Beyond the Brand: Tanner Fletcher
By: Channing Shettle
Beyond the Brand aims to allow readers to be introduced to the designers and creative directors that are behind fashion's most-daring and radiant brands. This interview will introduce you to Tanner and Fletcher, the masterminds behind the rising namesake brand, Tanner Fletcher.
We would love to know what each of your fashion stories is. Is it along the lines of “I knew I wanted to be in the industry since I was five,” something unexpected life threw your way, or somewhere in the middle?
Tanner and Fletcher: We have both always had an interest in fashion and interior design from a young age but because we both grew up in small midwestern towns, we didn’t realize that it was a career path we could take. Also, neither of us is classically trained in apparel design so it took a moment for us to see starting a brand as a possibility. We started our creative careers by moving from Minnesota to NYC only for one summer to intern. Tanner interned for a textile company and Fletcher for a small NY-based fashion designer. After the summer was over, we were hooked and needed to move back to NYC as soon as possible. It only took us three months to pack up our things and take the plunge. Once we got here, Fletcher worked for Barneys New York and Saint Laurent and Tanner gained experience in the interior design world. Soon, the pandemic hit and we were both laid off. So we had a lot of extra time and unemployment money to work with. We had always explored the idea of starting a brand together but never thought it would be this early in our careers. After a lot of experimentation and development, Tanner Fletcher was born.
How would you describe the wearer of Tanner Fletcher?
T & F: The mood that the overall brand is intended to convey is an uptown meets downtown vibe. Our customers cover a wide range of ages, genders, and types of people. Living in NYC, we describe our core aesthetic as Bushwick meets the Upper East Side. There is a wonderful juxtaposition that happens here. It’s where stuffy meets cool, youthful meets sophisticated, and wearable meets couture.
What is the ultimate goal for the brand? Do you each have the same goals for the brand? Or do you both have different goals in mind?
T & F: We both have the same goals for the brand. Overall, we are striving to disrupt the fashion industry twofold. First, we strive to be a leader in genderless fashion. Genderless does not have to mean the removal of character, charm, elegance, or detail. Many current genderless selections we’re seeing are full of hoodies, sweatpants, tees, etc. which are innately genderless. What we are doing is removing the unnecessary gender labels from luxury clothing, without removing quality, detail, and character. Secondly, we strive to be a leader in the merger of home and wardrobe. Not only are our collections inspired by the home and interior design but our customer gets to buy into an entire lifestyle rather than only clothing. This is achieved by our upcoming “Bric-A-Brac” category which is an ultra curated selection of both new and found items consisting of pillows and throws that coordinate with any current RTW collection. We plan to expand this area of our business as we grow as well as expand our shoes, handbags, and jewelry to encompass the Tanner Fletcher lifestyle.
If you could create a garment for anyone in the world, who would you design for and why? What would the piece look like or represent?
T & F: Although it isn’t a single garment or a well-known person, we would ideally create an entire wardrobe for any given person. This would mean designing everything they own from undergarments, tank tops, socks, etc. to pieces they can wear to work, to an event, to a wedding, lounging around their house, or even having a part in curating the contents of their home. The dream is to have a full immersion into the world of Tanner Fletcher.
What’s your “why” for Tanner Fletcher? What is the underlying message that you tell yourselves on days when you need to recenter your minds?
T & F: Our core value of genderless design is always our “why”. For all of our lives, we have both shopped between Women’s and Men’s departments for our personal wardrobes. There always seemed to be a stigma around doing this, especially where we grew up. For some reason, if it wasn’t in the Men’s department then it felt like it was off-limits or would be looked at as “weird” for us to buy something from the Women’s department. We don’t want others to have to feel this way. For us, genderless fashion takes away these unnecessary labels. We believe that if you like a piece of clothing or anything for that matter, you should be able to rock it without feeling like it wasn’t meant for you either because it is cut in a way that isn’t flattering or simply because it is in the “wrong section”. Additionally, much of the genderless clothing we’re seeing today is all sweatshirts, sweatpants, tees, etc. Just because something is genderless doesn’t mean it has to lose all of its charm and elegance. If you identify as a more feminine person, a more masculine person, or somewhere in between, Tanner Fletcher is designed to work for you regardless of gender or sexuality. We hope to be a leader on this front and one day make genderless shopping the new normal.
When designing a collection, do you bounce off of each other with ideas and inspirations? Or do you create separately and then come together with a completed Vision?
T & F: I would say we design in a very unconventional way. We do not sketch or create elaborate mood boards. The completed vision definitely comes from a “mood” or “vibe” as we call it. Whatever we are feeling at the moment, we run with it. It seems like we’ve developed a language of our own that only the two of us know. It can be difficult to communicate your creative vision but it works for us. We are always going back and forthcoming up with new ideas. In the beginning, the more ideas the better, and then we narrow down and refine from there until we have the final collection. We are extremely inspired by the home. A type of interior design or even a vintage object is often where we start with inspiration and color scheme.
Being a designer, you have the ability to invoke emotions from your clients through the art of design. Is there any one emotion you would want someone to feel after seeing your collections?
T & F: We want our clients to feel special, nostalgic and connected. Our goal is to help our clients find their true inner style which is different for every single person. This is what makes our clients feel special. Our designs pull from different eras in time making people feel nostalgic which is a very personal and subjective way to feel. Second, we all know that feeling when you are connected to an object or piece of clothing that you just can’t part with. This is something we strive for our clients to feel in relation to our designs. We aren’t making pieces for people to wear for a season and then throw away. We are making pieces that are meant to be cherished and even passed on. All these things combined, we hope to cultivate our customer’s creativity and self-expression which is an evolutionary cycle.
In your opinion, what are the most critical aspects of the fashion industry?
T & F: The most critical part and often the most difficult to find part of the fashion industry is choosing the people you work with. From artisans, factories, and seamstresses to PR, to sales, to photographers, and even models we always have to ensure that these people can see our vision and help to highlight that. Additionally, artisans and skilled workers are essential to the fashion industry. These are people who have honed their craft for decades. When you have these people on your side, you have the ability to make beautiful things.
We would love to hear how you both work together at Tanner Fletcher. Do you divide the roles or do you intermingle the type of work you’re doing?
T & F: First and foremost, we both have equal parts in designing the collections. Tanner is the leader of the production. He manages all of our vendors and production partners. Fletcher manages more of the customer side. What the customer sees is what he works on. He manages our interactions with buyers and customers. There’s always quite a bit of crossover. At this time, we each do a bit of everything.
If you had to use a single word to describe Tanner Fletcher, what would it be?
T & F: Here’s a few:
- New Wave
- Our Baby!!