The scene inside Busboys and Poets was bustling with activity as patrons sipped coffee from froth filled cups while catching up on conversation. In the midst of the crowd sat Erica Reid, a young woman I had the pleasure of meeting during the DC Fashion Week networking party. Of course after bonding over fashion and where to find the best vintage finds in the city, I had to interview her. It is true one does not understand the depth of a person until you learn just a little bit of their story. Her brand ties in the history of her family, and the growing legacy that she will, no doubt create for future generations.
A native to the Washington DC area, Erica’s creativity was sparked at a young age when she didn’t like the clothes her doll wore because “they were too girly.” She wanted to create a look for her doll that was realistic and represented who she was. Of course as a child she didnt have world class fabrics at her disposal, so being resourceful she used an item many of us would never think of..socks. That was the moment Erica fell in love with fashion, by taking the socks and making clothes for her doll. Socks progressed to transforming clothes that were for donation into a entirely new wardrobe for her dolls.
This innate ability to transform something old into new became Erica’s talent. During college Erica like many, could not afford to purchase a new outfit for every college activity. So instead she would recreate an article of clothing transforming last seasons finds into this seasons must have. At the age of 25 her passion began to become a part time career, her talent was recognized by others and the request for Erica’s unique perspective grew. Surprinsly many of her finds came from a place that fashionistas venture too, but often do not have the patience to sift through-the thrift store. Her favorite place to find that great vintage wristlet or old school kicks that have you envisioning yourself doing the butterfly? Value Village Thrift. “Any time I go in there I’m going to find a dress and I’m going to find a skirt, and I’m going to like it” says Erica. The benefit of this specific thrift store? their loyalty card, on Thursday loyal shoppers can save 25% and on holidays 50%.
When asked to describe her own personal style, Erica says she is a self proclaimed character dresser. Her style is a reflection of her mood at that moment, “if I want to be rocker chic, Im going to be rocker chic”. Being a designer having the ability to take on different characters in her dress transfers into her work. Her collection Wilhemina Rose pays tribute to the two women who have influenced her the most, her grandmothers Wilhemina and Rose. Erica believes “the designs [she] create[s] were always influenced by a different time period, a time when dresses were really made [and] women put thought into what they wore.” Her grandmothers represent that unique era of women who weren’t completlely dressed unless they wore gloves. This classic and effortless style is evident in her work, while at the same time paying homage to her muses.
Understandably to be a designer takes time and perfection of ones craft, often it takes more patience. Yet for Erica this does not deter her drive, I asked her what fuels her desire.With a look of sheer determination she responded, “people said it was hard, they didnt say it was impossible.” In the next three years she wants to create a website domain and move into stores in and around the DC area, within five years a flagship. Unlike many designers who outsource their work in order to save on production Erica wants to keep her creations in the states, one to create jobs and two get the product to consumer at a faster rate. Of course ultimatley success in ready to wear is her goal but also to fill the need for true creativity in the fashion industry. Fashion to Erica is a art form that should not be waterdown and a result of mediocracy, but a genuine inspiration from start to finish.
Nearing the end of our interview, I posed the question that some designers find it hard to answer, to describe her work in three words. Giving her time to think, she came up with “simple,simple,chic.” “I want it to be effortlessly simple, I don’t want it to be something that you can’t get into. I want it to hold its own. Sometimes I think we think too hard , the chic is for people that do, you don’t have to think to wear my designs. I already did the thinking for you. There are two different types of simple. It is the working girl, the person that doesn’t want to lose herself in the office. But she has on a chic piece that makes her stand out, yet is still simple herself.” Finally I asked her who is Erica Reid, her response, “a dreamer”..a perfect summation.
Wilhelmina Rose Collection