It’s incredible to watch the evolution of a designer and their work, especially when the designer starts their creative journey as an undergraduate student. One designer who I’ve had the great fortune to watch as she continues to raise the bar is Jessica Fulks of Lache'. We first met in 2006 through my nonprofit organization MorLove, which encouraged students to upcycle unwanted apparel and textiles into new garments. Along with a dedicated group of students and faculty, we raised funds for an orphanage in Jinja, Uganda and provided additional resources for schools throughout the globe.
The very first project Jessica participated with was the creation of one-of-a-kind T-shirts we sold to raise funds for Amani Baby Cottage in Jinja. Following her involvement with MorLove, Jessica continued to enhance her sewing and design skills, participate in many fashion shows throughout the Southeast region, and win several awards for her designs. I remember falling in love with Jessica’s latest design and style direction during the 2011 Redress Raleigh fashion show. She brought an edgy vintage element to the show, mixing preppy outfits with punk-rock sass and sports letter jackets with suit pants.
Looking back, I see Jessica’s 2011 spring collection as the foundation for her current design style. Today Jessica is the owner and executive designer of Lache', a vintage inspired brand featuring structured and tailored garments catered to the everyday man or woman - outfitting them for their professional careers, social life, and more intimate moments. Raised in Fayetteville, NC, Jessica is currently completing her graduate degree at Savannah College of Art and Design. Reflecting on her new location, Jessica says, “I have become a much more creative designer, and much more prepared to work and succeed within the fashion industry.”
Since moving to Atlanta, Jessica has continued to gain great recognition for her menswear line - receiving offers from two boutiques as well as celebrity clientele. “I think the main difference between North Carolina and Atlanta is the amount of exposure you receive here and easy access to internships while you attend school,” Jessica says. Jessica is not the only North Carolina native who has mentioned designers have greater opportunities available for them outside of North Carolina. (I’ll talk about this issue further in a future post.)
Jessica mentioned that although she’s studying fashion in Atlanta, “the fashion at SCAD cannot be compared to the surrounding fashion industry because we are held to the standards of fashion's origins such as: Madame Vionnet, Charles Frederick Worth, Martin Margiela, and Madame Gres', etc.” And while she’s surrounded by Atlanta’s more flashy and extreme fashion scene, she maintains qualities from her North Carolina roots that are very much evident in her menswear designs.
Jessica has a particular love for British Bespoke Tailoring, which naturally leads her to design menswear. “The inspiration for menswear derives from the same research I would do for womenswear. I have learned to design womenswear using menswear details as well as developing menswear incorporating womenswear details while maintaining masculinity,” says Jessica. The Lache' Fall 2013 menswear collection captures the-all-American man with simple clean lines; a great palette of blues, blacks, and deep greens; and a sense of ease that’s hard to come by.
What a difference seven years makes -- from the girl who started out with one-of-a-kind T-shirts, Jessica will soon be selling her collections in an Atlanta boutique and potentially going into production by the end of the year. “I think this year my collection will catch a lot of attention,” Jessica says -- and I agree!