Local designer Jennifer Wesley has found her stitch with Lexington Fashion Collaborative
Lexington Fashion Collaborative board member and fashion designer Jennifer Wesley grew up in Jamestown, Ky. – “a very, very, very small town in southern Kentucky that no one’s ever heard of,” as she describes it. Small towns might not always be conducive to launching careers in fashion design, but for Wesley, 26, the lack of immediate local shopping options resulted in her sitting down at a sewing machine as a young teenager to make clothes for herself.
“I found this little fabric shop that my grandmother went to for quilting and started from there,” she said. “Then I decided that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.”
Wesley moved to Lexington for college, studying merchandising, apparel and textiles at the University of Kentucky before transferring to Eastern Kentucky University, where she graduated with a degree in Apparel Design & Merchandising. It was at a design competition at EKU that Wesley met Lexington designers Soreyda Begley and Sarah Jane Estes, both of whom were integral in forming the Lexington Fashion Collaborative (LFC).
“I just loved them, loved working with them,” Wesley said of Estes and Begley. She got involved with the organizational aspects of LFC, sitting on the board and helping organize the group’s annual showcase Future of Fashion, which takes place at the Lyric Theatre on Sept. 13-15.
Wesley, whose current “studio” is her living room equipped with a sewing machine and three mannequins, has led the charge in organizing all the fashion designers for this year’s event – a task that has required much of her time and energy, but has ultimately been very rewarding.
“I’m so excited about the emerging designers contest,” she said. “We’ve got a bunch of people who have never showed any collections before, and they are showing two pieces. The show Thursday (Sept. 12) is free, and we’re trying to get as many people out to the Lyric on Thursday as we possibly can.”
Currently, Wesley works for a company doing alterations for bridal dresses. As for future goals? Wesley says she has “goals all over the place.”
“I want to do everything,” she said with a laugh. “I would love to design my own line and have it in any of my favorite stores; I would also love to work for a magazine at any point.
“There’s so many things in the fashion world that you can do and I kind of want to experience all of them.”
Who are some of your favorite fashion designers and inspirational figures?
My favorite fashion designer has to be Alexander McQueen, everything he makes are more like pieces of art. I’m inspired by everyone that works with the LFC, they’re all extremely talented and driven people and have been great to work with.
How would you describe the collection you are currently working on?
I love doing women’s wear. In the past I’ve done a lot of crazier outfits, but this year I’m gearing more toward the working age, because I got a “real job” and feel like I don’t have anything to wear.
I’m working a lot with some wools and some silks, some older fabrics. For my color scheme, I’m working with a lot of yellows and grays, and I feel like those are a little bit older and more mature.