In case you have not yet had the pleasure, meet Belk’s new Vice President of Fashion and Trend Merchandising Cynthia Washburn-Nester. We caught up with her during Charleston Fashion Week this year, Belk’s fifth year participating in the largely popular southern fashion experience. Not to mention this year Belk has collaborated with Charleston Magazine and Charleston Fashion Week to choose an emerging designer to ultimately sell their product in Belk stores. Here is what she had to say about emerging designers, her love for the fashion industry and fashion design.
What is a tip you have for emerging designers:
One of the most important things to know is what you want in the long run. We ask the emerging designers where they see themselves and where would they like to sell their products and some of them can’t answer those questions. You really have to project your destiny and curate your brand where you’d like to be. I think a lot of young people are designing for the sake of designing and not really thinking about where they want to be.
Where did your love for the fashion industry stem from:
I’ve always loved fashion and sewing. I actually thought I was going to be a buyer, but I tried that and I didn’t like it because it wasn’t creative enough. I eventually started designing textiles and traveled around the world doing that. Then ultimately got into more fashion direction and color.
What is your favorite part of fashion designing process:
I think the creative aspect. When we travel, I work with a lot of trend services and we look at what is the next thing and where is the inspiration coming from. It could be anything from home design to girl power, so we look at where the inspiration is coming from and what that means in the way of clothing. This shapes how we interpret it to make it appropriate for our business and our customer.
Do you prefer vintage lines or handwoven:
I think vintage is very inspiring. In fashion we’re always looking back when we look forward, and even when we’re looking forward we look back. I think even when I was developing textiles I was developing vintage. So when the trend hints towards vintage we look towards the authenticity. I think that is one of the most exciting things about fashion is to see how things are done again in a new way.
What do you think would be considered “classic” from Belk’s current line, Crown & Ivy:
We have the southern element, the signature element, and then our rev element, so within the mix you’re going to find some really classic pieces: the perfect white shirt, the perfect shirt-dress, the perfect jeans. You can see we are really focusing on the sleeve interest, and the menswear shirting feminized. We tend to do a lot of embroidery and embellishment, our customer really likes that. We also have denim added to our mix. We then surround it with all of those newer pieces so that you can imagine the versatility in how you can mix and match them for a new wardrobe.
We are having a lot of fun evolving the line and making it more extensive so we can hit a lot of different personalities.