When it comes to the world of fashion, there is no specific standard or structure. Your job, as a designer, is to make well made clothes that either make a statement, or appeal to a large enough audience to be worn. Occasionally, if you’re lucky, your design(s) will do both. This brings me to Amanda Welch, a fashion designer from the DMV that toes the line between grunge and high fashion. Producing pants, bodysuits, capes, dresses and more, each with an individualized detailed that’ll make you say, “Wow!” Every piece she creates is versatile, unique and carries a specific style that screams, “You’re wearing Amanda Welch!” Making them ideal for statement pieces and everyday wear, alike. Despite the demand of customers and the uncreative, ever conforming, competition. She has continued to stand out and grow because of her drive and uncommon concepts of clothing. Check out my interview with her below to get a peek of what it means to be Amanda Welch and an inside scoop of what we can expect from her next line, “The Phoenix”.
When did you first get into design? I’ve always loved fashion! I went to Virginia State for college but I was a really bad student. I never went to class or anything! When I registered, you were required to take a clothing construction class but I always skipped it, and ended up getting a withdrawal from the class with an incomplete for my grade. Then one day, after college, I just started designing and it stuck! You should see the first pair of shorts I made though. They were awful! Did you notice a big difference in you enjoyment of design and fashion when you moved away from the structure of a classroom? It definitely made it more of a creative outlet, opposed to the structure of a classroom. Most of my clothing is black. Which everyone keeps telling me, “stop doing black!” But that’s my thing. I like the grungy, attitude-y, kickass look. I’ve actually only been designing for a couple years and the line I showed at RVA Fashion Week was my first collection.
I know you are just getting started, but do you know what your next move or end goal is? I think a lot of designers end goal is having a fashion house or moving to New York or something like that but I really just want to be Amanda and sew. I don’t really have an end goal like, making it big time or being famous or anything. I just want to be me and be an artist and make things. I just want to create what I want to create, when I want to create it. That’s why, at this point, I don’t really like working directly with customers because that takes away from me being able to do what I want to do, the way I want to do it. Does that sound bitchy? I hope not, haha. Even at your first show, which was RVA Fashion Week, you wore a jacket that said “Not Today Satan”. With that being said, how is it that you’d like your brand perceived? I just want it to be me!! I don’t even have a solid name, like Chanel has STitch or there is Angelia’s Couture, but really, I just want to be Amanda Welch. I don’t really want to have a “brand” or anything. I just want people to look and be like, “This is Amanda. This is her stuff!” That’s it.
Do you feel like with staying away from a “brand” it gives you the ability to be yourself more than someone who has to conform to their audience? Yeah! I feel like it gave me the opportunity to reinvent myself. When you have a brand, it seems like people expect certain stuff from you. Say you were someone who likes to make punk style clothing, then that becomes your brand. It becomes an expectation of your designs. Where as, maintaining a “brand” that is just me, allows me the freedom to make punk clothing or salsa inspired pieces or tropical or whatever else I want. I like to make clothing that you wouldn’t see anywhere else or experience walking down the street. Where do you find your inspiration? I really like Oscar De La Renta for his beautifully made, luxury style clothing. I also really like Marchesa for their flowy, dreamy and feminine styled designs. Chanel, on the other hand, is classic and a little boring to me sometimes. Honestly, I look at a lot for different designers for inspiration just based on what I feel like designing at that moment. When I am feeling inspired by someone specific though, I won’t look at other designers. Just whoever inspires me to create that specific style.
With you being a designer, do you buy a lot of clothing or do you make most of it yourself? It’s honestly a mix. Say you make something, for example, a pair of pants I may be envisioning. I know it’s likely going to be more expensive for me to make it based on the material, plus the time I’d have to invest. Where as, manufactured clothing is obviously cheaper since it is imported and being mass produced. So yeah, buying certain clothing is cheaper. I thrift a lot though! So it’s inexpensive and I’m still getting clothing that no one else has! I’m spoiled because of it now though. When I go to the mall and see a shirt for $20, I’m like, “Yeah, right!” I know we’re still pretty far out but, do you have an idea of what we can expect from your fall line? Yeahhhhh, I do! The full inspiration is going to be.. The Phoenix! Meaning, it’s going to include a lot of transformation pieces and surprises. When I participate in a fashion show, I like to put on a show! I don’t want people’s thoughts to be, “Oh, her clothes are nice!” I want them to be, “Oh my god, look at that head piece!” or “I had no idea something like that was about to come out!” That’s when you’ve put on a show, when you have that “Awe!” factor. It’s crazy too because from the audience, you probably wouldn’t have known but so much stuff went wrong at my first show. I had a pre-assigned assistant and I would look at my models like, “Who dressed you?!?!” or “Why didn’t they tighten that up?” I was a bit anxious but overall, it came out really well!
Stay tuned this fall for a follow up interview and insiders look at her upcoming line, “The Phoenix” and check her out on IG today at @mandalive!