Exclusive: Preview Wesley Berryman's Upcoming A/W '17 Collection
Wesley Berryman has a vision, and it’s this: empowerment through fashion and love. The New York-by-way-of-Atlanta designer only has two seasons under his belt, but you would never be able to tell; focused on custom work, he’s already designed for the likes of FKA Twigs, Bella Hadid, and Lady Gaga. But it’s not like things like that just fall out of the sky.
Berryman has worked hard, and after an epic NYFW debut last September, his career shows no signs of slowing down; if anything, it’s about to get a whole lot more messy. Lucky for us, his focus is laser, and it’s one of love.
“The actual garments mean nothing,” Berryman says. “It’s how I use the clothes, who I put them on, that speaks my message of love and acceptance.”
But the garments, all designed, patterned, and sewn by Berryman, are individual works of art. His Spring/Summer 2017 collection, titled “One More Final: Screaming Metal”, is a unisex dream drenched in shoelace stitches, dark denim, and yes, metal accents. And his Autumn/Winter preview? Equally riveting in its sartorial genius.
“Wesley Berryman the brand is a living, breathing thing now,” he says. “I want to create a world that you can get lost in and, if only for a moment, forget about the troubles of reality.”
And in a world that needs all the love it can get right now, Berryman seems like just the thing the fashion world needs. We talked with the up-and-coming designer about his vision, his NYFW debut, and the moment he saw Lady Gaga on SNL rocking his tee. Swoon. Peep the slideshow above for an exclusive preview of his upcoming A/W ’17 collection, and keep scrolling for the full interview.
You’ve always been focused on positivity, love, and acceptance. How do you feel this stays present in your work?
I think my work speaks for itself, sometimes quite literally, because I use lots of quotes and text directly on the garments. But beyond that, my brand is about inclusivity, diversity, and love. The actual garments mean nothing. It’s how I use the clothes, who I put them on, that speaks my message of love and acceptance. I am dedicated to being an example of diversity because I know how important representation is.
You made your NYFW debut last September—congrats!—what has your experience been like?
My experience since my first show has been insane. I have struggled with things I didn’t think I would ever struggle with. But I have learned so much about myself and have made the most amazing friendships along the way. I have checked off so many life goals of mine and that has been so humbling because I came from nothing. I don’t have a team or fancy PR agency, I still sew every order and custom look, and sometimes I still pick up or drop off pulls to stylists for their editorials. But I wouldn’t have it any other way because I want my brand to be genuine, it’s my skill and I love creating something with my own hands.
Any favorite moments?
The show itself was exhilarating. Seeing the models in their looks was inspiring. Most of the models were my friends or I had found them on Instagram. And to see how their diversity and individuality shined through even with all the clothes on was everything I hoped for. That’s what it’s about for me, making people feel confident and more like themselves the instant they put on my clothes.
Do you remember where you were when you found out that you were going to be dressing Lady Gaga?
A day or so after my show her team asked me to create a custom “Gaga” crop-top based on my collection. It wasn’t until a month later that she wore it on SNL. My friend Samantha and I have always been huge supporters of Gaga’s work and we knew she was hosting SNL that night, but I had no idea she was going to wear the shirt. So when I saw it, I freaked out and started crying my eyes out. This was my dream ever since high school. It was truly a surreal moment and I am so grateful to Gaga and her team for everything they have done for me.
You’ve also dressed FKA Twigs and Bella Hadid. What’s that been like?
I was so honored to create a custom look for FKA Twigs, as I always admired her art and sense of individuality. In a sense, it was what made me quit my full-time design job. Leaving that was the best decision I ever made. I love doing custom work because I get to collaborate with another artist outside of the fashion world. I am very selective when choosing who I want to design for. I don’t like the idea of dressing celebrities just because it’s good publicity, I like the idea of collaborating with another artist who I respect and admire and who I feel connects with the message of my brand… Bella and Twigs both do that because they have a strong sense of self.
In what ways do you feel that your brand has evolved?
Wesley Berryman the brand is a living, breathing thing now. I feel like it has evolved into something that not even I fully understand yet, or ever will. I view my brand as a sort of alter ego inside of me… comprised of my dreams for the world and my struggles as a human. But now my brand is about more than just me, it’s a lesson for the world about love and acceptance; it exists to help others. It breathes beyond just clothing and I am trying to stay away from becoming just another fashion brand that churns out a new collection four times a year. I want to create a world that you can get lost in and, if only for a moment, forget about the troubles of reality.
Personal style plays a major role in your work; what’s your favorite piece in your closet right now?
My favorite piece right now has got to be this pair of floor-length, flared denim jeans I found at a thrift store. I am all about nostalgia and the 70s. I like to wonder about the person who wore them before me, where they went, and who they loved while wearing them.
Stay tuned to Milk for more up-and-coming fashion mavens.