How to make a DIY feminist fashion label

Grace Miceli AKA @ArtBabyGirl talks creative communities, challenging the boys’ club of streetwear and bringing her art offline

FashionHow To
Pin It
Art Baby Girl Grace Miceli
Art Baby Girl by Grace MiceliPhotography Morgan Maher via shop.gracemiceli.com

Grace Miceli is the artist, curator and designer behind @ArtBabyGirl, whose playful drawings both recall tweenage doodles done in sparkly notepads and stick two fingers up at the pretentions and inaccessibility of the art world. After founding Art Baby Gallery in 2011, the online space that hosts virtual exhibitions like Girls At Night On The Internet (which featured work from the likes of Petra Collins, Arvida Byström and Molly Soda), Miceli turned her talents to clothing, creating streetwear-inspired basics that act like tongue in cheek band merch for her art. Here, she gives her own How To guide on DIY design – and why there’s more to her work than simply being ‘feminist’.

DITCH THE ART SCHOOL BULLSHIT

“I started working in this style when I was about to graduate college and realised I was pretty clueless in regards to my identity and ambitions as an artist. Working in this amateur style was an attempt to unlearn some of the art school bullshit I got so accustomed to and just have fun. I want to create pieces that are funny, colourful and inclusive. Most of the items are unisex and range in fit, from baggy long sleeves with Drake lyrics to thongs with cherries on the crotch – it’s a mixture of my interest in streetwear along with wanting to make accessible and wearable art.”

“To me it’s crucial to see my clothes on a diverse group of people, because otherwise it’s not only problematic but it’s boring” – Grace Miceli

RECOGNISE THE POWER OF SOCIAL MEDIA, BUT GO BEYOND THE INTERNET

In my experience, social media is how so many artists and designers share their work and are then discovered – I can’t imagine making the kind of work that I do without the internet because that’s not a reality I’ll ever know. But I started making clothes because I was looking for a way to share my work beyond the internet. I’ve always been fan of streetwear-inspired clothing but didn’t see enough females involved in that world (I love X-Girl and Mademe) so I wanted to see that community continue to grow.”

UNDERSTAND THE REALITIES OF BEING DIY

“You need to have your finances in order and do your research. Being DIY, as in not having investors, means you need to plan accordingly and budget and make sure you get involved with the right manufacturers. I’m lucky that I’m able to work without any creative constraints. It’s cool to have total freedom, but that means at the end of the day you’re the one responsible for everything. If you make 100 shirts of a certain style that no one buys, you have to deal with that financial consequence. I’m not sure that the clothing I’m making is meant to ever be a part of the fashion industry, at the moment it’s functioning more like another medium that I’m working in, alongside illustration or painting.”

DON’T GET FIXATED ON LABELS

I’m not setting out to be a feminist label. I’m a feminist, of course, but that’s not the only adjective that can be used to describe me and my work. I think it’s important to view artists as people making things – being viewed through a feminist lens isn’t always necessary. I like to think of my clothing as my band merch, except I’m not in a band, I’m an artist. So I guess people who wear it are fans of the art that I make, and I’m glad that they can own it in an affordable form. Whoever is wearing my clothes is in on the joke.”

“I’m not setting out to be a feminist label. I’m a feminist, of course, but that’s not the only adjective that can be used to describe me and my work” – Grace Miceli

GET INSPIRED BY YOUR COMMUNITY

I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to start making clothing without the super-supportive community that I’m part of. You need people to give you feedback, both positive and negative. It’s important for me to work with my friends, and I’m lucky that most of them are talented artists who I’ve had so much fun collaborating with. The models that I cast are also friends, although some of them model professionally. To me it’s crucial to see my clothes on a diverse group of people, because otherwise it’s not only problematic, it’s boring. It seems like so much of the fashion industry is blind to how problematic it still is, in regards to the huge majority of models being thin and white, but that is changing. This most recent fashion week in NY had so many exciting shows (most of them DIY) engaging a variety of bodies, so I’m glad to see that people are starting to wake up.”

shop.gracemiceli.com

More Fashion

Like this?
Like Dazed on Facebook