Gandzee caught up with Jeffrey Sebelia while he was at the ENK show in New York. Sebelia is the lead fashion designer for La Miniatura, a children’s fashion house that has clothing pieces in our Sigma Who? Wardrobe collection and our My So Called Starter Wardrobe. Sebelia is best known for winning the third season of Bravo’s Project Runway and for his adult fashion line, Cosa Nostra.
You spent your early years working in the music industry. Talk to us a little bit about how that comes out in your design aesthetic.
My personal aesthetic has always been very edgy. Not exactly rock-and-roll but definitely very heavily influenced by music. I was actually led into fashion design through production design. I was with Interscope Records
for about seven years, and became a producer for them for a while. I burned out on it and started working on production design for these big music videos. Back in the 1990s, the budgets for music videos were huge, so I worked on music videos for Puff Daddy, Outkast and Metallica. I was meeting all these stylists who were incredible. When I transitioned into the industry, they were the first people I called.
You’re outfitting kids these days but it sounds like that wasn’t always the case!
Yeah, Lenny Kravitz
’s stylist was one of my first clients when I went out on my own. I would come in when celebrities needed something edgy to wear to an awards show. I worked with Gwen Stefani
and Marilyn Manson
. So, yeah, edgy is definitely a good way to describe my aesthetic.
What made you want to transition to designing kids’ clothing?
I can’t take all the credit for it. My friend Melissa and her husband Joel have sons the same age as mine. They’d all play together, and we’d bemoan the fact that trying to find interesting clothes for young boys was like knocking our heads against a wall. I kind of thought it was just our lot in life—it didn’t dawn on me to do something about it. But then Melissa approached me and asked if I’d be interested in designing a cool, edgy line for boys. Honestly, I’d never even considered doing a kid line. The whole thing has been life changing though. It’s such a breath of fresh air, and the best part is that I get to work with my son.
What’s the biggest challenge when it comes to designing clothing for kids?
We just launched our girls line yesterday, and it’s doing really well. The challenges are different with boys than with girls. With boys, the biggest challenge is definitely trying to push back on parents who have very defined gender assumptions when it comes to fashion. I’ve got to contend with dads who don’t want their sons to wear skinny jeans or whatever. It’s different designing for kids because you’re dealing with a person who has personal taste and style but doesn’t have the power to make his or her own choices. You’ve got to appeal to parents while still bringing something to kids that’s really cool.
With girls, the biggest challenge is giving them clothing that allows them to be confident without making them look sexy. Little girls want to emulate their moms, so they want to wear makeup and clothing like their moms. The key is give them clothes that make them feel self-assured and confident, without making anything look trashy.
What advice do you have for parents who want their kids to look stylish and put-together?
My biggest tip is just to always try to put your child first. So many parents just let their kids wear whatever because they don’t have time. Or they think it’s not worthwhile because their child’s just going to leave the house and get the clothes dirty, or rip a hole in something. Kids will do that, certainly, but that’s what they’re supposed to do. It doesn’t mean you’ve got to throw them in grubby clothes. My philosophy is to dress your kids the way they want to be dressed. Kids love feeling cool. That’s one reason I love the fact that my clothes are showing up in Gandzee boxes. Gandzee gets it—like adults, kids can have clothes that are intentionally styled.