Julian Collins Makes Menswear Fun

This community engagement officer and sewing instructor has a bold pattern for every occasion.
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Collins lives and styles with bold fashion.

PHOTOGRAPH BY DEVYN GLISTA

 

OCCUPATION: Senior program manager of community engagement at Interact for Health

STYLE: Classic menswear in fun, bold prints

How did you get into sewing?

As a child, my favorite cartoon/Disney movie was Cinderella, for the scene where the mouse and the animals make the dress. Seeing fabric turn into stuff has always been interesting to me. Both my grandparents sewed. My mother sewed. My aunt sewed. Even my father knows how to sew. I started college at DAAP for fashion. Did not last. Ended up in public health. Picked [sewing] up on my own in 2016 through books and YouTube.

Why did you decide to DIY your sewing education?

When I started school for fashion, my goal was to sew. I lasted about a quarter and a half, mostly because you focus on the drawing or the color. You touch no machines or see fabric. That weighed on me. I was not having fun. I played around with sewing machines, so I knew elementary basics. As a child I would hand-sew, make sock dolls, things like that.

Why are you drawn to such bold colors and patterns?

Color and print just always have made me happy. That is just my happy place. When I wear it, it makes me feel like I’m tippy tall. It’s a confidence boost.

What’s your favorite thing in your closet?

Probably my Taj Mahal shirt that I made. It is from an ankara print, and it is Taj Mahal on the front with palm trees and different scenes on the sleeves.

What reactions do you get when you wear it?

People usually are like, “Wow, that’s really neat,” especially when they find out that I made it. It’s a great conversation starter. In my community engagement work, especially from the power dynamics of philanthropy, when you’re going into the community and meeting people, sometimes people are nervous because you’re that money. You’re the funder. When they can see that I’m a real person and we can talk about other things, those things help. I want you to do good work and be yourself, and I show up as myself. Making my clothes and infusing my personality into what I wear helps me do that. You have to be your full self to be of service and of good use to the world that we live in.

In addition to your day job, you are a sewing influencer. What does that entail?

I work with different brands, and I’m like an ambassador. I work with a sewing machine company called Bernina, and I have launched machines with them and worked with them on many different projects educating people. I also am a pattern designer and talk about fabrics, work with fabric companies, helping people know what’s out there. And I do that through my social media, on Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.

Are there a lot of men in this realm?

There are not a lot, but we have a nice community of us. There’s still the connotation that sewing is more of a feminine activity. If you really think about it, a sewing machine is nothing but a jigsaw with a needle. So if you like woodworking, a lot of times, you’ll like sewing too. I have a Facebook group called “Sew ‘Manly.’ ” We focus on menswear and masculine-inspired fashion. There’s a little over 4,000 people in that group, a lot of men sharing their makes who might not feel comfortable sharing it other places.

What sort of posts do you share on social?

I go live on TikTok under @juliancreates, where I sew with a group called Black Sewing Network, [which] really focuses on Black joy and sewing and creating community.

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