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A Chat with Project Runway Contestant Brittany Allen

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Brittany Allen is representing Austin in season 18 of Project Runway.

By Courtney Runn

Season 18 of Project Runway kicked off in December with 16 competing designers, including Austin resident Brittany Allen. Currently an adjunct professor at The Art Institute of Austin, Allen is also the founder of her namesake brand, Brittany Nicole.

We talked to Allen about Austin’s growing fashion scene, her favorite Project Runway moments and combating fast fashion.

Austin Woman: How has Austin’s fashion industry evolved? What fashion designers in Austin do you look up to? 

Brittany Allen: Austin’s fashion industry has grown exponentially since I moved here in 2015. There is something about this community that everyone works together and wants everyone to succeed. It’s been really great being a part of that growth. A designer I really look up to is my friend Cassandra Polidori. She owns Cassandra Collections. She is an accessory designer but we work together and collab a lot for shoots and shows. 

 AW: How has the city impacted your own work? 

BA: Southern roots are something I always try to incorporate in my collections. I am from the south, and Austin is a place that is artistic but also very Texas. So, it’s the best of both worlds, and I find a lot of inspiration in landmarks and styles I see in Austin. 

AW: Were you a fan of Project Runway before being a contestant? 

BA: I’ve watched since season four, which is crazy because that was the season Christian Siriano won. It was very surreal to come full circle and be so inspired by him on the show, choosing to do fashion design for a living, getting cast on the show and having him as our mentor.  He was one of the reasons I went into fashion design. 

AW: Do you remember the moment you found out you were going to be on the show? What was running through your head? 

BA: Oh yes. I remember getting the phone call and it really not hitting me until days later. It was so surreal. It was like a dream and I stood there in shock for a couple of minutes.  

Brittany Allen portrait
Photo by Joe Pugliese/Bravo

AW: What were your go-to tricks for de-stressing on the show and staying focused? 

BA: I just had to remember why I was there. I wanted to be a contestant on Project Runway and show the world what I can do. I also came to win, so in the back of my mind, if I was stressing or thinking bad thoughts, I just had to recenter and remind myself of the grand prize and what this competition could do for my career. 

AW: What challenge have you been most proud of on the show so far?

BA: This is definitely a tie. I am super proud of the very first challenge which I happened to win (and it was a flash-sale challenge). Coming into this competition I had a lot of self-doubt thinking that I may have been ahead of myself or afraid that I wouldn’t stand up to the rest of the competitors. But, the very first challenge, I was paired with an amazing partner, Sergio, and we really went for it resulting in a win. It was a good way to start the competition so for that I am proud. Secondly, the 7th challenge being the Ashley Longshore challenge was a print challenge—my ultimate wheelhouse. I love prints, color and I love Ashley Longshore as an artist, so I had to win this challenge. I ended up being the winner, and I am so proud of how happy I made her. 

AW: What do you think are some of the biggest challenges in the fashion industry right now that aren’t getting enough attention? 

BA: Fast fashion is being consumed at such a fast rate and it’s because it’s cheap. There is only a small number of consumers that are investing in clothing. Like myself, a lot of designers offer clothing that is small-batch manufactured, which means they aren’t polluting as much as these big corporations are. In the end, if consumers would invest in higher quality clothing that is higher priced, it would stay in their closet longer, last for 10-plus years, and, in the long run, actually save them money.

AW: What advice do you have for women who want to be on trend but not contribute to fast fashion?

BA: I don’t really believe in trends. I think that if you want to be trendy, wear what makes you feel good and confident. That confidence will shine and that is the best thing to see. I personally feel like I create my own trends and wear whatever I want depending on my mood. If it makes you feel great, you should wear it!

AW: What advice do you have for women who want to pursue fashion?

BA: You have to put your blinders on in this industry. There are so many people that will try and break you down, tell you that you aren’t good enough or extensively criticize your work in a negative way. In fashion, if you are contributing to the industry and creating something new, there is a place for you. You just can’t listen to anyone else, and you have to be able to pursue what you believe in. 


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