Riverdale—Tashura Fendrich is an aspiring fashion designer who hopes to make and design clothes for the Modern Orthodox women’s market, while helping women to love who they are and to style themselves in the most becoming way. Although only 20 years old, Fendrich is already well on her way towards making a name for herself in the fashion and design business within the Jewish community of Riverdale—and perhaps beyond.
Fendrich was always interested in fashion and design. Even as a child, she loved to sew and to change the designs on her own clothing. However, it wasn’t until her Bat Mitzvah that this love began to develop into something more concrete. Upon receiving a sewing machine as a gift that year, she busily began to sew and to complete design work for her friends, family and neighbors. “It wasn’t always my dream but it became something that I just did and it began to define me,” Fendrich said.
And define her path in life it has. Today, Fendrich is as busy as ever with orders, making alterations and developing designs from patterns. Interestingly enough, she has said that if one wants to pursue work in this field, typical schooling isn’t necessarily needed to succeed. However, she does believe that one must take at least several courses “just for a more rounded-out education...I studied mostly with an older lady who mentored me and taught me most of what I know today and I also learned by work experience,” she said.
Fendrich has worked with other designers in the past, but is currently working on her own, hoping to build up a modest clientele in the Riverdale area for now. She designs by request and most likes to design clothing for Modern Orthodox women, since she has to be more creative with the designing of such clothes.
Having moved from Israel to Riverdale only six months ago after getting married, she has continued her work here. Fendrich was born in Lancaster, PA, but her family moved to Israel when she was four. Moving back to the states and residing in Riverdale, she said, “was like starting a whole new life. Like anything else, there are some similarities and some differences in the fashion market between the two countries. I noticed that religious women here would cover their hair very differently than religious women in Israel. Israeli women would follow trends in the hair-covering industry whereas here, women don’t seem to follow any particular trend.”
As far as drawing inspiration from certain time periods, Fendrich is most closely drawn to clothing from the 80s. She loves the vibrant colors, loose clothes and high-waisted skirts and pants. “I don’t typically look at designers for inspiration, but at a clothing line, since a finished product isn’t the work of a designer alone,” Fendrich said. While she obtains most of her materials and can find all that she needs in Manhattan, her cousin in Hong Kong sometimes sends her materials that he thinks she can use as well. She enjoys working with all materials and said, “Each material possesses different qualities that are necessary for different projects. I also love working with beads, lace, leather and other decorative materials.”
Fendrich’s imagination regarding a new design is sparked by her appreciation of different cultural fashions and by individuals who catch her attention. The environment she is in, she said, has to do with much of the inspiration behind her designs. “When I walk around and I see someone dressed so nicely and effortlessly, the image stays in my mind. Later, I may analyze it and wonder what [specific] thing caught my eye. After I discover what it was—and it could be anything, the colors, the shoes or the combination of two styles into one—I would try to imitate it in my own way,” she said. Fendrich approaches the actual design work through sketching out her ideas, or simply through having the image in her mind and then directly transferring it to the material at hand. She sews it out, either on a machine or by hand, according to her understanding of which method would be most viable. “Not everything,” she said, “can be sewn by machine and that’s when a needle and thread comes in handy.”
As well as designing her own clothes, Fendrich likes to model her own designs. She thinks it’s useful to have a mannequin, but as she never got one for herself, she does the honors. Particularly close to her heart out of all of her design projects is her own wedding gown. She enjoyed each part of its creation, she said, and of course, wearing it, after all of the work.
Fendrich has an important styling mantra for women and encourages them to see their own personal beauty. “The person makes the clothes just as much as the clothes make the person…eat well and work out! Anything you wear will look much better without even trying and make sure the colors you wear flatter you as well. Each country has its own fashion trend and history and it works well for most of the people of that country. Notice the colors, cuts and accessories that are most likely to flatter you.” Fendrich particularly likes giving her designs a “classic touch, a story and a statement to make. Working in this business, I hope to inspire other people the same way that they inspire me,” she said.
By Bracha K. Sharp