a brand, with an untrained eye, I felt I had something to talk about, but not under a lens that wasn’t more personal to me. Also, I have learned more about myself surrounding myself with other creators during these times and realizing that there was a lens to show.
J: You recently changed your brand from ABSTRACTDyouthTM to Anthony James. What was your motive for making this decision?
A: I created the name of my previous journey when I was younger, 22 years old actually.
However, there was always a part of me that wanted to move on from a brand to hide behind, because that’s what I used it for all the time. As I’ve gotten older, now 4 years later, mentally, I’m in a different space. I’m in my fearless and confident era because it is time for me to contribute to changing the narrative we see in fashion, respectfully of course. A brand that is more personal to me, my name where I can be a bit freer to
collaborate with other creators and tell as many stories as I can.
A: In general, sustainability is going to play a significant role in fashion moving forward. We obviously can’t keep up with the destruction of the planet for a new fur coat, just imagine if everybody just did that?! Also want to add that I hope to continue the journey of inclusion and changing the narrative. With that being said, my brand is more personal to me than ever before. I want to go deeper into everything while keeping ethics the same as I’ve always wanted.
J: Do you think trend cycles are important in fashion? Why or why not? How does your brand respond to the idea of trend cycles?
A: So for some reason, naturally, I’d say yes, because there have been jobs I’ve had that do matter. However, the idea of “trends” is something, I believe, that was created to make the selling of clothing and accessories more palatable for a customer. I think instead of thinking about trends, we need to focus more on long-term shopping. Buy higher-quality garments that will stand the test of time. Say no to fast fashion! Try to speak to designers who exist today, right before you, and have inclusive conversations, because if fast fashion becomes more powerful we can kiss the earth goodbye. We should be breeding “slower” fashion.
J: Your brand’s aesthetics and branding are excellent, especially in the way you present your work to consumers. Could you describe the steps you take to create a new collection, and how you capture and market your collection?
A: Thank you! I really do appreciate that. Honestly, I’m full of ideas and ways to approach a concept or story I want to design around. I love motifs and subtitle storytelling, where I like to start. I don’t really sketch as if that design is final, but it’s a solid start. I like to make a muslin mockup of the pieces I’ve made prior and get my favorite pair of scissors, and see where I can go from there. I’m going for more tailoring for the future and playing with that so I tend to feel freer imagining where I can take a design. Fasting forward, after muslin mockups and constantly finding a new way to approach any samples, and fittings, there’s talking to my heart, Traci, who loves to check in and see where I take the designs. I usually try and cap a collection at ten looks or less, until funding changes of course.
A: More exploring! Going to be diving more into OUR history of rock and roll, black Hollywood glamor, and grunge. I’m a fanatic for the 70s and 80s funk and how it got people through hard times. One of my goals as a designer is to show the history that was stolen from me (from us as well) as a kid, honestly.
You can find Anthony James on Instagram @anthonyjamesonline. His clothing is currently being sold at https://www.anthonyjames.online/ and Lowheads. Stay tuned for what Anthony James Online has to offer next, and support black emerging designers.