Meet The Streetwear Designer Redefining Punk Womanhood
Erin Magee occupies an unusual space in fashion. For years, she’s served as the Director of Development and Production for the downtown dons at Supreme. Supreme is dope, but it’s definitely a very dude-centric space. So as a reaction to her work, in 2007 Magee started her own label: MadeMe, which bears the tagline “by girls, for girls.”
MadeMe’s been killing it for quite some time. They’ve done fantastic collabs with Schott, Vans, and Stüssy, and Erin has a ton of celebrity clients: a coat recently worn by Katy Perry has already sold out. The clothes are young and punk-inspired, but still very, very cute–girls, boys and anyone in between could all rock them. In the interest of getting closer to those dope leopard-collar jackets, we sat down with Magee to talk Miley Cyrus, intersectional feminism, and transgendered lizards.
You know what’s really crazy? Every single one of those people bought it from the store. I’ve never spoken to any of them before. It just organically happened.
It was so strange seeing Katy Perry wearing your clothing, because she’s usually very bubblegum pop.
She’s always wearing me. She might actually be my biggest customer! I don’t know her at all, but I respect any woman who’s risen that far in their field. That isn’t easy, no matter what anyone says.
You did make Miley’s custom letterman jacket for the 23 music video, right?
My friend styled that video, so I did it custom for her! She asked for an ill young girl’s jacket and hit me up because I’m apparently the person who does that? I got this lady who lived across the street from my apartment in East Village to sew the letters onto the jacket because I didn’t know how to do that–just a random lady I know from walking my dog.
Is there a celebrity or musician you’d love to collaborate with?
It’s my lifelong dream to do that for Madonna, and she definitely needs us [Laughs].
Skate brands tend to be male-centric and male-dominated. Do you face any challenges as a woman at Supreme?
Supreme is my home. I don’t know if it’s just there or at any male-centric brand, but there is definitely a very strong, masculine point of view. It’s interesting yet challenging for me to be in that kind of environment, and apparently I like it. I’ve been there so long!
Did I think that was going to be the place for me? No, but I have found that to be my home. It’s not necessarily my favorite point of view, all the time but it’s definitely one I respect.
Fashion trends seem to be moving towards a more trans-inclusive and agender direction. Do you think that skatewear as a subculture of fashion is at the forefront of this trend, since skaters of all genders can wear the clothing?
I think you can apply that to everything now. I was joking with my wife Nicole that there are going to be trans species soon and our kid is going to want to be a lizard. We’re just going to be okay with that [Laughs].
Exactly! The MadeMe byline is “by girls for girls.” With that in mind, you recently had clubkid legend Sussi Suss wear your clothes. I’m wondering how trans and gender nonconforming people fit into the brand, because it’s so woman-centric.
I mean, she’s a girl when she goes out. She is much more of a woman than I am. I ran into her on St. Marks a year and a half ago, and thought they were so cool. Very ’90s club vibe, but doing it the right way. She comes off so authentic and artistic so when we started talking I told her to do whatever she wanted, which led to beanie-stuffed boobs.
I think it’s a big jump from Kim Gordon’s X-Girl brand. It’s like the clothes moved from third-wave feminism to fourth-wave, intersectional feminism.
Well, I don’t want to offend anyone by saying this, but X-Girl to me is the pinnacle of women’s streetwear. I don’t think anything that’s come after has achieved respect from men’s brands in the same way. That subculture went through a really dark period in the 2000s, but I think we can get back to where X-Girl left off.
I want to be a real authentic downtown brand that everyone respects. I hope that’s what MadeMe can be. It’s like you said earlier—it transcends all of the genders.
No matter what your gender, race, or anything is, it’s for everyone.
Yeah! Maybe I should change my tagline then. [Laughs]
A lot of your clothing plays with juxtaposed patterns like the leather jacket with leopard print and all of the plaid garments. How did these clashing fabrics come together?
Leopard and plaid are a punk marriage made in heaven, so they’re traditionally shown together a lot. I did that particular jacket for Opening Ceremony, and I just have always loved those two patterns together.
You’re inspired by a lot of ’70s and ’80s era punk. Are there any musicians right now that inspire you?
Oh god, really good question. How irrelevant am I? FKA Twigs is really cool and definitely does her homework. When I was a kid, Bikini Kill and Hole were like my Bible, so I’m trying to think of who I’d reattach myself to if I were that age now. I think Twigs and Nicki Minaj. She’s really pop-based, but she’s cool as shit. Did you read the NYT article where she calls out the writer and tells her to leave? She’s fucking badass.
It’s wild that in 2015 these sexist questions still happen to artists. Have you experienced any sexism as a woman designing within your realm?
I mean, it’s not a big brand, so I don’t really care if you don’t like it or don’t pay attention. You’re not what I’m trying to do, you know? The cool guys like it. I mean, there’s sexism everywhere. You just have to move through it.
I think it’s surprising partly because we live within New York’s culturally progressive world and don’t see it as often here.
I’m sure you go back home to Vegas and feel like you’re in the fucking Twilight Zone.
“I hope you can feel like you’re part of this group of women–or even men or lizards–who have that same feeling of strength in who you are.”
Going back to the MadeMe brand, do you have any upcoming collections you’re working on?
Right now, I’m designing the Fall 2016 collection, and I’ve got to get down and get to it.
Is there a specific vision? I know you described the last collection as “Catholic schoolgirl falls in love with Johnny Rotten.”
The Spring collection that’s been done for a long time is hitting stores in January, and that one is like a big fluffy cloud. It’s very focused on pastels and floral. It’s pastel punk with bondage. Then for the Fall 2016 collection it’s more of an Earth Day vibe—Earth zone and Earth crisis vibes. In the early ’90s, it was very cool and popular to talk about the environment.
Right, there was a huge push for environmentalism and a big protest movement around this issue in the early ’90s.
Yeah. It’s like an Earth crisis for 2016. [Laughs]
Do you think your clothing helps give people a platform to kind of raise a middle finger to the world?
I mean I hope so. Clothes are kind of superficial, but I hope you can feel like you’re part of this group of women–or even men or lizards–who have that same feeling of strength in who you are.
Check out MadeMe here.
Photos by Jason Rodgers
Makeup by Kristin Figueroa and Ahbi Nishman