Self-Branded and Established before 20

Posted by Allyson Weislogel | @allysonjweislogel

The fashion industry is constantly changing with an ebb and flow of inspiration. While that freshness comes from established designers, it is also fostered among the few who defy social odds and start their own fashion endeavors before they’ve even reached the age of 20.

Of any industry to get involved with at a young age, fashion and design is one of the most difficult because of its rigorously creative and exigent requisites. But there are a select few who not only attempt to be apart of it, but actually end up excelling in the industry.

Two teens have just recently released the new seasons of their own fashion lines in hopes of making a name for themselves in this industry. Both 19 years old, each has constructed their own creative vision for the world to experience with them.

Michelle Mischler is a Penn State Sophomore from Erie, Pennsylvania where she began teaching herself to sew and design clothes by the time she was in sixth grade. Mischler began investing in her love of fashion when she would see things she wanted to wear but couldn’t afford to buy from off the rack.

“Now I see looks that I want and I think, ‘I could make that,’” says Mischler, “and then proceed to put my own original twist on it.”

Her first official line is thoughtfully titled Insecure Nudist and features hot trends like off-the-shoulder tops and hand sewn appliques on a number of the pieces. The materials used to create each piece: used bedsheets.

“I designed my entire line while sitting in my college bedroom, blasting music from the 1960’s,” says Mischler. “I was driven to capture the modern day free spirit and flower child in each piece created. I desired for each of my pieces to be unique [yet] wearable and comfortable.”

Her most interesting and revered innovation is her signature “flower pocket” where she took an everyday design and altered it by simply not sewing the bottom of the pocket so flower stems could sprout comfortably; not meant for practicality, but rather for artfulness – which is what Mischler wants her line to commemorate.

“My intentions were not grounded in making money off of my pieces,” says Mischler. “My drive came from wanting an artistic outlet; from me wanting to create something beautiful.”

Sam Tejada from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is another up-and-coming designer who currently works at Urban Outfitters as a Team Leader and is the founder of TagTimes, an epicenter for creativity and self-expression. What seemingly began as branding his artwork and occasionally repurposing clothing has recently turned into a successful first season of his own fashion line.

Taking inspiration for people, music, events and other art, Tejada was able to design captivating images that he printed onto shirts and put up for sale – first on his website, which he announced on both his personal Instagram as well as TagTimes’s, and then launched them at a Philadelphia local storefront, Creep Records Store.

“I sold a lot more at the event that I had planned because I feel a very important part of [branding] is to be able to sell to actual people, face-to-face,” says Tejada. “I plan to expand on my brand by continuing to present at more shows, continue increasing my audience on my social media platforms, and to collaborate with work with other artist, photographers, models, visual artist, and bloggers.”

An imperative aspect of launching any fashion line is self-branding. Valley asked both young designers how they felt this impacted their success.

“Insecure Nudist was my first line to have a cohesive vision,” says Mischler. “I wanted the name Insecure Nudist to be a well known phrase by the time I released the lookbook. I wanted the brand to bring to mind fields of grass and a sense of relaxation. I wanted my brand to be the cover picture of today’s modern colorful edgy hippie. It was through my vision, and the wonderful photographs by Allyson Weislogel, that this vision, this brand came to life.”

“I learned that social media is a very powerful tool,” says Tejada, “and that through knowing certain people you learn that certain communities tend to be very small and very ‘who-knows-who’, which can [actually] be used to its advantages.”

Both Insecure Nudist and TagTimes can be found online—TagTimes is available for purchase and Insecure Nudist is aimed to be ready for sale within the next year.