DESIGNER PROFILE – Camille Moore-Barnett

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What should everyone know about you?
I’ve spent my 20+ years in fashion focused on designing for the tween girl customer.  I have designed girls sportswear for many retailers at various price points ranging from Nordstrom’s to Wal-Mart.  Along the way I’ve had the pleasure of working with merchandisers, salespeople, buyers, production staff, graphic artists, and designers who have helped shape my success and who I am as a designer today.

How would you describe what you do?
I’m a hands-on Design Director and still like to be involved in the day-to-day design tasks along with the designers, assistants and artists that are on any given team I’m working with. Besides giving me the personal satisfaction to be creative, it also allows me to see where design procedures can be streamlined and organized so my team can operate efficiently and focus on developing the line.

Why did you choose to be a designer?
There were three factors that influenced my decision to become a designer.  First, my mother made most of my clothes when I was child so I learned very early on about fabrics, patterns, and how to sew.   Second, my best friend’s mother was very stylish and a tastemaker.  She subscribed to W magazine and I became hooked from the first time she let me take an issue home.  Back then it was in a large-scale newspaper format and I plastered the walls of my bedroom with all of it! Third, in my senior year of high school, my art teacher gave a brief lesson on fashion illustration. That sealed it for me. She helped me apply to the School of Fashion Design at Pratt Institute.

What steps did you take to become a designer?
In high school, I immersed myself in fashion and culture magazines. Then I studied at Pratt Institute where I earned my bachelor’s degree in fashion design.  By my second year in college, I was freelancing as an assistant designer in the industry through one of my professors.  So I learned the art of networking very early on.  That same professor is still a dear friend and mentor almost 30 years later.

Best/Most Challenging part of your job?
I find it most challenging and most rewarding to constantly bring innovation and newness to the designs I create.  Bringing together silhouette, color, and graphics/prints to make saleable garments is not easy when fast-fashion dictates the mainstream market.  Designers used to rely on trends from Europe and last season’s retail performance, but those sources are not as relevant as the global reach of street fashion, blogs, and Instagram influencers.  So the challenge for me is to remain current digitally and integrate that influence with the identity of the brand and the big picture trends that are forecasted each season.

If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
I would probably be a graphic artist or copywriter in advertising.

How did you get started in design?
My first job in fashion was as an assistant designer doing ugly printed polyester women’s dresses with matching belts. Although it wasn’t the kind of product I envisioned myself designing, I learned so much about working with a patternmaker and sample room.  From there, I moved to missy jogging suits where I learned to design for import production, then plus size woven blouses where I learned to communicate effectively with overseas offices and factories. When I landed in girl’s apparel via a referral from a friend, I had an excellent foundation in the design process from those previous jobs.  

What do you like about what you do?
I love that fashion is never, ever the same thing twice. Once I’m finished designing a season, I’m on to a new set of ideas and concepts to spark my creativity for the next season.

What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
People always think that being in the fashion industry is glamorous.  But designing clothes requires really hard work and a lot of dedication and persistence.  Most people don’t realize how much goes into creating a clothing line.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
CM: Teaching fashion design on a high school or college level.

How has your work evolved since you began your career?
CM: The biggest evolution has been learning to take an idea or detail one step further to create a garment that looks new and fresh to the customer.  I used to be very literal in my interpretation of trends but experience and working with talented merchandisers and managers helped me cultivate my creativity to focus in on “the look” of the brand.

Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
CM: I never break the two accessory rule: only wear jewelry at two body points. If you wear earrings, bracelets AND a necklace you’re in the old lady zone!

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
CM: I am fascinated by Pinterest!  I love that the more I “pin,” the more the algorithm sends me images that are similar to what I’m looking for.  It has become my design starting point every season.

What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
CM: The biggest lesson I’ve learned in my career is that it’s not about the clothes. Your work is only as good as the people on your team, in your company, the suppliers and vendors, and the factories. It takes a circle of people who are totally interdependent on each other to make apparel.  I have found that treating everyone in the process, whether in person, or via email, with respect and cooperation, yields the best results and creates a positive reputation that will follow you everywhere.

What advice would you give to young designers?
CM: Never burn bridges – the industry is small and there’s a high probability you will encounter everyone you work with at least twice in your career.

What’s your motto?
CM: There’s a famous quote: “Service is the price you pay for the space you occupy.” To me, this means that hard work, dedication, and treating my co-workers, managers, and colleagues with dignity. Not only has this provided me with rewarding career experiences and great job satisfaction, it has earned me the respect of countless colleagues and enabled me to make lifelong friends in the industry.

Camille is originally from Detroit, MI.   She knew from the age of 13 that she wanted to live in NYC and moved to Brooklyn, NY to attend Pratt Institute immediately after high school.  After earning her degree in fashion design, she started off in women’s apparel but soon landed a position designing girl’s apparel and found her true calling.  Now 20+ years later she still enjoys the challenge of creating sportswear that is hip and cool but age-appropriate for the tween customer.  She lives in Manhattan with her husband and 6-year old son. When she’s not at the playground with her son, she likes to meet up with old friends or hang with her mommy crew.

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