Joe Ando-Hirsh, a sewist and actor in New York who is in his 20s, thinks this disconnection between the technical process and final garment has been further strengthened by the commercialization of fashion week, where the focus is largely on documenting the shows and celebrities and not what goes into making the collection. With TikTok, Mr. Ando-Hirsh tries to give sewing modern clout.
He was planning his senior fashion show at the Fashion Institute of Technology and organizing a summer internship when coronavirus hit. Mr. Ando-Hirsh moved from Brooklyn to his parents’ house on Long Island, setting up a studio in their garage. His girlfriend Niamh Adkins, a model, suggested he make a TikTok profile about sewing. On March 14, he shared the process of sewing a red jacket with heart details for her birthday. In the months since, he has gained over 800,000 followers, and also started posting tutorials on YouTube.
“I’m happy that these videos are giving some kids permission to pursue what they want to do, ”Mr. Ando-Hirsh said, “because there’s so many people who comment saying like, ‘Man I always had thought about doing fashion but I went to med school instead and I really regret it.’”
Currently inspired by mixing the cream colors of desert environments with the oversized, masculine style of 1970s Wall Street, Mr. Ando-Hirsh takes custom orders and hopes to start his own business focusing on unisex fashion. He hopes to appeal to younger generations that are more fluid with their clothing choices and particularly men who are increasingly willing to take fashion risks, experimenting with color and more form fitting styles.
“All of that is changing right now,” he said, “I think aside from the pandemic, it’s a really good and interesting time to be a designer because there’s more people out there who are open to what you’re doing.”
Brandon Hayden, 24, a sewist in Atlanta who runs Happily Dressed, a wellness brand, also has this mind-set. Mr. Hayden has a fraternal twin and wanted to distinguish himself by wearing thrifted outfits that mixed more masculine and feminine styles. Sewing enables him to envision garments beyond the narrow fashion choices for men, and also take a stand against environmentally damaging fast fashion cycles. He thrifts most of his fabrics, often using curtains, tablecloths and other unexpected materials: Upholstery fabric with safari animals became a cropped jacket and a Carhartt denim coat was transformed into a chain bag.