updated 06/02/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 06/02/1980 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Henry Jackson, 21, had his reasons for spurning job offers from designers Oscar de la Renta and Valentino. "I knew," explained Seventh Avenue's latest wunderkind, "that I'd be in the back room making an Oscar de la Renta and not a Henry Nathaniel Jackson." So with a $10,000 loan from an uncle in Carmel, California, Jackson, the son of a Boston postal worker and his psychologist wife, is striking out on his own. His first commercial line (left), scheduled for next fall, will feature resort clothes for women—skirts and blouses costing between $60 and $65. "Henry," says designer Mary Alice Orito, "has an intuitive sense of the way a woman moves." His interest in clothes dates back to early childhood. "My mother was sewing all the time," he recalls. He also got on-the-job training sewing part-time for top fashion names like de la Renta, Chester Weinberg and Charles Suppon. But the toughest teachers were his own classmates at Parsons School of Design in New York. "Other students love to tear your work apart. Once you make it through there," he figures, "you're on your way." Jackson may indeed be a breakthrough force in the rag trade if his designs are as fresh as his candor. "The garment industry is very greedy," he says. "I wouldn't pay those high prices for most of the clothes I see—especially since I know what they really cost."