Episode 024 - Fashion Show Director,
Karl Marshall

Bonus Episode - Host Taylor McAdams has the pleasure of sitting down in person with the Fashion Show Director at the Dallas Market Center, Karl Marshall. Fashion is in his veins, and he’s got an eye for production. Listen to his life story that got him where he is today. Go behind the scenes to the Fashion Show during the Western and English Sales Association (WESA) show.

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Podcast Transcript

Taylor McAdams: You're listening to the Kick Your Boots Up Podcast, where we swap stories of the West. Whether you're just waking up or getting in for the day, come on in and kick your boots up. Hi, everybody, and thanks for joining again for a special bonus episode here at Risa. We're so excited to be in at the Dallas Market Center in Dallas, Texas. There's lots of things happening and going on. But really, what you want to hear today on the podcast is none other than the director of the fashion show here at WESA Mr. Carl Marshall, call. You're such a fun time. Thank you for taking time to be out there out of your busy schedule, all the things you have to do to be here today.

Karl Marshall: Thank you Taylor. It means a lot. And thank you to Justin for having me come up today. I'm really excited.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, yeah. And I'm so excited to show a little bit about what we got to see at the Fashion Show behind the scenes I was there and getting to see kind of like a fly on the wall experience. And there's a lot to talk about there. But we can't get ahead of ourselves. We got to we got to start at the very beginning and the humble beginnings, I guess I should say. So tell us a little bit about how you got started and how it all began for you. Well, thanks.

Karl Marshall: And this is something I don't always talk about a lot. But it is part of how I got into it. Because I do get that question quite a bit. A long time ago, I will say 100 years ago, I was on the talent side as a model in the industry and was actually in these shows. So I have an interesting perspective of what that feels like and looks like, which I think does help me in production. So started there. And of course, as you're aging out in the industry a little bit, it's like where do those models go? I started to think about that. And so I turned to more the stylist side and the behind the camera side of what you see behind the wall, if you will. And so fashion show and runway always intrigued me and I really enjoyed it myself. And so I wanted to get behind the scenes and get in there. So I got asked by a client wants to do a show. And I said yes, going What the heck, I don't know that I've ever done a show. But I've been on some. So I went for it. And then that kind of started. And Dallas Market Center was a great client for me as a model. And I was asked by Dallas Market Center to produce a show years ago and the old pair of Mark apparel mark. Oh, just kind of went from there. And so I've been here ever since.

Taylor McAdams: And what a full circle moment. I mean, that's iconic. I've got to talk. I have so many questions just about that alone. Because there's a lot of people in the industry that are starving models, they're there, they just want to be they want to make it they want to get signed by an agency they want to. And so the fact that you've been able to do it, you walked the walk quite literally Yeah. And then now you're able to come back and pour your wisdom as the director, what's that mean to you? What's that? Like? Yeah,

Karl Marshall: great question. Definitely felt very blessed that I got to do that in that career. It took me all over the world, which was really the value for me it was getting to see this planet and all the different cultures and dynamics, which I get, I think does help me as a producer, make things a little different, if you will, when I'm styling out or producing a show a little different perspective. But knowing how the model feels, I think is the biggest asset when they walk into the room. And you know, there are people going through everything we are and just asking a lot of them in that moment, but knowing how to speak to them in their language and get in their head a little bit because I've been there, I think does help, you know, get the production across across that runway. Oh, yeah,

Taylor McAdams: it really does. And I know I have a few more questions about you. But while we're on this topic, being there, and being behind the scenes and seeing the way you you just commanded a room people just looked up to you. They respect you, they they knew that you were the boss man, what you what you said when and everyone just did it your team included the models who some of them you've worked with before some of them were new. And what's it like with the dynamic they're working with a lots of different people, because you've been on their side? And now you know how to treat them? What's What's that like? Yeah,

Karl Marshall: so first of all, I do appreciate the respect. And I actually, I don't think you were there when I said it. But I had never said that to the team. But I wanted them to know by team I meant models, dressers, everybody, my staff that I feel the respect and that means so much to me that they do stop and hone in. And really I want to do that for them because I know what it takes to get out there and I want to get everything across. So same thing, even starting a little further back in with the Dallas Market Center. There's so much that that marketing team and the leadership here Cindy Morris really trusts me and I don't take that lightly. They also mutual respect there that they trusted me to do what I need to do for their industry. So starting with Market Center, and then being so fortunate to have a team of people that have been with me for years, the stylists and the dressers. Knowing the models Dallas has an amazing pool of market and talent here for the models. And so that's fortunate for the Dallas American center that we do have a pool of really good models here in town.

Taylor McAdams: And you know, along those same lines, they were so good professional behind the scenes, but then also professional on the runway. There were there were girls that would walk out there and hire heel boots who says like oh no, that's rocky they're gonna break an ankle they did it they owned it and even when they got to the end of the runway that one final like money shot, they they owned it Every single one of them hit their mark, it went in if they were a few steps behind, it was so beautiful to see, it just all happened. So it was orchestrated or so organically. And I know it wasn't, I know, there was a lot of planning and preparation. So talk about the planning and preparation, because wow, the it shows that they've been practicing.

Karl Marshall: So the market center or market shows are an anomaly in the sense that a typical show that I do, as well, outside of the market center, we have sometimes a month to prepare, I'm in the store pulling or working with the designer. So we have time to really think about and talk about fit the models, which we don't get to do here, a lot of people don't realize that we don't actually get to fit the outfits, there are samples. So we have to take into consideration it could not be quite cut to the exact production quality yet, or sizing or the zippers or the buttons aren't quite there yet. So I always tell them all you have to try everything on right before we go out there. So we can know if there's an issue. But we do what we call a paper fit. That means I just know them from their composites, and it has their stats, but I know I'm so well. I can usually gauge how it's going to fit on each body. Although they're similar. There's little nuances like we all have about body types. So doing all of that really is a challenge, but they come in and they do stay composed. They there's a trust level, I think where they know, that's why I always talk about it. Don't forget your sample may not fit you like you would buy it, but we're gonna make it work. My team of stylists are getting amazing. And we'll make it work. So what you guys get to see out there on the runways a little bit of a masterpiece of an illusion and was so tricks we've done behind the scenes with the garments. But typically with Western, I will say things come up pretty true, a little bit more than a contemporary side. So it's kind of ready to go. We have found in the wholesale ministry anyway. Oh, reading for

Taylor McAdams: the family. And seeing just behind the scenes that all the models came out in line and it was all it's all sorted. So calm, everyone was ready. They all had their first outfits on and then once that happened, it was crazy. But one thing that I really hung on to was there was really not much model tucking and clipping. And if it was the clips were hidden, you couldn't see it. You could it was quite literally like it was custom. I mean, and just talking about the designs of the outfits in general. I mean, there were trends that were set where there was like a green fur with green metallic shorts, something that crazy that I would have never seen to wear and it worked. It worked beautifully. Yeah, let's talk about your team a little bit then because like, I mean, truly they were, they would look at an outfit. And without hesitation, no blinking, no thinking would grab an accessory to throw on someone or, or the hat, they were really worried and really took into consideration the hat size of the models, because again, sizes are everyone has a different head, right? Yes.

Karl Marshall: And again, what a lot of people don't know is I don't really have access to this product. So about a little less than 48 hours prior to that show, which call me crazy. But I kind of like it that way. As we come in as a team, I haven't worked the Dallas market centers marketing team. So we've done months of prep work about talking about what trends and the theme and different things like that that we want to talk about here. While you guys are all here in the buyers are here, we want to make it important for you all and listen to you as well. But we do have a vision. And when I get here, I hope that the vision is in reality that is actually here in the show rooms. So I have either color blocked it sometimes that does help us put foreign to the function, there is a base foundation to the production of a show that I go stick to the system stick to the foundation, and then we can have fun with the design side of everything. So that does help. But I do tend to color block. And I do that because to help the buyer because the buyers know their markets, they know their region or their small town or their big city or whatever they're doing. But I do try to help them. Oh, I didn't think about green to your point, you know, like maybe green would be fun to pull into my store this season. So I took I do that on purpose. And even with the visuals behind them. If you notice I kind of color matched what was happening on the big LED wall, just to kind of drive home that idea again, like this could be a strong color for you to think about putting in your store this season. And then luckily, you guys are all great to have a lot of that to play with.

Taylor McAdams: I mean, if you have the vision, it's just so it just so happens that we deliver and so that's awesome. That's really I mean truly some of the looks it would have you would have thought that they were orchestrated months in advance. I had been a whole day production. I mean every piece of accessory. I mean, there was tack people were walking out with just I mean ropes on their shoulders, bridles, headstalls breast collars, it was just so iconic to see, especially for this one I bet is a little bit more fun and different for you to have those extra pops to have. Yes, but then I guess along the side along those same lines, a lot of people don't realize, you know, the amount of product that gets taken and delivered. And then also after the show, it's a mess and crazy and now it has to be taken back to the showrooms talk to us a little bit about the logistics behind the behind the scene.

Karl Marshall: I love that you're asking all the questions that people don't know about because they see that 3040 minute moment Beautiful, there's a lot that goes into it. But we just finished wrapping up, we call it and everything is back. And I'm on my team when I were just talking and just for the Western show alone, when we did the math of how many outfits walked out during the show. And then when you think about what was on that body, when you start counting that the top and the bottom, and the footwear and bridal or the necklace, or you know, let's say there's five pieces on a body, you did the math, and we had over 1000 pieces, articles of product in our room in our possession for the 48 hours. And that we got it all back with nothing missing a lot to my team, of course, and just the system that we do. But you know, we need to get it back up here to you all. So you can have it to show your buyers and your customers. So we do our best to pull it out, use it, get it back to you in good shape, and then not lose anything. So always amazes me every market that I like, we didn't lose one thing or if we did for a minute, we find it like we literally lost one little necklace for a minute. And sure enough, there was in a little box, here it is take it back to the showroom. So pretty impressive, my team and all that.

Taylor McAdams: That's a huge accomplishment, you definitely need to give yourself a pat on the back there. Because that's I mean, after see it having a little bit of a pageant experience with just nothing near us. But seeing the chaos behind the scenes of quick changes. People throw things everywhere. And so yeah, you've got to commend your team there too. But then another point or something that I'd like to really hone in on is the camaraderie between the models. I mean, even if they're kind of almost a little bit of actors and actresses little because even if they don't know each other a lot of them probably do work together see a lot of the same events but even the models on stage they have that smolder with each other or like when a guy is coming off and a girl is walking on they have like that chemistry that the romanticizes what I think the buyers want to see they want to see their clients wearing things. So tell us about that part of it too.

Karl Marshall: You hit it right on the money when I'm with them. That's part of that talk through again we don't and another thing with Market Center shows is that we don't get to rehearse so what you're seeing is happening live in front of you I'm giving I do have what I call a talk through rehearsal and I have my little whiteboard I don't know if you saw that. And I'm kind of sketching out the runway and then saying this is how I want this to go this is the pattern this is how this works. So that's all they get so once they're out there you know they're figuring it out as they go but they're they're good smart models. And so I give them the direction and with Western in particular, I remind them I got this buyer is looking to have fun they're just not you know this couture show that straight out of the product is amazing but they want to see it move and come alive so I always tell him he said Know Your outfit before you go out there does it have pockets? Is it a big skirt that you can play with you know the guys are aligning is there you know the guys are always a big crowd pleaser. Obviously every time we talk about that a lot of candy for the lady. But overall it is them getting out of their head of being the model and just being more of a performer and making it fun for the audience to say yeah, this could be you this could be your customer. Look how great this piece is. So when I get them out of that their model head of just walk them down and back and say no, we need to show the product. This is a buyer show. It's different. We need this product to come alive. It's important to me exhibitor, it's important to the manufactured to everybody the Dallas Market Center, that, you know, we are here for a purpose. And that really helps me actually produce the show is I care and I have respect for what we do here. And then it all can make sense. We're not just putting on a pretty fashion show, which is great that it comes off that way. But we hope that the buyers, it's informative, and they're like, oh, I want that I want to run up to Justin and order a whole bunch of that green or whatever it is. That's my goal at the end of the day. So when I hear those stories of feedback, I opened three new stores or I got a huge order off of my jacket being in the show. And then that makes my producers heart really happy.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, without a doubt, I'm sure it does in a million ways. But one moment in particular, I remember a little like leaving it before that. I mean, like what an hour before the show, you were kind of your team is going through everything. And there was one model in particular a male model that had long hair, and a few of the looks. He had long hair. And then at some point in time when he came out to start modeling some more equestrian type clothing, he had a van it was changed in some of the girls wear as well. I mean, they went from cowboy hats to no cowboy hats. Talk about that. I mean, just the detail. I mean, it's a worry about every strand of hair.

Karl Marshall: So we do I mean, I tried to script that as much as I can add notes. There's something amazing a homeless problem, and I should have brought it and you may know of them. They're called up you. Your guests are gonna say what is that? Why is that important? In production runway world is called a Margie bag. And then Margie bag is a clear bag that's hanging on every outfit in the show. And it has all these little compartments and that's where we number it and it's where the structure and the foundation happens. So we can put all the notes in there of what we would like to see happen. And so that's where I'm messaging my vision doesn't have the moment to happen, whether it happens every time or not, we'll see. But in general, the model is reading that. So they're getting in their head, oh, I need to put my hair up or I need to keep this unbuttoned or button, and then the dressers also thinking through that because that person is looking at it. And then by the time it gets to my lead stylist, they already know what to do. But then hopefully, it's come to them pretty prepared. So they can just tweak it, like you said, add something to it, and send them out,

Taylor McAdams: send them out. Exactly. And one thing too, that I noticed you touched on a little bit earlier that I think is so important for everyone out there to understand is everyone here at least gets an opportunity to throw something in the show. So it's, it's kind of one of those things that's fun to see what you're gonna get when you get there.

Karl Marshall: And we do our very best I will say, that show could be easily a three hour show. And I don't think everybody wants to sit through that. And then we're hungry when I want to get out of here. It's been a long day. But that was a long show last night that was 177 Looks which in that show is actually big. We're normally around 131 40. So I was really pushing the models, we got it done in 44 minutes, if anybody timing it. We were early. I was because I wanted it under an hour for sure. But the Western group will stay in play and hang out and party. So that helps. But yeah, so getting that all out there was a challenge. But we tried to spread the love and get everybody in the show that we can, but obviously we can't get everybody on the show. Well, we'd all be here all night.

Taylor McAdams: Not sure you probably wouldn't be we'd probably still be having the fashion. We'd love to be tied up for that. That's hilarious. Well, I know we're almost almost out of time. But I really do want to hear your thoughts. I'm genuinely curious to not only see where the fashion trends for you personally where you think are going in the western industry in the future, but also maybe like some fashion world I mean, in general and fashion show tip. I mean, what do you think is gonna happen in 2024? And beyond?

Karl Marshall: Yeah, that's good. And you know, it's funny, I get asked questions a lot about that. I think your personal style is so is so personal. So I'm not one to like, oh, you should never wear that. Or you should only wear this I'm a little bit more I like self expression. So you do you is kind of a little bit more how I drive in life with passion, in particular. But yes, I am hired to help, you know, drive some of the trends and things like that. So I would say what I in western, in particular, the culture here, I have a lot of respect for the Western culture. When the market center sent me to NFR, and the different places like that, just to learn more about the culture, it was so important to me, I do have background with the dad who was a rodeo competitive guy and a cowboy East Texas cowboy. So yes, he got the stuff that was like, I don't know where you came from. But we were very close. But just having that respect in the culture, I think helps me to produce that show. Because it is fun to be in the contemporary crazy. But there's a lot of respect here to how things are worn. And actually I see in the western industry, that there is a very, very particular way to wear things which I do respect. And I tried to do my best to show that on the runway again, we don't get to fit it. So the fits aren't always there the way a cowboy would really wear those jeans or a cowgirl would really wear something but um, you know, we try to get it as close as we can. For the trend in general, I feel like we definitely live in a culture that's more fluid in general. I think that's going to you're going to see that in the western industry as well. And there's just regions which I love. You know, I was thinking about you guys, when you asked me. I was raised in El Paso, Texas, which you know, West Texas, and we were very pointy boots in El Paso. When I came to college, I'm here in Weatherford College, very small college. It's more of an ag school here in this region. You didn't wear pointy toed boots in that range. I learned about some other styles more rounded toes square does those lie. Every cowboy boot was appointed to me because that's what my dad he raised. Yeah, so you know, there are cultural regional changes, too, I think in the western industry where I'm learning about that, I see where that makes sense. I've seen the Western industry just get a little bit more flashy and more fun. I watch the CMAS just to see what they're doing their because I think that shows a little bit of that very elevated fashion forward, your western feel. And generally when you crossover that rocker cowboy, that boho cowgirl, there's just so much in the western industry. And then there's the working cowboy, right and I have some friends that are involved in that and I see that true working cowboy and they're it's a uniform and they just needed to function for them and what they do, so I love that part of it too. And you guys cover all of it obviously you have the products that can cover that working cow boy you know to that fashionista rocker you know towel girl, and I love that it's fun to watch.

Taylor McAdams: Well thank you I completely agree there the product is awesome and that's part of the reason probably that I love working at Justin is the diverse so you can have your cowgirl jeans and boots one day and then dress it up with a dress and some fat Just another. So that's one of the things that I love that I want to kind of go back a little bit. You mentioned that you grew up in El Paso, Texas. And that is near and dear to our hearts having our factory in El Paso. Yeah, so I guess I mean, you talked a little bit about the trends there. But what does it mean for you then to be kind of like a, I don't want to say a homegrown man, but the state of Texas is your home. And so do you think Texas has their own fashion?

Karl Marshall: I think so. You know, it's, I love that you brought up El Paso, because those are my roots. And I remember as a little boy going to the big Justin store, and that smell and the old thing and like, I'm gonna get a new pair of boots, you know, like maybe every once a year or a couple of years, my dad would take me over and get me a new pair of boots. And I just love that memory of Justin in particular. And I do think you know, Texas where you love to be bigger than life and I and there's so much diversity in all of our regions, just in our one state you like I said, there's the West Texas, Central, north south and every it's all a little different. The more you move around, just the state of Texas, that you can see that expression change. But yeah, everybody comes together, and I think learn from each other. And maybe take a little bit from each region and mix it up who, and I think it's done really well. And I love being a part of it.

Taylor McAdams: Oh, I do completely. And one last question. Before we go. I know you have so many things to do. But you mentioned earlier that you color block the show you kind of have like a power color or maybe a few power colors. What do you think is a good color for 2024?

Karl Marshall: I'll tell you what, I really enjoyed watching him down the runway last night and it was green. And actually you kind of are right on trend right now with that I just thought the Green was really fresh and just had a fun color. I know Texas women's tend to love brights as well. I love sequins in the show for sure. And I love when a woman's like yeah, I'm doing that. I think that's a good call. But green is just I think kind of a fun color. Because we know blue. Obviously we know blue we know black right? Red is a strong color in the western industry. So I just thought why not green. And so I just think that you know, tones of green are just a fun, new addition for anybody male or female to kind of add to their wardrobe for the next season or their new season, their story will lay out some greening. Hi,

Taylor McAdams: I love that I'm a green fan myself, but I love seeing there was a green hat a green grimy thing and then to be able to pair it with the green Clara here at Justin or I know there's like several men's western boots that have just a top the shaft be green. So just like a little subtle hint of color right underneath the gene. That's really I appreciate that you really honed in on the green aspect and that you took the colors and every detail and to consider it into consideration. So it was fun. Carl, thank you so much for being here. And it's been so fun. I we could talk for days, I'm sure. But thank you for the hospitality just at the fashion show. And thank you for everything that you're doing in the industry too. It's really appreciated friends.

Karl Marshall: I appreciate thank you for your time Taylor and thank you for inviting me and Justin being so it was great to see all it always is and I know January we'll all be back together again for the really big show. Can't wait yeah. 

Taylor McAdams: Thank you.