The fashion industry is turning their focus on natural fibre, wool especially with the recent growing desire among consumers to “buy local”, “know your farmer”, “be eco-friendly”, “connect with nature”, “make urban/farm connection” for which fiber-producing animal agriculture is an excellent fit. By making the critical connections between farms, processors, manufacturers, designers, and consumers we intend to utilize and help shift these emerging trends to support and promote locally produced, many fashion designers set trends that emerge in design of garments for the masses. South Africa is rising as the hippest hub for art, music, and fashion and hitting the runway for BFW 2014 is designer Richard Fitz. He is a South African native who designs some of the most innovative fashion out of natural fibers and wool.
Getthebuzz716: Tell me a little about your brand. Where are you from?
Richard Fitz: My brand focuses on unusual garments, mainly wool garments that are hand felted from raw wool and other natural fibers. I am a South African brand and aim to work locally to source my material to make my product. I also aim to take part in social uplifting through the non-profit organization 'Faith Foundation Ventures'.
Getthebuzz716: What does fashion week Brooklyn mean to you?
Richard Fitz : It gives me a great platform to display my work, as for South African’s it is a big deal to show overseas in a city like New York. It is also great to have had the opportunity to show there as it acts as a kind of learning process as well. Instead of showing at a major event such as New York Fashion week where it can be a bit unforgiving, you have the chance to show at a big event but with more support and less consequences for mistakes that can in truth only be learnt through experience.
Getthebuzz716: How would you define your Brand ?
Richard Fitz : Innovative, always looking for a way to push boundaries and always asking the question “why can’t I do that?” I like to believe that there are only limits when you give up trying to think of a way to remove them.
Getthebuzz716: How long does it usually take you to construct a piece?
Richard Fitz : About 2-4 days
Getthebuzz716: Describe the general process you go through to design and What's your favorite part about conceptualizing a design?
Richard Fitz : I look at pictures for a starting point on one or two items and then from there I try not to look at too many pictures. I can develop an idea in my head and build the collection as I go without other pictures and I feel that if I look too much at picture for inspiration I am not truly designing my own designs. I then move quickly from paper to felting my garments, molding and draping on a mannequin as I work best when I am hands on and working with the garment. If patterns are needed I do that before felting. My favorite part of conceptualizing is molding and working with the garment on the mannequin, as this is when I fin the most ideas fill my mind. As I see my work unfolding and shaping on the mannequin my mind plays with more ideas.
Getthebuzz716: What matters to you most as a designer?
Richard Fitz : That the garments I design and make in some way surprise me. With the technique I use of hand felting and molding, each garment comes out differently, making them one of a kind. Also this process allows for a lot of playing with ideas in the process of the garment being made. This mean that a lot of the garments turn out different to how I started it and sometimes I am surprised at how well they turn out when it’s done and that means a lot to me, when my garment exceeds even my expectation of beauty and uniqueness.
Getthebuzz716: What do you believe makes a quality design ?
Richard Fitz : One that catches your attention and makes you desire to look longer or study the garment more closely.
Getthebuzz716: How would you define the style your line exemplifies?
Richard Fitz : Unusual, different, raw.
Getthebuzz716: What are some of your fashion goals?
Richard Fitz : Regularly be showing runway collections. -Build a self-sustaining business that funds me and frees me up to focus on designing runway collections. -To never create a bland collection, to keep my collections entertaining and interesting, always with unusual elements. -Push boundaries. -Have a legacy in the fashion industry, something that I start or try that is remembered years after I stop designing.
Getthebuzz716: What other experience do you have in the fashion industry (stylist, retail, marketing, etc.)?
Richard Fitz : I don’t really have other experience, I studied fashion design and while studying I assisted one of two designers in the industry with collections. Then when I finished studying I started my company, Delta-phi.
Getthebuzz716: What are your favorite patterns/materials [prints] to work with and why?
Richard Fitz : Felting raw wool and other natural fibers. It is so creative and unhindered by rules. The process allows for so much improvisation and freedom in shaping, molding and overall design. I remove all seams when I felt a garment and as far as I know this hand felting is the only real way to construct a garment with no seams.
Getthebuzz716: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?