Tiffany Miller expresses her creative side by transforming casual garments — T-shirts, tank tops, hoodies and more — into one-of-a-kind fashion statements.
She is the owner of Tiffany Miller Designs,
http://www.tiffanymiller.com/connectedthreads. Besides the website and Facebook page, several Billings retailers carry Miller's clothing lines. Here, she talks about her unique contribution to the fashion world.
How long have you been operating Tiffany Miller Designs?
Since about 2001. I did freelance design and styling/fashion show production in Seattle until moving back to Billings in 2009. Once in Montana, I tried to cater to the market here — comfortable, affordable basics with an artistic flair. I painted on garments at first, then moved to a bleach process, and am now continuing with those techniques as well as creating one-of-a-kind items using vintage and recycled/repurposed materials.
How old were you when you first started taking an interest in fashion? Do you remember the first garment that you designed?
Probably since birth, or shortly after. My grandma had an interest in Western wear, so I always had lots of satin snap shirts with fringe and cowgirl boots. One of my first memories about fashion was falling off my bike and ruining my '80s style hot pink crosshatch pants. I wasn’t worried about the gash in my knee, but was devastated that my favorite pants were destroyed in the crash.
Your Facebook video gives a pretty good demonstration of how your designs come together. Do you sketch designs ahead of time before you decorate garments, or are your creations truly freehand?
Occasionally I will sketch the idea out. But they are always drawn individually by hand on the garment so they get their own unique lines and textures. I’m contemplating doing a line of lower-priced screen-printed designs, but will always have a large collection of unique hand-drawn items and one of a kind pieces for the individualist.
Please describe the process where you lay out several garments and create a design that overflows to all of them, creating garments that are similar but unique. Is this garment-as-canvas technique your innovation?
Basically, I lay out a collection of shirts so they all connect. I pin them together where they overlap and paint one giant image. Then I disconnect and sell them separately. I’m pretty sure I came up with this idea myself. Ideas in art are recycled or taken as “inspiration” all the time, so hopefully I didn’t plagiarize. I’m always cautious about saying an idea was my own because of that. But as far as I know this was an original concept from my brain alone.
You’ve designed a number of products for local retailers. How else do you market your designs, besides your website?
Word of mouth has always been successful. But dressing my two daughters in designs has proven effective as well for selling my kids line. Who doesn’t love a cherub-cheeked blue-eyed girl? I’m pretty sure I could dress them in paper bags and start a fashion trend.
What’s your advice for somebody who wants to pursue a career in fashion?
Go for it! But proceed with caution: It can be a very cutthroat, dirty, shallow industry. I don’t need to bring up the trends of models on runways and the “heroin chic” look that devastates and manipulates our young girls or the underprivileged nations whose youth toil away the day in a factory rather than in a classroom. So keep your wits about you and make it your own world. You don’t have to follow what the fashion world does — carve your own path and create the vision you see.