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Photography Natalia Mantini, courtesy of MadeMe

MadeMe: proving good streetwear doesn’t have to be menswear

Designer Erin Magee talks us through her trippy hippy AW16 collection, part-inspired by pre-internet mail-order catalogue dELIA*s

Free-love references blend flower power with 90s JNCO rave culture in MadeMe’s latest lookbook, starring NY muses Alexandra Marzella and Manon Macasaet. The brand is the brainchild of Erin Magee, whose designs are a refreshing alternative to the male-dominated world of streetwear. And it’s not the only thing she’s been working on – in addition to the socially-conscious autumn collection, Magee has also collaborated with Kim Gordon’s iconic 90s girls-only skate brand X-Girl to create special pieces that nod to the styles of Harmony Korine and Chloë Sevigny circa 1994.

We sat down with Magee to discuss going against the grain of fashion and her dELIA*s inspired new images.

Can you go into the inspiration for the collection?

Erin Magee: It’s 90s rave culture referencing 60s and 70s fashion and culture. The vibe of peace and love and anti-establishmentism, which re-emerged in the 90s and is kind of re-emerging again now. Politically, we are in a time where people are feeling a ‘peace and love’ sentiment again. So, it’s a reference on a reference on a reference of sorts! In the 90s, Kikwear or JNCO raver jeans were just 90s takes on 60s bellbottoms and again now, that flare look still works. A lot of the shoot inspiration came from dELIA*s’ catalogues in the 90s, because they too were heavily referencing the 60s and 70s. dELIA*s was a pre-internet teen girl mail-order catalogue in the 90s. It was always shot on a white background and the clothes were similar – really bright with slight skate elements and super fun.

How do you think your MadeMe references and ideas for AW16 are an evolution from last season?

Erin Magee: I think, or hope, that you can look at something and identify it’s MadeMe from season to season. But this collection is a little more trippy and hippy than others. I always try to make things interesting for young girls to buy since there’s a lot of ‘fast fashion’ out there. So, if MadeMe doesn’t provide something interesting and different, then there’s really no point. 

What are the core ideas behind the brand that do not change from season to season?

Erin Magee: It’s hard for people to swallow and understand women’s streetwear and right now, it’s very popular to just wear the menswear brands. I think the girl who buys a MadeMe piece or is associated with MadeMe is someone who is strong enough to do their own thing and not follow a super-trend. It’s a stylish and smart girl who isn’t a fashion victim. It’s a girl who’s okay with doing her own thing. A lot of times I think girls feel shy in front of their guy friends and they’re like, ‘Okay, I’m just going to wear this Gosha hoodie too.’

Do you find it's that kind of person gravitating towards the clothes – like the girl who wears oversized men’s skate shirts?

Erin Magee: I think so. It’s meant to be a compliment to that. MadeMe is so much smaller than all those menswear brands, so it’s a much smaller group of girls who know about it. I think the girl who would wear a Supreme tee would definitely wear a MadeMe jacket. I do. 

Last season, you went into bondage fashion and the season before it was school inspired – how do you come up with the ideas? The flower girl thing isn’t trendy. Why did you decide this season was the time? 

Erin Magee: I look at a lot of collections and everyone’s doing very trendy oversized bombers and oversized tees with extra long sleeves. I’m like, ‘Okay cool, yeah I can do that too but that’s not new.’ If I wanted to get that, I’d buy Margiela. I think the idea behind this MadeMe collection is something I’ve always been very much into, there’s a Vogue Steven Meisel story from 1992 that was very 60s and 70s fashion, it really moved me and I’ve always wanted to touch on that. It’s also an idea that transcends fashion, and speaks more to a cultural feeling of a ‘world peace’ culture. We are living in a crazy time and the global climate is really terrifying, it’s a time where young people realising they need to love and be one with each other. Hopefully, that comes through in these clothes. 

“Everyone’s doing very trendy oversized bombers and oversized tees with extra long sleeves. I’m like, ‘Okay cool, yeah I can do that too but that’s not new.’ If I wanted to get that, I’d buy Margiela” – Erin Magee

The mock necks feature words like “earth crisis” – how does this collection explore what’s happening in our world right now?

Erin Magee: It’s a commentary on the current global, social and political climate. It also just sounds cool. When I was making those, it was almost eight months ago, so things like the Paris shootings and Ferguson had happened. There was also a crazy presidential election beginning with idiots like Donald Trump and I definitely do feel like we are in an earth crisis. 

How do you think girls like Alexandra Marzella and Manon embody the spirit of MadeMe?

Erin Magee: They’re both very New York, very smart, and they’re both doing their own thing their own way. Ally’s part of this young group of girls that use Instagram to create and display their art. It’s a new concept that makes some traditional people uncomfortable, but I really like it and support it. Manon is growing into an artist herself, she is so young and has so much knowledge. I met Manon when she was 14 and I could talk to her like she was my peer. We would talk about X-Girl or Fuct or Miss Sixty and she knew everything...she’s really informed. They’re both girls who are making their careers in New York in a unique way nobody else has. They definitely won’t be having a desk job anytime soon.

Last time we spoke, you mentioned that it has been challenging juggling your full-time job as Head of Product Development at Supreme and working on MadeMe – has it become any easier?

Erin Magee: No, I don’t think it’s easier at all. I’m not looking any hotter or prettier these days! Ha! That’s New York City though, it’s the place where your waiter is also a Broadway actor. If you’re not willing to work two jobs to make your dream come true, you should probably move to Ohio or something. 

Would you ever consider doing a runway show?

Erin Magee: I want to! It’s just a time restraint thing and I’d need more clothes! My collections are small and I would need five times more pieces! I’d love to, wouldn’t you love to see Manon opening a show? I’d ask Julia Baylis and Manon and Ally and Mayan Toledano to walk, all the MadeMe girls – it’d be so cool!

Is there any update on the X-Girl collab?

Erin Magee: It’s coming out in three weeks! The campaign photos are going to be crazy! We shot it in LA a couple months ago and they have a very relevant connection to the beginning of X-Girl. For inspiration, I went straight to early 90s NYC downtown scene, just pictures of Chloë Sevigny and Harmony Korine in 1994 at a rave – that’s all I wanted to see. X-Girl sent me a bunch of archival photos, which were very helpful. I felt like a bit of a stalker, I had every single photo of Chloë Sevigny in 1994 on my desktop. Collaborating creates excitement and it’s cool because it allows MadeMe to do things I wouldn’t do on my own. I wasn’t going to make underwear on my own, but I would with Me & You, because that’s what they make. Same with X-Girl, I wouldn’t typically go super 90s skate. But collaboration allows brand expansion and a place to push things you normally wouldn’t. 

What's next? 

Erin Magee: I have a Schott x MadeMe motorcycle jacket coming out in November, which I am really excited about.