Designer Profile – William Knowles

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What should everyone know about you?
WK: I have worked in the NYC garment industry for over 10+ years. In my professional career I have designed Dresses, Sportswear and Loungewear for Catalogs, Federated, Specialty and Chain stores. Contemporary and Juniors have been my target customer.

How would you describe what you do?
WK: I predict what the target consumer wants before they know, they want it. I achieve this by evaluating the seasonal trends in the retail market. Fashion magazines, social media, buyer’s feedback, pop culture and fashion shows are just some of the resources to predict what’s trending each season. I select the fabrics, create prints, silhouettes, hand sketch and produce 1st samples for fit. After merchandise reaches the sales floor, I observe the sales data. This information gives me accurate feedback on each garments progress. The process starts all over again for the next market week. I Love it.


Why did you choose to be a designer?
WK: I believe it chose me. My grandmother was a beautician. We spent hours together drawing women’s fashion profiles, including faces with accessories and coiffures. I loved observing the woman in my family getting dressed up for social events. Anything sparkly caught my attention. Before I was a teen, they trusted me to apply their make-up and style their clothes as they prepared for social events.

What steps did you take to become a designer?
WK: While attending high school I worked in a federated department store and a specialty chain store. I started out in stock, sales and then evolved into window displays. I received a scholarship to attend Columbus College of Art & Design in Ohio. I achieved my BFA there. I also attended Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in Los Angeles and Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City to attain an AAS degree. I have worked in the Los Angeles and in the New York garment industries.

Best/Most Challenging part of your job?
WK: Creating a two dimensional design, into a three dimensional product that gets reordered and knocked off by other companies. The most challenging part of my job is getting the 1st sample corrected from offshore factories on time. I have always preferred the domestic hands on workrooms for instant gratification.


If you weren’t a designer what would you be?
WK: I love teaching. It is the most gratifying experience to see students create something from a challenging project. Self esteem is priceless.

How did you get started in design?
WK: After CCAD, I moved to LA and worked in the garment center while attending FIDM. I moved back to my home town and started my own specialty store front business with my Junior High School Art instructor and two other designers. I left home once again because it was not full-feeling my dreams of being a successful ready to wear designer in NYC. I relocated to NYC and started working for a junior dress house. My position was Assistant Designer and I worked my way up from there.

What do you like about what you do?
WK: I love the creative process from the beginning to the end. It’s all about interpreting what’s trending in the market place to keep the merchandise evolving into something new, fresh and marketable. That’s how I knew It was meant to be. It doesn’t feel like work. It’s a passion.

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What’s a common misconception people have about what you do?
WK: That it’s a glamorous job and you sit around puffing cigarettes all day ordering people around. This is not Paris my dear. My first job had mice running across the floor and it was freezing in the winter. I got out of that place….quick, fast and in a hurry.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
WK: Still working, hopefully in the design field or teaching. I love to see up- and-coming designers flourish with excitement and enthusiasm.

What sparked your interest in design?
WK: I had an innate flare for Illustrating designs as a child by reading my grandmothers fashion magazines and watching the glam, in old movies. I use to fantasize about being the greatest designer of all times. I just knew I had invented the newest designs in my sketch book. How naive. Only to find out in fashion design school it had been replicated 15 to 20 years prior. So I’m still reinventing the wheel, with a new twist to an existing idea.


How has your work evolved since you began your career?
WK: Using technology to draw flats is the best design feature. It saves so much time. I still like to hand sketch my design ideas. The hand illustrating process has become innate for me.

Are there any types of clothing/footwear/accessories that you avoid wearing?
WK: European designer sneakers, polo’s shirts, T’s and belts are my favorite attire. My personal taste level is timeless. Anything too garish or faddish is not my aesthetic. You don’t have to wear every fad or trend to be fashionable. Keep it simple. Select one new trend per out-fit. Add a few new pieces to your closet each season. It will freshen up an established wardrobe.

What are you fascinated by at the moment and how does it feed into your work?
WK: I’m fascinated with the new and old architecture of NYC. The city is growing with so many new unconventional structures. Some of the buildings resemble a Dr. Seuss fantasy. The blending of old and new has always been a part of the fashion revolution.


What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your career?
WK: Be nice to everyone. No one likes a Diva. You can be replaced, regardless of how great you think you are.

What advice would you give to young designers?
WK: Work hard and keep the focus on your career. Each year a new design hopeful is coming up the ranks to fill your spot. Stay clear of excessive nightlife.

What would you like to achieve before the end of the year?
WK: A new exciting career opportunity. One never knows what the universe has to offer. I like to keep my options open.


Are you superstitious or do you have any rules you live by?
WK: No, not superstitious. I have a positive out look to the lessons I have learned in life. Believe what your first thought tells you. Prayer and meditation clears out the noise.

What’s your motto?
WK: If you listen and observe closely, people will tell you who they are. I only surround myself with a very few intelligent, trusting and loving friends. They are difficult to find. Respect them, love them. It works for me.

1.     Love yourself and others unconditionally.

2.     Achieve your dreams.

3.     Don’t be greedy or selfish.

4.     Have gratitude in your life.


I was born and raised in the Midwest. In elementary school, Art Classes became my first passion. My grandmother nurtured my appetite for creativity. After finishing design schools, I moved to New York City. Early in my career, I was fortunate to receive awards in my home town, Los Angeles, and New York. While working for several manufacturing companies in New York City’s Garment Industry, I was sighted in several publications. Women’s Wear Daily, Essence magazine, and catalogs are some accolades that viewed and sold my work. Now I’m being focused on website. What an honor. As this industry evolves, my goal is to continue, learning and growing with the Fashion Industry.

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