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Holly Crawford | Photo: Michael Leckie | August 1, 2014
Houston-raised designer Andrea Phillips releases her first fashion line.
Fashion designer and Garden Oaks native Andrea Phillips, 28, who lives in London, is having a veritable homecoming with this month’s debut of her women’s clothing line, AG Phillips, at Tootsies. Her Texas roots helped shape the collection. “Houston makes me look at things on the bright side,” says Phillips, a Vanderbilt grad, referring to the city’s famous love of vibrant hues. “The U.K. is more subdued.”
It all started when she was an investment banker in Houston. Phillips felt her career required a daily diet of black suits. But the petite brunette favored feminine shapes and cheery colors. In her quest to articulate her individuality, she realized there was little ground between the modern and the matronly. A light bulb went off. “I saw a possible opportunity from both a product and price perspective.” In short order, she enrolled in the entrepreneurship program at Rice and wrote her AG Phillips business plan while earning her MBA. She also began sketching ideas for dresses and separates.
Phillips graduated last May, a month after she married private-equity-exec beau, and moved to Dubai for his job. The two are also biz partners, with hubby Oliver, 27, also a Houston native and Rice grad, handling logistics part-time.
Finding additional inspiration in the Middle East and their travels, the couple began sourcing sumptuous European fabrics and production mills with a goal of bridging the price gap between the contemporary and couture markets. As they again relocated to London, for his day job, AG Phillips was born. “When you see your vision actually created in the fabrics and silhouettes you chose,” she says, “it’s such an incredible feeling.”
The result is a 30-piece, meticulously fitted fall ready-to-wear collection of timeless, feminine silhouettes that’s garnered attention from private clients in the United Kingdom—and a deal locally with high-end fashion mecca Tootsies. (“Ladylike, well-tailored dresses,” says Tootsies buyer John Maguire, who purchased about half of the line, in all the brightest fabrics.)
The pair says they dream of returning to H-Town for good eventually, and opening a boutique—stocked with color and steeped in Southern hospitality. “Houston,” she says, “is always going to be home.”