WHO: Jayden Allyn Washer

WHAT: The young designer is unveiling several of his pieces at New York Fashion Week.

WHY IT’S SO GREAT: The Alief-based Washer learned to sew at the age of seven. What’s more impressive is that just four years later, the eleven-year-old is showcasing floor-length gowns and dresses he brought to life at the Fashion Institute’s Finest Independent Designer event, a high-profile showcase during New York Fashion Week. His designs are reminiscent of the Hollywood glam era, with dresses named after sartorial icons like Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. 

Typically, designers are locked in at least six months prior to the event. But after Sabrina, Jayden’s mom and manager, reached out to the folks at FIFI in July with his lookbook, they were impressed by Jayden’s young age and abilities. “It was such a shot in the dark. We weren’t expecting a callback at all,” Sabrina says. “I think people are excited about the fact that he’s a kid that can visualize something and bring it to life.” 

Jayden’s first fashion show was back in March, at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston. There he exhibited a line of kids’ clothes and a womenswear outfit he described as boho-chic. His clothes also appeared at a show hosted by the nonprofit Smart Scholars Foundation and another by Geneva Wolf for the victims of Hurricane Harvey. Since being exposed to other local designers, he says he’s been more motivated to shine in his hometown.

The dresses featured at the FIFI show were inspired by the city of Houston too, as well as the modern women who have helped make it a cultural mainstay. Jayden raves about downtown Houston—the architecture, the greenery, the people—and cites his favorite areas as Montrose and the Galleria. He also had Houston powerhouses like Beyoncé and Lizzo in mind for his collection. Influenced by their lyrics and ambitions, Jayden says he wanted to create a line that helps women feel empowered, loved, and beautiful. Some of his designs are simple and elegant, and others are vibrant and shimmering—Jayden emphasized that these are meant to be timeless.

After fashion week, Jayden says he wants to dedicate more time to school while also continuing to design. He’s planning to participate in more local fashion shows as well as launch his online boutique store, JAW by Design, featuring jewelry, dyed leather purses, and a ready-to-wear womenswear line. He also wants to stay in Houston and help grow the city’s fashion industry. “New York Fashion Week, Paris Fashion Week, London Fashion Week: those are my goals,” he says. “But I’m staying in Houston. Houston’s such an amazing place, and it needs more recognition for what it is.”