Menswear Graduate August Ortega is Creating and Selling Masks on Social Media
Los Angeles native August Ortega overcame a brain aneurysm and serious financial challenges to complete his Associate of Arts degree in Fashion Design in 2015 and his Advanced Study degree in Menswear in 2019. He’s since launched the men’s brand Sartorial Theory and is creating and selling masks in varying sizes on Instagram and Facebook in the midst of COVID-19. We caught up with the busy designer and patternmaker to learn more about his FIDM experience and how he’s staying inspired during this unprecedented time.
What was your path to FIDM? My path was rather tumultuous. I first attended FIDM back in 2008, but I got sick with a brain aneurysm and eventually lost my apartment and had to leave FIDM. I got work as a direct care staff for developmentally disabled adults. Sometime later I got a settlement and decided to pay off some debt I had at FIDM and decided to go back to school in 2014. At that time, I was living in San Diego and had to commute to Los Angeles twice a week to finish off my second year at FIDM to get my first degree in Fashion Design. I got accepted into the Menswear Program in 2015, but had financial issues and had to take about three years off. I eventually moved back to LA to finish the Advanced Study Program in Menswear in 2019. It was a long path but truly worth it!
Tell us about your brand Sartorial Theory. My brand was born in between the years I first started the Menswear Program and when I returned in 2019. I am a tailor with 20 years experience in garment construction, but I’m also a designer and patternmaker. Sartorial Theory is the beginning of a lifelong story: a menswear brand that allows the customer to tell the tale they have been wanting to tell for a long time. Sartorial Theory uses unique silhouettes, vibrant colors, and bold prints to deliver a one of a kind look for the customer to explore. Sartorial Theory is quality and individuality; it is also a vehicle to tear down barriers. Sartorial Theory is the menswear brand that allows customers to live by our motto: “To thine own self be true.”
How have you been staying inspired during the COVID-19 outbreak? As a designer; inspiration is everywhere, even inside of your own home. Being unable to live a regular life does not strip a creative of his or her imagination. We have an inexhaustible source of magic capable of both inflicting injury and remedying it and should always remember that nothing can take our inspiration away. I just keep an open mind and an open eye at all times.
Sewers and designers have been so necessary at this time. How does it feel to have a skill that can help save lives? I never think of it as saving lives, but I guess it can be viewed that way. I used my skill to make money since I lost my job as a patternmaker to keep my family afloat and pay for food and make sure the bills were paid. For me, it was necessary to create a flow of income. I’m truly glad that I have been able to make something truly useful, practical, and potentially life-saving. When this is all over, I hope the people who experienced my craftsmanship and work ethic will have confidence in me to create more items for them and hopefully propel my brand in a positive direction.
Anything else you'd like to share? During these times, it’s important to remain active both in body and mind. It is also very important to maintain current social distancing to prevent the spread of this disease. We as a society will prevail, if and only if, we are caring and considerate of not only ourselves and the ones we love but also those that we don’t even know. Stay safe and be blessed!
Learn more about August when he does an Instagram takeover @fidm on Saturday, April 25, 2020.
Keep up with August on Instagram @sartorialtheory.