Designer Michael Anthony talks to BLEEP about the passion behind his design, the key to avoiding creative burnout, and how the internet continues to force the fashion industry to evolve and grow.
When was the first time you noticed fashion was something someone created rather than just something you bought and put on?
I was aware at a very young age that fashion as a concept of choice and lifestyle was created and not just purchased. I originate from extremely humble beginnings; raised in the projects ‘Jungle’ in Toronto Ontario, there was one way in and one way out! When you are raised at the core of systemic depravity, creativity is key for survival as you find ways to compensate for all you lack.
What made you want to pursue design vocationally as opposed to it just being a hobby?
High school was the turning point for me. It was a complete nightmare! I was different and I paid the price. They hated the way I talked, the way I looked, the choices I made; they hated every aspect of my being. I was called “fag” more times than my actual name. But one thing people could never conquer was my style. I was that fashion guy. I would pull various trends from my favorite artists, fashion magazines and make it my own. I became aware of the power I had to influence people’s way of thinking and amend perspective simply by my choices in fashion.
What was your training in design?
I was introduced to the technical aspects of fashion at age 7. I learned how to understand garment patterns from my aunt who was an aspiring designer. She taught me how to use a sewing machine and how to make my own clothes considering we didn’t have the means to keep up with the latest fashion trends. I now work with two of the best: Soo Jin Kim and Trung Vu, NY Fashion Institute of technology alumni. We all migrated to New York at exactly the right time for the identical purpose of being game-changers in the domain of fashion. They both oversee the design process for every fashion concept released under the House of Michael.
Describe your aesthetic in five words.
The brand adage is: “Engineered for the modern icon.” These five words effectively establish the core faculties that define the House of Michael.
When you begin designing new garments, what is the starting point for you?
There’s no specific process when it comes to creating fashion concepts for the House of Michael. Each collection and marketing story presented to the public is inspired by the events of living my everyday life. At times a fabric or textile can instigate a fashion impression. But most often, it’s the creative experiences, working with my team, from which the vision for a fashion story and collection originates and comes to life. Whether, spending hours in the recording studio with my music director Steve Louis writing and composing original music for each fashion week show or catching a red eye to Las Vegas to meet with my Editor Nancy P. Corbo to review hours of digital footage, these are the moments that motivate my creativity.
There’s a lot of competition out there.
I rarely felt the need to do anything to separate myself from the competition. Through my experiences as a Creative Director, I discovered that it is reductive to your art to compete with the mind of another designer. I am the House of Michael and they are who they choose to be. We are naturally separated by are unique ways of thinking.
From season to season, how do you keep yourself from burning out?
When you love what you do, you don’t get burnt out. This is my passion. I am the first one to show up and the last one to leave. I engage myself with creative people who are just as invested in the labor of producing great art.
The internet has changed the fashion industry in numerous ways. How have you utilized it and social media to get your work and your brand to a larger audience?
Social Media has been one of the most effective tools used to illustrate the theme behind a particular collection. It provides an opportunity to invite people inspired by fashion to become a member of the House of Michael. It’s the bridge that takes members beyond the image and narrates the story in living color.
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?
Ten years from now I would like to see more emphasis placed on developing and promoting new and unknown designers. There is so much empty space that’s now filled with repetition. To read a fashion magazine every month and see the same models in the same ads, repeating the same trends – that is not fashion!
What was it like the first time you saw someone wearing your designs in real life?
The first time I saw someone wearing my design, I was moved with determination to make the House of Michael an iconic brand that would affect generations.
Who is your dream person/celebrity/public figure you’d love to design for? Why?
There are only a few people that are currently on my wish list to design for: Lady Gaga, Beyoncé and Drake. They are all game changers who swam and didn’t sink and inspired me through their art.