With your role on the television series Project Runway, you have a significant profile in the media. How influential has this been for your career?
Certainly a broader range of people now know who I am. And as much as that may be for the visceral reactions I have to some of the things I see on the show, I think it's also that they realise I'm honest and pragmatic. And that's certainly been a boost in building not only brand awareness but trust in the brand.
"The best thing about being in business for this long is you really get to know yourself as both a person and a designer."
Has working on Project Runway altered your outlook?
It made me realise I'm glad I got to develop slowly, without being in the spotlight at the earliest phases of my career. I look back now and realise what a neophyte I was, even after I'd been in the business for a decade. Now everything's about being as public as you possibly can be from the minute you put needle to fabric. I'm not sure that's the best way to learn to be a designer.
You have been in the industry for over 30 years. How have you maintained such success?
You have to be authentic and consistent in your vision while still throwing in something that surprises them. The best thing about being in business for this long is you really get to know yourself as both a person and a designer.
What are your top tips for young designers?
I'd tell them they really need to understand that it's not all about having a fabulous fashion show. They need to ask themselves “Can you really get these clothes made? Will they fit well? Can you ship them? Will they be the right quality at the right price? Are you offering something she can't find anywhere else?” If you don't have answers for all those things, you need to do a lot of work before you go out on your own.
As a male designer with a female audience, how do you get into the right mind-set when designing?
Well, first of all I love women and I'm surrounded by a lot of them. I also love to go out to the stores and talk to my customers. I ask them questions and I listen to their answers. And I'll tell you, my customers have got an opinion on everything.
How would you sum up your design aesthetic?
Sporty. Sexy. Luxurious.