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Joe Zee And Shipley & Halmos Team Up With Vitamin Water To Present Design Contest

Tess Goodwin |
April 7, 2011 | 10:54 a.m. PDT

Staff Reporter

As part of Vitamin Water’s school tour, Joe Zee, the creative director of Elle magazine, and the designers of Shipley & Halmos came to Otis College of Art and Design on Wednesday night to talk about how they got their start in the fashion industry and to give advice to aspiring designers. 

Creative Commons
Creative Commons

The room was buzzing with excitement as Zee, most widely known for his appearance on MTV’s The City, and menswear designers from Orange County, Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos, took their seats on stage beside each other.

First, the questions were disseminated by moderator and Director of Communications at Otis, Margaret Reeve. Then, the floor was opened up so that they could ask each other questions and finally, the audience could ask questions to the fashion experts as well. This created an intimate environment filled with creative energy. 

The most common questions had to do with how Zee became Creative Director of Elle and how Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos were able to be successful designers in such a highly competitive industry.

“I go by instinct. You just do what feels right for you. You have to be curious and keep asking questions,” said Zee. 

This became a big theme of the night with both parties continuously talking about “doing what was right for you.” Shipley & Halmos were invited to participate in New York Fashion Week, something that every designer dreams of. After doing it once, however, they decided it just wasn’t for them. Fashion Week was not what their brand was about.  

“We felt really curbed creatively having to create a specific type of runway show. So, we’re gonna do it our way. That is the benefit of owning your own company, we have the freedom to change,” said Shipley.

Always entrepreneurial in spirit and focused on style through their involvement with board sports at an early age, fashion design turned into the logical route for Shipley and Halmos, who started selling clothing out of their ca. They got their big break when they “threw a suitcase on a desk at Barneys and they bought the whole collection.”

“I had a passion to do something really creative and travel,” said Shipley. Now, Shipley & Halmos is sold globally and the company is close to launching their e-commerce site.

Another theme of the night was the idea that in order to be successful, you must create your own job. Before Zee, Elle Magazine did not have a creative director and had not been redesigned in 20 years.

“You create what you want out of your job. My goal was that if I ripped out a page of Elle and threw it on the table, everyone knew it was Elle. Elle is no longer a magazine, it is a brand,” said Zee.

Another one of Zee’s goals is to “foster the voice of the next generation of designers,” which is why he chose to work with Vitamin Water in creating their color contest - an online design competition in search of the next up-and-coming designer. This designer gains the opportunity to feature their designs along side those of Chris Benz, Richard Chai, Derek Lam, Rag & Bone, Shipley & Halmos, and Vena Cava. 

The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) will then pick the top 10 designs and ultimately choose one designer who will get their T-shirt manufactured with a prize of $5000.

One of the few faces in fashion that has taken complete advantage of new technologies, Zee created Elle.com, which is one of fashion’s premier websites. He is continuing to use the power of media and technology to find the most talented up-and-coming designers.

On All on the Line, he is teaching designers that “You cant just design a dress, you have to be the face behind that dress.” Zee said that the most common problem designers have is bridging the gap between design and commerce. Thus, his goal is to help up-and-coming designers become marketable while at the same time preserving their artistic vision.

This is another reason Zee decided to team up Vitamin Water and CFDA to present this T-shirt designing contest.  “I’m a vitamin water addict anyway so when this opportunity came up and Vitamin Water connected with CFDA to do this contest...I loved it. This is exactly what I talk about, helping the next generation of designers get the break that they need...these are the things I am trying to foster, to bring the voices and the talent of this next generation to the forefront.”

To find out more about Vitamin Water’s color contest, check out apps.facebook.com/colorcollection for more information. 

Catch Zee’s new show, All on the Line, Tuesdays at 10pm on the Sundance Channel.

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