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Maxine Beiny AW17Photography Thurstan Redding

Meet the designer roasting Tinder fuckboys on her tees

Blending sex, humour and adult angst, Maxine Beiny’s collections speak for an entire generation

“I’m awful at talking about myself and my work,” says young designer Maxine Beiny. Despite this, she demonstrates a real knack for capturing the essence of life as a millennial – she just does it via quippy phrases on graphic-printed separates. From “Grow a Fuckboy” t-shirt dresses to pieces printed with actual IRL Tinder conversations (“I didn’t even blur out the name,” she admits), Beiny is updating your angsty teen self’s favourite mode of expression for 2017: the printed tee.

A far cry from her humble start – getting inspired to go DIY by those cutesy David & Goliath t-shirts as a youngster – Beiny’s collections are outfitting the growing pains of that same generation of kids attempting to “adult” now, and needing a sarcastic kind of humour to deal with our difficulty doing so. Instead of “boys r stupid” prints, Beiny gives us actual screenshots of fuckboys in 2017 that prove it’s the same difference, really. (A choice comment: “You’d probably be hotter if you didn’t try so hard and dressed normally”.)

For AW17, her attention turned to that other source of constant Gen Y angst: jobs. (Or, more specifically, that particular frustration of not being able to find meaningful employment despite the fact that we’re the most highly educated generation so far.) Having graduated from Middlesex in 2014 without much idea of what she should do next, Beiny has had her fair share of bad job experiences, her CV even including a stint working the red slide designed by Anish Kapoor for the Olympic Park. Not able to earn the “Employee of the Month” award there because they only ever gave it to one of two people, she made her own t-shirt versions – along with another in the collection that reads “I’m sleeping with my boss,” and “What if I’m average” in Michael Kors inspired lettering. An ode to those MK bag-wielding commuter clones on the tube (“It’s like they’re in some strange cult”) – turning these frustrations into sardonic pieces that give the workwear-inspired collection its winning dry humour.

Paired with deconstructed pinstripe shirts and skirts held together with safety pins, dress code-violating sheer tops, studded y2k visor sunglasses and dad trainers – this is office dressing for the generation that defines their “office” as anywhere with an internet connection. Here, we talked to Beiny about the jobs she had that inspired this, the enduring appeal of graphic tees, and how internet culture is shaping fashion.

How did you get to where you are at the moment?

Maxine Beiny: I graduated from university in 2014 and didn’t really know what to do, so just got the worst job possible to earn money. My job bored me, and I hated my boss. It was depressing seeing people unhappy in their jobs but not do anything about it and I thought, ‘That just can’t be me.’ So I started to make new work – which took me a year because I’m so unorganised and was my own intern (laughs) – that was the AW16 collection. I did have a proper job designing – but for the high street. That was awful so I quit after like eleven days. They would be like ‘We love this, we can just use this,’ (about my own work) and I would be like ‘No!’

What made you leave?

Maxine Beiny: We had to do a drawing of a bird for Primark and that made me quit. Afterwards, I kept seeing this bird everywhere. It’s like it was haunting me; it was all over those satin baseball jackets. It wasn't even me who designed it, but they were like, ‘We've found this bird, let’s do it again. Can you re-colour every bit?’ The boss used to loom over me – you know when you were at school and a teacher would watch over you?

Also, they didn't even know who Gosha was… They were just like ‘that Russian designer’. And they would be like ‘Can you rip off Gucci?’ and send me all these looks to then be like ‘It looks too much like Gucci.’ So I’d be like, ‘What do you want?!’ 

What made you want to be a fashion designer?

Maxine Beiny: I don’t even think of myself as a fashion designer, it’s really embarrassing but I guess I am. I don’t even have a studio, it’s just my bedroom. Someone was like, ‘I’ll collect from your studio,’ and I was just like, ‘Oh no, it’s my parents’ house, but you’re welcome…’ (laughs) It’s a struggle.

How would you describe your design aesthetic?

Maxine Beiny: Humorous graphics with a sexual undertone – sort of making fun of stuff like dating, etc. Just quite sarcastic, really.

Your clothes have a lot of references to internet culture – what is it that interests you about that?

Maxine Beiny: I’ve grown up with the internet and I was struggling to find a concept for my final collection at university – but I was on Tinder so just went with that as my theme. Since then, I feel the internet has gotten so much bigger. I don’t know – I’m always on my phone for no reason. It’s so addictive.

“I did have a proper job designing – but for the high street. That was awful so I quit after like eleven days” – Maxine Beiny

It’s obviously changed the fashion game – brands like Gucci are using memes as marketing now. What do you think about the role internet culture plays in fashion these days?

Maxine Beiny: Everything is so instant these days. Every fashion show is put on Instagram and it’s where most of the younger generation find their inspiration. I’m always stealing images off of Tumblr – like that whole pink, girly Petra Collins kind of thing, it’s very nostalgic (for the 00s). I think the Gucci meme advert is clever as it’s interacting with a new generation. It was clever, the way they’d done it – I love memes. Also, now no one else can do it because it’s like they’re ripping off Gucci.

Yeah, that sort of goes back to what you were saying about working for the high street – what’s your own design process like?

Maxine Beiny: To be honest, it’s more of a mood than an idea. It’s just what I’m interested in at the moment and then I just try to come up with ideas through how I feel – like coming up with slogans and stuff like that.

How do you come up with the slogans for your pieces?

Maxine Beiny: It depends, they do come when I'm designing but sitting down to come up with them is harder. I just come up with them depending on my mood. Most of my work is about what I’m going through or looking at on Instagram. I love memes, in particular – my work is basically my tragic life and about me being forever alone.

What do you have planned for the future?

Maxine Beiny: I was actually just doing a line sheet thing, so I do have plans to grow, but it’s scary to do it alone. Everyone in London seems to go broke after sponsorship runs out – it’s like, after that, what do you do?

What advice do you have for other young designers?

Maxine Beiny: When I graduated, I was twenty-one and I think I was too young. You haven’t really lived enough, even though I had interned. Go for it, but it’s a lot of money and time. Just go for it and (think about your business plan) – I have to come up with mine now.