Tieler James Dishes on Design, Anna Wintour, and the 3 Things You MUST Have in Your Closet!

Sitting down to chat with teen designer Tieler James is like hanging out with an old friend. Perhaps it’s his proper southern etiquette, or good parenting, or more than likely, a combination of both. Whatever the case, from the moment Tieler’s face popped up on my Face Time screen, I was drawn in by his quick smile and easy manner.

For those not in the know, Tieler James was one of twelve teens competing in season 2 of Project Runway Junior. His design aesthetic won him a place as one of the judges’ faves, and his unflappable calm seemed to provide a big brother type comfort for some of the younger contestants.

Tieler selfies with a young fan

Though he just turned 17 last month, Tieler is cool and composed as he greets me, and I thank him for taking time to speak with me. We launch into a rapid fire discussion, veering off topic at times to Miss Britney Spears (we love), and all the places I think he should visit (hey, I’m a mom! Just giving some advice!).

Tieler cozies up to his favorite mannequin, Brenda (named after his maternal grandmother)

His face lights up when he gets truly excited or passionate about a subject, and I went from fan to super fan in about two seconds flat.

Dani: You’re working hard on your new collection! (For Vancouver Fashion Week) There’s a Joan of Arc theme going on. How did that come about?

Tieler: Yeah, I design for strong women. I grew up around women; surrounded by my moms, aunts, grandma…I feel it’s my duty to give back.

Dani: Let’s discuss your work process. Do you have a playlist going while you’re creating?

Tieler: Oh my gosh, yes! Always. Right now I’m really into Prayers. It’s spoken word, and I love “Blood on the Blade”. I’ll be using that song when I show in Vancouver. Oh! And the Kill Bill soundtrack for some reason.

McQueen watches over Tieler as he works in his studio

ALSO READ: Project Runway Junior: You can totally sit with us.

Dani: You have a very strong view on fashion itself…

Tieler: Yes. The fashion industry is very exclusive…and it shouldn’t be. It should be inclusive, for anyone. The term “unisex” though, is not a good description. You have to do things for yourself, not for the mold you’re put in…

Dani: As in, “you’re this type of guy, so let’s dress you the way someone like you should look”

Tieler: Exactly. Who’s to say what anyone “should” wear? You’ve gotta be you

Dani: I love that. Speaking of being you – last year Season One designer Matt Sarafa and I spoke about the difference between the teen Project Runway casts vs. the adults. The teens never seem to have any drama, yet the adults always do. Matt said the kids were portrayed exactly as they are. Was it the same for you? And if so, why do you think such a young group of people managed to avoid behaviors that the adults never can?

Tieler: Yeah, it was the same with us. There was no “editing” that made situations appear different than they were. I think…well, for me at least, my whole life I’ve never met other kids like me. Then suddenly there are twelve of us in a group, and we’re so excited to have found other people like ourselves, that we want to hang on to each other. We don’t want anything to mess that up.

Tieler's wall of achievements

Dani: Any plans for college?

Tieler: Yes! I would love to go to Parsons! Or maybe SCAAD…

Dani: What about dream clients? Who do you want to dress?

Tieler: Oh, Janelle Monae for sure. And (Canadian Singer) Grimes…oh! and Anna Wintour!

Dani: THE Anna Wintour?? Wouldn’t that be intimidating?

Tieler: No, not at all! People have the wrong idea about her. She’s so sweet! She’s…she’s a business woman. She’s brilliant. She knows what she wants. But she’s a sweet lady!

Dani: As for the future, as a designer, what is “the dream” for you?

Tieler: Me, but on a bigger scale. I want to have a label, a studio, be known…

Dani: I don’t see that as a problem for you!

Tieler: Oh gosh, people say that…this is all so crazy!

Tieler loves cacti!

Want a little more taste of Project Runway?
Check out these designs: CLICK HERE

Dani: We love a good tip here Tieler, so tell us this – what three things should every young woman have in her closet right now?

Tieler: Hmmm…an oversized coat, a turtleneck, and a pair of creepers.

Dani: Creepers!? What is that? Is that a thing?

Tieler: They’re shoes! Hang on, I’ll show you...
*picks up phone* “Siri, show me creepers” 
*looks at phone* Oh whoops, not that kind of creeper! “Siri, show me creeper shoes”

Dani: Ok then, what about women over the age of 30?

Tieler: Same! Why can’t they wear the same, regardless of age? I love a good mix of contemporary and vintage.

Dani: And finally, leave us with a killer quote…

Tieler: Hmmm. Oh! “Life’s a demon with ten inch heels, so put on some flats”


Twitter: @Designertieler
Instagram: tielerjamesdesigns


Custom Order from Tieler at: tielerjamesdesigns@gmail.com




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