Born in Greenbrae and raised in Novato, California, Andrew Wedge has a long list of accomplishments. He completed an Intensive Program at Parsons School of Design with Honors, studied at Pratt Institute and returned to California and to pursue his dream to become a fashion designer when he joined the Academy of Art University in 2006.
The 24 year old designer has worked as an intern for Bay Area designers Sara Shepherd and Selfmade Apparel and in 2009; he was nominated for one of the most prestige fashion awards in San Francisco, the “Visionary Fashion Designer”. His latest women’s wear collection was created to give any woman a sense of power and strength.
PINK caught up with Andrew in San Francisco, where he plans to spend the summer before heading to Paris in the fall.
PINK: How old were you when you came out?
Andrew: 14 years old
PINK: How was growing up gay for you?
Well, growing up is always a difficult process, however, I was lucky enough that the gay part of my growth really was a non issue. My friends and family were incredibly supportive of me, and really didn’t make an issue out of it one way or another. Even when I played waterpolo, not one guy ever made a comment or joke. We were all friends, and my sexuality was simply not an issue.
PINK: Any advice you would give young gay readers that you wish you had?
Be adaptable. Rarely does life work out the way we had planned. However, if you are able to adapt and grow from changing circumstances, then you can really accomplish anything.
PINK: Gay Pride is coming up. Do you have any plans and do you feel its important to be a part of pride activities?
For San Francisco Pride, I really don’t have many plans yet but I will be volunteering at the Folsom booth one of the days. I think Pride can be very important. It is an amazing opportunity to meet new people, to give back, and to celebrate. Why would anyone want to miss that?
PINK: You were born and raised in the Bay Area and then moved to NYC, a city considered the fashion capital. What made you return to San Francisco? Are you inspired by San Francisco?
San Francisco will always be my home and will always inspire my work. It is one of the most diverse, fascinating, inspiring, and beautiful cities in the world. Living in New York was an amazing experience, most importantly in that it gave me a new found respect for San Francisco.
PINK: The inspiration for your collection came from the New Jersey shark attacks of 1916 and the fear of great white sharks in general. You said that you wanted to channel this fear into the collection and create a look that gave the wearer a sense of power and strength. The power and strength is clear in your collection but explain how the great white sharks come into play.
As the collection developed, the inspiration really split into two paths. One was creating a collection that would transform the wearer into a strong powerful predator. A woman, who, like a great white, would instantly create a sense of awe and really radiate an inner sense of confidence and power. The other path was to reflect on what happens during an attack such as the thrashing of the shark, the churning of the water, etc. It was important to me that every single detail within the collection reflects those two concepts.
PINK: Who are some of your design influences?
My very first introduction into the world of fashion was through Tom Ford during his early Gucci years. He was my earliest fashion hero. I admired his work and his views on what fashion should be.
PINK: You launched a line two years ago, The Andrew Wedge Collection, but have put it on hold to grow more as a designer. Is your current plan to apprentice at a design house and then re-launch your line in the future?
In the fashion industry, I feel that apprenticeship is an incredibly important step. As designers, we all have such strong perspectives on culture and fashion. I was fortunate to have assisted fashion designers Sara Shepherd, and the late Linus Mendenhall. Approaching fashion through their eyes was an amazing experience and gave me a fresh look at how, as a designer, I view the world. I would love to have that opportunity again.
PINK: Have you thought about designing men’s wear? There is something about you that makes one think of you as a men’s wear designer.
Menswear is something I have always been very curious to try. As a gay man, much of what I see everyday is menswear. As a result, my collections have strong menswear components within them. I believe it could be a very interesting experiment to do a menswear collection.
PINK: What is next for Andrew Wedge?
I want to apprentice at a design house either back in New York or in Europe.