In the Spring 2013 issue of Hue, textile designers and developers at four companies talked about their process. A fifth, Yuko Yamaguchi, Illustration ’10, at Tom Cody Design, didn’t fit in the issue. But Hue thinks her job, and her work, is seriously awesome.
The Garment District-based company designs patterns and embroidery—about 200 a week—and sells them to fashion designers high and low. Those clients might use the pattern for one garment or an entire collection. Most similar companies are based in Europe; Tom Cody Design is one of the few American companies in the business.
Cody, who started his company after taking a Textile Design course with Professor Lee Stewart at FIT, employs three FIT-trained illustrators and designers on his team and would look favorably upon applicants from FIT’s Illustration or Textile/Surface Design majors (hint, hint).
Using a computer and tablet pen, Yamaguchi creates two to three patterns per day. Those that Cody and assistant art director Yat Yee Tam approve are printed onto mock garments and shown to clients. The job, though demanding, is a satisfying creative outlet for her.
Yamaguchi finds inspiration from runways and street fashion and just about everywhere else. “I think fashion is related to the economy, politics, art, music, literature, news, psychology, technology, and architecture,” she says.
The catch? She can’t get credit for her designs when they hit the runway. Once a design is sold, it’s treated as the buyer’s intellectual property. It’s sort of like having an affair with a celebrity: You get all the fun but none of the status.
“It’s kind of hard,” she admits, “but the good thing is, you’re not bored. When Yat and Tom accept one of my ideas, it’s so exciting. Where I was working before, I’d suggest an idea and they’d deny, deny, deny.”