Interview with Gheri Thomas
Updated: Sep 12, 2021
Experienced Fashion Designer, Sustainability Advocate, Mother, and Entrepreneur.
Let's begin with your story, how you got into designing, fashion, and your life as an entrepreneur.
I've been drawing since before I could remember. As far as kids who drew and scribbled, I never stopped. Around the age of 9, I started drawing things that interested me, and my mother noticed. My mom began to notice everything I drew a few years later would be in stores or on celebrities. Since then, my mother had me sign and date my creations. I would say that I've been a “trend forecaster” since I was a child.
❀ In 2013, I graduated from The Savannah College of Art and Design and became certified by the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) as an expert in the field of fashion illustration.
ID'vour was an idea that started in 2017. With a similar concept to Gheri Thomas collective LLC, to let people bring their ideas and designs to life. We're in the process of making it a more streamlined experience for the user. At this time, there aren’t too many choices to start with, but just enough to where if there's something that's in your mind or something that you think is cute, we're making every single combination of pieces and fitting different styles.
"It's so interesting taking such a broad concept with many different types of people and making it available to people from different backgrounds or have different tastes." - Gheri Thomas
Tell me a little bit about the sustainability aspect and how you are building differently as a founder.
This isn't fast fashion but I can't call it slow fashion either. We're looking at a two to three-week turnaround estimate of how long we think it'll take to make somebody's order. Everything's made to order almost like ordering off a menu. (Hint: that’s why it’s called ID’vour). Everything has a cute little reference to food!
3 tiers of membership:
Taste: Those girls looking for something that fits them that aren't interested in crazy designs. They want something that will fit their body.
A Whole Snack: For your DIY girl that likes to thrift, cut up the stuff, and change things around.
The Whole Meal: The full course meal. For emerging designers who have experience or understanding and expertise in fashion design. They can create a full capsule collection through ID’vour.
Since it is made to order, it is helping with sustainability. I'm wanting to use upcycled fabrics or blends, however, the only issue is when it comes to doing customized printing. Sublimation printing requires at least 70% polyester fabrics. Once polyester fabrics make their way through their lifecycle, it's more than likely to burn, which causes a huge carbon footprint. To have things printed on natural fabrics (wool, silk, cotton) creates very dull prints if you use sublimation. Sublimation to me is faster and more efficient. So I'm considering whether I'll use upcycled fabrics to have another hand in sustainability practices, as well as things being made to order and not have excess mass-produced orders that might not end up sold and have to go trickle down the supply chain to end up being somewhere being burned. I want to have as little product made as possible so that it just fits the needs of the consumers. No excess.
Let's say I wanted to go about starting a fashion line myself. What are the quick steps broadly that one would need to do to bring it to life?
The most important thing is getting to know who your consumer is. So, the trend forecaster consumer analysis is extremely important. You might have a cool idea, but if you are your consumer it’s probably the first red flag. You have to make sure there’s more than just you that’s interested in this brand. Then, the next step would be understanding pattern making and knowing how to pattern make. The third step is having some type of way to relay and communicate between what’s going on in your brain and what you’re wanting to create. It makes sense to know your craft before you go into that business.
What have been some of the challenges that you have overcome on this journey?
So many. You know the first thing I would say was in 2017, I felt like I had nothing. I had just come out of a really bad relationship, I had my baby, and I was going through postpartum depression. When I had the idea for ID’vour, there’s a lot that went into it. The first problem I knew I was going to run into was, doing all these things that are custom made to order with so many different styles. We're talking about one item that can be made into six different looks- that’s a lot of work. The question was, how am I going to get these things made, I’m just one person. Even though I love my ideas, no manufacturer could do these small orders for me. So I’m either going to have to learn how to get all these things done quickly by myself, which is impossible, or I’m going to have to build my own factory. Back in 2017, I had no idea how I was going to proceed.
So, I started sketching all these body types because there's inclusivity with my brand. So, I decided that the first thing I would work on is body matching or style matching. I had to consider how I could make it simple for a consumer to figure out which body type is their body type and make it fun as well. The second problem I came into was impostor syndrome. I graduated from a great school, I’m certified by the CFDA, and all these other wonderful things, but sometimes your accolades feel like they don’t mean anything. Sometimes your ideas, as grand as they are, if you’re not receiving validation for them, sometimes you can feel like “what’s the point?”
I received validation to the fullest degree this year when Ralph Lauren came out with a line that was doing something very similar to mine. I have other competitors as well, but for a name as big as Ralph Lauren was the validation that let me know that there’s a market for it and would be the future of fashion.
So, you mentioned inclusivity, style matching, and body matching. I think that’s beautiful, what’s the reasoning behind that? Can you talk about your thoughts when it comes to how women's and men’s bodies are controlled and the effects that it has on us?
They are extremely important topics to me and my brand. Back in 2017, after I had my baby, I was going through postpartum, and I got “huge fast.” I had nothing to wear that would fit me. When I looked at myself in the mirror, I wasn't quite happy with what I was looking at. I didn’t recognize myself anymore. I didn’t know what my style was because I couldn’t wear any of my clothes. It took a lot of self-love, getting back into yoga, to start to love my body again. The process that I went through to love my body is something that I want to be able to share. I started to make my own clothes, and the idea of ID’vour came from there.
“There is no such thing as an unattractive body.” - Gheri Thomas
With the technology that we’ll be incorporating with the website, you’ll be able to try it on virtually. You find your body shape, you make your own garment, and try it on virtually before you buy it. Eventually, in a few years, I want to have a brick-and-mortar storefront where you can come in and get your body scanned and have accurate measurements. Before then, we’re working on the body matching quiz and tweaking your own avatar.
To learn more about Gheri follow her on Instagram and to learn more about her upcoming projects check out ID'vour or follow ID'vour on Instagram.