I don’t know remember how I found Smarmy Clothes, but I know that I love the clothing! Below is an interview with Lex, the brains (and hands) behind Smarmy Clothes.
1. I see that you got your BA in nursing, but then began doing fashion full time. Can you tell me a little bit about that journey? How long have you been interested in fashion and when did you realize it was viable business option?
I initially wanted to go to school for music, but it wasn’t long before I realized that I would be miserable going to school for almost anything creative. I don’t like the attitude of most art/fashion/music schools that there’s a “right” way to do things. (Their way being the right way, of course.) So science was the next best thing for me, and I’ve always had an interest in medicine. There was a nursing shortage, and the super long waiting lists for nursing schools hadn’t happened yet, so it seemed like a good fit.
Being in such a practical program, I needed some sort of creative outlet, so I started sewing. If you asked me at the time how long I’d been interested in fashion, I might have said, “never”. But looking back, even in elementary school I loved experimenting by combining different pieces from my wardrobe. When I was in 5th grade, I once wore a black mini skirt with my favorite black and white polka dot bicycle shorts underneath. I had a black tank top on with a neon green paint splattered cropped t-shirt over that. My teacher asked if I got dressed in the dark. In middle school, my favorite clothing items were some vintage t-shirts I found in my mom’s closet. And in high school, my friends and I spent hours combing through thrift shops for cool stuff. So I guess I’ve been interested in fashion most of my life, just not in the mainstream sense.
The selling started because I got so hooked on sewing, I thought it would be a good way to make a little money back so I could buy more supplies. And once I sold a few things, I was hooked. I don’t know if I realized it was a viable business option so much as I became determined to make it one.
I’ve always been interested in how all the little parts of things work, so I approached designing that way. I don’t think I’d be satisfied designing the clothing and letting a company manufacture the actual garments for me. The actual construction process is just as fun as coming up with the idea itself. Or maybe I’m just a control freak. Ha!
3. Where did you come up with the name for your line and why did you choose “smarmy”?
I actually started out as Tally-Ho Clothing, which was just sort of randomly chosen. When I realized that I wanted to take it more seriously, I felt like a name change was in order. My boyfriend and I came up with a list of words we liked and started from there. I was THIS CLOSE to being Snarky Clothes (which I now cringe at, haha), when my boyfriend said, “smarmy!” It hadn’t even been on the list, but I knew that was it when he said it. I liked the sound of it, but I also like those words that are the perfect description for something, and no other word means quite the same thing, and Smarmy is that way for me.
I get most of my inspiration from the materials themselves. Certain fabrics are just asking to be made into a particular design. I also watch a lot of movies and sometimes I see something that makes me jump up to grab a pencil and paper so I can draw a quick sketch.
I think my biggest influences are my grandmother and Betsey Johnson. My grandmother was an awesome seamstress and knitter. She also had a fondness for bright sequined sweaters, which had a big impression on me. When I was a kid, the old lady section of the store with the loud sequined sweaters was like a candy shop.
My favorite designers are Betsey Johnson and Vivienne Westwood. I love over-the-top. I love color. I love a sense of humor in design. Fashion to me should be fun. Rules, schmules. Those ladies are keeping it real.
I don’t have any hands-on collaborators, but I do have an awesome support group of sorts at AttackoftheCraft.com. It’s a forum made up of independent designers and lovers of handmade, and I get a lot of inspiration and encouragement from the people there.
I haven’t made up my mind yet, but I’ve wanted to do a La Catrina costume, which is a Day of the Dead skeleton lady with a big fancy dress and a hat with lots of flowers.
Visit Smarmy Clothes at http://smarmyclothes.com/.