Jamie Ashkar is an up and coming fashion designer who is making bold yet intricate clothing with a seemingly minimalist ease about them. Jamie was also recently a contestant and finalist on Season 4 of Project Runway Australia aired on Arena TV.
I spoke to Jamie about his fashion label, the Project Runway experience and his future goals.
Q: At only 23 you have really started to make a name for yourself in the fashion industry, how pleased are you with your success so far and has it been surprising or do you put it down to hard work and determination?
A: Really it may sound like a cliche but I really do put my growing success down to hard work and determination. I have a real love for what I am doing and I have realised that success just doesn’t come to you, you have to go out and get it and working hard is part of building your success.
Q: You worked in Interior Design first how easy was it to make the transition to fashion design?
A: After studying and working for three years in interior design I realised that I wanted to move to something that allowed me to be more hands on, more tactile and fashion seemed the logical transition. Interior design is more about working with a computer where fashion design allows me to work directly with the materials and I love that aspect. It is also much more people orientated too. While I come up with the style and look of the designs myself it is also great to listen to my customers and to what they want.
Q: When did you first make the move into fashion designing?
A: It was about the end of 2009 and I had just started to do some freelance fashion designing that I decided it was time to make a more permanent move into the fashion industry. I started attending Spotlight sewing classes once a week and came up with two new designs each week. From there I went to St George College of Fashion to study fashion design for two years and I started to sell my clothes at various Sydney markets.
Q: You say on your website that your label “pushes minimalism through line, geometry and bold prints” can you explain this concept a little further?
A: I love putting the attention on the lines in the designs, this stems back to my Interior Design background for sure but this doesn’t mean that the garments are simple to make, there is a lot of intricate detailing in most of the garments to make them appear minimalist.
The prints I design myself too. I love coming up with new patterns and thinking about colours and getting the fabric made up. I usually have a clear vision about what clothes I will make based on the patterns in the fabric.
Q: What helps to inspire your designs?
A: I’m inspired by everything around me really. I’m probably looking at the lines and movement of things and thinking about how I can transform this into my clothes. Fabrics are particularly important in the design process for me. I love working with natural fibres such as silks, fabrics that are luxurious and wonderful to work with as well as being wonderful to wear. The better quality fabrics may cost a little more but you can do more with them from a design perspective, they allow you more scope to try new techniques and they give a great end result.
Q: How did you applying for Project Runway come about and what has been the best thing about the Project Runway experience for you?
A: Friends and customers kept saying I should go for auditions for Project Runway but it wasn’t until one customer put the call for contestants link on their Facebook site that I thought ok I’ll give it a go. By that stage there was only about a week left until applications closed so I got myself organised and put in an application and well, I got called in.
It has been an amazing experience. I think what I have learnt the most is that I’m capable of working under pressure and that I can produce quality garments within a tight time frame. I’ve learnt not to dwell over each piece but have faith in what I’m designing and just go for it!
Q: What other projects do you have lined up?
A: Now Project Runway is finished filming is I’m concentrating on re-launching my website and working on a new collection. I’m hoping the re-launch of the website will happen late December early January and I would like to have a collection together to showcase in April at the Mercedes Fashion Show.
Q: What are your goals for the label?
A: There has just been me and mum helping out where she can until the Project Runway experience, now due to increased interest and demand I will probably employ one or two people on a part time basis to start with to assist. It is great to be getting enquiries from across Australia and overseas but I want and need to be ready to meet this demand.
Prior to Project Runway I was making 2-3 collections a year, this will probably continue for the moment. I tend to put an emphasis on trans-seasonal clothing so customers can get more from each piece. My clothes are more directed at after 5 and evening wear but I like to think that they are versatile and wearable. I call them statement staples that you can mix and match.
Q: Where can people currently buy your clothes?
A: At present people can buy directly from the Jamie Ashkar website but keep an eye out for new stockists by the New Year.
Jamie has just released his latest collection online so pop on by to see some of the gorgeous designs that were featured in his first runway show in the finale of Project Runway Australia. While the winning designer was Christina Exie all the finalists are winners just to get through each weeks fast-paced and often demanding tasks. Well done to Jamie, Christina Exie, Leah De Gloria and Tristan Melle, who all produced innovative, fashion-forward collections for the finale. Now we wait for Season 5!
You can also find links to Jamie on Iced Vovo’s Fab Finds page.
(As coincidence has it Jamie’s parents also own a Pizzeria in the same town I spent my teenage years, North Richmond, NSW! Photos courtesy of Jamie Ashkar.)