Q&A with Johnathan Taylor (Post-Bac 2013)
by Denny Mwaura (MA 2021)
Johnathan Taylor (Post-Bac 2013) is a fashion designer working in New York City. Prior to attending SAIC, Taylor worked in criminal justice, where his creative potential was stifled, but not for long. Pursuing a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Fashion, Body and Garment at SAIC unleashed Taylor’s creative energy. After graduating, he worked for Thom Browne and launched, Moment Homme, a menswear collection inspired by American and Japanese aesthetics. Most recently, Taylor’s commitments to cutting-edge designs for streetwear brands such as Willy Chavarria have drawn the attention of Gucci. In an excerpted conversation, we delve into his fashion career.
What did you do before studying at SAIC?
I always considered myself as a visual artist growing up in a small town in Arkansas. My bachelor’s degree was in industrial design, but I never used it. After graduation, I worked as a juvenile probation officer in St. Louis and Chicago.
Describe your SAIC experience.
My time as a design student at SAIC was nothing short of amazing. Truthfully speaking, SAIC provided me with so many tools that I use daily while going through my creative journey in fashion design, and I’m forever thankful.
How did your studies at SAIC inform your practice and skills after graduation?
Attending SAIC definitely made me extremely stubborn as a designer. It’s more of a conceptual institution and very hands on, which I love. When I moved to New York City, my first job was designing menswear for Thom Browne, and I immediately told the team, “keep me away from that computer and take me to your nearest factory.”
Describe your experience working with Gucci and Dapper Dan.
This year, I went through an intense five-month interview process with Gucci and designed multiple projects for them. This was in the height of the blackface “balaclava” sweater controversy. While going through this, I decided to connect with Dapper Dan, and we’ve talked about working together this fall.
With the launch of your brand, Moment Homme, what adversities have you encountered in the fashion industry, and how have you surpassed them?
The biggest challenge in launching a successful brand is funding. The one thing I’d encourage people to work is patience. When I launched Moment Homme in the summer of 2015, I discovered that the stores I wanted to sell to did not buy first collections. As of 2019, most of the menswear brands and shops in New York aren’t currently operating so that’s why I emphasize the importance of patience. Operating every aspect of a brand was a weight I couldn’t carry alone. I’m focused on strengthening my name and portfolio while building a strong story.
Tell us more about current and future projects that you are looking forward to accomplishing.
As for current work, you can always keep an eye on Willy Chavarria, Adam Mar, and Street FC. The next step is to design for a global brand, and I possibly see more of Gucci in my near future. I’ll be working with Nike next year on a couple special design projects, and I may relaunch Moment Homme.