When you think of the word fashion, who comes to mind? Tom Ford? Gianni Versace? What about Vivian Westwood? When I hear the term fashion, I immediately think of everything editorial! From the way hair is styled to even the method makeup is applied, living in South has paved a gateway for fashionistas. Even though Atlanta is not considered one of the fashion capitals of our time, it is slowly yet surely becoming a mecca for the next great designers. Benji Vanderpump is not only a talented designer but a lover of idealistic concepts and possesses an eye for what fashion should be! Recently I had the chance to interview the owner of BV APPAREL and it was nothing short of fun, fashion, and laughs!
JT: Thank you so much Benji for taking time out of your schedule for this interview. Where are you from and how do you feel your background has shaped your existence?
BV: I am originally from Bessemer, AL- a place where there’s very little resources for creative people like myself. My background impacted my existence in a very special way because, growing up in Bessemer, you are pushed to do little to nothing. It was hard identifying with self and finding out who I really was because its such a small town and you’re judged off the back if you’re different from the rest. That experience pushed me to live authentically and be myself regardless of any surrounding or situation.
JT: If you was not a designer, what would be your career and why?
BV: Growing up, I was always into the arts. I always knew that it’ll be three things: either a drummer, an all around dancer or some sort of fashion designer. If designing wasn’t my approach, i’ll definitely be a choreographer/creative director for dance videos.
JT: What does your collection represent? Who is it gear more towards ( working man/woman, fashionista, etc)
BV: The FW18 collection represents a number of things. In my women’s division, she’s grouped as this all around girl, being able to transition from Sunday’s Best to the Club Girl that likes to tip to the bar alone for a quick drink. The women’s pieces are very transitional and when creating, I try to make pieces for every situation, every type of girl, allowing her to feel out of place, yet beautiful and trendy. She’s universal. In my men’s division, he’s the odd ball in the room, everyone is wondering where he’s from, automatically assuming he’s wearing a international brand. He’s grouped as the feminine, yet masculine guy from the south. BV-Apparel is geared towards the college kid, all the way to the lady thats in her mid 40’s with such great style.
JT: Who are some designers that inspired you?
BV: Rick Owens, Off-White, LaQuan Smith, Unravel & Chloè.
JT: When did you know fashion was going to your career?
BV: Junior High, 11th Grade, I took a fashion design course to fill my schedule…hated it at first! Didn’t realize until I moved to Atlanta for fashion school that this would be the start of my life as a fashion designer.
JT: What are some new projects BV APPAREL is working on?
BV: When I first decided that Fashion design would be a career, I initially wanted to make swim and dance wear. Lately, my inspiration has been flowing from that particular direction and it’s another fashion category that I want to dive in right now. I am planning to launch my first dance wear catalog Spring 2018.
JT: How did you come up with your company name?
BV: In the beginning, I was making custom denim and named it after my initials and added denim “BV-Denim”. But as time progressed, I begin making a ton of different clothing outside of distressing denim, which I then changed it to “BV-Apparel”.
JT: What is the best part of being a designer in your opinion?
BV: Knowing that it’s your art and there’s no wrong way when it’s yours. You’re allowed to express your thoughts and life experiences with designing and honestly, to me, thats the best feeling in the world. When i’m at the sewing table, it feels like joy!
JT: Name 2 articles of clothing your obssessed with!
BV: I am obsessed with oversize coats and bell-bottom pants.
JT: Have you face adversity in the fashion industry? How did you handle the dilemma?
BV: There’s always a rock that you have to jump over in life, in your career, in relationships, friendships, etc – I dealt with it like I deal with any other situation in life. Proving my point, hearing both sides of the story, staying humble and apologizing if i’m in the wrong.
JT: Where do you see BV APPAREL in 5 years?
BV: Hard impact in the Music Industry, Wardrobe for Music Videos, and a Fashion School.
JT: What advice would you give to up and coming designers who is interested in the fashion industry?
BV: Believe in yourself, do WHAT YOU WANT TO DO, always stay consistent, IT’S OK TO FUCK UP, travel and Keep God first.
JT: Why is it so important to give back to the community?
BV: Giving back is apart of life. To receive help, you must lend a hand. People are inspired by your story and your journey. Thats apart of giving back and thats how I was raised.
JT: What does True Urban Culture means to you?
BV: Staying true to yourself, referring back to your roots, knowing who and what you stand for and allowing your work speak for itself.
Photohrapher: Sarah Elizabeth
MUA: Akil McCoy
Hair: Kin B
Location: Millennium Gates In Atlanta, Georgia