Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists and today marks the first weekly artist feature on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Ok - so we've covered the basics so far: painting, photography, prints, jewelry....now it's time for some fashion! Don't click away just yet fellas, if you're looking for a great gift for your lady friend you may just want to keep reading. Brittany Forney is the gal behind Bartle B., a clothing line you may have seen a lot of if you're into local shops and designers. And if you're not, well....you're never too old to change your ways :)
Seattle Refined: How long have you been designing? Do you design and make the clothes as well?
Brittany Forney: My Great Aunt recently gave me a copy she kept of these hilariously crude designs I drew when I was seven…I’m not sure if that counts but my mom taught me to sew in 6th grade and I have been cutting up and reconfiguring sweatshirts, pillow cases etc. ever since. From conception to completion, unless I can wrangle some help sewing or cutting fabric, I do everything myself.
Can you tell us about your artistic/design process and how the different stages work into it?
The artistic process usually starts with compiling pictures I find inspiration in i.e. tears from magazines, old pictures I’ve taken, or cool prints I’ve bookmarked. I’ll put them all in a pile and start to find a direction. Once I have the vibe and colors solidified, I’ll start sketching designs for the collection. This is not always standard, however. Sometimes the design process starts from one outfit and spurs inspiration for the rest of the pieces. For example, maybe I have a hem for a pair of pants that I really like, so I’ll carry that hemline into a top. The different post-design stages include drafting the pattern, fitting the garment (this usually entails sewing several mock-ups until the fit is right), grading it into different sizes if necessary, cutting all of the fabric, and finally the construction of the garment. These stages can sometimes alter the way the design turns out but hopefully at this point the original design comes to fruition.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your designs come from?
My inspiration comes from the little surprises around me. I love texture, patterns, interesting proportions, and color, which exist all around us. Whether it be a cool countertop, cracks in the sidewalk, a doorway, my eyes are constantly on the prowl. I am also inspired by strong women and men who are true to themselves, do what they love, and don’t take the inevitable challenges of life too seriously. I try to make clothes for people who get stuff done, but seek joy in the journey.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – in terms of what you design...dresses, pants, etc etc.?
Right now, I am really into pants. They are hard to fit and tedious to grade into different sizes, but nothing beats the feeling of a well-fitted, tailored pair of pants. Everyone deserves to feel confident and special, and maybe my part in that is providing them with some killer pants to conquer the world in.
Do you have one piece that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I designed and made blazers for the Seattle band SISTERS last year. It was such a fun process collaborating with them and seeing the blazers glitter under the lights at Bumbershoot was pretty unreal.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
I would say traveling always affects the way I see things. I traveled abroad in Ghana for a semester in college and fell in love with not only all of the prints and patterns of West Africa, but the processes in which they are achieved. I also learned a lot about waste and materialism. In Western culture, it is common to buy cheap, fast and disposable fashion. In Ghana and many other parts of the world, it is common to get clothes personally made for you, and you keep them forever. Enough seam allowance is left so you can alter your garment with the ebb and flow of your body shape. This affected my design process, as I try and make quality, timeless clothes with versatile silhouettes so you can wear them throughout the ages.
If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
Currently my garments are for sale at Sassafras on 1st Ave. in Belltown. It’s an amazing boutique that sells only PNW designers and a majority of clothes in the shop are made by eight in-house designers (myself included). Sassafras is opening a second shop in Pacific Place on October 20th so you can find my items there as well, and November 11-13th I will be the featured designer at Sassafras in Pacific Place so feel free to stop by and say hi! Bartle B.’s is also on Instagram.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I just released my fall collection so the next step is keeping up on inventory and preparing for the opening at Pacific Place. I also have a blouse I am working on that will be released on the 11th that I am super excited about!
Lastly, how do you take your coffee?
Giant drip, no room. Quick, cheap and straight to the dome.