Tim Navarro on upcoming Project Runway stint: "I want to use whatever attention I get to bring it back to Minnesota."
Navarro describes Project Runway host and judge Heidi Klum and judge Zac Posen as "gorgeous," and says that while there isn't much interaction with the judging panel -- who also include Marie Claire's creative director Nina Garcia and a weekly celebrity guest -- that it was "outstanding" to be in the same room as them.
While it may not come as any surprise that Navarro, like most Project Runway competitors, was awestruck to be in the same room as high-profile celebrities, he says he was also awestruck when he first met local designers like Laura Fulk, Sara Holm, and Danielle Everine. On Lifetime's website, each Project Runway contestant is asked a series of questions, including who their favorite designers are. Most competitors answer with labels like Alexander Wang and Georgina Chapman, but Navarro chose those three locals above as his favorites.
"I mean it. They're my favorite designers," Navarro says. "I've been fortunate to be friends with them. When I was starting out and was trying to pave my way, those designers were the people I was looking at, and was impressed by. When I finally got to meet them in person I was like, 'You are so amazing.' I'm still a huge fan; they are true artists."
Navarro is self-taught in every aspect of design, and started sewing at a young age after his mother taught his brother and him to sew.
"Thom and I -- my twin brother -- were the youngest, so we always got hand-me-downs. I think my mom was just kind of done, because there were five of us, so in order to do anything to alter our clothes she said we had to do it ourselves," he says with a laugh. "She taught us how to sew by hand. If we wanted to use the machine, we had to prove that we could sew it by hand first and then we could use the machine."
As a kid, Navarro didn't see being a designer as a career option. In fact, he didn't even like to sew. Navarro laughs as he describes his childhood aspiration to become a pro soccer player, which somehow didn't work out. He says designing just kind of fell into his lap.
Navarro went to school for computer animation and graphic design, but was looking for a different way to tap into his creativity. In 2004, his brother Thom was making Halloween costumes and selling clothing at Cliché boutique, so Tim decided to give it a try as well.
"I thought, 'I'm just as creative as he is and we're twins, so I should be able to do what he's doing,'" Navarro says. "I kind of revisited the sewing machine, and Thom taught me how to draft patterns and I went on from there."
The brothers created the label TIM + THOM, and their first fashion production was an outdoor fashion show where models walked the sidewalks of Minneapolis, using crosswalks as the runway. This unique show sums up who Navarro is as a designer: someone who wants to involve the community in his work, who is not afraid to take chances, and who creates looks that are both approachable and functional.
Garrett Born Photography
"There's always kind of a classic look to everything I do, but it's for that person on the go. They can always try to get multiple uses out of the piece. They can wear it to the grocery store, they can wear it to an event, they can wear it to move out of their apartment," he says.
He is also known for his impeccable menswear.
"I don't think there's enough attention placed on men in fashion. I came up in the industry through tailoring and alterations, and menswear was so boxy and it didn't feel like it had a lot of personality. When I started focusing on menswear, I wanted to make something that was sexy. Men want to be sexy and they want to dress well. They want to show off their best features, just like women do, but they're not given the tools to do so," Navarro says. "That's how I approach it. I approach menswear the same way I would approach womenswear: more is less. You don't have to be shirtless to look good. You don't have to wear booty shorts to show that you have a nice butt. It's just about tailoring."
After three years of being approached by Project Runway to apply for the show, Navarro felt like he had a strong enough voice and was confident in his sewing abilities, so he decided to go for it. While he can't dish on the show, he did say that this season has incredibly talented designers, and fans won't be disappointed.
In addition to watching Navarro on TV starting July 24, fans can see him at local fashion show Icons on August 9, and can check out his new lifestyle salon, Pompadour, opening later this summer.
"It doesn't stop with Project Runway for me," Navarro says. "Minnesota, Minneapolis, St. Paul -- this is my home. I'm still invested in the community. I want to use whatever attention I get to bring it back to Minnesota. I want us to have a voice here and the community here for fashion is extremely talented. My biggest idols are local designers."
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