To think about how difficult it is for women to find pants they love already gives me a headache. Trouser are a challenge to perfect–think about it–finding one universal shape to match an array of different women’s figures is no meaningless task. However, Micah Shaun has been determined to be the pioneer to change that, without forgetting where he came from. I sat down with the gifted designer to talk…well, everything and anything.
To give a little background on the designer, his memory of design stems from a very young age. From the time he can remember his family actually letting him draw on the walls because his designs were THAT good (first time you heard that one, right?). He was perfecting illustration by the age of 7 and able to draw the human anatomy by 14. The man has a gift. He has since been inspired by the women in his family and taken on their personal styles to create his own. But before you even think he doesn’t have his own flavor–think again. The Phoenix-native takes great pride from where he comes from and you can even see the western influence in his designs, but he also loves NYC. The hustle and bustle is quite equal and both cities have Barney’s so enough said.
He originally started designing with women’s trousers but has expanded to men’s trousers and luxury handbags. From the way Mr. Shaun was speaking this may only be the start of his fashion line and business ventures. Inspiring, positive, and talented are the words that embody Micah Shaun and I was excited to take in all the glory.
Setting the scene basically starts off with us at a small coffee shop on the Upper West Side, where Micah currently calls home. It’s quaint, quiet, with apparently some great happy hours. After a friendly introduction, Micah’s order of a healthy order of a vegan cookie and mine of a strong mocha latte–the fun begins.
You have a decorated history with illustration–tell us a bit about that and when did you know fashion design was the thing for you?
At age seven, I was officially introduced to art. I started perfecting drawings of cartoon characters and illustrations of body and human anatomy at 14. I was completely self-taught. I didn’t start getting into fashion design realistically until I was 18 when I first saw Halle Berry on the cover of Ebony magazine and I fell in love with clothing. I decided to get back into fashion from architecture design. I then went to Paris for the summer at 18 and pushed my design capabilities from there.
What draws you in about the design of trousers?
I saw a need in the market, especially for women, for well-tailored trousers. I took english tailoring and created a woman’s trouser design in 2004 but offer better support and more flattering cut.
What is one of your favorite moments of your career?
Actually seeing my physical clothes in stores, it really made me visually see my hard work paying off. Then when stores were calling me wanting to buy my designs, it felt really great. Stores like Barneys were one of my first order–which you could imagine brought me solidification as a designer. It felt really good!
When did you know your product was special?
When it first physically got made and I realized how much the end product looked exactly like my drawings. You know sometimes someone may want their design to look a certain way and envision it that way and the end product could be disappointing. But having the design in my hands and my full view coming to life. It just fueled my passion even more, I was confident I was onto something.
It proved to me that I really understood the human body and understand fabric.
Where does your inspiration come from?
From people, from everyday life, everywhere. Sometimes I will try to envision how someone would look in my garments while I’m just walking down the street. I am truly a lifestyle designer, not just bound by trousers or what’s “in fashion”, but by creating clothing that people want to wear across genders and ages. I want my designs to make people feel good.
A lot of it also stems from my family–my grandmother had such a classic Jackie-O/Chanel inspired style. She was just such the epitome of class. My aunt was an artist and would give me free-range to draw and express myself–even if that meant painting on the brick walls outside.
My mother was a whole different inspiration but what gives my designs the edge that they have. She was actually into dominatrix and had a lot of elaborate costumes. It was nothing that involved sex—but it was an avenue she took to provide for me as a single mother and I’m surely not ashamed of it.
When did you start thinking of designing backpacks?
I started designing them because I had the need for a travel backpack. In 2005, I was heavily settled in both Phoenix and NYC and constantly traveling, it became such a nuisance carrying around other designer’s bags–so I thought hey, I should create a bag. I already had some of the experience from a prior mentorship so the pieces just fell together.
What do you think is the most challenging part of being in the fashion industry?
Social media has made it more difficult to get your name out there–as counteractive as that sounds. But, it can be a wall to really display your talent. Someone may not have thousands of Instagram followers but creates really great content and you may not get an opportunity to sell yourself just because of that.
What do you love about NYC?
The Men. (Ow ow ow!) The dating scene is very fun here and you can meet people everywhere.
But business wise–it is just a magical environment where I find inspiration everywhere and there is always something amazing to discover.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Someone once told me “Someone can always take your designs but they can never take your creativity, never be afraid to share your work.” That really stuck with me not to be fearful to put myself and my designs out there. In this industry sometimes you may be afraid of others copying you, but it you are really a creative–you’ll never stop creating. So I really learned to be more open and sharing about my designs and ideas.
You’ve built up quite a resume for yourself, what are some of your future goals?
Taking on the beast that is social media, it can be complex to understand but a necessity in the fashion industry. I am just trying to stay on top of it and amplify my marketing on my social media platforms.
I am also in the mix of starting my own baking business. Being committed to a healthy lifestyle, I want to transform sweets to be something that is much more healthy.
Last but certainly my favorite, what is your favorite place to eat?
I have made huge health changes in my life, so I mostly cook at home with fresh ingredients but I really like Dean & Deluca.
As a true artist, Micah is always creating, evolving, and improving. It isn’t easy making it in this industry but Micah almost makes it seem like it’s easy–but with talent like that–I could imagine that it is. If you’re interested in purchasing any of Micah’s designs, visit his website micahshaun.com.
Anywhere you would like me to review? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All photos provided by Micah Shaun
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