Meet Autumn Adeigbo, The Designer Who Doesn’t Care About Fashion Week
Thirty-year-old Autumn Adeigbo is a relatively new-to-us designer, and only has two collections under her belt, but the New York native is actually quite the industry vet. After studying at Parsons, she worked with design legend Betsey Johnson, stylist Leslie Fremar, Sex and the City‘s costume designer Rebecca Weinberg, and a whole slew of celebs like Julianne Moore, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Jennifer Connelly, just to name a few. Now, the self-taught designer has started her own eponymous line, and is already in early talks with major department stores and boutiques.
We recently had the pleasure of sitting down with the designer, during which we bonded over Bikram yoga and high heels. Read on to find out her more about her African-inspired (and charitable!) collections, biggest design dream, and why she doesn’t get caught up in all the New York Fashion Week hype.
Your brand is focused on giving back to the community, tell us more about that.
I partnered with Women for Women International, so in 2011, I sponsored a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo for a whole year and helped transform her life. I donate a percentage back from the sale of each dress, and I always build it into the price of everything. I want to build my brand to the point where I can donate millions each year. If you’re making so much money as a business, and not giving any of it back, what does that mean? To me, that’s nothing. A lot of wealthy people give back, but I feel like if every brand just gave back to a charity, imagine what we could do in the world.
How do you react when you see women in your clothes?
I’m very critical. I’m a Virgo Rising, and we notice the fault in things. So the first thing I notice is what’s wrong with it. I want a woman to love the clothes, and instead of seeing what’s great about the outfit, I’m always thinking about what needs to be fixed. I want the woman to feel comfortable and amazing. As a stylist and having worked in retail, I know the experience of watching someone put something on and feel great, so I want that for my customer. I want to keep growing and learning, and knowing what works and what doesn’t work for my girl.
You’ve got a few collections under your belt, but you’ve never shown at New York Fashion Week.
I’m not into Fashion Week. I got invited to events this season, but I didn’t even go to any of them! I was too spent after putting so much time and energy into completing my own collection. I’ll do a runway show or a presentation when I have to, but Fashion Week isn’t why I’m in the industry. A lot of times when I talk to backers, they’re tell me, ‘Well, I hope the only thing you don’t think you’re doing is putting on a $50,000 runway show and expect your line to take off.’ A lot of neophyte designers get caught up in the glitz and glamour. And then there’s the politics of Fashion Week, like making sure all the right people are there — editors and buyers are already very committed, and have a hard time getting around to every show!
Who are your industry idols?
Artistically, I love houses and designers like Lanvin, Oscar de la Renta, Dries Van Noten, Duro Olowu, and Azzedine Alaïa. Business-wise, I think Tory Burch and her brand — I mean, she’s been around for, what — eight years? She’s gone global, it’s out of this world! I used to say I wanted to be like Coco Chanel, but now I think that Tory is like Coco, so now, I want to be like Tory. It’s great to be around someone of that stature and have a role model.
Your brand is young, but still very successful — what’s your biggest dream for the brand?
My biggestest dream for the brand is to transform the lives on those in Africa through my label. I’m also a hip-hop girl, I love the music. I think there are some issues that need to be cleaned up, like the misogyny and the materialism. But with that materialism comes with all the designer names they love to drop, and I want to dress those hip-hop girls. I feel like my clothes are very eye-catching, and it’d be cool if my name was said in a song, I would love that. I’m also really excited to do shoes one day. I like to put on my clothes and say that I’m wearing my brand head-to-toe, but I’m really not — yet!
For more of Adeigbo, check out pieces from her fall 2012 and spring 2013 lines right here, and head on over to her site for more: