North Texas Daily

Alumnus gives back to community, expands fashion brand

Alumnus gives back to community, expands fashion brand

January 28
02:46 2016

Kayleigh Bywater | Senior Staff Writer

@kayleighbywater

For UNT alumnus Michael Faircloth, owning a fashion brand consists of more than just browsing through fabrics, drawing up designs and watching his clothes on the runway.

He said he loves being surrounded by clothing and clients daily, but one thing Faircloth enjoys just as much is giving back to the community. 

Beyond the business

Through his Dallas-based studio, Michael Faircloth Designs, Faircloth has been involved with more than a dozen charities and organizations in Dallas and its surrounding areas during his fashion and design career. 

Rather than buying advertisements when he first started, Faircloth wanted to put his money and brand name to better use. He began making custom garments for clients to wear to charity events so they could support what they cared about. 

“I wanted to quietly go about getting my business out there,” Faircloth said. “On the business side, I was able to make the community aware of my presence. On the other hand, I also wanted people to know my desire to help. I feel that finding a balance between business, creativity and assisting is extremely important.”

Hand embroidered evening coat in silk damask, with Russian golden sable cuffs; worn over a French gold metallic lace evening gown. Approximately 80 hours to complete. Courtesy | Luis Acevedo

A hand embroidered evening coat in silk damask, with Russian golden sable cuffs; worn over a French gold metallic lace evening gown. The gown took approximately 80 hours to complete. Luis Acevedo | Courtesy

Because of this, Faircloth began to immerse himself in helping various organizations. He was one of the three people to start up the Dallas branch of the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. DIFFA aims to provide fundraising to Dallas organizations that participate in the fight against HIV/AIDS. 

He also creates custom garments for organizations to auction off and raise money. In addition to designing fashion for various DIFFA fundraisers, Faircloth has created pieces for the Crystal Charity Ball, which benefits children’s charities around Dallas County, as well as the Cattle Barron’s Ball, which raises money to aide the American Cancer Society. 

“Since my business has grown, so has my desire to support charities in the area,” Faircloth said. “I have been blessed in my career. I have enjoyed professional success in my work, but it’s personally gratifying to be able to share some of my success with those in need.” 

Faircloth also holds a position on the advisory board for the College of Visual Arts and Design at UNT. CVAD’s developmental director Susan Sanders is a close friend of Faircloth’s and said together they are trying to improve the fashion design program as much as they can. 

Faircloth currently has a scholarship specifically for fashion design students at UNT. In addition, Sanders said Faircloth is helping CVAD raise $2.5 million to endow the fashion design program. When they reach their goal, CVAD will ask the board of regents for approval to name the fashion design program after Faircloth.

“I’ve always appreciated Michael,” Sanders said. “When he has time, he’ll come talk to the students and open their eyes to a variety of possibilities. He’s such a proud alumnus of CVAD and UNT, and his actions show it.”

Between consultations and designing new looks, Faircloth said the satisfaction he gets from helping the community makes his packed schedule worth it. 

“It’s amazing to look back on everything the past 30 years because I do feel very proud, and just a little older,” Faircloth said. “I’m extremely interested to see what the next 30 have to bring for me.”

Building a business

Triple layers of pale green silk organza form a bridal gown, entirely hand embroidered in silk floss and metallic thread. Approximately 280 hours to complete. Courtesy | Luis Acevedo

Triple layers of pale green silk organza form a bridal gown, entirely hand embroidered in silk floss and metallic thread. The gown took approximately 280 hours to complete. Luis Acevedo | Courtesy

Prior to starting his studio in 1984, Faircloth received a bachelor’s degree in fashion design from UNT. Although he originally wanted to become a lawyer, he said his mother pushed him toward something more creative. 

“It was a little scary at first,” Faircloth said. “I didn’t really know what to expect. When I graduated, I started out with one client that I designed for, and my business just began slowly building from there.”

Faircloth specializes in custom garments. Whether he’s designing a flowing sundress or an intricate bridal gown, he spends time getting to know each of his clients, their individual visions and what they’re looking for in the final product. He also works with interior designers to create custom designs for houses.

One of his most memorable pieces was for former First Lady Laura Bush. The red couture inaugural gown he designed in 2001 for her is now on display in the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. 

Over the past 30 years, he said he has slowly built his clientele so he is able to give each person the time and energy they deserve. 

“Michael designs with his heart,” longtime client Tiffany Davis said. “He takes the idea you have and tweaks it so it’s perfect all the way from the fit to the embroidery. Now, I just tell him what type of garment I need and then step back to say, ‘I want to wear whatever you think would look best.’”

Featured Image: Michael Faircloth, left, and his pattern maker, Jennifer Gratton, right, fit a cotton muslin on a client. Courtesy |Luis Acevedo

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