Projector is a regular series where we feature a prominent person from the creative scene.
Fashion designer, label founder, skateboarder, tattoo enthusiast and – most recently – reality TV star, Josh Hupper founded Babyghost with Qiaoran Huang in 2010 after a stint with Diane von Furstenberg and her creative director Nathan Jenden. Most recently, he entered the Amazon Prime Global Fashion Competition. Make the cut. We met him to find out his inspirations.
Tell us about your skateboard.
Skating is what led me to become a designer. I started skating in 1994 and the time between that date and 1999 was pretty amazing in terms of what it meant to be a skater. Professional skateboarders like Chad Muska weren’t just building businesses, they were designing shoes. I think the first sketches I made of clothes were skate shoes. Back then, the only real access kids had to fashion in my native Midwest was in stores like Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch. Skating offered so much more in terms of clothing and style options. Also, the style at the time was not yet mainstream so it was a way of dressing that nobody necessarily understood except other skateboarders. I loved it.
How was Babyghost born?
I met Qiaoran Huang through a mutual friend who was celebrating his birthday in a Brooklyn loft. About six months later, I would end up working in London on a show for Nathan Jenden, which she was just attending at the time. I think we started talking about starting a label one day at night after this show over coffee. A year later Nathan Jenden closed the label and left for Shanghai, and when he did, we were either faced with finding new design positions or creating our own project. We founded BABYGHOST a few months later.
Image courtesy of Babyghost
How would you describe the label?
Babyghost gives access to haute couture to women who think they are the first adapters of something huge. Our clothes are almost exclusively sold on Tmall. Qiaoran is so visionary in this regard and I take no credit for it. When she started telling me about Taobao and what she saw as the future of our industry, I had no real point of reference. She had had the idea when she was studying at Donghua and saw the hundreds of delivery boxes every day waiting for her classmates at the door. She wanted something that would make women feel as fashionable as high-end brands, with the same richness and storytelling, but at a price that wasn’t pretentious. I loved it.
Image via Babyghost
What was the Make the cut experience like?
It was brilliant. The opportunity came at a time when I was looking for something new to flex on. We toured a bit in New York then we flew to Paris. Our studio was about 15 minutes from one of the best skate parks on the planet at Place de la République. The other designers were fun. Everyone from the team to the producers and especially the judges were extremely professional. I loved every minute of it.
So why did you self-kick yourself off the show?
Why did I “self-kick myself off the show”? Okay, these are your words. I would say my story was unique in that in the face of the possibility that my friend was also eliminated, I took responsibility for what the judges were mostly dissatisfied with. The shapes and patterns were gorgeous and almost entirely done by the designer I partnered with, but the mix of prints didn’t land with the jury and it was my turn to play. So, rather than argue, I took the L hoping my guy could stay in the competition. Are you not having fun? It was awesome, and I think even though we were all meant to compete, we ended up bonding very closely, which gave the show a sincerity that I’m not sure it ever gets. really happened before in this genre. I wouldn’t say I self-kicked myself, I would say I followed my heart and had the most fun of my entire career.
What were Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn like? What about Naomi Campbell?
Tim, Heidi, Joseph, Carine, Nicole and especially Naomi are some of the most talented people I have had the pleasure of working with. They were super professional and extremely kind. I miss them and look forward to seeing each of them again in the future.
What’s the next step for Babyghost?
So much so that I can hardly sleep at night. In fact, I spend even more time in the office than when we founded the label. Our team has grown so much over the past year and the window we’re in right now is pretty big. We turned 10 last month and it looks like the next decade will exceed even our wildest hopes and dreams.
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[Cover image via Amazon Studios]