Local fashion designer Amy Tabb dishes on her brand, Harry Rex, after debuting her collection at Austin Fashion Week.
It all started with a leap of faith. For Austinite Amy Tabb, that leap came after she revisited her childhood dream of becoming a fashion designer. This year, the budding designer made her debut at Austin Fashion Week. Austin Woman sat down with Tabb to talk about her collection, her exciting debut and how her British roots inspire her designs.
Austin Woman: How did you become interested in fashion design?
Amy Tabb: I started sketching at a very young age. It was something I had always been interested in, but I didn’t think it was practical. My parents were worried I wouldn’t be able to make a living in the industry. Before starting my brand, I was a speech therapist for 18 years. Then my husband started a construction company and he asked me if I would help him and I did. But being a fashion designer never left my mind and it just started to overtake my brain. I was like, “You know what? I’m just going to do it.” I didn’t want to look back and wonder what if. I still help with my husband’s business, but I am trying to focus on this now.
AW: What drew you to fashion?
AT: Fashion is like a painting, like an open canvas that allows you to tell a story through your clothes.
AW: Why the name Harry Rex?
AT: My brand is named after my grandfather. He was from Bristol, England, and I just love London and the culture. He was a fun, whimsical guy with a great sense of humor. I love his name and everything he stood for. [My grandfather] had a great work ethic, and when I met my patternmaker, she was from Wales. Of all the people I could’ve called, I called her and she has this English background. I thought it was meant to be. It just clicked.
AW: What is your design process like?
AT: It depends on the mood I am in. When I have an idea, I usually sketch it out. I draw lots of inspiration from London, its designers and the street fashion. With most of my clothes, I want [women]to be able [to]dress them up and wear them out or dress them down and be casual. I try to listen to what women want in their clothing and what is going to make them feel confident and comfortable.
AW: This year was your debut at Austin Fashion Week. How did that come about and what was it like as a first-timer?
AT: I applied as an emerging designer and I honestly did not expect to get a call back because this was my first collection. I submitted six photos for three looks. I got the nicest email from Matt Swinney, the founder of Austin Fashion Week. He was blown away by my talent and asked me to consider a full runway collection. I had to come up with 20 garments in three months. I started immediately after I got the email. I think I’m still resting from that. It was crazy but a lot of fun, and I met many people that I still talk to.
AW: What are your plans for growing your brand and presence in Austin?
AT: Everyone is on social media now, and I would love to do more collaborations with bloggers. That’s where it’s all at. I’ve done collaborations with JJ LifenStyle, Brooke Blodgett of The Creative Admirer and Blanc Page, an online magazine in London. I got offers from San Francisco Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week but declined, as they would’ve been shortly after Austin Fashion Week. When I debut, I want perfection.
AW: How does it feel to be living out your childhood dream?
AT: I’ve thought about that question a lot. I feel very grateful but I think it was just my time to do it. I’ve been very blessed, as a lot of doors have opened for me and I’ve met some really good people. I just think if you’re passionate about something, it’ll come.
AW: How has being in Austin helped you start your brand?
AT: Austin is changing and we do attract a lot of new fashion people. It’s a good fit for me, as it’s unrealistic for me to move to Los Angeles or New York with my family. With the film industry, a lot of things are changing. I’ve dressed actress Liz Tabish a couple of times. She fell in love with one of my pieces, a jumpsuit, and she wore it to a short film premiere at South by Southwest. I’ve also dressed actress Penelope Costopoulos.
AW: What message do you want Harry Rex to deliver?
AT: I just want people to feel comfortable in my clothes. You don’t have to buy a $1,000 dress to look glamorous. I want women to feel positive about themselves when they buy one of my pieces.
Learn more about Amy and her brand by visiting http://harryrex.com.