I first came across Savonne Whitfield’s work on Instagram. A skirt she created appeared on my Explore page, and I instantly fell in love. This skirt was bright, colorful, and was screaming my name. And I needed one just like it. So I did want any other print lover would do, and reached out to her.
Savonne informed me that the fabric used for the skirt was over 20 years old and once belonged to her grandmother. She only had about two yards of the fabric, and with the dead-stock fabric created herself a skirt and along with two toddler skirts. Bummed wasn’t even the word to describe how I felt after that. But that’s when I became more interested in her craft and brand, and wanted to get to know the face behind it all.
Here’s the Q&A (along with pictures of Savonne’s work):
Where are you from?
I was born and bred in Oakland, CA! In the last few years I’ve lived in St. Louis, MO and have lived in Houston, TX for the last 2 years.
Update: Savonne will be moving back to Oakland, CA June 2016.
Tell me about yourself.
I think of myself as a simple yet quite complex person. I am family oriented, I am a creative thinker, and a young Master’s holder with an entrepreneurial spirit. What I want people to understand about the 27Hangers brand now, is that this 3rd year around is about rebranding. As the vintage/thrifting market has become over- saturated in my opinion, I decided to expand my skills and audience by providing new pieces actually made by me! I’ve taught myself to design and sew just a couple of years ago, so now there’s an avenue for custom pieces and new creations to shop. 27Hangers is no longer “an all vintage shopping outlet.” You will find vintage pieces refined or remixed and you will notice particular vintage fashion finds featured at least a couple of times out of the month available for purchase. I’ll always keep a hint of vintage to my shop because myself and my customer base have a special liking and connection to it. I think it provides us all style, and with the a touch of the custom contemporary creations there’s a level of uniqueness and the individuality that I strive to provide for my followers as well. I’m excited for this new chapter, as a website is underway, kids’ and men’s custom clothing will be added, and new collaborations come into fruition.
The name 27 Hangers is very unique, what’s the story behind it?
27Hangers is a result of my favorite numbers combined and representative of my items hanging in the closets of people across the world. It’s a number I’ve actually connected myself to since I was about 10 years of age. When I decided to put a name to my brand, I brain stormed a few adjectives to combine with “hangers.” I new the hanger would be necessary based on the vision I had in my mind. I considered names that were not already fairly marketed online and social media, since I was sure I’d start on Instagram before I jumped onto a website outlet. I didn’t dream of 27Hangers my entire life long. I was however, sure I was into fashion at a young age and wanted a “boutique” (if you will) in high school. The 27Hangers idea and manifestation didn’t really happen until after undergraduate school. I was into vintage/resale, and styling; combining vintage pieces with contemporary styles I wanted to set myself apart from others. My brand represents class, style, and grace. I wanted to challenge the way women spent their dollar and how they dressed themselves. I wanted them to feel good about how they looked and feel like an individual. That’s how 27Hangers came about.
Who/what inspired you to sew?
I have always been curious about sewing. My mother in fact showed me how to work her machine as a kid. I did not have a full interest until high school though. My grandmothers were extremely stylish too. To this very day I look to their closets for their unwanted pieces or simply for inspiration. My mother always tells me my sense of style has been adopted from playing in my grandmother’s clothes and jewelry for hours as a little girl. After a while, I felt like many of the clothes off the rack were repetitive, or things I liked didn’t exist or didn’t exist in my size. I was ready to have clothes especially for me or people I knew. I began thinking creatively about how I wanted to look, and it was fun and challenging, and far more fulfilling to be able to create it myself. I recall years ago in high school, a good friend of mine told me “you should just learn to make your own stuff and be a designer since you don’t like what in the store anymore…” (Something to that effect). I remember it being a thought and then laughing it off in the same breath saying “…yeah but I’m not a designer.” That comment couldn’t have been further from the truth. Another good friend of mine from the same circle bought me a sewing machine for my birthday. It makes tear up just thinking about it. I couldn’t believe she did that for me. I’ve been learning my sewing machine ever since. As I fast forward all these years later, I am so appreciative for their push and support. They helped me live out my curiosity, show my talent aside from styling, and now strive to live out my dream.
Besides designing and sewing, what else do you love to do?
What do I do aside from my pastime of sewing? I’m always game to travel. I haven’t been able to like I want, but I have and it’s so fulfilling. It’s passion of mine and goal to be able to more often. I’m away from home and have been for some time, but I do love being with family when I visit. It brings me back to stable grounds when I am around my loved ones. It’s organic. Other than that, I’m always rooted in styling, reading or researching all things fashion. Everything I look at I see beauty in as I get older. There’s style in everything. I’m at a boring spot in life maybe? (Laughs). I don’t know that I’m a very interestingly active person. I’m quite a regular gal chasing a dream and stability in order to live out the life I am destined to have.
Do you look to trends for inspiration, or do you allow creativity to take control?
In sewing I allow creativity to take control. I do however like to sew ready to wear items. There’s something about you choosing the fabric and you constructing the garment that makes it so cool! I love skirts! It’s my favorite garment to wear. To be able to put together a skirt the day before an event I must attend– is liberating! (laughs). It’s me owning individuality but being willing to share it with the world. I am good at trend forecasting. So sometimes I’ll have an idea in mind to create or style a certain way, and the trend will roll around sooner or later. I like to think we all need motivation and must find inspiration in some way shape or form in order to keep creating. The key is not to be a full on ‘copy-cat’. Imitation is NOT the sincerest form of flattery in my opinion. I advise always adding your very own special twist to set you apart from someone else. No one likes a purposeful ‘copy-cat’!
Can you define your personal style? Do your designs reflect it any way?
My personal style at its core is very classic- I prefer a look of class and elegance. Most of the time I’m simple & other times I can be fairly eclectic. I think I dress based on how I feel that day BUT you will not find a wide array of different looks in my closet. It will always comeback around as vintage classic w/ a contemporary flare. Much like the 27Hangers representation.
What goals do you want to accomplish with 27 Hangers?
For 27Hangers I am hoping to grow through many different avenues. I want to continue inspiring through style. I want people to see my vision of fashion as functional and of standard. There are some styles you will not find through the 27Hangers outlet and I appreciate that. I want to serve a purpose true to my vision and following. I respect a sense of exclusivity and again (standards) that I carry within the styles provided by 27Hangers. I hope to continue to grow largely online because I can reach stylish souls nationwide. It used to be that having a store-front was the goal for booming business and the best exposure for your service or product- it just isn’t that way these days due to our levels of technology. I love fashion shows, networking/vendor events, pop-up shops, mobile boutiques, and interactive online shopping. My goal for 27Hangers is to continue to sell and get the exposure through these avenues and provide style grace to my women, men and kids’. Growth and change is coming and I hope my followers & their friends and family continue to purchase, style and support 27Hangers.
Where can we purchase your products?
At the moment shopping is still through Instagram @27Hangers. You can stay afloat via FaceBook @27Hangers. That is scheduled to change soon enough- 27Hangers.com is not fully ready for launch, but primarily my Instagram is where followers can and see purchases. I utilize PayPal services and people can always comment questions or email 27Hangers@gmail.com for invoice requests, purchases or simply inquiries and feedback. I have always taken customer service seriously. It’s the most important thing to me as it relates to my small business. This is particularly why I ask my customers to send photos for features. I think in today’s world there are so many fraudulent pages and personalities on the Internet, that people lose trust and interest in Instagram/websites for shopping. I want my viewers to feel confident that they are shopping with a real person providing real quality products, and seeing real life people in photos wearing the product. I am respectful toward and quite thankful for each of my customers- I appreciate feedback from them.