ThaWilsonBlock Magazine Issue62 (April 2018)

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Philadelphia, PA Fashion Designer Devon Hamwright talks Illustration, Education, & Cosmetics in an Exclusive Interview w/ Mistah Wilson


Follow Devon Hamwright on Instagram
"I did not grow up rich and getting through college was a huge financial struggle. It truly is a miracle that I finished college because the numbers said otherwise." @DevonHamwright

Mistah Wilson: Hello, Devon Hamwright! Thank you for coming through for this exclusive interview with ThaWilsonBlock Magazine. How is everything coming along?
Devon Hamwright: Everything is coming along well. Spring got hectic for me as a ton of projects came together at the exact same time. I am currently working towards getting a collection together
that will debut at the Secret Garden Fashion Show on July 21st. I’m just really focused on putting my 
energy into that for right now. The show will take place in Egg Harbor Township, NJ. I’m starting to do shows outside my hometown area. I think the event will be well attended since it was promoted since early this winter. I like to give myself time in between fashion shows so that I am not burned out and walking in with the exact same pieces.

Mistah Wilson: Before we go any further, would you mind giving the audience a quick background on yourself?
Devon HamwrightSure! I started my pre-college training at the University of the Arts. I received my associates degree in 2013 for Art & Design from Community College of Philadelphia. I received my Bachelors of Science from Philadelphia University in Fashion Design. I’ve been working ever since!

Mistah Wilson: How was life growing up for you in Philadelphia, PA?
Devon HamwrightI grew up near Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill area. The area looks extremely suburban and a lot of families are here. I went to a private school in the suburbs so I didn’t spend the majority of my time in actual Philadelphia. It was an amazing resource to have the Philadelphia Art Museum, Barnes Collection, Franklin Institute as college student. Philadelphia may have its problems but is a great place for a young professional to try to get established.
Mistah Wilson: Which came first, your interest in illustration or fashion?
Devon HamwrightI believe my interest in illustration came first. I started trying to do my best to copy interesting fashion related images that I saw online. The fashion came together definitely last. It was intellectually stimulating to see so many student designers working, cutting clothing and engaging them in conversation.

Mistah WilsonSo, tell us…What led you to become a fashion designer?
Devon HamwrightJournalists like to think there is a big story line there. I mean I am a creative person this was the path that was the best fit for me. I was exposed to the fashion industry because I got pulled into some modeling opportunities as a teenager. I also modeled for a friend of my family she owned her own local boutique.

Mistah Wilson: As far as illustration, when did you know you were a creative artist?
Devon HamwrightThere is never a moment when you “quote” know! However, there is a moment for every artist when they have to decide to stop playing around and take things more seriously. I’m
lucky that realization hit me when I was seventeen. A lot people my age are wasting their twenties partying, doing drugs and spending money to impress people that don’t care. My mindset is that I better buckle down now so that I don’t have to later on! I am going to be able to relax in my old age. It would be much harder to do what I’m doing if I was older, had multiple children and picked a different career path first.

Mistah Wilson
Do you have any experience in Cosmetics and Modeling?
Devon HamwrightGood question. I have limited area of experience in Cosmetics as career path. I know a good deal about makeup because I used to work in a spa and salon. I have nothing but admiration for makeup artists. I usually have someone else do makeup when I am doing fashion shows ( too many things to do). I modeled in high school for school fashion shows and also for my friend’s boutique in town. Modeling definitely exposed me some of the things that go on in the fashion industry. 

Mistah Wilson:
 What are some events you’ve been a part of?
Devon HamwrightI was apart of Atlantic City Fashion Week, Inspiring Teens Fashion Festival, R.A.W Artists and a quite few shows through the school Philadelphia University.

Mistah Wilson: For our younger audience reading this, how important is an education and why?
Devon HamwrightEducation can be a great tool but it is not a guarantee for success. Your education is a small part of a very long equation for success. I can’t just fall back and rest on my degree. I have to actively seek the opportunities, apply myself, follow up, and meet new people to network. I wish it was that easy to snap your fingers and have it together. I believe that my education put me on the path to becoming a designer than not having done school. It could have taken me twice as long without going to school.There are a lot of opportunities that are just plugged right in as a result of just being being enrolled in school. The benefit of the education is not just learning things but having a thriving network upon leaving the school. People forget that network from college can help them open the door for new potential jobs and internships.

Mistah WilsonWhat was your experience like going to college?
Devon HamwrightI spent 5 ½ years in college. Schools do whatever they can to keep transfer students longer. I didn’t live in the dorms so most people didn’t want to be friends with me ( not saying everyone). I skipped living in the dorms and it cut my student loans in half. However, I didn’t think not living in the dorms would make me an outsider as much as it did. I tried to just stay focused on the goal. My mom was shelling out her hard earned money. I wasn’t going home without a few wins under my belt and not get that degree. Transferring schools can be a really tough experience. All the other students bonded during freshman orientation. I came to Philadelphia University as a last semester sophomore taking some junior level classes. I got accepted to my dream school for the exact major I wanted in the beginning it is so extremely exciting. The excitements dies down the homework, tests, and projects start piling on.

Mistah Wilson: Where do you pull inspiration from when creating new things?
Devon HamwrightAnything is up for grabs for inspiration I don’t care how insane the source is. I’m going to try to pulling from new sources this year. I would say past inspirations for collections have been beautiful tropical islands, nature, street style and fine art.

Mistah Wilson: Who are some fashionistas that have influenced the designer you are today?
Devon HamwrightI would say the original girls from College Fashionista circa 2013 were like so
inspirational to me. The brand has really reached monumental professional heights that it is hard to see the original raw content from the beginning. They were showing college girls on a limited budget how to have these fashionable outfits. It’s amazing to think that I was apart of being there to build that content as an intern. I was lucky enough to meet the CEO Melissa Levin at her headquarters in NYC. That was seriously such a huge moment in my career! I also was low key obsessed with model Agyness Devin her style was so major.

Mistah Wilson: What impact do you plan on making through your work and line of designs?
Devon HamwrightAs an artist you can’t prepare or predestine the impact the work will have! The impact is heavily depends on how much the audience likes the work. I would hope to be an international force eventually. I have my work cut out for me in terms of what I have to do. We all have to start somewhere first and foremost. I would love to get more involved in social issues but sometimes I just want to make beautiful things. The issue that remains that can not be pushed to the side is that our industry wastes too much. There are ways to cut down on clothing production waste and larger companies need to be held accountable for their environmental footprint in the world. We all own clothing whether it is an expensive item or not!

Mistah Wilson: What type of fabrics do you like working with the most and why?
Devon Hamwright: I love working with sheer things. I am so overly obsessed like a child in the candy store. It just gives me so many ideas. I love working with knit. I would say knit always was a strength for me. It is so versatile and behaves differently. It is not for everyone I don’t teach knit to a lot of my beginner level students. More fashion schools should offer more classes for people to get better in handling the development of a knit garment. I also like working with different dye methods. I fail a lot but moments when I succeed are priceless! 

Mistah Wilson: What have been some challenges you’ve faced along your journey?
Devon Hamwright: I would say not having a core studio to work from in the beginning. I am much more settled into one place currently. It drove me insane working from two different studios. It was definitely a challenge seeing so many sewing products and gear not knowing what to buy. I have to strategically upgrade my gear. I’ve never crowd funded or asked people to donate for that. Money will be tight for upcoming fashion designers - just warning you now!

Mistah Wilson: What are some more of the rewarding things?
Devon HamwrightI think one of the more rewarding parts of being artist and designer is having work recognized. My reward is in my students and also having the work be loved. It’s also pretty insane when sometimes local fans recognize me from my Instagram.

Mistah Wilson: How important is giving back to the community for you?
Devon Hamwright: I would say giving back is a really big deal to me. I did not grow up rich and getting through college was a huge financial struggle. It truly is a miracle that I finished college because the numbers said otherwise. Every summer I worked like a dog to be able to order supplies, textbooks, transportation and meals on campus. That’s why I always try to make myself accessible to my fan base and those fashion hopefuls. I know how hard you have to work if you don’t have all the connections or the family money. I do try to help people when I can. People want to see companies have transparency and social responsibility. It’s definitely something my team and I will work towards once the business stabilizes financially.

Mistah Wilson: What positive, encouraging words do you have for aspiring creative fashion designers?
Devon Hamwright: I would say don’t focus on the people that don’t show you or your designs any love. You could be the most amazing designer and there will still be people that won’t care for your
style. Accept it! Move on! Find your tribe! You need to develop thick skin to be apart of the industry. Get rid of friends, partners and family members that don’t support you. The energy is better spent on bettering yourself than convincing people of your worth or talent. Invest time learning the craft anyway possible through an apprenticeship, school or self-education. It is also important not to rush through the steps. I speak to a lot people online that want to have their own boutique and sell their own designs inside the shop. That’s a great aspiration to have but learn how to sew first! Learning how to sew should not come at the end of signing paperwork to open a brick and mortar store. New business owners aren’t going to have that much free time to invest into a new skill set. Sewing is the fundamental building block to all aspirations most people seem to want.

Mistah Wilson: Where can people follow you online?
Devon Hamwright: I am pretty heavy with Instagram. It is probably my favorite social media platform You can follow me at @devthefashiongirl on Instagram. I am going to make a new twitter account for fashion design at some point. I would say my current Twitter became more centered around music and keeping up with artists I admire. It’s really important to have social media channels that all basically keep the same message coming across. I also have a Facebook business page for Devon Hamwright Designs. I recently put some product on Etsy at https://www.etsy.com/shop/DevonHamwrightDesign. I will add more inventory for pieces that are up for sale. I’ve never tried selling my designs online before so we are going to give it a shot.

Mistah Wilson: Hey, Devon Hamwright! Thank you so much for coming through for this exclusive interview with ThaWilsonBlock Magazine! It’s been an honor! If you have any shout outs you’d like to give, let’s hear it…
Devon HamwrightThanks for having me! I really appreciate what you are doing for all the local artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs out there. Just want to give a shoutout to all my students at Tulpehocken Exchange! It’s a great place for artists in the Philadelphia community to take classes and learn new skills.

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