Alumni Success: Johnathan Hayden

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

February 2, 2016

“I love collaborating on anything with people outside of fashion. What is most interesting for me is to hear and see people outside of fashion offering their insights, opinions, specialties, and skill sets to enhance fashion.”

Creative Director of Self-Titled Fashion Brand

Johnathan Hayden is proud to be the creative director of his own brand, based in Savannah, Georgia. But he’s also the first person to admit that the journey to launch the brand was a difficult one. After overcoming issues with potential investors and experiencing a crash course in contractual obligations and legal terminology, he’s more focused than ever on his design and creativity.

Today, Johnathan is responsible for designing the collection and collaborating as an illustrator—as well as reading, researching, and sketching. He says that the best part of his career is the people he meets. “Narrative and relationships are the most rewarding parts of collaboration. They are the cornerstones of success. Success is never achieved on your own. That is why trust, honesty, and dependency are important.” His business experience has taught him to work with trusted companies—ones with proven track records and strong public reputations. But he cautions against trusting in social media. “Do not trust social media. Followers can be bought, likes can be bought. Authenticity cannot.”

Overcoming Obstacles to Create Inspired Designs

Johnathan is inspired by social issues and discussions, as well as literature and film. He looks to Dries van Noten, Aldous Huxley, and Quentin Tarantino for creative inspiration. And he’s honest about the fashion industry, pointing out both its positives and negatives. “I have had many instances where I was told I am not cut out to be a fashion designer. They are often jarring and emotional experiences that constantly make me reassess if I am actually destined to be a designer.”

He says that the issues he faced with potential investors served as a wake up call. “I got out of [the situation] with my company name, logo, and manufacturing relationship intact but I did lose the rights to the products I designed for the company.”

This experience solidified his resolve to step outside the looks created by well- known designers—as well as the fast-fashion hype—and dedicate himself to his craft. “It [can be a] lonely process, but that time affords you the ability to really learn and perfect your craft. When you start to examine clothing as a craft and value its contribution to society and culture, you are on the right track to becoming a designer.”

Practical Advice on the Fashion Industry

Johnathan, who in 2012 earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Fashion Design from The Art Institute of Dallas, a campus of South University, notes the fashion industry can be overwhelming and that not everyone is cut out for it. “[If it’s] not what you expected, really step back and reflect about whether or not you really want to do it. I have had three friends tell me they quit fashion design because of me. While at first shocking, they explained that by watching me, they saw how hard I worked, how much I loved it, and how passionate I was about letting fashion consume my life so that I could come out of it a better designer.”

His friends went on to take new paths toward creative professions—outside of the fashion industry. Johnathan’s advice to people mulling a career change: “Look around. Are you acting like you want it? What about the others who say they want it? [There are thousands] of other people across the globe who want to be even taken seriously in the global fashion industry.”

A note on images: All images in this article were provided by Johnathan Hayden. The images displayed are of Hayden himself as well as excerpts of his process book. These images are not to be used aside this blog post without the direct permission of Hayden.


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By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

February 2, 2016

alumni success branding Fashion fashion careers