Fashion is the language of presentation. From embracing tongued-tied tapestries to chatty, casual combinations and eloquent ensembles, clothing is the gateway to expression. Whether speaking the lingo of blue jeans and boots or the jargon of spring dresses and heels, what one wears is a dialect spoken by all.
Fluent in the world of layers and patterns, local fashion designer Dillon Wilson is sewing a message of love into his brand’s couture vernacular. Having launched his first clothing line in January, called “Love You,” Wilson is entrepreneuring a career of style hemmed in purpose.
“This collection is called ‘More Than A Feeling,’ because I believe love is more than a feeling, it’s a decision and choice. Feelings come and go, but a decision to love someone and be loved by someone is much higher and carries more weight. That’s why this line is called, ‘More Than A Feeling.' Love is more than a feeling,” Wilson explained.
HOBBY TO CAREER
According to an article in the Dallas Observer, Dallas is ranked in the top five of the most fashionable cities in the U.S.
Being the birthplace of Neiman Marcus, high-end clothing is already engrained in Texas culture, and by putting a polished foot forward the fashion society is inspiring native talent to try their hand at the industry – Wilson being one of them.
Currently living in Waxahachie and serving as the Young Adults Pastor at The Oaks Church in Red Oak, Wilson is not a stranger to Ellis County. After graduating from Midlothian High School and then from Kansas State University in 2014 with a degree contrasting to his hobby, an unexpected passion rose within him.
“My major doesn’t have anything to do with design. My major is Communications and Leadership. That helps a lot with me being a Pastor at The Oaks, but nothing to do with fashion. Fashion was just a hobby of mine and something I enjoyed in my downtime and on the weekends, and it’s turned into something more in the last few months,” he recalled.
With an idea to create a wardrobe for Wilson and his friends, the thought soon fast-tracked into a full-fledged production within a matter of months. During a trip to the cement jungle of New York, Wilson jolted desire into action, by filling a need to create a positive culture within the apparel business.
“It really did start about four months ago. There were so many people working in the fashion industry in New York, and I think a new style and the creative outfits and different looks got me intrigued. I got motivated to start my own line and bring back to Dallas what I experienced in one week there,” Wilson said. “I was with my brother, and I was like, ‘Dude, when we get home, let’s do this.’ And he was like, ‘Okay, what do you want to call it?’ And it took me like 30 seconds, ‘Love you.’ And he said, ‘Okay.’ We got home and started drawing some stuff on scratch paper. That’s literally how I started – scrap pieces of paper, doing different drawings."
Without hesitation, Wilson knew “Love You” wouldn’t be just another label, but a lifestyle shifter.
“I think love is an overused word sometimes and I’m not trying to over-use it more, because we all say ‘I love Whataburger, I love going to this place, I love this band,’ but to me, I want to be able to not over-use the word, but use it to change a culture and generation to seeing what and who is love,” he clarified. “As a reflection of me, I’m a person that loves to love people. Every day I try to live out these words ‘Love You,’ and everything I do and the way I serve, talk, and communicate with people. For me, it’s a reflection of who I am and who I try to be.
"As a pastor and a man of God, I want to spend my life loving people, so if I can do that through clothing then that’s a major success and opportunity I’ve been given to love the people that wear these clothes."
Although the task would be daunting in terms of time and resources, the creative journey took flight.
“You start with scratch paper doing random sketches and drawings of what you think would look cool. A lot of things look cool on paper, but whenever you start to put them into clothes, it doesn’t look as good anymore. Or when you show people your idea, it isn’t as cool as you thought at three in the morning,” he laughed. “[...] I did a lot of homework and research. A lot of fashion is reused and twisted, mixed up, and changed ideas that have happened in the past. So I did a lot of research online and on Instagram of different stuff that I like. Then I mixed all those together, putting my own spin, touch, and personality into the piece."
Not wasting time, an unstoppable squad was immediately assembled by pulling from a pool of local talent. Knowing his own designing limitations, Wilson delegated parts of his business to the strengths of his friends.
“I got a lot of inspiration from different people. After you get the sketch on paper, then you have to get with a graphic designer. So I got with Caleb Embry, and he did all the text and words - so all the print you see in words, he did that. Then this girl who is a good friend of mine, Alexis Franklin, she does digital art on her iPad. So you’ll see a couple of pieces on the line that have a lot of artistic detail, and she’s the one that went and did that process for me,” he included.
Varying in expertise, the team's jobs consisted of everything from the modish online layout of Rachel Heisel; to visionary videos done by Ryan Wermich and David White; and adorned photography dexterities of brother, Hunter Wilson, “Love You” is far from an amateur label, but a legendary brand in the making.
Once the designs were complete, a new set of challenges arose to find models for the entire collection.
“Most of them are signed by agents. I had 15 models involved in the look book and fashion show process. About eight of them were signed, and the rest were friends of mine, so a mixture of friends and professional. All of us have become best friends. It was just ‘Hey, Dillon is pulling all these people together, and we’re just going to take some photos for his new clothing line.’ And now it’s, ‘Hey, let’s all be best friends and do life together, hang out and encourage each other.’ They represent what the brand is - that’s what’s cool,” he nodded.
The success only grew from there, adding a Dallas print shop to customize the pieces.
“Express Custom Prints are the ones that did that, and I did everything there. After a lot of tweaks and measurements and a lot of ‘I don’t like that, let’s switch this and fix that,’ about four months later the whole collection dropped and released at the fashion show on January 27,” he stated.
Once the designs were set, the prints made, and the models fitted, the nerves of his first show surfaced as opening night neared.
Presenting his winter and spring collection as a pop-up shop in an art studio in the Design District of Dallas, more than 200 people gathered for the event.
“I wanted to have a pop-up shop and a release party. A pop-up shop is where you can buy clothes, and it’s only for a day or a weekend. It’s like we pop-up, set up, and then we’re gone. So I wanted to do that and have the opportunity with my friends to go and see the pieces and collection together,” Wilson explained.
As for the long sleeve season, Love You guarantees a one-of-a-kind flare to every garment sold.
“Every piece has its own little thing that makes it unique. One of our hoodies is airbrushed, and every one of them is personally airbrushed and is unique to its own. So it’s kind of like you’re wearing your own art piece, cause the guy took 30 minutes to airbrush the hoodie and put clouds on it. There’s a lot of stuff that I can’t do, but I have a lot of friends that are very talented, so that helps. It wouldn’t be possible without the team. I’m already way too busy and overwhelmed, so if I try to do it all myself, I would die,” he joked.
From Among the distinctive designs of the collection, the staging of the show was equally fascinating.
“We had a fashion show that included ten models, so we did a different style of a fashion show. We did a still model, kind of like a live mannequin idea. It wasn’t a catwalk runway like you see on TV most of the time. My models walked out with a big milk crate because they had to be tall in the audience; otherwise, you wouldn’t be able to see them. They set the crate down and stepped on top of it. They stood there for the whole show so you could see the piece and not walk right back behind the curtain,” Wilson expounded, adding to those who supported his endeavor.
“It was really cool to me because it was my college football friends, my fashion industry friends, my church friends and a whole bunch of people I didn’t even know. It was cool to get all the people I’ve done life with from different times and seasons of my life, all together in the same room. It was great,” he smiled.
Overwhelmed by the support of friends, Wilson’s family also joined the crew to help make the night a success.
“My parents were at the show, helping out with the store, supplying all the water and Red Bull, and taking care of people. They’ve helped me a lot through this process. I have some pretty cool parents,” he admitted.
Publically releasing the 12 pieces of his collection, Love You’s online store also launched that night, bringing in customers from all over the countryside.
“It’s now all online. The online retail is what we’re hitting every day. We’re getting online sales and sending them across the country. Now that the pieces are done, I have the best office in the world – my parent’s extra bedroom closet at the house, so it’s very official,” Wilson sarcastically teased, continuing on Love You’s customization of the product.
“I ship and package everything myself. The piece comes in an air-sealed tight bag with a ‘thank you’ note. I don’t want to lose that personal touch or being able to personally thank them. I know I can’t hang out with everyone or communicate with every person who wears Love You, but what I can do is make sure every piece is done with precision and excellence. I can make sure that every piece represents the people and the culture with the message I want to portray. Whether it’s in a different state or country that they would be having the same emotions, feelings, and vibes whenever they put that piece on,” he articulated.
UNTIL NEXT SEASON
As seasons change into the next, Wilson is eagerly expectant for what his brand will bring in the future.
“We’re planning the process of what our summer will look like now. I’m looking forward to the products that will be with that. It’s very exciting,” he disclosed.
Making life-long friends on his successful career venture, Wilson looks forward to working with them further.
“The people that I’ve met are now my best friends – the models, photographers, videographers, designers, and the people who did the graphics and art, I mean, there are so many people involved in this project, so it definitely can get overlooked that those people made it happen. I was just the creative mind behind it, but I had a lot of people come on my team to make this thing what it actually is now,” he acknowledged.
Sticking to his roots, Wilson says the Love You brand will always carry a hometown feel with its production quality and personalized values.
“A lot of these friends I’m referring to are from Waxahachie, Midlothian, and Red Oak, so I never want to loose where I’m from. This is my home, my people, so there’s been a lot of backing from the community. They come behind and support it. And that’s what I love about the small town that I live in - they always back you. In the big city, you can get lost, but you’re not going to be able to get lost here, and people aren’t going to forget about you,” Wilson stated.
And to those who think Love You is only a brand for this generation, Wilson believes otherwise.
“Here’s what’s funny – my dad, mom, and all their friends always say, ‘I don’t feel cool enough to wear Love You. And I tell everybody, ‘I would absolutely love for you to wear it, and it’s not specific to a group of people or style.’ But it is specific to a message – to spread love. And to change the outlook of how you love and what love looks like. So anybody can wear that,” He encouraged.
Including a powerful message behind the tag, and utilizing the ingenuity of others, is what sets Love You apart from the mainstream lines. It’s not only about speaking the words of trends but also going beyond the exterior and exposing the fashion of the heart – love. Without a drop of regret in Wilson’s mind, he plans to move forward instead of looking back.
“I didn’t want to have regrets or look back and say ‘What could’ve happened? What people could I have influenced or had a relationship with? Who could I have loved that needed it?’ Being 23, single, and saving up money – it was the perfect opportunity, and I felt like God was leading and calling me to go into this industry, to have a positive impact on people who need some love,” Wilson solemnly said.
“With those things at play, it was the perfect time to release and launch it. The worst fear of mine would’ve been sitting at my house, 50 years old, saying, ‘Wow, I could’ve done that. I wish I would’ve tried, but it’s too late.’ I’m not saying a 50-year-old can’t start their own clothing business. I’m just saying the kind of clothes that I want to make an impact with is in this generation - they need to have it now. I’m thankful for the opportunity to have my family and friends come alongside and support me in such a crazy journey so far,” he finished with a grin.
To connect with Love You, visit loveyouofficial.com or follow on social media @loveyouofficial_.
Chelsea Groomer, @ChelseaGroomer