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Jamie Lin Snider infuses Charleston’s fashion scene with Vegas flair

Spat Attack

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Jamie Lin Snider is a clothing designer. And she does wardrobe styling for photo shoots. And she has a vintage resale line out in Las Vegas. And she works as a talent scout and booking agent for Tout, a Charleston model and talent agency. And she has a nine-to-five merchandising job that we’re not allowed to mention by name.

So how much free time does that leave for Snider?

“None. I have no social life,” Snider says. “I don’t remember the last time I had a cocktail. But I like it. “I did all that in Vegas,” she adds. “I’m over the partying. I need to do my business.”

We spoke to Snider recently at a Mt. Pleasant Starbucks, where she’s practically on a first-name basis with the baristas. Mostly because she’s there all the time, getting a caffeine kick, but also because she’s just so darn affable. Her outfit for the day is basic — plaid shirt, jeans — until you get to her shoes. The white platforms are not the kind of thing you normally see on someone at 10:30 on a Thursday morning.

Though she lived for about six years in Vegas, attending school at the International Academy of Design and Technology, Snider is an all-around Carolina girl, raised in the Upstate town of Anderson. It’s evident in her Southern-gal accent and vivacious charm. After she received her bachelor’s degree, Snider wanted to return to her family on the East Coast, and picked Charleston last October. She currently resides in — and works out of — her parents’ beach condo on the Isle of Palms.

“Everybody here is welcoming,” Snider says. “Not everybody here is doing what I’m doing. In Vegas, it was just a challenge. I got my name out there, but it was more who you know than what you can do. And here it’s if you prove you can do it, everybody’s open to you, and I love that.”

But Snider admits she was pretty shocked to discover that the Holy City even had a fashion scene. She found out about Charleston Fashion Week at a thrift store. On a T-shirt. Snider got to Googling and stumbled upon CFW success story Carol Hannah Whitfield, who she happened to grow up with. Then CFW got in touch with Snider. She participated in 2010’s Emerging Designer Competition, eventually becoming a finalist.

Her CFW collection was influenced by the downtown graveyards and architecture. There’s lots of structure and tailoring and a simple color palate, but it’s still pretty. After all, she says, it’s Charleston.

Though Snider didn’t win the competition, she left her mark on the city, and especially on CFW organizer and Charleston magazine Style Editor Ayoka Lucas. The three finalists had to create a piece in a matter of days using only white shirts (a challenge inspired by Alexander McQueen). Lucas liked Snider’s end product so much she wanted to wear it to the upcoming New York Fashion Week.

Since CFW, Snider has been invited to fashion weeks in Boston, Columbia, Little Rock, and at the Atlanta Market. She currently sells her designs out of Eden Boheme, a Lower King Street store owned by fellow Emerging Designer Anna Lassiter. There, you can buy her spats.

Spats are an accessory for your shoes. You could take basic pumps and add one of Snider’s bows, and voila — new shoes. “I’m all about designer shoes,” Snider says. “My outfit can cost a dollar, but I love good shoes.” Snider wanted a way to make an indulgence affordable and versatile for everyone, something that could give you an avant garde accessory no matter what you’re wearing. “If you’re in a T-shirt and jeans, you can have a little something special,” she says. The spats have made an impact from coast to coast — Kat Von D, star of LA Ink, purchased a pair through Snider’s Etsy site (etsy.com/shop/jlinsnider) and even sent the designer a gushing thank-you message.

The spats are Snider’s main focus right now. She’s using a lot of exotic skins for them, like ostrich, alligator, and eel, as well as vintage leather. She’s also putting together a collection for the upstart VENT magazine, a spread with lots of leathers and skins and champagne-colored fabrics. Snider’s current inspiration is Egypt. At the end of the year, Snider plans to present a holiday collection with Lassiter. “I want to try to do maybe 10 different colors, but you’ll be able to see that they’re all from me,” she says. “I’ll use the same design elements, but I want them to be completely different but just fully committed looks.”

When the money comes — and Snider is hoping it comes in 2011 — she wants to open her own store in Charleston. “I’ve always wanted to have a store on King Street and to live above it, so that’s the goal,” she says. “And then just to house a lot of local painters, local photographers, just to bring in local clientele and try to make the scene stronger.” It’ll be a boutique with her own collection, plus vintage pieces and high-end shoes. And maybe there’ll be room for a photo studio in the back. That way, she can do her own in-house shoots. To say that Snider is a busy woman is an understatement. She even debates going back to school to study photography and French. If she has the time. Hopefully, she won’t.

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