Originally from the Bay Area, Pepper moved to NYC to develop her independence and find motivation in the busy city lifestyle. As an aspiring designer, the world can expect innovation from this young creator as she aspires to develop unisex clothing for all, restraining from the notions of “Boy and Girl” clothing. She, herself, makes bold statements with her own closet, taking from inspiration around her and transforming merchandise to create new and innovative looks. Pepper, a first year college student, has had the chance to meet and work with designers such as Dertbag, and walk in fashion week 2018. She promotes emphasis on small brands as she sets out to create her own. Pepper embarks on a new generation of fashion, stemming from practicality, personality, self expression and transcending beyond gender norms.
What is your background with the fashion industry and what sparked your interest?
My background with fashion was very slowly built over many years. Neither of my parents are actively involved with or passionate about fashion or designing, but my mom is really amazing at sewing and taught me how to sew when I was young. She would knit, sew, crochet, and make hats every once in a while, and I always admired how she taught herself so many skills without any help. During high school I began to play around with clothing more and developing my own style. A lot of people that I’ve connected with in fashion, from California and New York alike, have driven me to further enjoy and be inspired by fashion.
How would you describe your personal style and relationship with clothes?
I don’t think there’s a very specific category that I would place my personal style into, but I suppose I like making combinations based of streetwear that wander off into other categories too, mainly early 2000s, late 90s, and some 70s looks.
Clothes have helped me build friendships, connect with amazing people, and let me build my creative side up.
As a young woman aspiring to work in the fashion industry, what are your goals? What do you want to bring to the industry?
Although there are a lot of amazing older designers, both male and female, who have really brought the industry to the scale and importance it holds today, I think now is really the time for younger designers, especially women and minorities, to take fashion in a new and more all-encompassing direction. I want to bring my ideas of inclusion and practicality to the industry, and I want to work on shining the spotlight onto smaller designers and brands. I hope that I can make a change on the way we think about clothing and the way that clothes are marketed, as well as pushing bigger brands to reimagine how clothes should be worn. (see question below)
Is there anything within the fashion industry, to you, that needs improvement? Such as representation, body shape/image, gender, race, and or age?
First off, as stated above, there needs to be a higher focus on designers of different backgrounds. We need to be supporting designers of all genders and races, as well as letting people of a younger age express their creativity and encourage them to participate in fashion. Nobody should be excluded from sharing their ideas and creativity.
Personally, I want to bring two more specific improvements to the industry. First, I want to make that is as much practical as it is fun to wear. Women shouldn’t have to sacrifice having pants pockets to have cute pants, and we shouldn’t have to look bulky or boring to have clothes that are useful. Second, I want to improve the options in clothing to people who are not gender binary. There are not a lot of clothing brands that make unisex clothing interesting and fun to wear, rather than completely bland or unflattering. I want to work on opening up this market and letting people have more options that don’t just scream “girl” or “boy”.
As an aspiring designer, who is your audience? What story are you trying to tell if any? What is your brand?
I am trying to send a message to others that they should reconsider the inclusivity of their brand and designs. My audience is, of course, open to anyone, but I am mainly trying to target younger people who also strive for the same vibes and end goal as me.
How was your experience walking in NYFW?
I had a TON of fun walking in NYFW, not necessarily because of the physical act of walking down a runway, but because of all the people I met. Moving to NYC, I wasn’t able to meet anyone with the same style and interests as me, especially at school, but going to the shows and walking allowed me to make a lot of valuable connections. I made a ton of new friends who I’m still in contact with, and got to meet a lot of inspirational designers such as Dertbag and Shaykawaii. Walking itself was pretty scary, but there were so many people supporting me and hyping me up beforehand that I was too pumped to be nervous. In addition, I loved the clothes I was wearing and knew I was FLEXING on stage.
What are you currently working on? What is your vision for the work you will create?
Currently, I am creating and sketching out a collection for next year. I love looking at patterns and colors on Pinterest, then seeing which ones would improve the meaning and message in my designs. I visit the fabric stores in the Garment District often, and like to collect fabric swatches there which I then match up with my designs and play around with. In May I will be beginning to experiment more technically with some designs, and sew some of the more basic pieces in order to get a feeling for what I will be working with. Right now I’m really into accessorizing my pieces with buckles, straps, chains, pockets, etc., and will continue to bring this into my clothes. I also love vibrant colors and stretchy fabrics, so my coming clothes will be incorporating all these elements.
Pepper will end her first and last year this May in liberal arts college as she plans to dedicate her time to learning more technical skills in fashion school, rather than liberal arts education, giving her the time to innovate, inspire, and develop the brand she has always wished to create.
Interview by: Chloë Felopulos