Harry’s Design with Pride

rainbow animationPortrait of JC-RT


Robert Tagliapietra
Jeffrey Costello

Fashion Designers, JCRT

Preferred Pronouns: He / Him

What does Pride mean to you?

Robert: Working at Oscar Wilde Bookshop when I was a freshman [in college] helped put Pride in perspective for me. I quickly realized that I had a relatively easy time coming out and was allowed for a level of comfort, freedom and confidence that was not afforded others. Seeing all of these folks from all over the world come to New York (the Pride that I attended) and express such joy and community showed me just how important it was to them to feel that same freedom. This was a weekend (now a month) where people could feel a part of the world more fully and not feel afraid to hold hands, show affection, express themselves and just be.

Jeffrey: I was born in Pennsylvania but spent summers in NYC from the mid 70’s onward so I got to experience Pride pretty much at its inception. As a teen, Pride taught me not to be ashamed because I was different and that there was a family and community I belonged to. Pride is one of the main reasons I moved to NYC.

Describe a moment when being both an artist/designer and a part of this community has helped you through a difficult time / helped you find a way forward.

We channel most of our difficult times through what we create. The act of working with your hands in itself can be quite therapeutic but then seeing your work in the world affecting others explodes that feeling exponentially. In some ways being LGBTQ+ is always in the background of what we make, as it is the lens in which we can’t help but see our world through. That may result in playing with the context of a piece of clothing or in some cases being inspired by other LGBTQ+ works and introducing them to newer audiences, that makes the rough times worth it.

Are there any LGBTQ artists/designers that you’re currently a fan of?

We have been huge fans of Nayland Blake for many years. His works have been important to us. Scooter LaForge, Arca, Nicole Eisenman.

What’s the next big trend happening in design that you’d like to see?

To us, living in a world that has made gathering information and finding inspiration so easy has led design down a very interesting path.

Amalgamations of decades and genres sometimes without context has brought design all to a place where almost anything goes and in any configuration.

If there was one thing I always felt was boring, it was the articles that would connect many works through the lens of one particular point; the “color of the season” or “the length of a season". That was not as interesting to us as the journey of the individual artist. It is so much harder to group design these days, as there are more artists working today whose voices have a greater opportunity to be heard, their works can be much more singular and less trend driven because they/we get to control our own “media” like never before.

What is your motto (or words you live by)?

It’s the mindset of combining the analog worlds and digital worlds. We place craft at the same level as technology in everything we do.

Why do you feel that your method of fashion - bespoke, on demand, and with a focus on sustainability - is the future of the industry?

The future of this industry has to be considerate of the past and not continue operating blind to the damage it is doing to the environment and to people. By making only to order, we at JCRT operate in a way that is not only personally and creatively enabling, but the way we operate also cuts down on waste and pollution. There is much clothing and fabric that goes unsold, is heavily discounted and ends up either incinerated or in landfills. [Clothing production results in] millions of tons of waste, and that is unacceptable and reckless and for the consumer. It devalues what they have chosen to spend their money on.

What are your secrets to working together creatively, while being married and sharing that side of your life as well?

We have worked together since the very beginning, which has made it natural for us. We have never really separated the business and personal things, it just seemed too impossible to stop discussing ideas just because we are at dinner or getting ready in the morning.

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