Stitched Together 

From classic menswear to perfectly bedazzled pasties, a diverse community of designers speaks out on what makes Richmond’s fabric unique.

Anthony Lupesco
Founder and chief executive, Shockoe Denim

What it's like being a designer in Richmond?  

Richmond has been great to us in so many ways. I think the most refreshing thing is how collaborative we are as a community. I think that's because we believe in each other, and not just ourselves. And at the end of the day, we share in each other's successes. Because of that, we're putting Richmond on the map for fashion design.

Where would you say this city falls on the style spectrum?

To me style is not just about how you dress, it's about how you eat, what you're listening to, where you're going after work. Richmond, especially in the last few years, could go head to head with just about any city in the country. I think we'd look pretty damn good doing it too.
What inspires you creatively?

I love seeing the imperfect — whether it's a beautiful woman with a crooked nose, or a scarred tree. The imperfections share a truer story. They add depth and character. That's why I am so attracted to denim — as you wear it, each fade, tear, and scuff has a story behind it.

As a designer, what haven't you done yet that you'd like to try?

I would love to design a plane, though I should probably take a few courses in aerodynamics first. In the meantime we're working on adding outerwear and chinos to our collection.

 

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST

Angela Bacskocky
Founder and designer, Angela Bacskocky

What it's like being a designer in Richmond?

It's definitely challenging being far from other fashion Meccas and doing most of your fabric sourcing online, because we don't have as many resources right here. But at the same time it's super cozy and you get a great hometown response to everything you do. That's definitely exciting. It also affords you things like a bigger, more comfortable studio space.

How do you stay ahead of trends?

I'm so bad at trends. I really go with my gut, but like anyone else there are artists, magazines and blogs that I follow to be aware. If you are passionate about fashion, it's your job to know what everybody else is doing. I don't limit it to fashion; I also look at art and pop culture in general. As with anything, you have to be on top of things if you want to be relevant.

Where would you say this city falls on the style spectrum?

Richmond has a really cool variance. We have a Southern, preppy scene and a lot of old money, with rich women who dress nicely, but there's also the art community with grungy cool kids pushing boundaries. Then, there's places like Need Supply that carry Scandinavian brands and other edgy stuff right here in town. As a whole, I think we're hip and progressive.

As a designer, what haven't you done yet that you'd like to try?

I still haven't done an official menswear line, and I really want to. It's a daunting task. I've also been thinking about children's clothing lately too. I'll probably do that in the next year or so.

 

click to enlarge ASH DANIEL

Deepa De Jour
Producer and performer, The Richmond Burlesque Revue

What it's like being a designer in Richmond?

What I'm designing for is an audience of people that are looking at my body, so I'm creating something that I know will look good on me. It also has to look good up close, because I take pride in the details, but also look good from far away as well. I do commission stuff and make things for other performers, but not often. I know how much burlesque performers make and the cost of materials. I don't feel like I can justify charging that kind of money. I'd rather have them come over and show them how to do it and help that way.

How do you connect to the world outside Richmond?

I've made connections with other performers at shows and learned about available materials from those outside sources who've been doing this for years, which really had an impact on my work. There also are many burlesque costuming groups on Facebook. There's definitely a good Internet community for it.

What inspires you creatively?

Vintage fashion, from about 1910 through the '60s. Everything from the draping, colors and textures. In the '20s, a lot of flappers were making their dresses out of things they just had lying around and doing intricate work to make their own thing. The glamour they were able to put together is inspiring. Also art deco, old photographs and the vintage burlesque glamour queens with their panel skirts and really pointy bras.

As a designer, what haven't you done yet that you'd like to try?

Structured garments for burlesque. I'd like to venture into corset-making and the technical parts of what inspires burlesque, which is more historically accurate. It requires a lot more patience than I currently have.

 

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST

Gabriel Ricioppo
Creative Director, Need Supply Co.

What it's like being a designer in Richmond?

There is a good design scene here, probably in large part to [Virginia Commonwealth University's] program and all the designers coming out of it. When I first moved here, I realized it was mainly print-based, but I'm starting to see more and more strong digital work in Richmond.

How do you connect to the world outside of Richmond?

During my time in Atlanta I got really involved with the international design scene, which came about with the growth of the Web. It changed everything. I have as many friends around the world as I do here in town. Location became less important to friendships — it's more about common interests and design preferences.

How do you stay ahead of trends?

Trends probably creep into my subconscious, but I don't think about it much. If you're engrossed in something and look at it every day, there is a likelihood you'll move on to the newest aspects of it.

Where do you see Richmond design in 10 years?

I'm really excited about what's happening in Richmond right now. So many of the old buildings are being rehabbed and occupied by young businesses. Many of the students that would have graduated and taken off to [New York] are seeing more opportunity here for a career. I think that trends will only pick up as more progressive business grow from within the current population or move in from outside markets.

What inspires you creatively?

I'm driven by many things: clean lines, simplicity, a love for minimal environments. When I see something that inspires me I want to create my own. I've never been one to see what others are doing and wish I could do that. I'll just go do it. If someone else can make it happen, why can't I? It's fun to build a brand others can appreciate.

 

click to enlarge ASH DANIEL

Paul Trible
Cofounder and chief executive, Ledbury

What it's like being a designer in Richmond?

What's interesting about Richmond is you've got this creative community that's at the forefront, so you're always exposed to art, design and culture. For being such a small city, it's always prevalent, and I think that fosters creative thinking. That combined with the historical elements of the city.

How do you stay ahead of trends?

Trend can almost be a dirty word at times [laughs]. The beauty of what we do is that it's menswear, and with that comes classicism of men's clothing which kind of protects us from missing trends. That said, we're always trying to stay relevant. We got really lucky that the clothes we grew up wearing here in Virginia happens to be relevant right now.

Where do you see Richmond design in 10 years?

We have a chance to be one of the cities at the forefront of design, not just clothing. We have this mixture of the creatives and an environment where that can flourish. It's low cost, with a great school that's feeding into it, and a community that's supportive. The richness of our authentic, Southern authentic history is something many places don't have. People are going to gravitate to that unique aesthetic.

Do you draw on any aspects of the city itself?

Certainly. We're a group of designers building on our historical roots. Ledbury is kind of buttoned up and conservative in terms of design, but we also push the envelope with casual styles and certain prints. I think much of our design aesthetic is becoming representative of the city which is part older, more conservative Southern roots, and part progressive.

As a designer, what haven't you done yet that you'd like to try?

Women's wear. We are big fabric people and what you can start playing with in that space would be really interesting.

 

click to enlarge SCOTT ELMQUIST

Neil Thomas
Founder and designer, BAH-RVA

What it's like being a designer in Richmond?

The city offers an incredible network of support and encouragement. With things like RVA Fashion Week and the amount of boutiques and entities that want to see young people succeed, there's an insane amount of avenues for designers to push their wares and themselves creatively.

How do you stay ahead of trends?

I'm really lucky to be doing something that's super popular at the moment. I try to walk a line between being in my own bubble and occasionally taking peeks at what else is going around. I don't want to be constantly influenced one way or the other by other brands and such, but it's important to know what else is going on now and again.

Where would you say this city falls on the style spectrum?

I think many people in Richmond would say pretty high, but from outside I think it's kind of ignored. You only need to head out to a party at Bellytimber or Balliceaux, for example, to see how great and diverse the fashion here is. You could grab a dozen different people from the same bar and see a dozen different and amazing styles.

What inspires you creatively?

Things that make me laugh, '90s hip-hop and music in general. Mostly, not having a hat I want! I started BAH because I really wanted a new hat and couldn't find one liked.

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