Reconstructing the Blues with designer Phlemuns
Photography by Franc Fernandez
Abstract Photography: Hannah Siegfried
Interview: Hannah Black
Describe a day in the life of James Flemons.
A day in the life of James Flemons... Well to start I was most likely up until 4 a.m. the night before working or doing some sort of "research," so I'll be sleeping in until the very last minute i possibly can before getting ready for wok. Five out of seven days a week I work at Opening Ceremony from 11-7. In between my duties at work I’m usually emailing and texting with stylists, or musicians, or other creatives in regards to PHLEMUNS, just utilizing as much time productively as i can. I have 3 different email accounts open at all times lol. Depending on whats going on stylists may come to my job to pick-up or drop off my pieces, or I might be shipping out samples for editorial pulls, or doing sketches and pulling inspirations. Also constantly finding a way to keep myself present on social media without forcing myself down peoples throats, a lot of my opportunities and orders come from traffic on social media. Then O get off of work, journey home, and work more. Could be working on samples for my next collection, orders that have come in, Adobe Illustrator work, or sketching, etc, etc. Like I said before, I'll most likely be up until 3/4/5 a.m. then start that routine over again. My two days off consist of a little lounging but usually sewing from morning to night. It’s just a never ending machine thats not very exciting, but my excitement these days comes from seeing a new finished product or when a new PHLEMUNS feature comes out.
Who or what serves as your muse/inspiration? Does it change frequently or is there a particular Phlemuns girl/boy/person that you create for?
It changes pretty frequently to be honest because i'm such an eclectic person with such eclectic style i never draw from one type of inspiration so its always in motion. The muse/inspiration list from me could go on and on and on but ever since I was 19 a woman and personal friend by the name of Stacey Nishimoto has kind of been coined as my muse. She is such an individual who possesses so much style, and beauty, and strength all in her own unique way and i find it really inspiring. To add to that my mom has always been a muse of mine, and a few big style influences are Diana Ross, Pam Grier, Andre 3000, Kelis, David Bowie, and the work under Margiela and John Paul Gaultier have had a big influence on me. Lately I’ve been really inspired by Andy and Josh of Disco Smack, i really enjoy their take on personal style and the ways they manage to compliment each other. Also in the past few years i have been referring to my old designs from childhood a lot. I’ve built a portfolio of around 200-300 fashion sketches since elementary school. In the end I really just make clothes for myself for self fulfillment, so if other people like/want them it's an added bonus.
All PHLEMUNS pieces are 100% created by you, and it seems like a new artist is wearing your designs every day! How do you maintain your work ethic?
That’s a really good question, and to be completely real sometimes i don't even get how I keep at it. Initially it's deep rooted back to my childhood and having very determined, influential parents. It's funny though cuz deep down i'm such a lazy person who would gladly sit on my ass and watch Netflix all day. The quick demand for things really keeps the ball rolling and at this point if I don't do it, it literally wont get done. I have no one else to fall back on so if I want the progression I desire I have to work as much as possible to keep the work coming my way. For me it’s really about being conscious of progression and doing what it takes to further myself, and being a workaholic who loves to stay busy definitely helps.
What makes you feel most independent / sufficient?
Hands down my own space, my own belongings, and time spent alone. Simple as that. I've been stuck in entirely too many settings where those things are lacking and I've come to realize I literally go crazy and you'll meet a James you won't enjoy encountering.
Your work evokes the anything-goes playfulness of the new millennium. What early 2000s babe would you love to see in PHLEMUNS?
Off the top I'd have to go with Aaliyah, Ananda Lewis, Christina Ricci, Drew Berrymore, Joy Bryant and all I've ever wanted to do was make matching fits for Blaque.
Your pieces have been featured in a stunning array of editorials and on high profile celebrities and underground favorites alike. Are there any artists, creators, etc you’re dreaming of collaborating with in the future?
I'm really into the this wave of young carefree figures who subtly say, "Fuck you, I'm me." I'd be down to get my clothes on Travis Scott, Cipriana & Takenya Quann, Zendaya, Jaden & Willow Smith, and my pants were already featured on one the Garden Twins but I would love for the both of them to rock my stuff. Would also really just love to see more everyday people in PHLEMUNS. I'm really open to working with anyone creative who genuinely loves and believes in what they do. I'm a strong supporter and always down with creative minded people coming together and collaborating. A few people on my list are already in the works, so you'll just have to wait and see. [winks]
What’s next for Phlemuns in 2015?
The biggest move in 2015 is most definitely being sold in stores and developing into a more structured legitimized brand. It's been a long time coming and I'll finally have a platform to showcase my work, which is really encouraging. And just coming up with new ways to share myself with the world.
Advice for those on a mission to glo up and DIY?
Don't think just do. It sounds so basic but it really turns things around. I used to spend so much time in my head over-thinking my actions, or what process i might take, or how i should do something, but all those things get answered once you just put yourself in motion. Try anything and everything and utilize the internet, after graduating college its definitely become my second schooling. Also if you see someone doing an idea you had don't fall back from it, do it anyway and make it your own, that's something that used to hinder me tremendously.
Originally published in IN #4, Fall 2015