It’s not often that people walk around in clothes they’ve made themselves, but that’s not the case for Lillian Maple, a fashion merchandising student at the University of Georgia.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have taken up a new hobby like gardening or knitting. Maple took a more unique path by learning to make clothes. Using an old sewing machine, she learned the basic techniques from her mother, who she says loves making pillowcases and curtains.
“I’ve always been a huge fan of clothes and shopping. It was always my thing when I was younger. I would never let my mom dress me. I was very picky about my clothes and I wore the stuff the most bizarre,” Maple said.
Standing out from the crowd is what Maple says inspires her. If she sees something that’s trendy or similar to other people, she’ll wonder how she can style it differently or fit it in a unique way.
Before creating her clothes, Maple likes to be inspired by brands. She also finds ideas through her other interests like listening to music. Last fall, Maple found itself coming up with ideas based on the music of Grimes, a Canadian musician.
“There were a few songs in particular that I was great at and played on repeat whenever I was designing. Instead of [the clothes] being for me, it was for the girl in the song that I imagined,” Maple said.
Making the outfit is the easiest part, according to Maple, who said the process involved a lot of trial and error. Although it may take some time, Maple greatly appreciates each step.
When Maple first posted a photo of a top she made, many of her friends asked how much it was. She had no intention of selling anything, but after seeing the interest, Maple said, “I was like, ‘Oh wow. I have to do what?’ People want my stuff.
Today, Maple sells clothes through Instagram where anyone can message her to buy them.
Anna Kate Goodwin, a friend of Maple’s and a junior psychology student at UGA, said Maple lights up whenever she talks about her work. In vintage shops, Goodwin said she can spot some amazing finds.
“She expresses her love of color and fabrics through her sense of fashion. Lillian has the best eye,” Goodwin said.
Ryleigh Holloway, a sophomore in health promotion at UGA, models Maple’s pieces when she needs someone to showcase her art, like at UGA Fashion Design’s Fall 2021 fashion show Student Association, for which she designed two dresses.
“Working with Lillian is always exciting as she makes sure I’m comfortable and confident in the pieces she brings me. If she sees an area that needs tweaking, she’ll give me tips on how to optimize the look she’s going for. Lillian’s fashion is a lot like mine: girly and fabulous,” Holloway said.
Maple currently works as a sales rep for MINKPINK, a women’s clothing line sold at stores like Nordstrom and Revolve. Every other week, she travels to Atlanta to work Market Weeks at the AmericasMart wholesale showroom. Although Maple wants to continue working in the wholesale business, eventually she hopes to delve more into the marketing side.
“Being on the side of the wholesale brand reps is really cool because you can see the retail perspective, the buyer perspective as well as the manufacturing supply chain and the brand perspective of the brand. ‘business. You’re kind of involved in all of this,” Maple said.
As a freshman, Maple was determined to pursue journalism, saying writing was her “thing”. When a professor told her if she wanted to pursue fashion she had to take a major in fashion merchandising, she did it even though she was nervous.
Gone are the jitters, Maple is now preparing for a career by participating in campus organizations like Rouge Magazine and the Student Merchandising Association — and of course, by continuing to make clothes.