At what point did you decide to become an international fashion designer?
The fire was always there, but it was a question of finance; I always had the passion. I was about 27 years old when it became serious for me. I had the opportunity to travel the world and visit 52 countries and see fashion from a global perspective.
Where did you study and develop your technical design skills?
I received a full athletic scholarship for basketball to Penn State University. Back then, fresh out of high school, there weren't too many fashion design scholarships available. So, I accepted the athletic scholarship, went to Penn state and studied labor law. In terms of fashion design, my training came from being an apprentice and spending time in the manufacturing factories. I developed my sketching and design skills the hard way: I just did it.
Why is "Made in America" so important to you?
I don't think people truly understand how much income America is losing by exporting our jobs overseas. "Made in the USA" garments are the best that money can buy. There are certain by-laws and criteria that govern the quality in American manufacturing, so you always know the quality you are going to get.
Is it cost-effective to do all of your manufacturing in the U.S.?
I would never say it's cheaper to manufacture clothing in America as opposed to overseas. However, my focus is on the quality and quality control. I can go to the plants anytime and speak to the individuals who are making my clothes. I like knowing the people who put the work into my garments. There's much more to life than clothing, and experiencing the human factor is important to me.
Michael Wesetly has been making a lot of noise in the past three years with his exceptional line of men's clothing. Originally launched in 2003, this American designer had a unique plan for his Michael Wesetly Menswear label. Rather than debuting in the U.S., he decided to build an international clientele by launching his designs in Russia, the Czech Republic, Tokyo and Brazil. His showing at the 2005 Russian Fashion Week received outstanding accolades and created a buzz for his New York Fashion Week showing later that year, when he ingeniously robed the Broadway cast of "The Color Purple" in his fashions to bring the show's Bryant Park tent down with thunderous applause.
Though his clothing is entirely manufactured in America, it has been less than a year since he first offered his clothing to the US market. "Made in America" is both his theme and his passion. "I'm proud to be able to visit the people who are manufacturing my garments, and to shake their hands and say thank you," says Wesetly. The 6'5" Penn State athletic scholarship recipient majored in labor law before becoming a hands-on designer and businessman. Now, with an exclusive partnership with the Hartz Company, a world renown suit manufacturer, Michael Wesetly Menswear has a solid foothold in the fashion world. His is an elite label distinguished by quality and classic designs.