SmartGlamour designer Mallorie Dunn talks designing fashion for everyone, not just models

MALLORIE DUNN

Owner/Designer of SmartGlamour, New York City

Why I love her: She designs for everyone. She isn’t focused on the common idea of “runway bodies,” she’s focused on real women who want to look good, no matter what their pant size is.

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When was the first time you noticed that fashion was something someone created rather than just something you bought and put on?

I’m not sure how I came to that realization exactly – but I started ripping apart my clothes, old clothes, and fabric scraps – and putting them back together into new configurations when I was about 14 or 15. I started to teach myself how to sew, by hand at first, and then my mother bought me a sewing machine. When I was entering my junior year of high school, I noticed that fashion design was a class that was offered and jumped to sign up for it.

From that class in high school, how did you get to where you are today?

I then went on to attend FIT for fashion design, and received my AAS degree. After that, I transferred to Pratt in Brooklyn and received a BA in Art + Design Education, and focused my education degree around teaching fashion – I did my student teaching at the High School of Fashion Industries, in Chelsea Manhattan. I worked in corporate fashion design in the Juniors market, freelanced for over a year doing everything from private tutoring (in illustration and sewing), tailoring, custom pieces, alterations, technical design, to illustration – and then I started my company, SmartGlamour.

When you begin designing new garments, what is the starting point for you?

The jumping off point is always the season it is for, of course, and then next is silhouettes. I can’t do fabric first, because as a self-funded start up, I don’t have the funds/luxury of creating my own textiles. I have to choose from what’s available around me. SmartGlamour started as a line of fashion basics and grew from there. Each season I decide which staples I want to highlight, and then design new trendier items to sit with them. I start creating lists in my phone months before each season comes around, doing mini sketches on scraps of paper, and taking photos of silhouettes + shapes I enjoy. Then I sit down and collect all of those thoughts into a collection.

There’s a lot of competition out there. How do you separate yourself from the pack?

SmartGlamour is entirely different from any other fashion company in almost every way and that’s why it works, that’s how we stick out. The fashion world as a whole is very exclusionary and pretentious and that’s something I detest about it. Clothing and expressing oneself should be for everyone and so SmartGlamour is for everyone. When I say all, I actually mean all. I do not shy away from the reality of human being’s bodies/shapes/abilities/differences. That is what makes the world a beautiful place. So I highlight those things by dressing everyone, and celebrating everyone.

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How have you utilized it and social media to get your work and your brand to a larger audience?

I utilized social media from day one. As a self-funded start up, it’s free advertising. Social media is how I even stumbled upon the wonder that is the body positive community. SmartGlamour was created as a body positive brand, before I knew that term existed, and by searching hashtags and following social media accounts, I found my community and support system. From there I learned how to create compelling campaigns (#ImFlattered, #SameSizeDifferentEyes, #InYourSize) that resonate with people in the way SmartGlamour does and promote them to further push along our messaging.

Fashion blogs and style bloggers are front row at Fashion Week, something that didn’t happen ten years ago. Ten years from now, what do you hope the fashion industry looks like/is headed?

I hope the industry wakes up and includes everyone. I am a thin, white, cis, able-bodied woman who is absolutely tired of seeing only my own image reflected back at me. I want to see more, accurate, realistic diversity and representation of all bodies. I want to see an end to photoshopping away women’s “imperfections.” I want to see people of color. I want every fashion brand to cater to all sizes of people. I am one person and I manage to do these things. There’s no reason larger brands cannot. Fashion does not need to be “aspirational,” meaning; we don’t need to feed on human’s insecurities to make money. We can also promote and encourage their confidence and self-worth, and that is why they spend their money with us.

What was it like the first time you saw someone wearing your designs in real life?

Wonderful! Clothes mean nothing until someone wears them. My customers bring my outfits to life.

For more, head over to www.smartglamour.com!

FAST FASHION FACTS

My aesthetic in five words: Fun, bright, confident, strong, feminine.
My clients are… Everyone and anyone.  I know it is very anti-Fashion 101 to not have an exact customer, but I don’t. I don’t design for an imaginary woman who has one type of job, one set income, one living situation, one age group. I stick to my aesthetic and I make quality clothing at accessible prices that can be customized for any and every body.
My dream client is… any and every public figure and celebrity who has been told by high-end designers that they are not interested in dressing them. It’s the same way I look at my everyday clientele. The people who are drawn to SmartGlamour in a passionate way are people who have been looking for representation + access from the rest of the media and fashion world and been turned away. love to see SmartGlamour on body positive and feminist activists like Whitney Way Thore, Jes Baker, Roxane Gay, Virgie Tovar, Tess Holiday, Gloria Steinem, Jessica Williams, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, and Lindy West. Also, on celebrities like Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Mary Lambert, and Beth Ditto.
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