No Copycats Here: Bree Billiter Keeps It Real on Staying True to Her One-of-a-Kind Style
Date: May 2nd 2023
Interview by: Jess Maldonado
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with fashion designer Bree Billiter to chat about her journey in the industry, her signature style, and what inspires her designs. With a fierce and unapologetic approach to fashion, Bree has made a name for herself by staying true to her unique vision and refusing to follow trends. From dressing A-list celebrities to creating political pieces that make a statement, Bree’s designs always push the boundaries of what’s expected in the fashion world. In our interview, she shares her behind-the-scenes process, her thoughts on copycats in the industry, and what she has in store for the future. Get ready to be inspired by this badass fashion designer taking the world by storm.
Bree, your designs are always so fierce! What inspired you to become a fashion designer?
I honestly wish I knew what exactly inspired it, but I have a video of myself at 3 years old designing, so I guess it is just my calling.
How would you describe your signature style in just three words?
Happy, futuristic & fairytale.
Can you give us a sneak peek into your design process? Is it all glamour and fabulousness, or are some sweat and tears involved?
So much blood, sweat and tears are involved. It is so not glamorous behind the scenes, but there are definitely extremely magical moments that make it worth it, and then you just chase those extreme highs till the next one. Each blessing is so surreal when it happens… It’s like an addiction to success that makes the sleepless nights and sacrifices worth it.
We all know that fashion is constantly changing. How do you keep up with the trends while staying true to your unique style?
I never follow trends. If everyone else is doing it, I look the other way. I create what I want, and if nobody wears it I’d rather it was because it wasn’t the same cut-out black maxi dress than to be one of 15 cut-out black maxi dresses on the rack. I love that I don’t fit in with bloggers’ grids and feeds. I love that sharing my work would mess up everyone’s aesthetic… if everyone else is doing it, what is the point?
Let’s talk about your fashion inspiration. Who are your style icons, and how do they influence your designs?
Honestly if Effie Trinket isn’t wearing it.. I am not making it.
What’s the most daring fashion risk you’ve ever taken, and did it pay off?
Going political… I have always been big into politics, but when you design for escapism, stressful topics don’t mesh with that. In recent years I have been so outraged by the complete disregard for human lives in this country that my art became my way to process it. I created the vote dress, and that led to huge opportunities and was the best thing I have ever done. Through that dress, I got so many people to register to vote, and in an industry that sometimes feels like it isn’t making the world a better place… impacting people through my art felt very healing. I have since made a few more political pieces because I like the idea that to wear this beautiful dress, you HAVE to read the message on it.
You’ve dressed some pretty big names in the industry. Who would you say was your most memorable client, and why?
Tracee Ellis Ross, of course, because that is the moment that changed EVERYTHING. It was the first time people took notice and took me seriously.
Kay soo, we saw your viral video calling out some pretty big people copying your designs. Did you expect it to have such a huge impact? What do you think needs to be done in the fashion industry to prevent designers from having their designs copied?
Quite the loaded question… honestly when you have nothing to lose, you become really dangerous in such a toxic industry. I have been through it all. When I first saw who copied my work, my jaw was on the ground… of all brands…. It wasn’t just my viral print but also the exact same makeup and similar looking model for the shoot. I am so happy to have the support in the comments of that video, but there is still no resolution. I reached out to the brand to try to make a good example of it and was met with lots of hostility and threats. I will repeat that ME the person who was stolen from, was treated poorly by the brand who stole from ME. It is amazing that people can blatantly steal your work and profit from it and be mad at YOU when you nicely ask them to make a good example for other women-owned businesses. I didn’t ask for money or anything. I think the main issue isn’t just stealing work, though… it is the lack of respect for fellow creators and the lack of community in this industry… it is so cutthroat and no one wants to give genuine help to anyone. What needs to happen is there needs to be a better community where we come together instead of being so competitive. There needs to be specifically more legal help for those who do not have the funds since everyone feels so good about taking advantage of small creators since they know we can’t afford legal help…. I have a list of people who would definitely be out of business if that happened… Some people have made a big fake following on the backs of all the creatives they are taking advantage of, and if we were all together on this, then we could weed out the bad apples easily.
What message would you like to send to those who continue to copy your designs?
What I think…. with peace and love.. is that if you have to copy my work, you probably should find something that you are naturally good at instead of taking up room and being a bully in an already crowded industry.
Lastly, what can we expect from Bree Billiter in the future? Are any exciting new projects on the horizon?
Well, I am going nowhere. I have so many big dreams and plans, and after surviving 2 of the hardest years, I feel confident that the future is bright. I have a new collection I am working on that I have been wanting to make for so long…. I love everything I have ever made, but this collection will be purely what I dream of making without anyone’s input. Just me and my brain creating magic.
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