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Artist of the Month: State College native Jessica Lang creates fashion with meaning in New York City

by on March 01, 2018 10:31 AM

Everyone wants to be able to pursue his or her dreams. When Jessica Lang was given the chance, she took the opportunity and ran with it.

Now, she’s a fashion designer in New York City.

Lang, a State College native who says she was always creative as a child, knew since her junior year at State High that she wanted to make her career in the fashion industry.

“Whenever I was creating, I didn't think that I would be designing. I was just a visual kid who loved art,” she says. “My sister and I were always creative when we were making things. My highest grades were in art classes when I was younger. That has definitely carried over into my adulthood.”

Lang applied to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York after high school, but she wasn’t accepted. Lang says she let pride get in her way and decided to stay local instead. She spent a year and a half attending Penn State for public relations and marketing.

Even though she was able to attend college with her high school friends, Lang had a feeling that choice simply was not for her.

“I wasn't happy at Penn State and I knew that I was supposed to be doing something artistic,” Lang says. “During sophomore year, I decided to apply to Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in California. I didn’t tell anyone just in case I didn't get in. My parents didn’t agree with my decision, but that summer I moved out to Los Angeles.”

There, Lang majored in apparel manufacturing management and after graduating, she moved her life back east to New York City eight years ago.

Lang works full-time as an apparel designer in New York, but got her start designing bags and travel luggage.

She also runs her own brand in her name on the side as a one-woman show. Lang is hoping to have people working for her in the future as the brand expands.

Lang says that her business is small at the moment, but it is spreading through word of mouth and her social media accounts.

“I like to create things that have a deeper message but are still pleasing to the eye,” she says. “I definitely have a creative brain, so that is how I best communicate.”

The most popular items in her online shop are the racerback tank tops and short-sleeve tees that have the graphics “Creator” and images of fingerprints.

When visitors enter Lang’s website for her clothing line, they see a statement from Lang on self-acceptance. Lang wants those who visit her site to know that it is important to accept yourself and be who you want to be. Lang never wants anyone to apologize for who they are, and she says that perfection is subjective. Once you accept this, all the doors open before you, she says.

“When you work for someone, you don't always get to express yourself freely and creatively how you want,” Lang says. “I felt I was missing something and really wanted to design things that had a strong meaning behind them. Most importantly, I wanted them to appeal to people visually so they can create their own meaning based on what they see. My design style has changed drastically since I went to school. I am more focused on athleisure, but originally wanted to be a runway designer.”

Typically, Lang uses her computer to create detailed flat sketches; however, she also creates her drawings free hand.

“Music, quotes, and traveling get me into the mood for designing. I get a lot of inspiration from those three. Sometimes, when I go through something difficult, I am given motivation to create something new,” Lang says.

When Lang needs a break, she enjoys coming back once a month to State College so she can visit her family. She says that all of her family still lives in the area.

“I like coming home because it’s a nice break from the busy city. It’s quiet. My favorite time to come back is spring, summer, or fall,” Lang says. “I have a new baby niece and a 4-year-old nephew who I like to see often … not that I don’t like to see the rest of my family!”

Despite their initial hesitation on Lang’s choice to leave Penn State and move west, she says her family has come around.

“My family is very supportive of what I do. I don’t think they understand the industry all the time, but they want to make sure I’m doing something I love,” Lang says.

Not every artist finds their grounding immediately or has an understanding family. Lang understands the struggles of young designers trying to make their way into such a hustle-and-bustle industry on their own. She doesn’t want to see a young designer give up their hopes just because other people may not understand or support it.

“It’s very easy to get discouraged, especially when you hear a lot of ‘no’ and when people criticize your work,” Lang says. “Just remember to stay true to who you are. Believe and trust that you have talent. Not everyone is going to like what you design and that’s OK. Not everyone is going to appreciate you or your work, and that is OK too. Just make sure to trust yourself – in anything that you do.”

To learn more, visit, or @jessicaelang on Instagram.







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