OUT! FASHION VANGUARD 2016 WINNER: ANDREW MORRISON
Meet Andrew Morrison- OUT Magazine's first Fashion Vanguard Awards winner who is also an upcoming brand overflowing with strong potential and artistry. His bold yet elegant winning piece showcased at the OUT fashion Vanguard Awards night sparked high levels of excitement among everyone at Taglyan Complex.
Few hours before his flight to New York, we got a hold of this young and talented artist to pick his brain about the OUT fashion Vanguard Awards and about his designs and inspirations.
Tell us your story in a nutshell?
Andrew: I grew up in Brockton County, New York, which is about 30 minutes North of Manhattan where all of my family still lives. I lived there in the same house that my parents still live in today. I decided to leave to go to the Fashion Institute of Technology (F.I.T.) when I was seventeen where I went to school for production management.
I basically learned the ins and outs of the fashion industry and really everything that would go into designing and producing a garment [from F.I.T.]. While I was at FIT I was required to take an internship with a company of my choice really, so I had interviewed with a few places and decided to go with a company called Paper Denim Cloth. They interviewed me and I interviewed them and it went really well.
I interned there for about three months before they hired me full-time and I began as a production assistant and I believe that I was eighteen years old. And that was really the beginning of my career in fashion.
I left FIT and really just pursued my full-time work. I went from Paper Denim to Allison Olivia to Zac Posen to Haute Hippie to smaller start-up companies that really gave me the experience of growing a brand from the very beginning; [from] the very initial thought, which is really interesting because I’ve worked for some big brands and you can kind of get lost in some of them and you can kind of, you know put so many hours into these companies and often it’s hard to see what comes back when there’s so many people working alongside of you.
After that I kind of decided to start my own collection.
I was laid off from various jobs due to the industry just failing in general and it kind of brought me to 2015 where I decided to start my own company.
A lot of my collection is inspired by womenswear, so I kind of take clothing that inspires me and make it for myself. My collection really started by me making a blazer for a dinner party. I took that blazer and I kind of just kept making clothes and it really developed into a full collection and I started doing some photoshoots and posting pictures on Instagram and it just kind of started to move faster and faster and that kind of brought me to today.
I’m still in the very beginning stage of my business. I really have a lot to figure out still and now trying to decide what stores I want to partner with and who I want to launch exclusively with so that’s been really helpful for me to be in Los Angeles because I’ve met some wonderful people. I’m really trying to decide who I’m going to work with next, what creative people I want to collaborate with which is a huge, huge thing that I feel very passionate about is collaboration with other artists whether they’re painters, sculptors, stylists, other designers. It really is something that keeps me going. I never really want to think of my brand as me being the only creative person behind it. So right now I’m spending a lot of time, you know just seeing what’s out there and seeing who reaches out to me and really loving the whole platform of Instagram has done some fantastic stuff.
How did you find out about the OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards?
Andrew: A friend of mine told me about the OUT Awards. I didn’t initially know if I would really be qualified for it. I didn’t really know what they were looking for and I submitted some photos and they showed some interest so I kept going with the application process and I just proceeded into submitting a full portfolio and I answered some questions for them. They did an interview and I really didn’t hear from them for a while. It was maybe about, I wanna say a little over a month, or maybe close to two months where I didn’t even know if I would be selected into the nomination and once they reached out and told me that I was, obviously I was very excited. OUT’s audience is definitely some of the people that I’m trying to present my collection to.
How is it winning the first OUT Fashion Vanguard Award?
Andrew: It’s amazing, it’s overwhelming. I don’t really know what emotion to kind of pinpoint or you know it’s exciting; it’s a little nerve-wracking. I definitely feel some pressure to keep going with my business, to really turn it into something that is fantastic. So it’s a lot of pressure, it’s like anything else but it’s really exciting.
What’s next after the OUT Awards? What should we look out for?
Andrew: So after the OUT Awards, I’ve been introduced to a lot of people so even during the event I met so many stylists, buyers, other models, photographers. It really has kind of just opened up the door that I feel was kind of already opened but it was like cracked opened but now I feel like it’s really more networking which I tend to not be so great at. I can kind of be a recluse sometimes and hold back. I’m not the best with meeting new people so winning the award is really a great way for me to meet new people and to be introduced to other creative people.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Andrew: My inspiration comes from a lot of things. I can’t really pinpoint one source of inspiration but I’d say that a majority of my inspiration comes from a lot of powerful people in general. A lot of it comes from powerful women like Daphne Guinness and Tilda Swinton. I love House of Cards, the television show. I draw a lot of my inspiration from Claire Underwood in general. I love Robin Wright; she’s one of my favorite actresses. She’s amazing, there’s something so cold about her and really just clean. It’s not necessarily the aesthetic of my brand at all but the vibe that she gives off is certainly something that I see my customer having.
You know somebody that is really sure of themselves really inspires me. I get a lot of inspiration from cinema; particularly Old Hollywood is something that really keeps me interested. I love black and white films.
Alfred Hitchcock is one of my favorite filmmakers. The movie, “Birds” by Alfred Hitchcock, is one of my favorites. I’ve watched that movie probably a hundred times.
Would you say that’s one of your favorite movies of all time?
Andrew: I would say it’s definitely one of my favorites; yeah for sure I have so many favorites. And now television is obviously becoming such a big thing. I don’t necessarily watch a lot of TV but I do watch a lot of Netflix so I do stream a lot for sure and that’s easy to do and I can do it wherever I want.
Music is such a huge thing. I really see my clothes on stage whether it’s the Opera or a Broadway production or different musical artists. I love Troye Sivan. He’s one of my favorite artists right now. Parson James is one of my favorites. I really am excited by new artists that maybe haven’t been discovered yet but I kind of see where they’re going which really excites me. Rolling Stones, The Beatles, obviously the oldies are amazing.
I’m really inspired by dancers, definitely by dancers. Right now I’m collaborating with some of the dancers at the American Ballet Theater. It’s really exciting. I did a project, which was styling a video for one of their principal dancers and it kind of led to another project, which I’m working on now with the American Ballet Theater. That I’m very excited about.
It’s something that really keeps me interested. I don’t necessarily only like to work within the fashion industry from a sales point of view. I don’t necessarily see myself acting as a traditional brand. Of course I need stores to buy my collection, I need customers to buy my collection but it’s also really important for me to do costume work. I see my collection as costumes, I think of lot of people do. I think it’s the way you style the look that makes it look like a real costume or an everyday costume.
It’s cool that you said costumes because I see a lot of references with the pieces that you have. You can see movement; but then there are tight pieces too that you could put all together. You say it’s a costume but I see it as wearable art as well.
Andrew: Thank you, I appreciate that. It definitely is an intention of mine. To me there are costumes that you can wear all day. I have looks that are really geared towards nighttime, going to an Opera, or going to a fantastic dinner party. A lot of it isn’t necessarily made for an event in everybody’s lives that you can wear these clothes to. A lot of it is in a full look; it’s something fantastic and even a little bit intimidating. But when you break it down it can be introduced into your everyday wardrobe, which is necessary.
Do you already have plans for your next collection?
Andrew: I just finished my Fall 2016 collection. That’s really what I’m working on introducing into the market. So after the OUT Awards, obviously that is very helpful so I’m taking my current collection that I just showed during New York Fashion Week. It was men’s fashion week in February. I launched that collection with a screening of a short fashion video that I had made with some fantastic friends of mine. The video has a friend of mine, Sephora Solomon who is in a Netflix documentary called “Advanced Style” actually, she’s fantastic. Another friend of mine, Nico Tortorello, who is an actor. Another friend of mine, Dan Donigan who’s a drag queen actually. He was on RuPaul’s Drag Race and he’s just so inspiring. His drag name is “Milk,” and he played Milk in my video so it was fantastic.
You’re surrounded with a lot of artistic people.
Andrew: Yeah, certainly a lot. And there’s Harrison Scott also who’s a Brooklyn based musician, who’s stunning and really exciting to work with. Yeah so I screened that video and now I’m really taking that collection and now I’m selling it. Of course I’m always thinking ahead into what is going to the next collection.
I sketch everyday. More so than sketching, I spend a lot of time draping fabric. I like doing fabric research, working with different Italian Mills, Japanese Mills. I do a lot of fabric research. That’s one of the most important things.
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