With having to conform to expectations set out by our peers, especially within an area where our ambitions tend to become a distant memory, Jonathan Jimenez – an aspiring fashion designer and entrepreneur finds himself pushing harder to not settle for anything less than fashion design.
Up all nights, early train rides to the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), and the dedication to overcome any negative comment or self doubt, Jonathan has showcased about five to six self-made outfits onto the world via Instagram and is about to take the town of Santa Ana by storm with his debut self-titled line which will be showcased on June 13 of this year.
The last time I spoke to Jonathan we had gone out to lunch at a new restaurant in Downtown Santa Ana, he began to speak to me more about his career and plans for the future. After about two months or so, I began to wonder if those plans had gotten any closer to becoming a reality which led to our lunch date at Little Sparrow Cafe. Wearing a casual black Mickey Mouse shirt and jeans, Jonathan dawned a gleam in his eye and a glowing face as he excitedly gave me the ‘scoop’ on his upcoming endeavors and opened up about his concerns, inspirations, and his personal goals.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
A: I think it’s a wearable art. It’s all about the way you view and express yourself and how you express what you are wearing. If you want to wear sweats and a baggy T-shirt or a ballgown, then go for it!
Q: What was the first piece of article of clothing you have ever designed and what did you do with that piece of clothing?
A: The first piece of article I designed but did not sew was two years ago. I created a basic sheer top. The top was pixelated combined with blues, purples, and greens. The way it was cut and sewed, it seemed like it moved with you. My friend has the top, and it’s currently in photo shoots. The first outfit I actually made myself – as in sewed and cut – was a strapless dark blue and gold spotted ball gown.
Q: What inspired you to become a fashion designer and pursue this ambition?
A: It began with Project Runway. That’s what really set it off. I’ve always loved clothes, wearing, styling, and judging it. Project Runway really set it off and I realized that that’s what I want to do and that’s exactly where I want to be.
Q: Is there anything you’re worried about when it comes to your career?
A: The only thing I’m worried about would be the beginning, the start off. Anybody can make clothes, it’s your first impression that counts. If you bomb it, you’re practically done. They’re going to look at you and laugh. Can I make them want to see more? I want to be able to make that first impression by myself.
Q: By what year do you want your goals to be achieved?
A: I don’t exactly have a year yet. I just plan on having it happen as soon as possible. I want my goals to be achieved when it wants to happen. I don’t want to limit myself to say five years because in those five years I may over exaggerate myself. I don’t want to give too much where I will be gone within a season, take Ed Hardy for example.
Everybody was in love with him, it was everywhere. Over-saturated now no one wants it. I want to be effortless. You see Chanel, Dior; you see all these people last so long just because they manage to make their apparel so limited but yet not everyone can have it. Supply and demand. I want my brand to stay luxurious.
Q: Are you afraid you’re going to end up over-saturated?
A: I am afraid. I don’t want to give my audience everything they want because then they will never be satisfied and they’ll just stop. You give a dog a bone but you don’t want it to consume too much. I plan on having different brands but just not all under my name. I want my name to be associated with completely different items and collections.
Q: The last time we hung out you took me to the fabric store, what are some of your favorite patterns and fabrics you enjoy working with the most?
A: My favorite fabric has to be chiffon but it is the absolute worst to work with. It is so delicate that a straight line can become crooked within a second. You have to blanket it to make it stiff and actually be able to work with it. I love working with upholstery fabrics that people will normally use for couches but I make it work. In general, I love fabrics, patterns, and colors.
The thing that catches my eye in the fabric store are the fabrics with the colors. I love mixing two patterns that for some reason do not go well together and make it work. You can have the same silhouette forever in different fabrics and patterns but the audience will not notice the difference.
I’m letting the fabric have a voice for itself.
Q: Why are clothes so important to you? Why bring life to a piece of clothing that may be meaningless to others?
A: It says who you are. Clothes matter because they show who you are and how you present yourself. I look at someone who is wearing something another person normally not wear and see that they make the outfit work and say “you make it work. Good for you”.
Q: How much support do you get when it comes to pursuing fashion?
A: A lot. Everybody just goes behind it. There are people who tell you “no” but it’s because they don’t see the passion behind it. Some people believe I want to do it as a hobby but others know I want to do it because it is my passion.
Q:What kind of struggles have you come across throughout your journey? Internally or externally.
A: I can’t sew or hem perfectly, luckily my mom helps me out when it comes to hemming. External struggles, I have lack of sleep because I get my inspiration at night. At times I feel like my inspiration is one noted. I feel so young and inexperienced where I feel like I can’t do as much as I would like to do. I have no versatility. My own work makes me feel inferior at times.
Q: Other than make clothes, what do you think a fashion designer does? In your opinion, why are they important?
A: Fashion designers are the face of the company. You don’t know who the CEO of Louis Vuitton is but you know who the designer is. They do it all and make the company look good. You can replace a CEO but you can’t replace a designer. A designer doesn’t have to follow trends or do what everyone else is doing. Marc Jacob’s latest collection was all black for a spring collection. That is something you don’t expect. That’s why I want to design. I don’t have to do what everyone else wants me to do.
Q: The last time we spoke, you were planning a fashion show. How is the progress so far and do you feel ready to debut your line?
A: I have it all mapped out. The invitations are ready. The show will be on my birthday, June 13 at 11:53. I was originally going to reveal my first collection at the train station, symbolizing my career going off but then I would have to work around the station’s schedule or have the show be done after midnight.
The only thing I need to do is come up with money for the fashion show and the venue. A good show is what defines you. I don’t know and I will never know if I’m ready.
Q: Disney and music seems to be a big influence on your work, why?
A: I start listening to the scores – such as the film score for Brave – and get inspired. I begin to see explosions of prints and flowers on my designs when drum beats are playing. I can listen to the song and picture an actual person wearing my outfit. I shut myself out of everything around me and see an actual runway. Disney inspires me on which fabric and colors to use.
Q: Tell me a bit about your newest line. Will it be shown only at FIDM or will you branch your outfits out to the people you are close to?
A: I’m still trying to figure out a name, either Jonathan Jimenez or just Jimenez. Right now, I am working on designer wear. I plan on debuting my first collection to everyone on my birthday, marking my 20 years. I plan on debuting my resort wear (clothing designed to be worn on vacation, especially in tropical areas). My first collection can’t be too crazy or too basic. I need to give myself a good name and have people want more.
Q: How has F.A.M (a fashion institution) and FIDM helped you strengthen your skills?
A: I didn’t know anything when I started! I can sew but i didn’t even know how to make patterns! FIDM helped me elaborate on projects and F.A.M helped me push myself. FIDM showed me the basics and F.A.M challenged me.
Q: Can you give me a sneak peak or a teaser on what you’re working on now?
A: There will be a lot of ball gowns! I need more variety. If I have a Gallery show I will have at least 15 – 20 looks and if I have an actual runway show like I’m thinking about there will be at least 30 looks.
The fabrics I am using will be overlapped and mixing them together. Golds and Navy’s are my theme. A lot of golds, navies and of course I had to add some white in them.
Q: Where can readers find out more about you and your work?