One of things I wanted to do in creating a fashion-focused lifestyle blog was highlight 1) locally made fashions and 2) support emerging fashion designers. As soon as I got my site up and running I knew I needed to reach out to Victoria Wright, designer and owner of Victoria Wright Designs, for an interview.
I know Victoria as Vikki, and we go all the way back to middle school swim team. So a really long time ago. I actually thought about putting an old photo of the two of us in this article and decided against it, some things just don't need to resurface on the internet. Anyways, since middle school Victoria has come a long way. She studied fashion design at Parsons the New School for Design in New York and Moore College of Art and Design in Philadelphia. She also completed internships with Rebecca Taylor, Urban Outfitters, and Club Monaco before showing her first collection in Atlantic City Fashion Week. Victoria is now head of her own brand and a member of the Philadelphia Fashion Alliance.
I was excited to be able to discuss her career in the fashion industry so far and I'm excited to share it with you all, as well as some beautiful photos from her collection. Enjoy!
Victoria Wright, designer and owner, Victoria Wright Designs
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a fashion designer?
A: I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer when I was 12 or 13 years old. I always loved drawing as a child and my favorite subject was always women in beautiful intricately detailed dresses. In my pre-teen years I realized that I could turn that hobby into a career path and I have pursued it every since.
Q: What's it like being in the industry?
A: This industry is definitely not an easy one. Its very fast-paced and challenging, but so exhilarating and creatively rewarding all at the same time. It is a really exciting time to be starting a fashion brand in Philadelphia right now. We have such a strong community of artists and makers and we all seem to embrace one another’s vision. You can really feel this sense of camaraderie when meeting other designers, artists, and/or makers in the city. You can really see this with the newly formed group, The Philadelphia Fashion Alliance, which I am a part of. Its that kind of support that makes this difficult industry a little less so.
Q: How much of your time is actually spent designing and what other behind the scenes tasks do you need to accomplish?
A: Being not only a designer but also an entrepreneur, its very difficult to manage all the different tasks I need to do. Designing is my favorite part of the job but I probably only spend 30% of my time doing it. The other 70% is devoted to sample-making, connecting with suppliers,production, marketing, selling, and various other tasks. Its definitely a full time job.
Victoria sewing samples for her line
Q: How would you describe your brand?
A: My brand, Victoria Wright, is a feminine, sophisticated contemporary collection for the modern women aimed at enhancing and defining her individuality. The Victoria Wright woman is glamorous, timelessly elegant, yet effortlessly chic. Simply put, her brand philosophy is to bring back the art of dressing up.
The Victoria Wright collection is driven by the compilation of diverse textures and modern florals, whimsical silhouettes, and vintage references. With a love of fashion and art history, world travel, and street style, inspiration is found everywhere from art museums to city streets across the globe. With her vivaciously chic woman in mind, Victoria Wright offers that “je ne sais quoi” through her charming designs.
Logo for Victoria Wright Designs
Q: What are your inspirations for your fashion line?
A: I find inspiration in everything from the street style I see during my travels, to art and fashion history, to old hollywood movies. I take inspiration from all different types of stimuli I encounter during my day to day.
Behind the scenes creating the line
Q: Can you describe some of the struggles that new fashion designers face?
The main struggles include financing, production, and marketing yourself in order to get wholesale accounts and a customer base.
Starting a fashion line is very expensive. So the number one struggle is always how to finance the line and pay for all the high costs of production. The second most difficult aspect is finding factories who will complete your product to the standards your customers expect, have good communication, and are priced right. The thing about sewing factories is you usually learn about factories through word of mouth and through connections. Most factories don’t have websites or advertising. So, finding them can prove to be difficult if you don’t know the right people.
The third challenge emerging designers face is competing with already well-known designers and winning over new customers whether they are boutiques or individuals.
Q: How are you working to overcome these struggles?
A: I was lucky to have a great opportunity as part of the Philadelphia Fashion Incubator where I was able to learn about all these struggles and come up with solutions. For financing, I ran a successful Kickstarter which funded the production of my Fall/Winter 2015 line. through my connections at the Incubator and friends I met during my time there I was able to create some great relationships with factories who assist with various area’s of production. I was able to get into my first boutiques because of credibility given to my brand through my involvement with the PFI as well as by creating strong relationships with store owners and getting them to believe in and share my vision. I continue to overcome struggles through the support (both business support and moral support) given to me through the other designers of the Philadelphia Fashion Alliance and various other supporters in the city.
Q: Tell me about your newest collection.
A: My latest collection is what I call “The Art of Dressing Up”. It is aimed at bringing back the way women used to dress in the 50’s and 60’s where dressing even to go out for simple tasks was like a work of art. I am very inspired by Audrey Hepburn, so I thought a lot about what she would wear if she were around today. I put my own feminine spin on the 60’s influence it and played with mod black and white florals in varying sizes to really make a statement with this collection.
Brigitte coat from the Fall/Winter '15 line
Q: What’s your favorite piece and why?
A: The piece that is not only my favorite, but the best-seller, is the Grace skirt. This is my signature piece which I produce every season in different colors and fabrics. Its a very simple silhouette but I use the juxtaposition of transparency and opacity as well as textural fabrics to bring complexity to the design.
The signature "Grace Skirt"
Q: What can we look forward to from your brand in the future?
A: My next collection for SS16 is called “Romance in Provence”. It is inspired by a trip I took with my French boyfriend where he showed me all around his beautiful country. I was especially captivated by the air of romance, serenity, and natural beauty of Provence. We did our photoshoot in the picturesque village of Gordes. Believe or not I am already working on Fall 2016, however those designs are currently under wraps until February!
Grace Skirt from the Spring/Summer '16 line
Q: Where can the readers go if they are interested in supporting your line or purchasing pieces from your brand?
A: Readers who are local to the Greater Philadelphia area can find my line in Intrigue Fine Apparel in Buckingham and soon will find my collection at Styche in Ardmore. For those who are out of state or even out of the country, my collection is available for purchase on my online store at www.victoriawrightdesigns.com.
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone out there who would like to pursue a job in the fashion industry?
A: My advice would be to be passionate, have a clear vision, and to work for other design companies before starting your own brand. My most valuable learning experiences came from working in the industry through various internships and freelance positions. These experiences definitely helped me to define my brand and to learn how the industry works.
Thank you to Victoria to providing such great, thoughtful answers to my questions! I really love her designs, especially the Grace Skirt. I can also attest to the beautiful quality of the pieces after seeing the Fall/Winter '15 collection and Spring/Summer '16 collection in person, which I talked about in this post.
Let me know your favorite piece from Victoria's collection in the comments below!
All photos from this post were supplied by Victoria and are property of Victoria Wright Designs.