2 posts tagged "Made Talent"
The beginnings of menswear brand Highland were swamped in naïveté. “We wanted to be free,” exclaimed designer Lizzie Owens. “However, that freedom is completely the opposite of what you actually get,” admitted her business partner and cousin, Cramer Tolboe.
Their journey began after Owens left her job at TSE Cashmere in New York in 2008, and began designing costumes for some of her boyfriend’s pals, like the duo behind MGMT, The Killers, and the Cool Kids. Tolboe, meanwhile, was running sales for denim brand G-Star Raw out in L.A. “I got to be really creative when I was designing for bands,” recalled Owens. “And that’s what took me to L.A.—I wanted to be a costume designer.”
Three thousand miles and several car breakdowns later, Owens arrived in California, ready to join the film industry. But after talking to Tolboe about her long-standing dreams of having a family business, she let go of her big-screen activations. The pair’s Venice Beach-born, but now New York-based, activewear-influenced menswear brand launched not long after with a Fall ’10 collection.
For Fall ’14, which Highland will show in New York on February 9 with the help of Made Fashion Week, the designers’ guy grows up. “Lizzie’s 31, I’m 33, and that’s the age at which we’re dressing,” explained Tolboe. “The clothes can’t be too serious, but they have to be serious enough.”
The duo hopes to achieve this balance via a lineup of retro, climate-change-inspired outdoorwear for the urban space, a sketch of which debuts here. “Things are becoming more and more extreme and more and more unpredictable, and I was thinking about the inconsistencies and how to be prepared for them,” explained Owens, gesturing toward easily layered, mesh-lined jackets and an oversize, Greenpeace-campaign-referencing T-shirt cut in the brand’s signature uneven hem.
“[In the beginning] the guy was really rambunctious and rebellious. He was the embodiment of my friends, who are all artists and shop at thrift stores,” said Owens. “But slowly, those guys have grown up, and they want to buy modern things. I think [the Highland man] is the same guy, he’s just had a few more life lessons.” But Owens doesn’t want her gent to forsake his rambunctious inner child entirely. “I want to maintain that sense of youth, because Highland is the essence of freedom. And to me, freedom resides somewhere in youth—even if youth is just a state of mind.”
The story of the techy, nineties club-inspired, sports-cum-ready-to-wear brand Maria ke Fisherman (ke means “and” in Greek) is more romantic than most. It began at an after-party in Madrid. “We realized we could do something big together,” recalled Victor Alonso, the street-art-educated, fashion self-trained half of the design duo, of his late-night introduction to his Badajoz, Spain-raised partner, Maria Lemus. Soon after, the pair moved to Greece together—Thessaloniki, to be exact—with no real plan other than to live as “complete unknowns.”
“It was an existential exploration,” explained Alonso, who had just finished a degree in environmental science at the time. “We needed some time to think about how we could contribute to the world.”
During visits to Crete, Lemus fell in love with an elderly fisherman. “He was lonely and melancholic and always wore a red geranium behind his ear,” said Alonso. Lemus began scribbling “Maria ke fisherman” again and again on the nautical tablecloth of their local bar; the pair also started sketching early designs.
Eventually, they came to their own brand of futuristic, primary-colored separates that debuted for Spring ’11 in Madrid. “Our work is a product of our lives. The design is within ourselves and is nourished by our experiences. It usually comes as a surprise, as an explosion, until it becomes our obsession,” the two said of their Madrid-based design process. They looked to cyberpunk, nineties Spanish techno culture, and neo-yakuza movies for the past Spring ’14 collection, which featured zipper and mesh-lined sweatsuits and separates.
Their Fall ’14 range—which they will show at New York’s Standard Hotel with the help of Made Talent on February 12—will be softer than what we’ve seen in the past. “After our last two collections, in which sharp styles, flat surfaces, and futuristic concepts were predominant, we drew a collection with classical intentions and rounded silhouettes,” they asserted. But it isn’t all a diversion. “We haven’t given up our logo mania nor the idea of designing clothes that make you feel really special,” explained the pair of the outing, a preview of which debuts above. For instance, there will be slack seams made of custom, pastel-toned 3-D synthetic hair that the duo brought over from Korea. “Embroidered optic white denim will accentuate the figure and bring out a magical sharpness against the blurred hair,” they said.
The forthcoming range caters to “a very shy girl having her best day.” Lemus and Alonso mention Japanese actress and model Kiko Mizuhara as a new muse. “Our aesthetic is toy, bold, mogul, sweet, future-is-now,” they offered. No doubt, these looks would bring out the bold in anyone.