Corey Wesley has been a very trendy fashion designer since he launched his brand URBAN FLRT. While in preparation for New York Fashion Week, he sat down with us for a Q&A.
AF: How long have you been in the fashion industry?
CW: Fashion has always been a passion of mine. My career, however, started in the financial industry where I was a corporate trainer. Then with the downturn in the economy I changed directions and decided to follow my passion in a creative field. I started my company BlackOutEndeavors LLC six years ago and launched my first t-shirt line. My second line came along in 2011 so I’ve been directly involved in the fashion industry for six years.
AF: What was the inspiration behind creating Urban FLRT?
CW: After having a successful brand of t-shirts, Flirtatious-T (seen on Whoopi Goldberg on the “View” and Kendra Wilkinson on the “Girls Next Door”), I wanted to expand the reach of my brand. I found there was a decline in the appeal of slogan tees so gave some further thought to the direction of my brand. I envisioned: Urban – I come from NYC, love the fast-paced environment, love all the city has to offer and Flirt – love to communicate and love to flirt. When you go out and engage in what’s around you, you are flirting with city living. I decided to name my brand Urban FLRT. FLRT stands for a couple of things, Fashion and Lifestyle that is Rewarding and Timeless or Freely Living Real and True.
AF: Your clothing is designed for both men and women. Can you talk about the diversity in your vision?
The diversity in my vision is based on living in an urban environment. When I think about designing clothing, I envision city dwellers, which encompasses a broad spectrum of individuals. Younger, older, men, and women, anyone interested in wearing quality clothing and dress like they live in a metropolitan setting. I feel that the term “urban” has had certain connotations to it and through my vision; I’m working to redefine what “urban” means.
AF: What inspires you as far as creating your clothing?
Since I was raised in the Lower East Side of New York City I’m used to a vibrant and diverse environment. My main inspirations are living in the city, music, entertainment, and pop culture. The sounds, conversations, and energy of the city inspire me to create fashion forward apparel.
AF: Eyewear. Tom Ford or Christian Dior?
Tom Ford. I’ve admired his work over the years. He took Gucci which was in need of a major overhaul and turned it around to be one of the most sought after brands in the world.
AF: Can you talk about a positive and negative experience you had since you decided to become a fashion designer?
CW: Overall the entire experience since becoming a fashion designer has been a positive one. I’ve learned so much about myself and have grown as a business person. I’ve learned how to make mistakes along the way but get back up. I’ve never been one to look at my experiences as negative, rather they are learning experiences. Everything that you experience is valuable information that allows you to grow as an individual and business person.
AF: What advice can you give to young designers looking to start their own fashion line?
The three major things that I would tell a young designer to do are:
a) take as many workshops as they can to learn the business side of fashion. Although designers are creative individuals and creating is their passion, in order to have a successful fashion line, we need to have exposure and knowledge of business (eg. Creating a business plan, how to market our creative visions, how to leverage social networking to sell our designs); b) never give up. You’re going to receive many “no’s” along the way. Be able to self-motivate and never give up on your vision and dream. As long as you like your product and value it, someone else will too. c) Networking, networking, networking. As I’ve always said, every event you attend and every encounter you have is an opportunity for you to become more knowledgeable. It’s an opportunity for you to explore the field and learn more about the industry and what drives others.
Urban FLRT is certainly making an impact in the fashion industry. Keep your eye out for this brand at your local retail and department stores. It’s chic and each shirt gives a signature visual mood. That’s CANDY.