Welcome to Charleston Fashion Week: Get to know a Cavortress

Image by Provided by Cavortress

Editor's note: As part of our coverage leading up to Charleston Fashion Week, we're delighted to have local fashion designer Julie Wheat of Cavortress as a guest contributor for the next few weeks.  

In a series of articles as well as personal blogs from Wheat, we'll be traveling with her from Charleston, to Austin, TX and back, documenting what it takes to make it as a fashion designer from the Holy City.

Julie Wheat hails from a small town outside Buffalo, New York. As a teenager, she designed, sewed, and riveted bags for the orchard industry. Wheat majored in Fine Art and Education at the State University of New York, Buffalo with a stint abroad in Manchester, UK studying Interactive Arts at the Metropolitan University. After graduating college, she moved to Fabulous Las Vegas to teach fine art and graphic design for 4 years, then went back to NY, finished her M.Ed. and became certified as a Superintendent of Schools. After one more Buffalo winter confirming her distaste for cold weather, Wheat moved to Charleston, SC in 2003. Armed with her M.Ed, she took a position as a School District Administrator managing IT and communications for 30+ school districts and more than 1.5 million students. In October 2010, Wheat accepted an adjunct professorship at the Art Institute of Charleston in the Fashion Retail Management program and created Cavortress.

On with the introduction …

Hello everyone! My name is Julie Wheat and I am the owner/designer of Cavortress, a brand that can be classified as proper not prim, ladylike yet licentious, refined and renegade. Cavortress specializes in designing 'summerwear' which means that currently there is not a fall/winter line and is focused on swimwear and essential summer pieces. 

2011 is the first year Cavortress is being manufactured (proudly in the USA) and more widely available in the retail environment.  Cavortress blends the best of the past to create updated classics that are nothing less than impetuously darling and easy to wear.  This year’s collection is ala ‘if Jackie-O had the guts to dress like Marilyn’.  Cavortress also extends a coveted vintage collection for sale that boasts pieces spotted on the red carpet at the Grammys, in a variety of editorial features, and donned by a number style editors, television reporters, and models.

This year I am one of the emerging designers competing at Charleston Fashion Week. I’m a professor, a wife, and a certified Superintendent of Schools who recently jumped head first into the design industry after resurrecting it from my past where I worked in a factory designing and manufacturing industrial fabric/metal products and studied fashion both briefly during college.

Many people attend a fashion show or visit a designer’s website and enjoy the end product.  They may have a fleeting inquiry about how they did that or what happens behind the scenes. The bottom line is the majority of people out there are NOT involved in the fashion industry or would consider themselves fashionistas, but everyone wears clothes!  I’ve listened to my parents, co-workers, my husband’s boss’s wife, the girls I play tennis with, students in the elevator, surfer wives, people I meet in the airport, and friends. The truth is when it comes to fashion, they decide that they like it or they don’t like it, if they must have it, if it’s too expensive, if they appreciate it but wouldn’t ever wear it, or if it’s just plain weird and not for them or presumably anyone. Clothing is one of the three basic human needs and the fashion industry is driven by looks. Think about it.  Fashion isn’t solely for the elite, but most people take pride in themselves and want to look good.

Over the next few weeks I am going to share with you what I am doing to prepare for the Southeast’s most significant fashion event-Charleston Fashion Week, as well as ‘STYLE X’ at South by Southwest (which is about to be the Southwest’s most significant fashion event), how I arrived at participating, as well as what is involved in managing the Cavortress brand as the designer and business owner.  I will be sharing with you my Charleston Fashion Week Process, some information about Cavortress in the local Charleston community, the manufacturing of Cavortress, a bit about Cavortress vintage, and Cavortress in the US and beyond.

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