Spotlight is a regular series where we feature a prominent person in the creative scene.
Fashion designer, label founder, skateboarder, tattoo enthusiast and – most recently – reality TV star, Josh Hupper founded Babyghost with Qiaoran Huang in 2010 after a stint with Diane von Furstenberg and her creative director Nathan Jenden. Most recently he was a contestant on Amazon Prime’s global fashion competition show Making the Cut. We caught up with him to learn about his inspirations.
Tell us about your skateboarding.
Skating is what led me to become a designer. I started skating in 1994 and the period between then and 1999 was kind of amazing in terms of the evolution of what being a skater meant. Professional skateboarders like Chad Muska weren’t just building companies, but designing shoes. I think the first sketches I ever made of clothing were of skate shoes. At the time the only real access that kids had to fashion in my native Midwest was at stores like Gap and Abercrombie & Fitch. Skating offered so much more in terms of clothing and style options. Moreover, the style at that time still wasn’t mainstream so it was a way of dressing that not necessarily anyone understood apart from other skateboarders. I loved that.
How did Babyghost come about?
I met Qiaoran Huang through a mutual friend who was having a birthday at a loft in Brooklyn. About six months later, I would end up going to work in London on a show for Nathan Jenden, who she just so happened to be assisting at the time. I think we started talking about founding a label someday the night after that show over coffee. A year later, Nathan Jenden closed the label and left for Shanghai, and when he did we were faced with either looking for new design posts or making a shot at our own thing. We founded BABYGHOST a few months later.
Image courtesy of Babyghost
How would you describe the label?
Babyghost gives high fashion access to women who feel that that they are the early adaptors of something huge. Our clothing is almost exclusively sold on Tmall. Qiaoran is such a visionary in this respect and I take no credit insofar as that’s concerned. When she began telling me about Taobao and what she saw as the future of our industry I had no real point of reference. She had gotten the idea when she was studying at Donghua and seen the hundreds of delivery boxes each day waiting for her fellow students at the gate. She wanted something that would make women feel just as fashionable as high end labels, with the same richness and storytelling, but with a price that wasn’t pretentious. I loved that.
Image via Babyghost
What was the Making the Cut experience like?
It was brilliant. The opportunity came at a time when I was looking for something new to flex on. We shot in New York a little and then flew to Paris. Our studio was about 15 minutes from one of the best skate parks on the planet at Place de la Republique. The other designers were fun. Everyone from the crew to the producers and especially the judges were extremely professional. I loved every minute of it.
So, why did you self-evict from the show?
Why did I ‘self-evict from the show’? Okay, those are your words. I would say that my story arc was unique in that when faced with the possibility of my friend also being eliminated, I took responsibility for what the judges were mostly dissatisfied with. The shapes and patterns were gorgeous and almost entirely done by the designer I was paired with, but the print mixing hadn’t landed with the judging panel and that was on me. So, rather than argue a point, I took the L hoping that my dude would be able to stay in the competition. Are you not entertained? It was awesome, and I think that though all of us were supposed to be competing, we ended up bonding really close, which gave the show a sincerity that I’m not sure has ever really happened before in that genre. I wouldn’t say I self-evicted, I would say I followed my heart and had some of the most fun of my entire career.
What were Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn like? And Naomi Campbell?
Tim, Heidi, Joseph, Carine, Nicole and especially Naomi are some of the most talented people I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. They were super professional and extremely nice. I miss them and look forward to seeing each of them again in the future.
What’s next for Babyghost?
So damn much I can barely sleep at night. I’m actually spending even more time at the office than I did when we founded the label. Our team has grown so much over the past year and the window we are in at the moment is pretty significant. We turned 10 years old last month and it’s beginning to look like this next decade is going to exceed even our wildest hopes and dreams.
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[Cover image via Amazon Studios]