Brian Wood is an innovative leader in modern day fashion. Celebrities such as Ciara, Lindsay Lohan and Future wear his designs. The difference between Brian and his competition is the perfectly calculated thought pattern that goes behind each print, fabric and cut. He has set himself apart with his conceptually driven collections and aesthetically pleasing designs that has not been seen from a designer in a very long time. After meeting up with Wood to get inside his head, it’s safe to say that he is in his own lane. I spoke with Brian about his journey from fashion student to full-fledged designer who is on his way to creating his own empire. Relax and take notes.
Tell me about where you got your start.
I studied Fashion Design at The Pratt Institute in New York. I was an artist who was always interested in fashion, but wanted to learn more about it. It was actually really unexpected because I had had no prior fashion design experience before going to school. In the beginning it was really tough, because I didn’t know how to sew or cut patterns, but eventually, as I learned more and more, I fell in love with it.
At what moment did you realize that this was what you wanted to do?
Everything clicked for me about mid-way through my second year at Pratt. Once I got the hang of the basics, like sewing and patternmaking, I focused all of my time and attention on it. I actually ended up winning the Hilfiger Sportswear Award and become a Council for Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) finalist for a college student competition they had.
Where were some places that you worked before deciding to start your own line?
I did a lot of freelance work for various brands, such as: Vintage Red, Andrew Marc, Sean John, Perry Ellis and Danskin. I never really found my footing in the places I worked at. I never felt that any position I had was completely permanent. They were more of learning experiences for me to prepare me to have my own company.
What is a major lesson that you learned within your work experience that they don’t teach you in a classroom?
I really felt like I learned so little in school about the technical aspects of fashion design. I didn’t know how to spec whatsoever or do any technical designs. Pratt was much more creative in that sense. However, one lesson that I take with me is that you need to get up early, be consistent, go to work everyday and work hard when you’re there. Another big one is learning to speak at certain times. Especially if you’re working for a major designer, they don’t really want to hear what you have to say about their creations. I actually almost got fired from a job because I was voicing my opinion a lot. So unless they personally ask you your thoughts, don’t say anything.
What is something that is important to know in today’s fashion design world?
In today’s society with the advancement of technology, it’s so important to know how to use a computer correctly when creating designs. You have to know Illustrator as well as all of the technical aspects and terms that you use when making a garment. Knowing these things will give you a strong foundation in the workforce.
Where do you get your inspiration?
You know, it’s funny, because I have come up with the craziest ideas just sitting on my mom’s couch! Everything inspires me. From my vacation trips, sitting in my office, noticing my intern’s outfit, walking on the street, my mind is always taking bits of inspiration from everywhere and everything. I feel really lucky that I have that ability. I also always bring my sketchpad with me wherever I go because I don’t want to forget anything.
Who are some of your favorite designers and why?
I have always loved McQueen pre-death. I also like Jil Sander and Margiela because of their clean lines and use of textures. How Rick Owens has made a transition from making leather jackets to his collections now is already something I admire. When it comes to American designers, such as Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, I am more inspired from a business aspect and how they started from nothing to create these huge empires. But when it comes to aesthetics, I almost always go back to European designers for inspiration.
What does designing clothing mean for you?
It’s definitely the best form of self-expression. My own line in particular shows exactly what I’m going through in that time period.
What is the difference between your two lines BWOOD and Brian Wood?
Brian Wood is the cut and sew collection. All of the fabrics are from Italy, France and Japan. Everything is handmade in New York. I don’t want to mass produce it because I want every piece to be special. I know that because of the fabrics and quality that goes into it, it’s going to cost a lot of money. I want Brian Wood to be dynamic pieces that someone will keep in their closet for x amount of years and wear it all the time.
BWOOD is a pop art inspired t-shirt line. Not pop art in the sense that you put Warhol’s picture on a shirt, but in the sense that we are creating our own lane of pop art. In another ten years, people are going to look at what we’ve done and consider it a form of pop art. It’s more conceptual.
How long is the process from sketch to garment?
The whole thing takes about 5-6 months. We do it in 3-4 months, even with the cut and sew collections.
You have done collaborations with womenswear companies as well. What’s the difference between designing for men and designing for women?
Womenswear is extremely hard mentally. It’s so open and you have a lot of freedom. You can use different textures, designs and cuts and creativity is limitless. For menswear, it’s much more difficult because you have to do something within this box when it comes to design. My goal is to open that box up a little more.
Referring to your “Panty Raiders” logo, can you explain to me what a Panty Raider is?
In three words, a panty raider is someone that is rebellious, passionate and loving. It’s sad that sex sells in today’s society, but this logo is for something so much bigger than that. It’s about not caring about what society is telling you and doing what you want to do because you feel its right.