Kevin Lee Baldwin is one of two fashion designers who are involved in the creation of the clothing line called Team Force One Apparel. His partner's name is Amos Walters. Throughout their careers, they have received positive feedback and have participated in several fashion shows.
I am thrilled to have been able to interview Kevin about his fashion line. He and his partner have put in a lot of effort, and the clothing looks unique and comfortable.
AVIVA: How did you get started with clothing design?
KEVIN BALDWIN: Ever since I can remember I was a bit of an artist. I would draw and sketch just about every chance I could get. I believe that when I was in the fifth and sixth grades that I started paying more attention to the clothing I was placing on the caricatures in my artwork. I eventually became obsessed with creating all types of men’s clothing designs and decided to take a sewing class when I was in the 7th grade so that I could make some of the clothes I was sketching. My mother is a skilled seamstress and with her guidance I learned to alter the fist pattern I ever worked with in my first and last sewing class to create a nice piece of work that my class instructor praised. Unfortunately my father was not very pleased to see one of his only two sons (I had four sisters and one brother), sitting at the sewing machine when he came home from work. He hit the roof and I had to quit my desire to learn how to sew. From that day on, whenever I needed an outfit to perform in (because I was also a young musician and singer), I would draw my designs and my mother would do the actual labor. After High school, I quit creating apparel designs and focused on performing with my bands and attended collage at the University of Washington, (studying of all things Sociology and Psychology). I designed a few outfits for my two different bands during my musical carrier and that was it for many years. (1981 or 1982)
AVIVA:How long have you been designing clothes
KB: I did not start up designing again until around 1997 when my friend and now also business partner Amos Walter and I were working with at risk youths as Track and Field coaches. So from 1997 until now thirteen years of serious design. (not including the younger years.
AVIVA: Why did you come up with the name "Team Force One Apparel" for your company?
KB: The program we were working with did not pay for the uniforms of the children who were participating, so if their parents could not afford the uniforms, those children did without. Amos and I decided to create some Track body suits for boys and girls. So we talked about it and sketched some ideas and I drew up the final designs. From there, we created uniform designs for another Track & Field Program and obtained a small grant so that we were able to produce the garments at no out of pocket costs from us or the children, guardians and/or parents. Amos and I had long before the Track & Field, been working a starting a Record Company that was to be named Force One Records. When we began working with at risk children we thought that if we were able to raise money to start an apparel manufacturing company it would be Force One Sportswear. We hoped to be able to raise money for the child athletes and start our own organization for at risk children sports and name it Team Force One. We liked the name and kept it for the Apparel line. Team Force One will be the umbrella for a great many lines of Force One products.
AVIVA:Do you have any designers that inspire you? If so, who?
KB: I do not draw any inspiration from the accomplishments of others nor do I consider myself to be in the same league as any of the famous designers since I am self taught.
AVIVA: What excites you the most about clothing design?
KB: The thing that excites me the most about clothing design is that you are creating. Creating something that you hope others will love, like, desire and/or appreciate. I am also excited that my three sons took an interest in what I am doing and my middle son Frederick attends the Seattle Art Institute, for design of men’s apparel. He has a desire to start his own apparel company someday and may beat me to the success ladder. If he does I won’t mind because I love my children and had a part in something positive.
AVIVA: Can you tell me more about your uniform donations to schools and your volunteer work?
KB: The girl’s basketball uniform donation came straight out of Amos Walters’ pockets. I just helped with the artwork on that one. We hope to create an amazing non-profit education and athletic program someday for at risk youth as well as for those who are not at risk. We want to create an atmosphere of accomplishment and pride in the realm of academics, music, sports, arts (dance, design), and give the children’s parents help that they might need to succeed in their desires. We have a children’s line of clothing on the back burner where the profit proceeds would go to help fund this organization. We have a name of the non-profit and the apparel but do not desire to spill the beans at this time. It may never happen but this has always been the motivation behind all of the clothing and the return to my designing.
AVIVA: If money/time were no object, what is your ultimate goal with clothing design?
KB: Our ultimate goal is to be limitless. We want to be able to send young people to school so that they can learn and come back and contribute to the company and maybe start their own. We want to provide schooling and training for the leaders of tomorrow so that they will not be faced with the same obstacles that stood in our way. I don’t think that you will be able to receive the image that I am including but it is one of our logos for Team Force one. The large triangle represents the mountain that we are climbing to reach our goal. The space / void in the middle represent the barriers we have and must overcome in order to get to the top. The triangle in front without any space / voids represent those we hope to bring up after us in our shadow without facing the ignorance and lack of tolerance we face everyday in our jobs while trying to make to the top. Now the taller triangle / mountain we climbed looks a little like the number 1.
You can see Team Force One Apparel on Model Mayhem and YouTube
I wish Kevin and his partner all the best in their designer careers. They have set out to make a difference, and I hope they succeed.
Thank you for reading,