Melissa Davis is almost like the Batman of fashion. She’s an executive assistant for Bank of America by day, and the fashion designer/owner of clothing company, Foxx Skynz by Design by night. She’s also self-made, much like Batman (though Bruce Wayne always had money, Batman did not always have a cape) having paved her way into the (often elitist) fashion industry. Maybe it’s because she’s got serious talent and a knack for taking the boring out of office apparel, specifically with her newest collection, a business-meets-edgy design, perfect for the fashionable-yet-timid office worker.
Davis, also like Batman, has an arsenal of varied materials for her garment design. “I use everything from fur to cotton. I am definitely a variety person,” she says. “I know for some folks they say, ‘Oh you need to have a niche and work in only one.’ That’s not me. I don’t want to just do cocktail dresses, I don’t want to just do prom. I want to be able to do the whole rainbow if possible.”
Davis says she never intended to be a fashion designer; in fact, she went to school for communications and landed a job in the banking field. In a way, she kind of fell into fashion design.
“In high school, I actually wanted to take an auto-body class, but the men had it on lock, and they would not let any women in there. I ended up doing sewing. I made a set of scrubs, like what a hygienist would wear, out of denim, with pockets and snaps in the front, it was basic.”
It turned out that it was more than a basic design, as a teacher accused her of buying it at a store and passing it off as her own creation. “That offended me, and I quit the class after proving to her that I did make it. She did apologize. That was in ’87, and I didn’t pick up a sewing machine again until ’97, so I basically had to re-teach myself everything.”
Davis came into the fashion scene again when she was in college. “I first started making things for myself only — I used to be a clubber; I would go to the clubs every other week. I made clothing for that, some of which my dad didn’t like. So then I started to tone it down, and friends of mine started asking me to make things for them. At first I was nervous about it, but eventually I started making clothes for my friends and then other clientele, and that’s how it ended up growing into a business.”
The name of Davis’ clothing company, Foxx Skynz by Design is a bit different than the typical “Such-and-Such by Said Designer” that is usually tagged onto trendy apparel. The name comes from two sources, Davis’ personal love and identification to fox, as well as a conversation with a friend mixing fashion and rap. “When I was a little girl I always liked fox. I always thought we had a lot in common: small, furry, cute, fast, smart — I always related to a fox. If I was going to be an animal, I would be a red fox. Then, years later, a friend of mine who was a rapper, and I were just talking, he was talking about music, and I was talking about fashion. Somehow he ended up doing a play with rapping on fox and skins, and I was like, ‘I love that, that’s the name of my company!’”
Adding to the curious, but catchy name, is the motto of her clothing line: To be FOXXY is an attitude, the SKYN is how you wear it. “The clothing line is the skin. It can be cotton to leather, casual to high fashion.”
Davis targets her line, which is currently only custom-made, to anyone between 20-45 years old, male, female, casual or “High Queen of Fashion.” “I want [my customers] to have some fun with their clothing, so they can dress up and yet still be casual, so the garments themselves are so eye-catching that they still get the attention and the compliments that they would if they dressed upscale. I’m trying to tone it down some to make it more wearable but still have that edge and spark that make it stand out from other garments that you see.”
Davis, as a rule, includes a selection of urban, sophisticate and couture as part of her seasonal collections.
“The next collection that I’m working on is called ‘Business as unusual.’ It’s inspired by the bank,” she says. “It’s a play on casual and business casual clothes and some evening garments. I’m getting ready to gear into the strictly business part.”