The level of fashion-forward practicality from Latonya Adkins of HourGlass Apparel is refreshingly comforting. Her no-nonsense approach to the world of fashion has brought high-end elegant apparel to the full-figured and 'real'-sized fashion world. At an affordable price (for once).
This Arizona native's line of deeply-fabulous, ready-to-wear evening wear and clothing is quickly growing in success, evident by the fact it was recently showcased at the 2011 Phoenix Fashion Week. Latonya's quasi-recent jump into the retail world came after word of her custom-made evening wear spread like wildfire amongst friends and clients. Latonya however still remains true to HourGlass's roots by continuing to create unique one-of-a-kind and limited edition pieces. By focusing on the woman wearing the garment Latonya is able to create 'garments that fashionably stand out in a crowd, accentuating a woman's silhouette but without compromising her sophistication,” and “more importantly, my garments make women feel, and look, fabulous.”
Latonya's 15 years in the industry as a stylist, consultant, runway trainer and fashion show coordinator becomes glaringly obvious with the well-fitting pieces she has created. When we approached Latonya to ask advice for others thinking of creating their own line, she gladly accepted the opportunity to help aspiring designers:
What inspired you to get into the fashion industry?
Well…I have always loved being fashionable. I remember in high school a friend of mine said she looked forward to attending school to see what clothes I was going to have on. I always want to make a fashionable, first impression. Dressing “Real” women and focusing on the true essence of sophistication, beauty and self confidence of a woman is what inspired my creativity to design with every woman’s figure in mind.
What is your focus within the industry?
My focus within the fashion industry is to provide stunning fashions for “Real” women. I always hear women say designers do not create garments in their size. My fashions are all about shape and not size. Although I am not a plus size designer, but it is my desire for every woman to be able to wear HourGlass Apparel and feel fabulous.
What type of education did it take to get you where you are today?
Although I do not have a degree in fashion, I have a Bachelor’s degree in communication and minor in business from Arizona State University. I continue to use my education to effectively build my brand.
How has your career path progressed over the years?
My career has progressed over the years slowly, but also consistently and aggressively. I am self-taught in fashion construction so it has definitely been challenging but the time I invested has equipped and prepared me for the aggressive fashion industry. I can effectively negotiate with manufacturing companies, market my brand and understand all the cost associated with a new line.
What is your favorite part of working in the fashion/design business?
My favorite part of working in the fashion/design business is the 'business' part. Creating and designing is fabulous but it is only a hobby if a residual income doesn’t come from it.
What advice would you give to aspiring fashionistas?
My advice to aspiring fashionistas is to set goals, learn to encourage yourself and encourage yourself daily. Only have those around you that are your personal cheerleaders. Don’t procrastinate. Become knowledgeable of powerful words and recite them to yourself. The word “drive” is prophetic to me because it means determination, perseverance and discipline. The only way to “ARRIVE” is to finish and once you think you finished keep going by setting another goal.
What school(s) does your company generally recruit new hires from?
Those schools that can equip students with the necessary tools (experience, hands on, qualified) for what my company needs, such as Phoenix College, Arizona Art Institute, etc.
Do you think there is an overall increasing or decreasing need for people in the fashion industry?
I think there is great need for people in the fashion industry. I believe fashion has evolved and at the same time lost its way. However, I think there are many talented, creative minds out there waiting to be discovered.
Which roles in the fashion industry do you think will offer the best career opportunities moving forward? eg. designer, PR, entrepreneur, etc.?
All of the above, for me, are the best career opportunities moving forward. Because of my God given talent, my on-going education and my drive, they have all allowed me the opportunity to do it all.
What designer(s) or brand(s) influenced you the most as a creative professional?
I have many but Alexander McQueen is my absolute favorite.
Do you think today's jobs in the fashion industry require more of an artist's touch or business-like ruthlessness?
I think today’s jobs require both an artist’s touch to stay fashion forward and sellable as well as business-like ruthlessness to stay ahead of the competition.
Which skills do you consider to be most critical for a career in fashion?
Pattern making and basic sewing. You should know how to create your own pattern so when the job is passed on you can identify errors. Also as a artist, it is best that your hands create your vision first. You can hire someone to perfect it later.
- Take some classes or go to school for business. You don’t want to get burned. Learn how to effectively communicate with people you will be in business with.
- Strengthen or build a strong, positive attitude.
- Learn marketing strategies and find social networking groups of your interest.
- Learn about marketing plans and budgets
What do you think the future of fashion and design holds?
Check out more interviews at The Fashion-Schools.org Interview Series.