Fashion designer and artist team up for unique shirts

Designer dress shirt line Anton Alexander has special edition shirts using Terry Ratliff's art.

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Most people probably don’t think of Fort Wayne when they think of fashion, but one designer is working on changing that.

Anton Babich started Anton Alexander four and a half years ago. He worked in the corporate world and couldn’t find dress shirts to match his personality.

“This is where business meets character. The business world is cookie cutter, dry and very formal. I wanted to add some flare. It’s on the edge of being gaudy, but not there yet,” Babich said.

Babich had to teach himself the ropes of not only running a business but sewing a shirt, but his company took off. Now, he’s taking it to a new level with artist Terry Ratliff.

“If you look around the world it’s not very common for an artist to collaborate with a fashion designer and create shirts. On top of that, making dress shirts and making it in the U.S., this may be a first of its kind,” Babich said.

Dan Byanski works with both Babich and Ratliff. One day he thought, “why couldn’t we put [Ratliff’s] art on a wearable object?”

“To take something off the wall and put it on a shirt is a pretty big thing,” Byanski said.

Ratliff was thrilled about the opportunity.

“I was really excited. This is another opportunity to take my artwork to another area: wearable art. You enjoy art whether it’s on the wall or on a shirt,” Ratliff said.

Ratliff painted three abstract pieces and Babich digitized them and turned them into fabrics.

“My biggest worry was reproduction and if it would be true to the art and it was. You could hold the original up to the shirt and it would be right on,” he said.

The new Ratliff/Babich collaboration shirts will make their debut at the Fashion Show 4.0 Friday night. Babich is one of five designers who will have their work walk the runway.

“It’s nothing like you see in the shows in New York. It’s very different. Everyone will be in for a real treat,” Babich, who is the show’s organizer, said. “This is all uniquely handcrafted by each of the designers.”

Two of the designers are from Indianapolis and three, including Babich, are from Fort Wayne.

“When you say fashion in Fort Wayne, people think you’re crazy. But, when we put these events on, they come, they love it and it not only showcases the talent, it shows what we can do in such a small city,” Babich said.

Fashion Show 4.0 is at 8:30 p.m. Friday night at YOLO Event Center. Doors open at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15 or $25 for a couple and are available at the door. There will also be a red carpet, professional photography and live music.

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