Name/Age: Aaron Manuel, 30
Hometown: Flint, Michigan
Profession: Designer, Artist, Photographer
Fashion Line: Marty Moto
How did you get into fashion design?
AM: I didn’t have a fashion background, but growing up, I was always around art. In my family, creativity and art have always been a part of our lives, and I always had an interest in fashion. After college, I actually was on the road to working in an advertising firm. But when I moved to New York, I ended up getting a job working a modeling agency where I eventually became creative director. It was like a school in a way. But going to Fashion Week, to so many shows, I just really developed an education about fashion, which led me here.
What got me into the bag was I wanted a backpack that I could wear to work and then wear to events afterward. I wanted to feel stylish and professional. I sought out that kind of bag and couldn’t find one. After spending an entire summer looking, I was like okay, let me just design one of my own. So I designed the bag and then gave the blueprint to a bag maker in the garment district. That was an interesting process, because they sew exactly the measurements you give. So there was like 3 versions before we got it right.
The first day I wore it, people stopped me on the street started asking me about it. As crazy as it sounds, it overwhelmed me. So I put it away until I decided what I actually was going to do about it. Towards the end of the year I realized, life is short: This is my passion and this is what I wanted to do. Beginning in 2013, I’m now working full-time on my fashion designs. I’ve expanded the bag line and will be focusing on clothing very soon.
How would you describe your fashion sensibility?
AM: Everything that I’m designing, I want for myself. I was never a trendy person or going with what was hot. But people always complimented me on what I wore. I like casualness and comfortability while still being stylish: That’s the direction I’m taking—items that can go with anything in your closet; items you can wear day or night.
I always believe the best fashion should look effortless. When people are trying too hard, they actually look like they’re trying too hard. The people that stand out look like they always just have that stuff in their closet and it just worked out miraculously beautiful.
People can look at the bag and get an idea of my perspective. The clothing material I’ll be working with is heather gray, sweat material-- very unisex, because what I want is something to have in my closet that I can wear anywhere with anything. And for some reason, sweatshirt material just seems so perfect for everything. I think fashion is moving more in the direction of people being themselves and not trying so hard. I will be making sweatshirts and sweat shorts, jackets.
Describe your fashion line:
AM: The line is called Marty Moto. Currently, I’m just starting out with the back pack accessory, which is in python leather and is the premium exclusive. But I’m expanding the line to include different materials. It will also be made in cowhide and come in colors like navy, eggplant and all black. After I establish the brand, I plan to come out with a clothing line.
What about Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn inspires you creatively?
AM: I’ve been living in Bed-Stuy for six years now. I love this neighborhood, I’m never leaving. I like the rawness of Bedford-Stuyvesant, and I also like the sense of community. To me this community is like effortless style. The different personalities are uninhibited; they just exist and you have to understand them to communicate. They’re not begging to be understood . People know each other; there’s a raw quality about this neighborhood that I think is just so authentic. Other areas in New York, like Williamsburg, try to be what people are expecting them to be. But Bed-Stuy just is. And you have to accept it. It’s unapologetic.
To watch a live streaming of the 2013 Mercedes-Benz Spring Fashion Week, go here.