Young Houstonian gearing up to be the next leading fashion icon
by Barrett White
In the continuously shifting and diverse world of fashion, the style of Jonathan Blake emphasizes timeless trends that are elegant, classic, and sophisticated; conservative without being prudish.
Jonathan Tinkle, the jeans-, blazer-, and tee-sporting founder and chief fashion designer at Jonathan Blake, LLC, is a former student of the Art Institute of Houston. Tinkle left the Art Institute to pursue his craft wholeheartedly, hosting numerous fashion shows and opening the Jonathan Blake Atelier on Post Oak Place, between the Galleria and River Oaks. Though the Atelier is more of a showroom, visitors can also purchase ready-to-wear or custom-tailored garments.
Another service Tinkle offers at his Post Oak location is a completely customized design service, which is no small task. One-of-a-kind garments are planned during several preliminary meetings and five to six fittings, ensuring that clients get the runway bombshells they’ve always wanted.
Though his style emphasizes elegant special-occasion garments, his line does dip into high-collar formal wear, with an eye toward keeping the clothing fluid between the office and the cocktail party. With a client base ranging in age from 27 to 68, he says his customers “want pieces that are timeless and elegant, no matter the age or occasion.” In November 2013, Jonathan Blake received national acclaim when Tinkle made headlines with his private London reception and trunk show in the presence of Their Royal Highnesses Crown Prince Alexander and Crown Princess Katherine of Serbia.
However, Tinkle didn’t start out wowing royals while transforming Houston’s fashion scene. Like every successful business dream, Tinkle’s began as “something that was implanted in me at a young age,” he says. “I can’t explain it. I’ve always loved clothing and loved to watch what other people wear and [the fashion] choices they’ve made. What someone wears almost gives you an introduction to them without having to say a single word.”
To say Jonathan Tinkle is a “go-getter” may be a bit of an understatement. Rather than partying during his student years at the Art Institute, Tinkle generally kept to himself and lived a fairly private life—and still does to this day. “My interests have always been rather mature,” he says. “I never did drugs, I don’t drink, and I wasn’t into the club scene. College, for me, was for networking.”
Tinkle soon left the Art Institute to pursue his career without a degree. “It doesn’t matter where you go, or what you train,” he says. “You’ll learn it from the people who are doing what you do, and who are where you want to be.” Tinkle had the capital to do so, “. . . so why wait? Why not start now? Instead of starting out at 40, I hope to be settled in and established by then.” He soon began rubbing elbows with the likes of Victoria Christian, international ambassador for Clive Christian Perfume, when he was just 18 years old. London-based Christian became the first international client of Jonathan Blake when she purchased made-to-order items from his 2013 fall/winter collection.
Though inspired by his travels to New York and abroad, he says that his biggest inspirations are the women he designs for: the sophisticated socialite, or the diligent professional woman of today. To bring his ideas to life, he enjoys using exotic fabrics and leathers from all around the world, including lizard, crocodile, and alligator—importing from the same supplier used by Hermès, known globally for their famed Birkin bag. Tinkle says that he hates working with beads, however, as they tend to steal the show. “They look beautiful on the runway with the lights refracting and making a shine, but they’re simply not practical,” he points out, citing both the labor expense and Houston women’s fondness for jewelry that usually steals the spotlight from beading.
Jonathan Blake has plans to announce a handbag collection, and ultimately hopes to release an additional line of menswear. When asked if he’s interested in fragrance, he states, “Fragrance takes a lot of capital, but I am looking into it. [Fragrance] is typically something you do toward the end, anyway.”