Houston designer Emili Adame takes her shoe on the road at SXSW
While South By Southwest music fans are milling about Austin playing “Hipster or Homeless,” Emili Adame will be living the part of designer, not poser, at Style X, creating on-the-spot fashion during the festival.
It’s another bright spot on the Houston designer’s highlight reel, one that includes an exclusive design deal with Keds, a jewelry collection favored by some bold-faced political It girls and the launch of her own modern '80s-influenced clothing line.
Adame worked for and modeled with the Neil Hamil Agency for years, so she was familiar with fashion. Naturally creative, she always knew a desk job would never be a part of her life’s plans. When she started making jewelry in 2009, she was hooked.
“I was making jewelry as a hobby and went crazy,” Adame says. “I would think of something and then want to make it.”
She worked with semi-precious stones and gold-filled metals and when a friend asked her to sell her pieces at a trunk show, Adame said yes, but clearly had no idea what would happen next. It turned out that sisters Barbara and Jenna Bush and their cousin, designer Lauren Bush, attended the trunk show and became fans of her jewelry. Adame's hobby became a business, and her creative juices were super stoked.
In a blink, her life became a whirlwind. She started taking classes at the Art Institute of Houston and applying her Barbie clothes sewing skills to the test, learning pattern-making and the real details of design.
“My stuff is so different from other anybody else’s in town. Why not put combat boots with a silk top? I would wear all of the things I design,” Adama says. “I want people who don’t dress like this to be able too.”
Life took another surprising turn when Keds added Adame among a select group of artists, designers and musicians chosen to design for the Keds Collective. Those familiar with the basic round toe, leather lace-up sneaker may be surprised to see how updated the shoe has become, especially at the hands of creatives like Adame.
The blank white canvas was the perfect place for bright colors and whimsical designs. Adame works with hi-tops, slip-on skater shoes and the traditional sneaker for Keds Collective and her designs are consistently among the most popular on the site.
Keds decision makers chose her to rep the Collective at SXSW as part of the “How Do You Do?” event Saturday and Sunday at the Austin Convention Center. She will be painting up to 38 pairs of shoes each day and some of the shoes sold will benefit charity.
The marriage of Keds and SXSW is ideal for Adame since her shoes are popular among up-and-coming bands like Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, who wore them on Jimmy Fallon, Her Space Holiday's Marc Bianchi and local group The NIceguys.
“Keds is 100 percent behind me. I will be onsite designing, getting creative with the people around me. I have all my paints ready and will be painting for hours,” Adame says.
Adame loves chartreuse, a notoriously difficult color to wear and has a burning desire to bring back her version of Units, the '80s line of knitwear that could be mixed and matched like Garanimals. Her quirky leanings make her designs interesting, and in between the bright colors and harem pants, Adame’s mixture of '30s, '60s and '80s-influenced fashion seems fresh.
Adame is hoping to launch her 12-piece collection in Houston this year and then show at LA Fashion Week in 2012. She’s also working toward her degree at the Art Institute and even attempting to write and direct independent films, a pursuit she calls her “largest goal.”
“When this year hit, I just felt this was going to be my year,” Adame says. “Everything I’ve ever dreamed of, I’m experiencing.”
Emili Adame talks about jewelry making: