KC’s Stylish Tomboy

Kansas City designer Laura McGrew of Tomboy Design Studio discusses her latest collection, debuting at KC Fashion Week.

If you’re looking for a cool collection with classic construction and modern flair, look no further than Tomboy Design Studio. As she prepares to showcase her new collection at KCFW, Laura McGrew talked with us about her art background, her latest designs and why she will never give up pattern making.

Q. Tell us about your background. Did you always want to work in fashion?

A. I grew up in Iowa. I don’t know when I started thinking about a career in fashion, but it was definitely before college. I started sewing in 7th grade and continued to teach myself in high school. Then I went to the Kansas City Art Institute to study painting. After college, my first big girl job was at Asiatica, and I learned a lot about sewing and cutting garments there. That really kicked off my career. I developed my skills in fashion and applied my creative degree into designing clothing. When I look back across my life, there were always moments pointing me in this direction. It was my destiny to be a designer.

Q. Did your painting experience help you as a designer?

A. I think it actually kind of spoiled me as a designer. I still love to paint but painting has immediate results. When you’re a designer, you have to think a year ahead of time and I’m the kind of person where I want to have an idea in the morning and have the prototype in the evening.

Q. What do you love about designing?

A. For me it’s that rush that you get when you get a prototype off the machine and onto a model and it really turns out to be amazing. I also really love pattern making. I make my own and it’s kind of my medium, my pen, my paintbrush. I really never want to give that up.

Q. What is the inspiration behind your current collection?

A. I wanted to explore some new silhouettes that were more asymmetrical and a little less structured. And I also wanted to combine that with the idea of layering pieces over other pieces. There are some sheers, some knits, some wovens. It’s a new take on some simpler silhouettes. I fell in love with a mauve-y purple, so I used that in the collection as well as a mix of charcoal, ivory and sage green.

Q. How is this collection different than those you’ve produced in the past?

A. I’m really branching out with silhouettes and looking at patterns a little bit differently to see how they all fit together.

Q. If you could design this collection over again, would you do anything differently?

A. Oh I’d always add more if I had more time! Generally, I tuck that idea away and file it for the next season. The seasons change and the collections keep evolving.

Q. What do you like about being based in Kansas City?

A. I like that it’s a livable city. I’ve been here for a long time so it feels like home. I’m really happy with the ways things have been happening in the fashion industry here. KCFW is really great and they’re focusing on developing new designers and branching out.

See McGrew’s collection at KCFW Saturday, March 21, and pick up her designs at Threshing Bee in Prairiefire and Halls, where she’ll be hosting a kick-off event April 16.—Brianna Peters