As a Nigerian born designer Washington Robert’s collections take a lot from his early life experiences. Washington Roberts is a made in New York womenswear label, narrating a modern story through geometric shapes within African culture. Which stands for fashion that makes perfect sense, effortlessly to the needs of today’s women, where creativity segues into wearability. The smart mixture of consciously daring, forward thinking, timeless fashion, will appeal to woman who has a great understanding of self. After designing for brands such as American Rag, Tory Burch, Victoria Secret, and Vera Wang; Washington Roberts launched a namesake label in 2011. Unique color and textile combinations are used to create bold and edgy designs, which have been featured in coveted publications such as Women’s Wear Daily and Harper’s Bazaar.
You have been creating quite a buzz in the fashion world. Tell us a little bit about your journey.
Have I?! Lol My Journey started with my grandmother, she was an amazing seamstress. At a young age I knew that an acute attention to detail and a steady hand could turn pieces of fabric into beautiful works of wearable art. I decided I wanted to be Chemical engineer. Years after I, realized that my true passion was putting my hand to needle and crafting beautiful clothing for others to wear. I began in the industry working with stylist Kithe Brewster and Showroom Seven. From there I went on to work at Paris 68, which housed J.Lindeberg, William Rast under the creative direction of Johan and Marcella Lindeberg. Then went on to design for American Rag, Tory Burch, Victoria Secret, Vera Wang, and Adrienne Vittadini. All that led to me starting my own label, I wanted to design clothes that have my own point of view.
WashingtonRoberts.com states that you design for “the progressive, modern women.” Who is she to you? What inspires you to create for her?
The Washington Roberts woman is a woman who her life requires clothes that can transcend from day to night with ease. She’s bold, knows what she wants, she is very confident and she always wants to stand out in the crowd. These are the type of women I find myself attracted to, I suppose subconsciously, I’m designing for a woman I would like to date.
Your collections often have the same feature from look to look reimagined differently each time creating a strong and dynamic view of womanhood and womenswear. Why did you make such a strong, creative choice in this way?
You said it right, womanhood is very dynamic, and the older I get the more I learn this…lol Consequently it also reflects in my work as a designer.
You came to NYC to study chemical engineering and became a fashion designer instead. Has your knowledge for engineering influenced your designs?
Yes, most certainly!! My engineering background have helped me with my attention to detail and also with my approach to innovation or newness, How do we innovate here? What is the design solution for this. It’s just like going to the lab and make some prototypes, and if it doesn’t work out, you reengineer and figure out what went wrong.
How do you think you have evolved your clothes and your brand from your debut in 2011 to now? Has it affected how you view the progressive, modern women?
The evolution I see in my work is that i have gotten gradually closer to the essence of being African in my work. Previously I used to pull inspiration from any and everywhere, with influence of architecture. Now the label is narrating a modern story using geometric shapes from the continent and I have maintained the heavy influence of architecture. Consequently, it has given the label a unique and an authentic identity, which I love.
How do you keep your designs fresh?
With every collection, I like to challenge myself while introducing new element to the collection, new fabrics, new techniques etc…while still staying true to my design aesthetic.
You have a charity called Fashion for Famine. What is it and what lead you to create it?
Fashion for famine was created on the premise of bringing humanitarian aid to countries faced with famine and drought. With the sole purpose of gathering creative collective and using our crafts, skills and talents to make a contribution to those in need in the most human way we know how; through our infallible passion for the arts. Since then a lot of us have drifted apart, I’m hopping we can come back together pick up where we stopped.
You are currently on the rise to becoming one of the next top designers with features in WWD. Who are you eager to work with and/or dress?
To be honest I have no expectations, I really just want to walk down the street and see real women in my design. I would love to dress Solange, Iman, Rihanna, Beyonce, Emma Watson and many more.
Which designers are you watching this season?
I haven’t really been looking; I’ve been so caught up with working on our new site and new collection.
What do you believe sets you apart from other designers?
No two designers interpret ideas the same way, we all have our own story to tell. As long I continue telling my story my way, I will always be set apart from other designer.