In the fashion world, often known for inflated egos and shameless self-promotion, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is in it for money and fame.
Up-and-coming local fashion designer Paige Modlin isn’t buying into those ideals. And, like her clothing, it’s downright refreshing.
In person, her demeanor is quiet. She is hesitant when speaking about herself and her sentences occasionally trail off. One look at her social media tells a different story, though. When modeling her own clothing or just hanging out with friends, her confidence in herself and her personal style is clear.
Her style, by the way, is very street. She says she likes to focus on shape and silhouette, though color clearly plays a key role in her designs. But most importantly, she likes to make clothes that people feel comfortable in, no matter their gender. “I definitely design clothes for men and women, but that either gender could wear.”
She adds that her personal style is “sort of all over the place.” One day, she might be feeling the sporty look, the next she may want to do super preppy. Or maybe she’s just feeling a certain color.
“I was trying to wear all pink today, but I didn’t really have the jacket for it.”
Modlin says she got interested in fashion as a sophomore at Westside High School, from which she graduated last year. She says it’s “crazy how good the program is” there.
She says she was already interested in clothing and shopping, so she decided she “might as well try” making her own.
Her mother, Pam Modlin, says Paige is the artsy one out of her five children. She was the one who liked to draw or wanted to play the flute. However, “It wasn’t until high school when she started sewing that she really blossomed on the art scene.”
“I’ve always known I wanted to be an artist, but ever since I started making clothes, I was over painting,” says the 19-year-old Modlin.
She says she finds inspiration everywhere. For her clothing designs, she especially enjoys searching thrift shops, which she visits at least once a day. And of course, “definitely the internet,” specifically Instagram, where she tends to follow others interested in vintage clothing. At first it may be difficult to see where that vintage inspiration is represented in her designs, but she says it’s usually in the color palette. “I like the bright, retro jumpsuits.”
Modlin says one of her favorite creators is Belgian fashion designer Raf Simons, which makes sense once you’ve peeped his classic yet contemporary designs. While they both emphasize the structure of a piece, Modlin’s clothing is definitely more colorful. That bit of inspiration stems from her affection for Japanese streetwear and designer Takashi Murakami.
Her love of fashion also drives her to travel. She recently visited her father in Mexico, and before that she travelled to Europe to “self-study” fashion. She was in France and Italy during fashion week, though she didn’t get to attend the actual shows. But she says she found the street art very inspiring, although she did think the lack of color was odd.
“All the young kids were wearing black or neutral colors, and I was wearing these bright colors. I stood out so much,” she says. “I have this picture [taken] in Rome of me wearing one of the shirts I made and everyone in the background is wearing a black coat…like I’m some crazy girl.” She adds that the people in Amsterdam were more relatable and “way nicer.”
Next up on her travel list is Japan. “Streetwear is very big in Japan, and that’s where a lot of my inspo comes from.”
When it comes to the future, Modlin says she will continue to study fashion, and she plans on taking classes at Metropolitan Community College. “They have a lot of fun classes there,” she says. Besides fashion design, she also really enjoys photography. Graphic design is another medium she would like to get into more. Plus, she adds, it would be a good skill to have to fall back on. Not that she plans on falling.
“I want to be able to make my own brand and sell it, and graphic design would definitely fit in with that.” But for now, where she’ll end up is a mystery. “I don’t know,” she says. “I never know!”
This article was printed in the July/August 2018 edition of Encounter.
See more on the designer’s instagram instagram/@__unknown.jpg