Kevin Wommack (Playing In Traffic Records), Jill Lynch and Velyna Morales are bringing art, music and fashion together in a new company called fM fashion Music. Videos are produced for the music artists (promoting the fashion by wearing the clothing), and visual artists partner to create the artWear t-shirts and jewelry.
AMFM: HOW DID THIS ALL START AND WHY?
My partner Velyna Morales and I began talking about this three years ago. We met in Dallas when she was an executive at Neiman Marcus; she was getting ready to go NYC to be the President of Victoria’s Secret Direct, her most recent corporate job. Our daughters were friends, and we would always gather around them. Over time and conversations, we discovered a mutual interest in entrepreneurial spirit and quest.
Over time Velyna consulted with other companies, and she began to think about developing something herself. She had decided to exit large scale corporate life for awhile.
Velyna is a merchant first —fashion is what she knows. And I said “you know, there’s a really incredible music/artist scene in Austin that perhaps could be incorporated.” I had heard about the vibrant music scene in Austin, but had never really seen it until I got to know Kevin. As I attended events, I began to understand the depth and breadth of talent in this town that is still relatively unknown to people outside of Texas or the music industry.
I grew up in Los Angeles and the Northeast. I’d always heard about Austin, but it was relatively unknown, kind of like a little jewel for the few who had visited. So I suggested to Velyna that we incorporate the music into our fashion brand. They naturally go together, fashion and music have always danced together and it’s been done before, but not really online. (cont’d after the jump)
Slider photos: Jeremy Frechette
Velyna’s role at Victoria’s Secret was on the e-commerce side of things. She really had a passion for creating a different online experience. We hoped to create something visually appealing, but also bring in “mood” and “feeling” through the music. Music brings that mood altering magic. We started talking about it three years ago and were shocked to see that we were on to something.
The concept grew from incorporating just music to also incorporating visual artists. We really hope we are positioning ourselves as a company that promotes all artists. We create the videos for the music artists, and feature them on the site. We partner with visual artists to help create the art Wear t-shirts.
It was eye-opening for me to discover how difficult it is for the artistic community. The existence is hard. We wanted to help. The mission grew beyond selling fashion, we’d like to make a difference for artists. We wanted to find the artists that could use the exposure and promotion, and the rest of the story is a portion of the sales go to these same artists.
AMFM: THAT’S DIFFERENT. SO YOU REALLY ARE HELPING THEM FINANCIALLY AS WELL AS GIVING EXPOSURE.
Absolutely. We chose to start with t-shirts since it’s the fashion item most closely connected to music. Then we got to Austin and saw the body art, you wouldn’t believe the magnificent art here created by tattoo artists. I never thought about getting a tattoo in my life but as I walk around and see things, I think “Wow, I might just do that!”
Also tattoo art is such a part of the music culture here, so it just made sense to incorporate it. So we started out investigating and researching different tattoo artists with the idea that they would help us create body art tees.
AMFM: SO BODY ART TEES ARE WHERE IT STARTED?
Body art is where it started, but quickly grew to include a variety of contemporary visual artists as well. We now have about 20 designs from 11 visual artists, including a jewelry artist who puts together vintage remnants in interesting ways, chains that vary, pendants, weighty, chunky, sort of rock-n-roll looking.
AMFM: YOUR NEXT STEP WAS TO GET YOUR T SHIRTS ON BANDS
Yes, we put the tees on the band members for the videos we produce, and whenever possible! The artists, music and visual, are our models. Lorelei Linklater, who starred in the movie Boyhood modeled for us. She is a visual artist in her own right. We’re talking about collaborating with her on a t-shirt design too. We have worked with a few bands around town. Hunter Sharpe, great looking, has the model physique —his band members too. We have also worked with The Digital Wild, Patrice Pike, and The Roosevelts. We will soon feature a video of Suzanna Choffel.
One of the Hunter Sharpe band members is Marlon Sexton (they just had some family portraits done and he is wearing the shirt). Then Henry Garza starred in a video wearing the Oye Mamacita tee, and Sahara Smith of band girl pilot. The Painted Redstarts with William Graham, John Dee Graham’s son, has been really supportive. Jeremy Frechette has been the primary photographer.
AMFM: KEVIN, WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THIS?
KEVIN WOMMACK: I curate music and Jill spearheads what is utilized and how it’s utilized.
AMFM: HOW DO YOU MATCH THE ARTISTS, JILL?
We thought it would be fun to feature the artists in different genre categories — as a way to tie the music in to the way we organized the site. We had lots of different genres, but then we thought we’d narrow it down.
Boho naturally synced up to singer songwriter.
Then Urban matched whatever we came across that made sense…maybe jazz, the right rap maybe the right hip hop. That is a more free-flowing category. We worked with the Digital Wild and they call themselves Afrodelic.
Retro is a genre primarily because it is a fashion category Velyna is attracted to. Sahara Smith of girl pilot was put in that category; although she’s singer songwriter she has a retro look to the way she dresses. The way we match them is guided by the way that they look or guided by the way that they sound. It’s not a perfect science.
AMFM: IT’S NOT A SCIENCE AT ALL, IT’S ART.
Exactly. We worked with The Ben Baxter Band, a relatively unknown band and they describe themselves as a mixture of blues, rock, soul and funk. They were under the rock genre, and we also put Hunter Sharpe in the rock category —Hunter’s band is more classic rock. Clearly it’s not a perfect science, but it’s a fun way to categorize a fashion-music retail website.
Website: fM fashion Music