• Collaborations: Mary Meyer

    Brooklyn-based Mary Meyer wears a lot of hats: she's the designer of her own line of structured basics. She's an artist with a background in painting. She's a vintage buyer and the owner of a busy Bushwick boutique (made even busier by a recent Vogue article proclaiming Bushwick seventh out of the top 15 global cities for street style). In other words, we're happy to have found an open slot on her busy schedule to visit the multitasking Meyer at work. From her studio, she shared a peek at her exclusive collaboration with UO, inspired by the "MM Classics" — Mary's favorite pieces that she's designed over the years and that are the foundation of her line and design principles — and talked with us about "epic-level" thrifting, 90s vibes, and the other myriad sources that inspire and inform her collections. 
    Photos by Michael A. Muller

    Can you share more about your collaboration with UO? What does the collection consist of?
    I am SO excited for this collection. It's MM Classics, meaning reissues of styles from my archives. Most of these items come from 2009 and 2010. All of the shapes and prints are absolute favorites of mine, so I am really happy to be presenting it to a wider audience. 

    How does your background in art and painting connect to what you're doing now? 
    My background in art and painting is crucial to my work now. I was not formally trained as a clothing designer, I was trained as an artist. So there has been a real learning curve to teaching myself clothing design, and its has been both challenging and fun. However, in many ways, clothing design ties in to skilled I've learned as artist - shapes fitting together, line, composition, color, etc. I feel because of all of this, I come at clothing design with a unique perspective. Also, the original prints I create for my clothing all stem from paintings I make. So it's all connected.

    We love the breadth of influences you share on your website. Can you share more specifics about what you were listening to, reading, looking at, and inspired by as you were putting the most recent collection together? 
    I am always influenced by the people and culture around me. I love rock music and seeing live bands play locally here in Brooklyn. One show I saw recently that was was Goat, an amazing band from Sweden. The two female lead singers wore these embellished shamanistic costumes and it was very inspiring. I also recently went to see the Charles James show presented by the costume institute at the Met and that too was amazing to see in person. The show was presented with animated diagrams showing how the gowns were constructed. Charles James was also self taught and it was interesting to see the shapes he came up with. By today's standards the clothing looks very traditional but when you look at the shapes and the concepts he was working with, it was very avant garde. Lots of asymmetrical and surprising ideas.  

    How does your eye for buying vintage and curating that side of your business inform your design sensibility?
    I love being a vintage buyer. My good friend Emma Kadar-Penner and I started Friends Vintage a little over two years ago and it has been a total blast. Our vibe is 90s vintage: club kids, goth, clueless preppy and pretty much anything 90s or designer. Buying vintage is basically thrifting on an epic level. There is a real high that comes from sifting through junk and finding gems. I have certainly come across pieces that have inspired garments or prints carried into my MM collection. Also, seeing what sells in the vintage store has informed me to know what type of items to release in my collection. 

    Can you tell us more about your studio space and shop?
    The studio is actually within the shop here in Bushwick, Brooklyn. In the back we have a design studio, vintage processing, and wholesale/retail shipping area. In the front there is a sales floor that is split between Mary Meyer and Friends Vintage. The space is quite large —1500 square feet — so we've got the room to facilitate all of this. It's fun for the customers because they can see into the design studio while shopping the finished products. Since we are in the heart of Bushwick, right off the Morgan L train, we get all types of customers... The space is also great for parties and shopping events. 

    Will you walk us through a typical day-in-the-life? 
    Work work work! No really: It's a lot of work. Up at 7 or 8am, then into the store hopefully by 8 or 9. I try and get in as early as I can because the more I can do before staff shows up, the better my day is. Lots of computer work, ordering items for the store, endless emails, pricing vintage, and making lists. Then in the afternoon I may be out at the factory in South Brooklyn or if it's a design time, doing a fitting or doing design work. Usually I try to finish work by 6. Then it's home making dinner with my boyfriend or going to a show or out for drinks with friends. 

    What are your favorite neighborhood spots?
    Tandem is a great bar and restaurant, and the best brunch spot in Bushwick. The Narrows is a very cool local bar that is pretty, has a backyard, and makes tasty drinks. Bunna has excellent and affordable vegetarian Ethiopian food. Bunker is a killer Vietnamese restaurant — a great dinner spot that is always delicious. 

    Shop Mary Meyer x UO