David Attewell is a man on a mission and getting the opportunity to interview with him has been a privilege. His drive and passion has resulted in some amazing garments, although this interview is focused on his fashion design he is also a very talented graphic designer. This Sydney native takes a unique hands on approach to his tee-shirt line with cutting, dying, sewing and painting his designs on each one of a kind piece. David Attewell is a name to keep on your mind; there will be more to come from his modern outlook on what we call fashion.
David, we are excited to finally get a chance to catch up with you, Can you fill us in on what you do professionally and how long you have been at it for?
Hi Lust Nation, thanks for the interview opportunity. I am currently running my own clothing label based in Sydney with plans to expand onto the London scene in the near future. Since high school I knew I always wanted to create a t-shirt line and it was just after I graduated from design school in 2009 where I began to plan it all.
You are from Sydney Australia, but seem to be drawn to the London scene seeing that you lived there for four months. Is it your intention to relocate permanently to London? If so what is the appeal?
I certainly think London has a lot to offer. As well as being a great to city to live in, the fashion scene and the opportunity for young designers is huge. I am planning to relocate back to London very soon, whether or not I’ll continue my label there straight away or take a little time off to settle in has yet to be decided. Saying that, Sydney will always be home to me and whatever direction my brand goes I hope to be able to commute between both cities.
Juggling both graphic and apparel design, do you find it difficult to keep up with the discipline it takes for both or do you find that they go hand in hand with one another? Do you ever find yourself being more interested in one over the other?
Thankfully these days I can pretty much support myself with my label and so any graphic design work I do now is for my label. There was a period of time when I first launched my summer line where I had freelance projects as well as a full-time garment manufacturing position to manage. Now I get the best of both worlds where I design my own clothing while also applying my graphic design knowledge to create my branding, packaging, and website without having to pay someone else to do it.
What led you to design clothing? Did you have any experience in the field before launching your line?
I think it was a mixture of things; firstly I’ve never liked restrictions placed on designing. Boring briefs and picky clients in the graphic design industry is what turned me away. Designing will always be a vent for me and I get my kicks from coming up with new ideas. I chose clothing not only because I have a big interest in fashion but also because it’s the best way I can think of to show the world what I can create. It’s a great feeling having someone want to wear something you have created as a means of expressing themselves through your work.
I’d like to say I had a lot of experience before I launched my line but the truth is I had nothing. I started my label from scratch and spend a year researching fashion. I taught myself all about different fabrics, textile printing, pattern work, dyeing, sewing techniques, etc. Anything I could find that would help make my ideas better I wanted to learn.
There is a very organic feel to your clothing line seeing that you paint your designs on shirts by hand. What took you in that direction as opposed to traditional screen-printing methods? Can you discuss your alternative printing methods?
I established from the very beginning that whatever direction I chose to take my label, to make sure it was different. Screen-printing to me was too constricting and so I dismissed that idea. I chose hand painting because it gave me the freedom to create whatever I wanted with no borders. I think there is also more depth and character to the design if it’s made by hand, and the unique features are appealing to customers.
I consider each t-shirt a blank canvas where I just paint straight on and see what I can come up with. I really enjoy experimenting with paints, dyes, stencils, sprays, mesh, anything really that produces a great colour or shape. The trick is trying to come up with a great design that is relatively quick to reproduce efficiently.
You also managed a fashion photography studio for a while, There must have been a lot of pressure and responsibility in making sure models were booked and clients were happy. How was this experience and have you utilized any of the skills you attained at that job in your work today?
Looking back I believe my time working at a photography studio was great training for managing people. There are a lot of things involved in running a business and working with suppliers and manufacturers is a big part of it. I never did business studies at school but I think working here taught me a lot of the foundations.
Do you find it hard to define yourself as a creative being as diverse in skill sets as you are? Has this ever been an issue for you in communicating a clear message to your clients, companies that you have worked for and customers that purchase your clothing?
I don’t think designers should ever be separated into their own sub categories. Designing is a skill and once you’ve learnt how then you can really design anything you put your mind to. I have sketch books at home filled with all kinds of ideas that aren’t related to either graphic or fashion design. For me there hasn’t ever been any confusion in the past because I’ve never labelled myself as one specific type of designer. I think collectively I am a creative thinker where ideas are what motivate me.
What direction do you have planned for yourself when you head back to London?
Like I said I really want to expand my label once I head back to London. I am currently in the process of collaborating with a few different designers and companies over there while also working on my next line of clothing. I think there’s still a lot for me to learn but right now I’m just taking it step by step and seeing where it takes me.