Emily Bargeron, Savannah-based fashion designer and owner of Mamie Ruth, East + Up and co-owner of Starland Strange, made her international television debut last week. Bargeron appeared on Season Three of Prime Video’s Making the Cut, a fashion design competition show hosted by Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn.
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Making the Cut features ten designers from all over the world who are ready to become the next great global fashion brand. The winner will receive $1 million to invest in their business, a mentorship with Amazon Fashion, and an opportunity to create a co-brand with Amazon Fashion and launch their own brand in the Amazon Fashion store.
Bargeron talked with Connect Savannah about her time on the show, representing Savannah, and the Mamie Ruth brand.
Bargeron got her start at Georgia Southern Univ. where she graduated with a degree in fashion design before officially launching her brand Mamie Ruth.
“It was definitely a, let’s call it, a grassroots start,” she said. “I started designing right out of college, making pieces that I would want to wear, wearing them to festivals and events. Very colorful, vintage fabrics, unique textiles, things that really stood out in a crowd. People noticed. People started asking where I got things and who made them, so I really started selling things right off my back.”
Over the years, Mamie Ruth has grown tremendously and is available in boutiques, in specialty retailers, and at pop up shops at music festivals nationwide. Competing on a fashion design show has been on Bargeron’s bucket list for years, she said.
“We all watched Project Runway and other fashion design competitions as a kid, and I’ve interviewed and tried out for several different ones,” she said. “This was really exciting for me to finally be able to shoot my shot.”
She shared that the Making the Cut interview process was lengthy and a bit nerve wracking. She explained the way it made her feel to be one of the final ten designers selected for the show.
“By the time that it was actually time to be on the show, it was very surreal,” she said. “It was very exciting and so cool to meet so many talented designers from all over the world with such different design aesthetics. It was cool to be able to learn and engage with them, and see how their design aesthetics were built, and to be around designers who went to Parsons and FIT.”
She added, “It’s really been a labor of love. I’ve been doing this for over ten years, so it’s so nice to be recognized as a designer when you’ve worked so hard to get to this point. To be recognized on a global level was just mind blowing for me – someone who didn’t go to a prestigious design school, who’s been doing this for so long, who’s sold the clothes off their back. I slept on my own couch and rented out my room so I could buy fabric. I’ve done so many things to make it this far, so it was such an honor to be able to be among such talented people.”
Bargeron said it felt “really good” to represent Savannah and the Southeast on an international television show.
“I think Savannah is oftentimes off the radar,” she said. “We have such talent here, obviously we have SCAD and so many great designers. But because we are off the radar, not in New York City or Los Angeles, we often get forgotten about. The South has so much vibrancy and color. Though my designs are not what you might typically characterize as ‘Southern,’ they have such Southern roots to them with the amount of color, print, and pattern I use. We want everything to be vibrant and really have a story. I think so much of the South is shown in my design pieces, and I really hope that is evident on the show.”
Episode One of Making the Cut Season Three introduces Bargeron and gives some background on her brand, which is named after her grandmother, the original “Mamie Ruth.” The audience gets a peek inside Bargeron’s local stores and shows her designing her first competitive looks.
For the first design challenge, Heidi and Tim ask the designers to create two evening wear garments. One should be for the runway, and one should be an accessible look. Bargeron created a stunning tiered skirt made entirely from vintage scarves, lace and trimmings. Over 70 feet of vintage trim and over 50 vintage scarves were used to create an ombre rainbow effect. She also created a 70’s inspired jumpsuit with sun detailing.
Bargeron sent her looks down the runway on iconic Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills for judges Heidi Klum, Nicole Richie and Jeremy Scott. Ultimately, the judges decided that Bargeron was not “making the cut,” and she was sent home.
Though her time on the show was cut short, Bargeron said the experience was once-in-a-lifetime and left her feeling both proud of herself and excited for the future.
“To try and lose is still winning,” she said. “I’m so proud that I was selected amongst these incredible designers. My advice to young designers is to never give up and always stay true to yourself. I’ve had so many messages from fans who have connected with the brand and loved the designs. There will always be people who don’t understand your work, but if you believe in yourself, you will find the ones who do.”
She added, “We’ve designed some pretty off the charts things that people don’t typically wear every day, but I think with that confidence, we’re able to push people out of their comfort zones, into things that they may not typically choose to wear. It’s really about what’s next. I’ve always wanted to be on a design show, we made that happen. What’s the next thing? What’s my level up?”
So, what is next for Mamie Ruth? The brand dropped a new collection on Friday that Bargeron said was inspired by her time on the show. She said she felt an extreme excitement to create a collection packed with color when she got home.
She also shared that the brand has expansion plans in the works, along with some new additions to her long-standing internship program.
“We’re always launching, always trying new things and keeping that excitement, while staying true to what is important to us, which is making people feel good, making clothes that make people happy, and giving people an experience with the brand that aligns with that mission,” Bargeron said.
She shared advice for young entrepreneurs here in Savannah who also may be hoping to grow to an international level some day.
“You can build a global brand from Savannah,” she said. “Really, all you have to do is start. It’s all about going ahead and putting yourself out there. If you’re always scared of what people are going to say, or that it’s not perfect, or that you don’t love your logo yet, etc. you’ll never start. There’s never going to be a perfect time to launch. Start putting yourself out there, tell people about your business and see where it leads. Because you’ll never get anywhere if you don’t start.”
You can watch Making the Cut Season Three on Prime Video now. You can also shop Mamie Ruth online at mamieruth.com or in person at the brand’s flagship store located at 102 E Liberty Street in Savannah. Mamie Ruth is currently accepting internship applications for the fall. Keep up with Mamie Ruth and Bargeron on social media @mamieruthxoxo and @haute_messs.