Friday, 20 July, 2018.
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Macho Macho Glam

by Kristen Kubilus

Anna Perotta shows
off a piece. Courtesy
Perotta's MySpace.
A swarm of people step off the train from New York City into the bustling station of Maplewood, New Jersey, but I spot Anna Perrotta without a single strain of my eyes. Among the mass of navy blue business suits and khaki trench coats, Perrotta is nothing less than striking in a red and black checkered print jacket, bold turquoise accessories, and shiny metallic boots. However, as soon as she makes eye contact with me, I can tell that despite her outer appearance of near perfection, inside she is exhausted. Her left arm is weighed down by the contents of a massive design portfolio, and slung over her right shoulder is a gigantic bag full of garments from her budding fashion line, Macho Glam. Before I can greet Perrotta, a trendy woman approaches her to compliment her on her purse, which Perrotta created herself. After she’s passed one of her elaborately designed cards to the woman, I remark, “Look at you, doing business even outside of the workplace!” Perrotta replies with an expressive grin, “I’ve always been a go-getter.”

Go-getter is right. From the time she was a young girl, Perrotta has focused on one thing and one thing only: fashion. After she completed a number of art and design courses throughout her childhood and teenage years, Perrotta’s portfolio was reviewed and she was accepted into New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) as a sophomore in high school. Perrotta graduated from FIT in the spring of 2008, and soon after was given a job as the print coordinator and embellishment designer of A.H. Schreiber Co., one of the country’s leading manufacturers and distributors of women’s swimwear. But Perrotta wants more of a challenge. “I know that I have the potential to be doing something bigger and better,” she says. That “something” Perrotta is referring to is Macho Glam, a funky, fashion-forward collection of urban streetwear that she has been working on for over three years. The challenge that Perrotta now faces is releasing a fresh new brand to a country in the midst of an economic recession.

Perrotta knows that producing a clothing line is no easy task, but she is not the least bit afraid. In fact, fearful is one of the last words to describe Perrotta. As we walk through the quaint, suburban town of Maplewood, Perrotta, with her tri-colored locks and glamorous ensemble, sticks out like a sore thumb- but she doesn’t care. Her bold style and desire (and willingness) to be different has gotten her to where she is today. “I’ve always stood out,” she says. “When I was younger, my mom would dress me in very showy, off-centered outfits. I was dressed head-to-toe in gold lame and wore hot pink lipstick. Kids would make fun of me, but eventually, the things I was wearing would be in style.”

Throughout her entire life, Perrotta has dealt with people who appreciate and support her vision, as well as those who just don’t understand it. Michele Reisman, Perrotta’s middle school art teacher and mentor, noticed her talent immediately. “Anna was very creative and never hesitated to express herself,” says Reisman. “She makes a statement with her work. She has an amazing drive and is not afraid to branch out into new artistic endeavors.” However, when Perrotta decided to pursue her interest in fashion by attending FIT, mixed reactions erupted among her family. “My mom was all for it because she knew I was passionate,” Perrotta says. “My father was on the fence because he was concerned about me making money and being able to provide for myself. He thought my work was nuts and would never work out.”

Though Perrotta and her father do not see eye-to-eye, she realizes that in order to become successful in fashion, not only does she have to work hard, but she also needs to make a solid profit. When Perrotta graduated college, she quit her internship at Marc Ecko Enterprises because she couldn’t continue to work for free. “My internship was like something you’d see on TV,” she said. “I ran errands, was a secret shopper, made copies. I did a lot of running around, but I still learned a lot.” A month after Perrotta left Ecko, she received a job offer from her professor Rodolfo DeGaray, the creative director of prints at A.H. Schreiber.

As Perrotta proudly reminisces about the countless hours she spent working in FIT’s design studios for DeGaray’s classes, she begins to speak of the aspects of her job at A.H. Schreiber that she finds to be rewarding. “I like that I work in a plus-size swimwear line, because it’s great to make plus-size women happy, especially when it comes to bathing suits.” What’s keeping Perrotta from being satisfied with her career is the damage the recession has inflicted upon the business. “There has been a tremendous amount of layoffs,” she says. “It’s hard when your job turns into three other people’s jobs, especially in the fast-paced environment in which we work.”

While the recession may be preventing Perrotta from reaching new heights at A.H. Schreiber, she refuses to allow it to affect the success of Macho Glam. Macho Glam, like Perrotta, has an overwhelmingly unique look. While Perrotta originally set out to market Macho Glam to drag queens, her designs caused for an unexpected turn. “All of the neon colors, all the embellishments, all the funky prints that you typically see on drag queens, are now what you see in urban streetwear.” Perrotta continues, “When I was making garments for drag queens, I was making a lot of pieces for myself and my brothers. They would wear their shirts out at night and my clothing became popular among their peers.”

I scratch my head and stare blankly at Perrotta as I try to comprehend how clothing created for drag queens could suddenly become appealing to young urban men. That is, until her brother, Michele, enters the room. Michele confidently sports one of his sister’s designs: a fitted black t-shirt adorned with screen-printed silver skulls and splattered with bright shades of orange and yellow. Not only is Michele a suitable walking advertisement for Macho Glam, but he also serves as the CEO of the company. “Anna’s clothing is original and embodies the best of her creativity,” he says. “Macho Glam is the combination of In-Your-Face Guido Nightclub meets Urban Hip-Hop Streetwear.” Michele is also optimistic about Macho Glam thriving in a time of recession. “Brands like Ed Hardy and Affliction sell for five times the price of our clothing,” he explains. “Because we make customized pieces affordable, more people feel inclined to purchase Macho Glam clothing.”

Perrotta aims to translate a similarly optimistic message into her clothing. “I want people to love who they are and be comfortable with their individuality,” Perrotta says. “I want to sell style.” It is this confidence, undying motivation, and craving for self-expression that accounts for Perrotta’s success. Perrotta likes to make a statement, and she wants others to do the same. “Everything I do is very glitzy,” she says. “I want people to realize that it’s OK to shine.”

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