Mad Style at Montclair State: A Fashion & Beauty Column

By Carlie Madlinger, Staff Writer

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James Duffy at his first fashion show at Montclair State University. Photo courtesy of James Duffy

Montclair State University 2016 graduate, James Duffy is already dominating the fashion industry— and he’s only 24 years old.

Prior to his enrollment at Montclair State, Duffy attended William Patterson as a fine arts major. While he has always had a passion for art, during his sophomore year he began thinking of his art career more as a hobby.

“I loved fashion growing up and wanted to combine my artistic abilities with my love for fashion,” he said. “I transferred to Montclair [State’s] fashion studies program where I could learn about the business of fashion, and still keep my love for art by designing clothes.

“Fashion is the best of both worlds for me,” continued 24-year-old Duffy, who did not always intend on pursuing this career path. However, he found that design and art can be integrated within fashion perfectly.

Duffy said that the fashion studies major gave him knowledge on fashion business as well as design skills which are required for budding designers to create and grow.

During his first semester at Montclair State, Duffy, then 20, began designing and learned how to sew and produce garments in his design minor classes.

“I wasted no time jumping into design classes to get ahead of the curve and working towards my design minor,” he said.

This minor has helped Duffy immensely as he uses the draping, patterning and custom design skills he learned to start to grow his couture brand.

In particular, he found draping to be his favorite class, of which he said, “It allowed me to step out of my comfort zone and create a piece that felt more like art than a commercial design.”

Duffy praised the professors in the program, noting Dr. Lillethun and Professor Otte as his favorites, of whom he said, “They both inspired me to always take the next step in my studies that would allow me to advance in my future endeavors.”

One of his favorite memories from the program, he said, was “studying abroad in London for my design research project and creating a piece which was inspired by the history of London and the ever-changing pace of modern NYC.”

Duffy, who is currently working at Marchesa as a production assistant, said, “My responsibilities include overseeing our factory work, providing our factories with all the essential materials needed to create each piece, managing cost sheets, sourcing fabrics, assisting our pattern makers and production design team and ensuring that all pieces are accounted for and that they are properly made so we can sell and ship them to the stores and companies that have ordered these couture gowns.”

He added, “I am very fortunate to be working for my favorite designers Georgina Chapman and Keren Craig at Marchesa. I have loved and been inspired by this company long before I started interning at Marchesa during my college career.”

Duffy said that his greatest accomplishment thus far has been showing his own collection at Montclair Fashion Night Out earlier in September, having the opportunity to work at his favorite brand and going to runway shows.

Referring to his edgier personal style, Duffy said “I like to make a statement and stand out, even if I stand out like a sore thumb.” However, he defines his designs as, “more elegant than edgy, and softer than my hard personal style.”

While Duffy currently only works on women’s wear, he intends to start men’s wear in the future.

“My favorite part about designing and creating clothing is the moment your design comes to life, as well as the moment a client tries on your design and you can watch them fall in love with what their wearing.” said Duffy.

The future is bright for Duffy. He explained, “In the next 10 years I hope to own my own brand, company, start a team of creative people and do what I love to do everyday: design. I want to create a brand that people will fall in love with and want to work at. But my ultimate goal in life is to show at least one time at New York Fashion Week as Designer James Tobias.”

Overall, fashion plays an influential role in Duffy’s life. “Most people think that fashion is vain or that you only care about your appearance.” he said. “But the fashion industry is much more than that. This industry works to open the eyes of its consumers to a larger picture, uniting society and standing as one. The fashion industry has taught me how to be more of a well-rounded person, spreading light to controversial issues around the world that are sometimes closed out to us as a society.”

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