Interview with EFWA2017 Upcycling Challenge Designer Tieler James (New Orleans)

Share about the journey that led you to fashion design.

My true journey started in 4th or 5th grade. I was being bullied alot eveyday and sketching was my way to escape. I took my sketches and started trying to make them. It seemed as though I was pretty good so I continued. I watched videos and read a ton of books. I practiced and practiced and stil do to this day. Design saved my life so I feel its my duty to better myself everyday.

I know you are self-taught. How did you learn to sew and draft sizes? What came easiest? What is a struggle? Do you intend to pursue studies in fashion design after graduating high school?

I am completely self-taught. At times some of the things just come naturally to me like draping and sketching. I had to teach myself how to draft pant patterns and sleeves, but once you do that for awhile it's like second nature. In terms of sizing, I just drape a new pattern to ensure a good fit for each of the garments, especially for clients.

Who you are as a designer? Aesthetic? Customer? Brand? Etc.? Do you offer a new line each season, create custom work or both?

As a designer, my artist statement has changed from when I first started to know. Initially, my goal was to dress women and to make them feel strong, and that it still true. But, especially in the current political climate, my statement has evolved to creating fashion for non-binary people because I have noticed the lack of fashion for non-binary and gender nonconforming people in the industry. each year I create a new line with a new point of inspiration, and while I am making the collection I am most likely creating custom commission pieces for clients.

I am so thrilled to have you a part of the EFWA Upcycling Challenge by Marilyn R Wilson. Have you ever upcycled used garments before? If so, how? 

I am so glad to be apart of the Challenge. Yes, I have upcycled garments before. My most recent was fun... I took a bunch of mens dad jeans that I purchased from a thrift store and made a really cool 90s style skirt and jacket. I loved how it came out... I attached a picture below. 
Please share a little about your approach/inspiration for creating your runway look for this international show? What can the audience expect?

With this look, I really want to be inspired by classic menswear and how it has evolved, but I want to keep up the idea that menswear has just kept evolving and it hasn't stopped.

What would you most like the international fashion audience to know about you as a designer and your brand?

Something that I want the audience to know, and I believe in this with my whole heart, is that fashion never dies. Keep your garments, keep all your basics in terms of clothing, all of these styles that you think are dying out will come back in!

What's next for you as a designer? What are your long term dreams?

I'm not really sure what the universe has in store for me, but I'm a senior right now and I cannot wait to go to college. I'll be studying Fashion Design and Fashion Business. After I graduate college I'm hoping to be farther in my business and to be world renown.

Links -
Website –
Instagram – @tielerjamesdesigns
Facebook –