If there were to be an official drink of the fashion industry, Diet Coke would almost certainly be it. They’ve hooked up with everyone from Karl Lagerfeld to (a very shirtless) Marc Jacobs, and have just kicked off their second season of the Young Designer Challenge with the help of Target, Taylor Swift, and Rebecca Minkoff. We talked to the powerhouse NYC designer about what she’ll be looking for in the winning design and how a t-shirt jumpstarted her career.
Styleite: So tell us a bit about this partnership.
Rebecca Minkoff: Diet Coke for the second year is now teaming up with me and their previous partner, Target, and it’s the Young Designer Challenge so any aspiring designer can enter, which is different than last year. You have to be 18 or older and you get the chance to win $10,000, meet Taylor Swift, and of course have your winning design in Target stores nationwide.
What will you be looking for in the winning design?
The three things I’m looking for are innovation, creativity, and being individualistic.
Why did you want to partner with Diet Coke?
I’m a big Diet Coke drinker, so when they approached me to be one of the judges it resonated with me because I, too, started with a t-shirt [Ed note: it was this one, in 2001]. So if you can start with a t-shirt and end up with a lifestyle brand like I have now, I think it’s a great opportunity to give that exposure to aspiring designers anywhere.
Will you be tagging along on the trip to Nashville to see Taylor Swift perform?
If I could I would. I don’t know if I’ll be able to make it but I’ll be watching from afar.
Have you seen Marc Jacobs’ shirtless Diet Coke ads?
I have and I think they’re incredible.
Fashion designers are partnering with everything from ice cream brands to hotels these days. Is there anything out there that you would love to get your hands on?
I don’t have anything that comes to mind right now but I’m always open to new opportunities and if it’s the right fit like Diet Coke was then I’ll definitely explore it, but right now my partnership is with them.
What are you most excited to start wearing this summer?
Well it’s finally starting to warm up here in the city so I’m excited to be able to start wearing tank tops, dresses, bright colors — anything that feels more summery than wintery at this point.
Dressing for the office is always particularly challenging when it gets hot and humid out. Do you have any tips?
I think one thing that I try to do in my design is make things that can take you from day to night so that if you’re wearing a great dress with a blazer over it you can take the blazer off for you to go out. I know for me I don’t go home and change before I go out and I don’t think my customer does, so I really try to focus on making sure she can transition into leaving the office.
To take a crack at the Young Designer Challenge, submit your design at here before May 31.