Detroit Garment Group Interview 3/27/15

Posted · Add Comment

Local Designer Series: Designer Moves Back to Michigan to Create and Grow Left-Handed Branded

Scott Tallenger, designer of Left-Handed Branded, is a man who wears many hats, and has left New York to get back to Michigan to wear them! He is self-described as a left-handed, right-brained designer, photographer and skateboarder. Everything from womenswear and menswear, to eclectic film-inspired jewelry fills his collection, and it’s colorful, bold and fun – just as we would imagine his personality to be.

DG3: Tell us about yourself, Scott.

Scott Tallenger: Scott Tallenger aka “The Marquis De Guac,” “Scotty Avocado,” and “Scottstradamus” is a Left-Handed, Right Brained, Resourceful Human (but an HR Nightmare), Digital Immigrant, Retrosexual, Photographer, Skateboarder, Fashion Designer and all around idea guy.

DG3: Tell us about Left-Handed Branded.

ST: Left-Handed Branded is my new name after re-branding in 2015. Short version, I named it after my dominant left hand, which has been a source of inspiration and discrimination my entire life. It is my new umbrella to house all the ideas I am currently developing.

DG3: Why use natural fibers and up-cycled materials?

ST: This combination goes back to my days in Fashion College. I use natural fibers because they are the strongest and most breathable, and my interest in up-cycled materials was originally born out of poverty. I started using them in an Experimental Design Class and never stopped. I was working a lot of Film Production jobs at the time and started collecting film off of cutting room floors. When we had to choose a non-traditional fiber to make a fabric, I chose film. The result was my “Tribute To Norma Desmond Gown.” Over the years, I have expanded the use of 35 mm film into accessories for fashion, and for the home.  Thirty five mm film makes a beautiful window treatment; I call it Modern Stained Glass.

DG3: Where do you sell the collection?

ST: When I was in New York I sold my products at The Shoppe BX, The Artist Market NYC and my 35 mm film bracelets at The Sundance Film Festival. My Michigan marketing has been largely word of mouth from happy customers, but I am currently working on my new website for Left-Handed Branded. If you go please be patient with me, as it is still in the beginning stages, but it IS live! Ido have a lot of content yet to upload.

DG3: There seems to be a good amount of clothing/accessory collections being made in Hamtramck. What do you think draws people to that area?

ST: My girlfriend and I were both being priced out of our neighborhoods at the same time last year and we wanted to get under one roof. I grew up here, but I had to sell a New Yorker on Michigan. When I would bring her home with me for family visits, we would always stay with my good friends in Hamtramck. We loved their house and yard, and as luck would have it, when we were looking to move they had just bought the house next door to them and were looking for tenants – the stars aligned. Having been back for 10 months now, I can say personally that I love the international community in which we now live. New York City is still a melting pot, but an expensive one. When they started calling my old neighborhood in the South Bronx “SoBro,” I got out!

DG3: What do you find to be the most inspiring thing about Detroit?

ST: The support for start-ups and small businesses right now is enough to keep me here alone. I was only in New York for six years, but a lot has happened here while I was away, and I am just happy to be back and a part of the change.  Between Entrepreneur Week and just the event programming of The Build Institute alone, I have stayed busy. I am starting the Build Basics Entrepreneurship Program in April.

DG3: Can you give three pieces of advice about starting a clothing collection? 

ST: I have not manufactured clothing since I lived in Los Angeles, and all my productions there were small and self-funded.

  1. Know how to make your own patterns, sew your own samples, etc. People will take you more seriously if you know your shit. I would have never gotten my manufacturer had I not made my own patterns (She told me that!).
  2. Study what Flint and Tinder has done using crowd-funded Kickstarter campaigns for clothing production.
  3. Find an investor. Easier said than done, but if you meet one looking for talent let me know.

DG3:  Describe your style:

ST: Retrosexual – I design and make all my own pants that are pretty modern, but I like to mix them with vintage shirts, jackets, and accessories. 

DG3: How do you take your coffee?

ST: Light and sweet.

DG3: Menswear trend for women, or the skirts (a la Marc Jacobs) for men?

ST: The menswear trend for women pants down. But I do love Marc Jacobs.

DG3: Karl Lagerfeld or Tom Ford?

ST: Tom Ford