Here’s what it’s really like being the design director of the fashion brand, AGOLDE
Ever wonder what it’s like being a design director?
I feel like we have a pretty set stereotypical idea of what a designer does, as well as what a director does, but design direction is an entirely different, incredibly interesting ballpark.
Erin Meehan of AGOLDE is here to set the record straight. The fashion mogul began her career trajectory as a ballerina, and has now found herself at her dream job with AGOLDE, a high end clothing brand specializing in all things denim (and all things just beautiful in general, see proof here).
When I hear that someone has found themselves in a niche they really love in the wild industry that is capital F Fashion, I always want to know how they’ve done so, and how others who are interested in the same could potentially follow their trajectory and use that to find their own way.
We sat down with Erin and spoke more with her about what it is she does on a day to day basis, her favorite parts about her job, and how she got to where she is today. Also, her favorite jean silhouettes, because she knows her shit.
See the exclusive interview and photos below!
What exactly goes in to being a design director?
Loads of research and development, while taking inspiration and working that into sketching, color, washing and fitting. It’s also important to be very clear about your creative vision for the brand while always keeping the customer in mind and translating that to the team you are mentoring.
Always pushing the brand forward into the future without fear of change- It’s that delicate dance between art and commerce.
How is it working for an all-denim brand?
I have been working in denim for almost 15 years. It is incredibly specialized with the fabric and washing of a jean which makes the job challenging, but allows me the ability to be super creative. It’s amazing to keep pushing the boundaries of what a jean can do and how far you can take that, but it is also really gratifying to know you are making something that is so accessible that anyone can wear it.
Tell us a bit about your career trajectory: did you always know you wanted to be a design director?
I started out as a Ballerina. I trained at Joffrey Ballet and Pennsylvania Ballet so that took up most of my time during my childhood and teenage years.
But, in my free time I would spend hours pouring over magazines. My entire bedroom wall was covered in 90’s editorials. Growing up in suburban Florida made fashion seem like more of a fantasy, not something I thought I could actually do for a living.
I had a lot of insecurities about pursuing it so it was always a secret dream of mine. After college, I met someone who gave me an opportunity to assist her at The Gap and I jumped at it. I have been working in the fashion industry ever since.
What’s your fav piece available at AGOLDE right now?
Our Pinch Waist fit is amazing. Super high rise and straight with a slight kick at the leg opening. It’s early 80s inspired which I’m heavily into at the moment and has the most flattering fit.
Okay, let’s settle this: best jean silhouette? Slim, skinny, straight or cropped? Or at least, which is your silhouette of choice most days?
I tend to favor a classic straight silhouette in a non-stretch denim. It looks great with everything and never goes out of style. Crop is always great and easy to wear with any shoe but I have been really favoring a longer inseam lately. We have just taken our Riley fit to a longer length, which we are calling The Remy. The trend for longer inseams is coming back again.
What are your thoughts about the state of the fashion industry right now? Anything you’re particularly excited about? Anything you’d like to see change in coming years?
I believe we are in a transitional time right now. Celebrities and big business have taken over the fashion landscape, but one extreme always offers another. You have so many independent designers and creatives popping up who are finding new ways of working in the industry. There is more experimentation into all genres of the arts.
Fashion designers are expanding their talents throughout photography, styling, and fine art. I hope this trend of breaking boundaries will continue as I love seeing artists freeing themselves from the traditional scope of their work.
How is AGOLDE responding to the increasing demand for a more sustainable retail scape?
As a fully vertical manufacturer we are able to keep up with the most environmentally sustainable machinery. Our laundries are updated to save as much water as possible and a huge part of our line is made from organic cotton.
Is work-life balance still a thing? If so, how do you do it?
Creative work is a 24hr a day job, only it doesn’t feel like one.
It’s in a true creative persons nature to seek inspiration almost compulsively. Films, fine art, music, architecture, books and fashion are a living breathing part of my life. It is always there in the periphery at close reach to grab at. In this way you can find balance, because what you love in your free time also influences your daily work.
Juggling multiple creative projects is also something I love to do – I work as a stylist for fashion magazines like Purple and Oyster in my free time, but when I really want to shut the world off and rest I also love indulging in some bad TV!
What’s been your most exciting career milestone to date?
I had the opportunity to make custom jeans for Mick Jagger and do a fitting with him. The Rolling Stones have been my favorite band since childhood.
Any advice for young women trying to find their way into creative roles in the industry?
Know you worth, take up space, and never apologize before expressing an opinion. Learn to work collaboratively but always stay true to your vision. You must develop a strong point of view while staying open to the input of others, which can be tense but this passionate space of creative collaboration is where all the magic happens.
Photos courtesy of AGOLDE