MÂCONNAIS Is The Label "At The Cross Section of Trailer Trash & China"
Taylor Tehan and Rachel Baker are coming from an utterly unique collaborative POV: as the husband and wife team behind MÂCONNAIS, they’re veteran designers putting a new spin on streetwear, and as artists who grew up in the era of ’80s rock-glam in both China and Texas, their inspirations and aesthetic are second to none. MÂCONNAIS takes a bold stance on where it sits within the larger fashion landscape: according to the duo, the brand is “at the cross section of trailer trash and China.” Clearly that statement requires a little unpacking, and if you’re anything like us, you’re eager to hear more. We sat down with the creative team to talk insight, inspiration, and how to become the hybrid aesthetic child of “Supreme meets Acne.” Read the full interview below, and check the gallery above for the latest MÂCONNAIS lookbook, hot off the digital press.
Can you guys just tell me a little bit about how it came together, and what the inspiration behind it was?
Taylor: Sure. So we always kind of describe what we do as this cross section between trailer trash and China. It’s kind of a bizarre way to look at things but really, I grew up in rural Texas, and Rachel grew up in Beijing, China, and each collection we come out with has touches from both of those upbringings and culture. This one in particular was kind of a reference, we kind of used dragon energy, which is Rachel’s zodiac sign, and we took Chinese medicinal things like tiger balm and shot everything in Chinatown here in New York to kind of embody the vibe of Beijing. And we also watched “Wild, Wild Country”, and there was like, a cultish vibe.
I watched that too. It was insane.
Taylor: It was so crazy. That burgundy suit is kind of a nod to that. But its inspiration, and then we also like—
Rachel: And then the photographer and the model are actually from Texas as well, friends that we’ve known, that are Austin-based.
Taylor: I guess that Chinese-Texas connection is always kind of running through all of our stuff.
Do you find that the China and Texas influences are competing or complementary? How do they fall into place?
Taylor: I think that they’re mainly pretty complementary in a funny way. I think just like anything else, it’s like pulling from inspiration. It can be a little discombobulated, but for us we find that it makes a lot of sense and both having lived in either place, like I lived in Beijing for a couple of years and Rachel lived in Texas as well, so I think we’re able to see the connection.
Cool. Yeah it’s an interesting—not two places that I would pair on my own. It’s unexpected.
Taylor: [Laughs] Sure. And I think it’s just—with MÂCONNAIS, we wanted to be as authentic as possible, and those are the two frames of reference that we look through as far as our lenses go, you know?
So when you founded MÂCONNAIS, what was the catalyst that you felt like, now we really need to bring this to life and start designing and making?
Taylor: Sure. So, the MÂCONNAIS region is probably important, even though we don’t have it anywhere on our site. But it’s this mountain range in Burgundy where they found the earliest known sewing needles known to man.
Taylor: So the idea is that it’s pretty universal conceptually, that people need clothes and we’ve always felt like fashion is what we want to do. Rachel wanted to be a fashion designer when she was a kid, and studied design in both Beijing and at UT in Austin. And basically since the beginning of our relationship we’ve been scheming on one day doing that. After years of working in the industry, we really did have to find our voice, and what it was going to be. Anyone can create a brand, but the only way you can make it authentic or genuine is if it’s coming from a sincere place.
As far as people who are wanting to get ahold of the brand, are you guys just available online right now?
Taylor: Yeah. So if you click on—if you go to that weird, on our site, if you go to the dragon on the top left corner, it will showcase all of our stuff. We sell primarily by direct consumer. Rachel designed for Creatures of Comfort, that fashion line, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with it.
Taylor: She designed for Billy Reid, that fashion label, and I actually wore a number of hats for that brand for a number of years. So I guess after thinking a lot about the way that the fashion industry is headed, we just really wanted to start with direct to consumer in a way that we could control our price point within a sustained time, like be a little more particular about where our brand is sold.
So with fashion week coming up, where do you guys feel like you fit in or don’t fit into the fashion landscape as a whole?
Taylor: I mean, I think that what we are doing is along the lines of maybe a little bit more Supreme meets Acne…
Taylor: Yeah. So it’s like that whole…we’re really interested in the culture surrounding our clothes. I feel like at the end of the day, anybody can make a shirt that’s really nice, or anybody can make a suit that’s really nice. But the way you package it and the umbrella under which it lives is really important, and I think that’s what makes it unique. Supreme created a skate brand and that’s amazing, and Acne created something that’s distinctly Scandinavian, and we create shit that’s distinctly Chinese and Texas, you know? And I think it’s definitely one of the ways we stand out.
My last question is just coming back to the trailer trash and China thing. How did you guys get to that place of like, that kind of description?
Taylor: [Laughs] Sure, I think um—
Rachel: The trailer trash aspect is like a weird way to describe Texas, but I think a lot of people are trying to do…that whole, there’s this whole like Marfa Texas, or more like desert Texas, and I think a lot of people are trying to cling to that. But Taylor’s from like, middle-of-nowhere Texas where there’s like, the trailer trash part of it, and that’s where he grew up, and that’s what he knows, and so I feel like that’s the uniqueness of it. And then the China part is like, a broader way of looking at China. Because we moved to China in the late ‘80s, so I got to see Old China, and then grew up away until the Olympics came, and China turned into something, Beijing in particular turned into something completely different, so that’s why it’s just mostly like China in general. Like old school China to modern China.
Especially the American consumer, when they see China, I feel like they have a perception of it that’s not accurate, or not holistic.
Taylor: Right. Yeah, and I guess for us, the trailer trash meeting China part is like—yeah, I’m from Northeast Texas, more like the Matthew Mcconaughey, True Detective stuff, and that’s the community that I grew up in, it was like that type of community. And Rachel’s upbringing too, just like the Chinese perspective. I think the two in themselves are very distinct and very different. Even when you think of Texas I think everyone thinks of, like Rachel said, West Texas and the desert, but I grew up around trailer trash, like really dirty lo-fi stuff. And I think the old school China mentality is the same thing. There’s lo-fi and hi-fi in everything I think, you know?
Lookbook photography by Juliana Ramirez
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