Martin has passion for fashion

Hagerstown native selling DVDs to help aspiring fashion designers learn the ropes

Hagerstown native selling DVDs to help aspiring fashion designers learn the ropes

December 29, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

SHADY GROVE, Pa. -- Bob Martin's love of fashion took him from Hagerstown to London with no applicable skills, but he's come back to the Tri-State area six years later as a practicing designer.

Martin returns with a DVD series he developed to help aspiring fashion students in the position he once was. The lessons start participants with basic skills like learning to thread a sewing machine to making a hooded scarf.

Without a fashion skills foundation, Martin felt at a loss compared to his European classmates at American InterContinental University. He pulled all-nighters to catch up and incorporated that knowledge into the DVDs and accompanying online resources, which later cover more intricate aspects of fashion design.

"There's basically no other program out there that shows students how to draw a garment and how to design," said Martin, who graduated from North Hagerstown High School in 1997.


Martin, who lives in Shady Grove, hopes to share the DVDs at a D.C. Fashionistas networking event in January. He's been selling them at and at a kiosk in the Valley Mall.

Other plans for 2009 include working on another collection.

"I love when beauty just happens. I like the idea that you can create something that doesn't exist," Martin said.

Describing himself as someone who likes to create with his hands, Martin worked in homebuilding before pursuing his passion for fashion. His designs are organic and often involve draping fabric. Many are a mixture of hard and soft, whether through incorporating vastly different fabrics or structuring.

"I worked with Vivienne Westwood and worked on movies as well. ... I was able to learn from the best people in the industry," said Martin, who admires Alexander McQueen and menswear designer Aitor Throup.

One of his most memorable designs was a garment that converted from a dress to a tent.

The 2006 valedictorian of American InterContinental University taught part time as he worked in the industry. It was through that experience that he discovered a passion for education and realized that he'd need to work closely online with DVD students.

"Teaching design is something that needs to be interactive and taught on a personal basis," Martin said.

He's found that customers for his six-lesson series are people who have a longtime interest in learning fashion design.

"I have a lot of people saying, 'I've always wanted to study fashion' or 'I always wanted to try that,'" he said.

Martin warned that making a career in the field takes commitment.

"It's not as glamorous as people think," he said. "It's a lot of work."

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