It was a week before I would heading back home to Dallas when a particular curiosity perked up- the Dallas fashion industry. Many may think of Neiman Marcus; others may think of the Texas cowboy dream- big floral prints, denim, the good ol’ Stetson, and a big “HOWDY!” to match. But amid all these ideas of Texas, Dallas does have a garment “district”- it was simply the result of a resourceful discovery.
I still remember making the 45-minute drives to Harry Hines to pick out fabric for my high school senior fashion show, and my nostalgic memory is as clear as day. But little did I know that there was a dispersed garment center under my nose all those years- all it needed was a transformation.
Nicole Musselman, the founder and designer of her label, Koch, manufactures 90% of her ready-to-wear collection in Texas (the rest in LA and NY) and brings the word, “resourceful”, to the next level. Big companies such as Jarrell had workrooms with people that had the skill set to make clothing. What was left of these workrooms was dispersed talent, and it was up to Nicole to hunt these people down. “You have to train them and you have to be patient, but eventually you get what you want. The quality is really good, because you’re able to be there for quality control,” explains Nicole. “I feel so lucky to live [in America] and be born here- there are so many people that are skilled and it’s important to utilize who are here. It becomes a collaboration.”
Most who pursue a future in fashion follow the path of going to fashion school, moving to New York, and finding a career in fashion, but Nicole Musselman took a different path. Nicole studied English at SMU and started off by creating bags that were inspired by the time she spent living in Thailand. Her handbag company was all textile-based and Nicole eventually began to create her own hand-printed bags decorated with prints from her drawings. Last year, she developed a collection based on guns, daggers and octopuses and for Spring 2013, skateboard graphics, snakes, and the sun.
With no industry experience prior to her label, Koch, Nicole decided to take her own initiative to have an internship- with herself that is. “When I went to Asia, I decided to go off on my own. It was a lot of trial, error, and focus- it was about believing in what I wanted to do. I wasn’t afraid to ask questions and figuring things out as I went along.” Nicole’s greatest learning experience is still ongoing. “Never be afraid to ask questions…trust your instinct, have your own vision and don’t let things detract from what you believe and what your vision is.”
Nicole’s vision for Koch was a reflection of how she lived her life and how she moved through it. What she wanted to wear aligned with how she wanted to feel. After 8 years of Koch, she still sees no cons in making her line in America, except having to pay a bit more. The line has evolved in to four clothing collections a year and is made by local artisans in Texas, California and New York.
Written by Tiffany Ouyang, Editor