Malina Padgett: Fashion Designer

Malina Padgett is a designer from southern Indiana, who recently graduated from Purdue University with a degree in Apparel Design. A former Pattern intern, she is currently a freelance designer and commissioned designer for Pattern Store.

Q: How did you get started designing?

A: I’ve always enjoyed making things but became extremely interested in sewing in high school with the influence of a great sewing teacher. I never thought of pursuing fashion as a career, it just seemed unrealistic for a kid in southern Indiana.  My freshman year of college I pursued a business degree for it’s versatility. I didn’t particularly enjoy any of my business classes and I found myself surrounded by creative friends pursuing their dreams, which made me question what mine truly were.  I switched universities to pursue fashion design my sophomore year and have dedicated most of my time to designing ever since.

Q: Who is your biggest inspiration?

A: I think part of being creative is having an open mind to new ideas and concepts. Otherwise, how do you grow and create new things? Some constant inspirational figures of mine include Sophia Amoruso, Angela Ahrendts and Sheryl Sandberg.

Q: Who is your favorite designer?

A: I admire how Karl Lagerfeld combines brand aesthetics and trends to keep houses current while still true to their individual identity. After studying abroad at Central Saint Martins, I find myself appreciating experimental designers like Rei Kawakubo and Shayne Oliver.  I’m a huge JW Anderson fan as well – it’s inspiring how much he has accomplished at such a young age.

Q: What’s your biggest strength in designing?

A: Being open minded!  Experimenting all throughout the process, seeking constructive criticism, and not becoming too attached to the original concept helps me learn and grow with everything that I make.

Q: What’s your favorite garment you’ve made so far?

A: In the midst of my senior collection this past year, I made a dress for a charity fashion show for the American Heart Association. It was so fun and flouncy compared to my collection, which was avant-garde.  That dress was so good for me at the time because it was an outlet from the stress of my collection!

Q: Is there a favorite item of clothing or material you like to work with most?

A: Working with a lot of different materials and seeing how they work together is my favorite thing to do. For my senior collection, INSOMNIAS, I used twenty different fabrics. Those garments started with canvas bustier and skirt bases, were built up with petticoat netting, and wire support. One piece I sculpted with papier-mâché on a model form, covered with batting, then hand embroidered the fashion fabric on – it was quite the process!

Q: What does your day-to-day look like?

A: My day-to-day at the moment is extremely sporadic.  I’ve been making a few freelance pieces and am working on a fashion tech startup. My days are normally filled with answering e-mails, conceptualizing and researching and checking off my varied to-dos.

Q: Who would you like to see model your designs?

A: If she were still alive, Edie Sedgwick! She’s always been my biggest style icon.

Q: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

A: I try not to focus too much on long-term goals, because that’s when I tend to overthink every little thing. My everyday goal is to make the best choices I can, work as hard as possible, and stay open minded. I thought all through college that I would immediately move to New York when I graduated, but now I have no plans to move to New York. People seem to get too bent up on not “reaching goals” that they set forever ago and when things don’t turn out exactly as they planned, think they’re doing something wrong. You have to roll with the punches and continually re-evaluate what is best for you, even if it’s not your original “goal”.
I was definite for a long time that design was the only path for me, but now I’m in a whirlwind of starting a fashion tech company and designing has started to become more of a hobby. I’m trying hard lately to remember that everyone has a different path to success. As Sheryl Sandberg said, “Careers are a jungle gym, not a ladder.”

Check out some of Malina’s designs below, and keep up with her at

Images courtesy of Brian Powell Photography.

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