Hello my name is Darin Tom. I’m a fashion designer from Gallup, NM. I’m 25 years old, and I’m Navajo.
Well, I feel like I do a lot of different types of art, but lately the medium I’ve been working in is clothing, and fashion in general. Probably started sewing five years ago, it was something me and my friends started just to express our feelings. When we were younger, we played Barbie Dolls and draped stuff on them, and one year we decided “Why can’t we make clothing that fits regular sized people?” It snowballed from there and after a while I got the knack of my machine, and now I feel I’ve honed some of my craft to a point where I believe in what I’m making. I’ve always like making stuff, but know I feel like this is what I’m supposed to do. When I make something so personal for somebody, it’s just a certain feeling you get, knowing that something was made for you and put their love and energy into a garment. I feel it translates when I make clothing for people. Especially when it’s clothing for a family members, it’s an irreplaceable feeling, that something’s made for you. I put my energy and love into it.
You cannot be a native fashion designer without being introduced or without being told about Virginia Ballenger, or the Shane Watsons, Patricia Michaels, the whole thing with velveteen is just, it’s cultural, it goes deep. And the way garments were made with pin tucks, and the fact that those pin tucks were because of sizing, and the fact that you can undo them and they’d get bigger as the person grows. Their clothing grows with them. Most of the fabrics I use have been completely recycled. I try not to buy so much and just to preserve yourself as a Native person. To value what you can give. Also, to be thankful, to be about your art, but not so rigid about money or where it’s going to take you. I just like to do it because it’s fun, and clothing is fun.
I’ve been influenced by like gay culture in general. Like club kids and the drag scene. My latest line was geared towards eliminating gender completely. I had this idea where we could have a whole show but then live on stage they would all switch their clothes, so everything would fit everybody the same but they can also personally style themselves again. I think that would be cool. I feel like I’m leaning towards that more so than strictly women’s wear or special occasion wear. More like everyday wear but still something special. Well I like the whole transformation from something that’s so flat and you get to curve it around a body. The way I work, I work from the edges in. Some people like to draft patterns but I like to focus on a certain part of a fabric but a neckline and start from there. I feel like it’s more organic that way. When people draft patterns, it’s so cookie cutter for them, but for me I love to have a more organic view. I like making mistakes. Because usually my mistakes turn into something I can fix, and it’s better at the end of the day because it’s more me.
Find more of Darin’s work on his Instagram @TommDesGarcons