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Jay McCarroll interview at Inside ontheinside.info

Jay McCarroll interview

Here’s a few questions from our conversation with OTI personality of the week Jay McCarroll. He chats mostly about his experience with the design and fashion industry in NY.

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Q: How has New York affected your inspiration and your fashion designs, if it has?

Jay McCarroll: New York is a very inspiring place but I’ve definitely felt crippled here creatively because there is kind of too much stimulation visually here. You could wake up one day and have the idea to make a pair of white pants and on your way to your work studio you see yellow pants, red pants, orange dresses, jungle print tunic and by the time you get back to your studio you’re so exhausted that you don’t want to design anything at all. So that’s kind of my experience, I get overwhelmed very easily. Everyone works differently, for a lot of people New York gets their juices flowing but for me I feel kind of creatively stumped here. Thats why I get out of the city as much as I can.

Q: How would you define your New York woman fashion-wise, how would you like to dress her up?

JM: New York is very on-the-go kind of place. I feel like you should dress accordingly. If you go to work in a cubicle for 8 hours a day you don’t know who’s going to call you throughout the day and if you are going to go for sushi or see the ballet or someone has an exhibition happening. As a New Yorker you have to be kind of dressed ready to go for any kind of situation. I don’t really ever think about this by the way because I think people should just dress how they want to dress. The summer is disgusting in New York so I’d say probably the least clothes the better. The winter is pretty rough so the more clothes the better and then everything in between. Basically just dress like you are ready for anything, you don’t know what’s going to happen.

Q: What are you working on?

JM: I have some projects coming up which you’ll have to stay tuned and see. I’m working on a line for February Fashion Week. Fashion week is a very exciting thing. Very exhausting and draining. I think people think especially because of the show [Project Runway] that you can make a wedding dress in two days. It’s not really like that. It’s hard for any young designer. It’s a really, really hard and very expensive endeavor. It takes a lot of money to put a line of clothes together.

Q: Can you take us through some the process?

JM: Even for a t-shirt, where is the fabric coming from? The color, where is it getting dyed? Is it getting made in China? Is there minimums that you have to order? Usually there are minimum of 1,000 t-shirts you have to order. You have to pay for someone to produce the fabric, sew it, cut it, ship it, and take 30 days on a boat from China. It’s a $7 t-shirt and all of those costs have to be distributed. Then you’re ordering a thousand and you instantly need $7000 to order them. That’s just a t-shirt, where are the buckles coming from, where is the strap coming from, is it the same fabric coming from India getting shipped to China? Is it getting made in India? Where is the dye coming from? Is the dye toxic? It has to be tested and washed. That’s just for a t-shirt and multiple that times a whole line of clothes and you’re talking hundreds of thousands of dollars later. Everyone wants to see your line of clothes, but where is the $200,000 to make it? So that’s the hardest. We are in a very disposable time in fashion right now where you can easily go to Old Navy and buy a t-shirt for $11 but someone is getting paid all along the way. Then they just wear it for three months and make it into a rag. I think it goes back to the couturiers of France in the 1950’s. It has a value on it and it is very expensive. It’s cherished and taken care of. We don’t think that way in society anymore.

Q: Is the finance aspect the most difficult?

JM: You wouldn’t expect a business man who works at Goldman Sacks to design dresses so why do you expect me to figure out how to pay people. I had employees and payroll is a nightmare, on top of putting a whole line of clothes together and you have to do it every 6 months so money just keeps piling up. You wonder why so many designers fail. Why so many designers sell their company and get 1% back. They own 1% of their name. I’m not interested. I’m a simpler person and I just want a simple life. I just went on a TV show and I didn’t really expect to have to know everything else about it. I was also kind of delusional and thought since I did win this I’ll be fine and just get driven around in a car all day. That lasted to about one minute and I woke up from that dream. Now I have to get back to why I do fashion in the first place. That’s because I love color and fabric and like to play with those kind of things. I’m a craftsman.

Q: Tell us about the documentary?

JM: They film me for a year. It’s about the whole process of building and designing clothes. How expensive it is and all the people you have to deal with, from conceptualizing the line to getting money for it. Dealing with sales, PR, hair and make-up, model casting, just the whole thing. I’m pretty excited about that so I’ll be going to film festivals as well. It’s called 11 Minutes. It’s kind of like Unzipped but much more griddy. It just shows the inside scoop that you work for months, for 11 minutes. People think a fashion show lasts an hour but it’s only 11 minutes. You put so much time and energy into it. It’s a weird business, it’s fascinating. It’s amazing how many people really rely on it and think “Oh,how glamorous, luxurious, you’re a fashion designer”. Talk to the girls above me who have their own line and have maxed out ten credit cards and tapped up every member of their family for money. You just keep loaning. Times 400 different designers in this town trying to do it. It’s a tough business.

Interview by Alvina Collardeau, photo by B.A. Van Sise for http://ontheinside.info

To check out Jay McCarroll’s profile and favorite NY places at ontheinside.info, click here.

4 Responses to “Jay McCarroll interview”


  1. 1 john cycyk

    I really enjoyed the interview. It is refreshing to see someone be so open and honest. I love his designs. I think he has a great sense of color. Let him know that he has fans in Cleveland,Oh who love his talent and glad that he is making beautiful art.

    Have a great new year

    Johnny

  2. 2 Lisa Woods

    I’m a huge Jay McCarroll fan!! I adored him on Proj Runway & continue to follow what he’s doing. Much like John from Cleveland, his find honesty is like a blast of fresh air. I also think he has a fabulous sense of humor & seems very down to earth!

    Keep up the great, creative designs, Jay!

    Lisa

    PS - I just bought some products from Lush, as they were highly recommended by Mr Jay…..I totally value his opinion.

  3. 3 Jay's fan

    HiJay,

    I am not a fashion designer but I caught you on tv one fine day when you were smoking ciggie outside with a few of your competitors and I have to say you lasts a great impression on me that day, and since then, i have been rooting for your, till today. I like your sense of humour, honesty, creativity and your principles.
    I read that you turned down the winning prizes due to certain contract issues and I AM SO PROUDT that you stick to your principles and not be contractually binded by some stupid cluase.
    I am still proud till this day (17/2/2008) and I keep reminding my friends to watch out for you coz one day, you will be as great as Steve McQueen and Armani.
    I will definately tell my children and my grandchildren in the near future, that I have seen you win Project Runway and that I root for you from the bigining and my instict is right that you are a LEGEND now..(of the near future).
    I wish you all the best and may you be driven by chauffer in the future… :)

  4. 4 Jay's fan

    HiJay,

    I am not a fashion designer but I caught you on tv one fine day when you were smoking ciggie outside with a few of your competitors and I have to say you lasts a great impression on me that day, and since then, i have been rooting for your, till today. I like your sense of humour, honesty, creativity and your principles.
    I read that you turned down the winning prizes due to certain contract issues and I AM SO PROUDT that you stick to your principles and not be contractually binded by some stupid cluase.
    I am still proud till this day (17/2/2008) and I keep reminding my friends to watch out for you coz one day, you will be as great as Steve McQueen and Armani.
    I will definately tell my children and my grandchildren in the near future, that I have seen you win Project Runway and that I root for you from the bigining and my instict is right that you are a LEGEND now..(of the near future).
    I wish you all the best and may you be driven by chauffer in the future… :)
    and BTW, you have lots of fans in Malaysia as wells.

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