HCC student uses automotive expertise in new career as fashion designer

Jul 26, 2016

What do automotive parts and anime costumes have in common? If your name is Oliver Mathieu the two are very similar. For the Houston Community College (HCC) student, the combination of components and techniques used in the automotive and fashion design industries actually complement one another.

Mathieu, who was born in Mexico City, moved to Houston at the age of 12. At the time, the young man had already become an enthusiast of the animated Japanese cartoons.

“I liked them because the stories were more universal,” said Mathieu. “Different from regular cartoons, anime has more heroic characters and compelling love stories.”

Little did he know that later in life his childhood predilection for anime cartoons would evolve into something bigger. In 2011, Mathieu received an Associate Degree in Automotive Technology from HCC. For several years, his employers were the automotive giants of Chrysler and Dodge; however, due to a re-organization, Mathieu’s automotive career came to a halt.

At the time, he crossed paths with a person in the local anime scene. Mathieu became so interested that he volunteered at Delta H Con 9, an annual anime convention in Houston. As he watched the creation of anime costumes, a light bulb went off. Could he apply to anime what he learned in automotive technology? It was then that Mathieu enrolled in what he calls his “second tour” at Houston Community College, this time as a student in the Fashion and Costume Design Program. 

Mechanic Fashion Designer

“What I bring to the table in the creation and sewing of anime costumes is the ability to conceptualize the visual but also the mechanic part,” he said. “I look at the engineering and I make the costume work for the character it was intended.”

This year’s Delta H Con 9, called “Thru the Rabbit Hole” has the theme of Alice in Wonderland and will take place August 19-21. HCC Fashion and Costume Design students will participate with a workshop partly coordinated by Mathieu.  

“I’m blessed,” said Mathieu. “My goal is to encourage other students to explore their talents, express themselves, let the program speak for itself, and show others that fashion design can come from different sources.”

His ultimate dream is to have his own boutique in anime, science fiction, and renaissance festival costumes. He expects to finish his second associate degree by 2018. 

Mechanic Fashion Designer

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