Spotlight: Fashion Designer Jamie McCarty
Written by Kallie Biersach
Photographs by Rick Perez
Music and fashion have always been intertwined, whether it’s disco, pop or rock ‘n roll, there has always been a bond between the two. Fashion, to some, is another form of artistic freedom; it can bring an artist’s music to life onstage and off.
Recently, BOC was able to sit down with designer Jamie McCarty to get an inside look at how fashion and music are entwined and her current role in the industry.
Jamie McCarty stylist, tailor, designer, and basically just an all-around bad ass. After launching her own collection in 2014, Jamie McCarty, she has progressed her career from fashion designer and professional tailor to an incredibly talented fashion stylist; creating truly unique looks on and off stage. Inspired not only by a women’s individualism but also powerful female singers and girl rock bands. Jamie’s work can be seen on stages of Riot Fest to editorials and look books.
Jamie wearing one of her designs
Tell me about yourself and your career so far, how did you become a fashion designer/stylist?
I have a BFA in fashion design from Parsons, the New School for Design. I always wanted to be a designer, I always wanted to do that. I made all my own clothes in high school, I copied all of Gwen Stefani‘s outfits.
Was there a particular moment you realized you wanted to merge your path with musicians or have you always just been into music?
Not really, I was always into music. Like I said, I always copied Gwen Stefani’s outfits, but I didn’t really think of that as a career path until I went to school for fashion design. After I graduated, some musicians started to ask to wear my clothes, and it happened naturally. About a year ago I met High Waisted which has been the coolest.
They are the main band I work with. They play great, super-cool surf rock. The lead singer is this girl Jess who is just a total rockstar and just wants to look cool. I met them working on one of their music videos and it’s been an ongoing collaboration since then to kind of up their visuals.
Who was the first artist you designed/styled for?
Musicians I have worked with are Maxine Ashley, High Waisted, A K U A, and Alarke.
Jess from High Waisted and I have become best friends at this point, so it’s kind of like “what do you want to wear” or “let’s do this look”, we will plan out stuff together, and she is just so down for all of my crazy.
You recently went to Riot Fest, did you style anyone there? In your opinion who had the best onstage style?
I was there with High Waisted. I wasn’t even planning on going but they really wanted me to go. It was really fun and adventurous. I made Jess all this sequin stuff, ten interchangeable pieces, which she could wear differently for different shows. It was cool to be able to watch from the stage and see the reaction of the crowd. Even just walking through the crowd, she was wearing Red, White and Blue sequin stars head to toe, so everyone that was at the show recognized her and was like “Hey You!” Or “High Waisted” recognizing her, and throwing lots of love our way. That was a cool experience! So Jess had the best onstage style, of course!
Jess Dye from High Waisted, wearing Jamie’s Red, White, and Blue sequin outfit
You definitely seem to have an affection for women’s on stage style and bands?
Fuck yes! They are what has inspired me my whole life.
How do you choose what looks work for each individual artist/client?
I do all kinds of things, style musicians sometimes-mostly Jess, but then I work for other companies doing look books or editorials, or other styling jobs. It depends on who the client is and what they want. Musicians are cool because they are usually a little more open, but then again, it varies from artist to artist. They already have their own brand, identity, culture of their stage personas, so there’s a fine line sometimes. A lot of thinking what fits or doesn’t fit in the overall vibe of things.
How important is personal style to a band or musician? Do you think each artist’s individual style, on stage and off stage reflects, their type of music or type of persona they are going for?
Yeah, yes for sure. I feel like most of the time when I work with musicians and they are working on something new, they want to have a new visual, even if it’s not that different from what they’re already doing, just to have something to go with what’s in their head. Which I get, like there’s a certain way you want to dress, if it’s a rainy day, you want to dress for that mood or feeling. If you’re in a certain type of mood you may not want to wear something that doesn’t suit that mood.
Jamie wearing one of her designs
Where do you draw your inspirations from for your collections? When was your last collection?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and varies from collection to collection, depending on how I am feeling.
My last collection was NO BOYFRENS-
My new clothing line that is a lower price point than Jamie McCarty Collection. I make it all myself and it is all $200 and under. Before that, my last collection was Fall/Winter 15, I was trying to have this higher, more contemporary price point, but then realized I wanted to have something a little more accessible.
Who is your favorite designer? Musician? Why?
I fucking live for Miuccia Prada!!! Musician is harder, like I said before, I copied all of Gwen Stefani’s outfits, so I feel like she’s my home girl or something but not really! I love most things with female vocals.
Who are your style/musical icons?
Are there any up and coming designers or musicians we should be looking out for?
Umm I mean obviously High Waisted is my favorite band, they are really great and I can’t wait to hear what they do next. Recently I saw Surfbort and thought they were fucking great, I was so into it. Some of the brands I love right now are ph5, Raeana, Marry Me Jimmy Paul, I Waited for You, and Nika Tang.
Jamie wearing one of her designs
Is there someone you dream to see wearing your clothes on stage?
Gwen, since I’ve been talking about her so much! Jess and I got a chance to meet Kathleen Hannah at Riot Fest and I was so mad at myself for not having my card on me when she asked. I grew up being so inspired by the Riot Girl movement and that would really just kill me. One of the first things I ever made was a Bikini Kill T-Shirt. I went home and made a suit emblazoned with ♀symbols right after.
What are your plans for the future and what can we expect to see from you in your upcoming collections or are you more focused on styling?
I guess I am in kind of in a in between phase now. I freelance as a stylist and tailor and I really enjoy it. I play dress up for a living and it’s pretty great. I couldn’t ever imagine this was my job, it’s really fun. I also really enjoy making custom stuff, I am kind of taking a pause on my collection or at least I’m taking a pause on designing for the standard fashion calendar and “seasons”. I love to design and I want to do that, but the way I was going wasn’t really sustainable, financially or environmentally. There’s so much excess in fashion that I want to maybe focus more repurposing things, custom garments and styling for now.