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Me and YouPetra Collins

Petra Collins selects Me and You

An exclusive shoot with the design duo as they give their first-ever interview on feminism in fashion and breaking the mould

As part of our new digitally-led US project States of Independence we've invited our favourite 30 American curators, magazines, creatives and institutions to takeover Dazed for a day. It only seemed right to hit up New York's art 'it girl' Petra Collins for an insider take on US creativity right now. In this five-part series, Petra Selects, the prolific photographer shoots and interviews her favourite underground creatives set to steal the scene stateside.

Young design duo Me and You, formed by Julia Baylis and Mayan Toledano, is as underground as they come, although their sizeable Instagram followings might suggest otherwise. The pair, who bonded over the mutual frustration of not fitting into the fashion student mould, joined forces back at school and haven't looked back. Their minimalist, ultilitarian designs have latched onto an often underepresented niche in the market: Feminism in fashion. While the two have historically not been the cosiest of bedfellows, one look at the sneak peeks into their design process on Instagram show that the pair are injecting a much-needed dose of fun into both. Watch out for a line of underwear coming soon.

How important has creative collaboration with friends been in developing your design aesthetic/s?

Julia & Mayan: Collaboration is everything – working with someone changes what you're doing from being just an idea to a movement. We're from completely different sides of the world, yet when we met at fashion school we realized how much we were kindred spirits. We bonded largely due to our frustration of not being able to fit into the mould of what's expected of you being a student at fashion school. Me and You was formed because we wanted to create our own escape, by collaborating together and making a world that celebrated those things we were judged for in fashion school.

Do you think “connections” per se are necessary for, or help in achieving, success in the fashion and art industries?

Julia & Mayan: We think that connections with your friends and peers are more important then '"industry" individuals. If you have a strong, supportive group of people around you then together you can create something so strong and then people will start to reach out to you. Connections should be easy to make, if you find someone who you work well with who speaks your own visual language then whatever is created will be natural. 

Who are your muses – alive or dead, friends or strangers? Why do they inspire you?

Julia & Mayan: Always our mothers, and you of course! Lea Seydoux and Adele Exarchopoulos because of Blue is The Warmest Colour. Tessa (the sweestest girl in Israel), people we love on instagram like Lauren Alice Avery and Bardia Zeinali, Nancy Sinatra because she had the best album covers and Tavi Gevinson

What is the role of a young womenswear designer today – male or female - in expressing feminism? Can they do this through design form? Should they have to?

Julia & Mayan: It's hard because there aren't really a lot of designers expressing feminism out there today. Fashion is still very much a "Man's world” where these male designers front large companies backed by a team of women. I think that there is this misconception in fashion that feminism isn't sexy, cool, or desirable...but we are trying to change that. A lot of high fashion is about restricting women and designers create clothing that is heavy and over designed – whereas look around you and most girls just want to wear chill, easy things! 

You're both prolific Instagram users. Do you see this as a form of self-promotion and branding for your fashion design, or a statement of personal aesthetics less to do with your work?

Julia & Mayan: We think it's inextricably linked – on Instagram we just post things we see and like and our Instagram reflects our world around us. Our clothes are the same as that – we just create things that are fun and cute that we think cool kids will like. Instagram has been amazing to reach a broad platform of people and to get supporters for our work.