DMIH Q&A: Homeslice's Emily Thornhill
Fashion designer gets the runway at DAM Design Show
Emily Thornhill J Singleton; courtesy Emily Thornhill
Photo: J Singleton; courtesy Emily Thornhill
More photos (click to enlarge)
Last year, local fashion designer Cristin Richard stole the Detroit Artists Market Design Show with her dresses made out of toilet paper. This year, Emily Thornhill plans to show off original works with a 1950s flair.
While last year's theme was "bath," with designers displaying more than 60 pieces for the bathroom, such as hardware and furnishings, this year will have a "cocktail" theme. The bulk of the show, beginning Jan. 13, will display 13 local designers' works, including cocktail tables, side tables and bars.
This is the first time the show's opening will feature a single runway designer. In years past, the runway portion featured groups of designers, said Gallery Manager Sarah Balmer.
"We just wanted to change it up a bit," Balmer said. Thornhill's new line and participation at DC3 makes it a good time to highlight her, she said.
Thornhill runs Homeslice Clothing out of the Detroit Creative Corridor Center's business accelerator, opened in July at the College for Creative Studies' A. Alfred Taubman Center for Design Education. She lives in Midtown and does production work out of a studio in the Russell Industrial Center.
The Homeslice Clothing line, started in January 2011, consists mainly of women's tank tops and dresses. Thornhill said she is working to expand into business casual wear.
DetroitMakeItHere.com Editor Gary Anglebrandt spoke with Thornhill to learn a bit more about the business side of her fashion work.
Was this your first line? I had a line called Femilia Couture that ended in (December 2010). I had a partnership. It didn't work out; this is my new solo line.
(Homeslice) is designed for creative, savvy women. I'm inspired by global street style. I'm kind of obsessed with Berlin and am trying to bring a world to Detroit that Detroiters may not know about. It's inspired by the avant-garde, but I'm making it more wearable. ... Everything is made in here in Detroit by hand, all organic fabrics.
My work is inspired by what people are wearing across the pond. They're just ahead of trends and colors. What's new there usually comes over here a year after. I'm going to be starting a Detroit street style blog (on these trends and topics) on my website shortly.
Femilia Couture was much more high-end, evening cocktail dresses. It's hard to sell that stuff in Detroit. Not many people are going to galas. I wanted to keep it hyper-local. I'm on a 10-year plan, taking baby steps to get my name out locally and expand from there. It's more down-to-earth.
Are you the sole employee? It's just me right now. I have interns giving me a helping hand, but I'm a lone ranger right now.
What sort of clothing can people expect to see at the show? I'm making a bunch of one-off, new pieces inspired by the theme, working out of studio space at the Russell (Industrial Center).
How many? About 20, all evening wear, all cocktail dresses. I did a lot of research on the '50s era, lots of full skirts, boat necklines, tight waists.
How many units have been sold under Homeslice? I've probably sold over 100. I did a lot of festivals this summer, launched at the electronic music festival, sold at the DIY Festival and did really well there.
Where can your products can be found? Are they in any boutiques? I'm getting very, very close, but right now I'm just online.
What's the price point? Tank tops start at $30, and dresses — casual summer dresses — start at $70 and go up from there.
What's the long-term plan? The end goal is international sales. I'd love to be in boutiques globally. My main goal is to keep producing in Detroit. It's really important to me to create jobs locally. I'll never send anything to China. I want to create some employment here.
The Detroit Artists Market is preparing to hold its fourth DAM Design Show Jan. 13 to Feb. 18. The lead sponsors are designer eyewear shop Optik Birmingham and Apparatus Solutions Inc., a Detroit-based office systems software company.
The opening is scheduled for Jan. 13, 7 p.m.-10 p.m. Tickets for DAM members cost $45. For nonmembers, the price is $55. Call (313) 832-8540 to reserve tickets. "Swanky cocktail attire" is recommended.