• Dreamers + Doers: Mark and Daisy McNairy

    Here are a few things to know about Mark McNairy:
    -Even though his nickname is "McNasty" and he designs shoes with "Fuck off" stamped in gold on the soles...he's actually a pretty nice guy.
    -He once owned 20,000 records but sold them all.
    -He loves Popeye's fried chicken.

    Here are a few things to know about Daisy McNairy:
    -She simultaneously thinks she should get out of New York and that it is the greatest place on earth. And is aware of the irony.
    -She is convinced something shady is going on underneath her Chinatown apartment ("There should not be a Range Rover parked outside...")
    -She doesn't want to be asked what she wants to "do with her life," not because she doesn't know what she wants but because she wants to do everything.

    When we met at the McNairy showroom in NYC, 20-year-old Daisy McNairy is freshly-enrolled at the New School after taking some time off college to figure out what she wants. Self-aware and articulate, Daisy grew up between New Orleans and New York City, a mash-up she's quick to identify as providing her with perspective and far-reaching interests from women's studies to writing. 

    Mark McNairy is a designer who plays by his own rules. Eschewing traditional collections, McNairy's work is incepted by moments — random bursts of inspiration that originate from, say, race cars or a guy he sees on the street or, perhaps most importantly, his constant exploration of, "What would happen if…" It has resulted in a style that speaks to both hip hop artists and Southern dandies — lucky for us, this month McNairy is taking "everything [he does] and putting it in one space" with a pop-up at Brooklyn's Space Ninety 8.  

    We spent a morning with Mark and Daisy to learn more about what makes them both tick. 
    Photographs by Clement Pascal.

    Daisy, you basically grew up in the fashion industry and must have a pretty deep understanding of what goes into it. Is it something you're drawn toward pursuing at all?

    DM: Fashion has been a constant in my life. It's always just been there so I've never had to make a "decision" about it. I remember going through the "I want to be a designer" phase when I was younger, but now, I don't feel that same pull toward it. I've been thinking about, what is it that I gravitate toward? Thinking about, you know that saying: "you should do what you procrastinate with"? Or whatever you find yourself procrastinating with is probably what you love…?

    MM: I've never heard that.

    DM: What? You haven't?

    So what do you procrastinate with?

    DM: Oh, a lot of things!

    MM: You like to shop.

    DM: It's true.

    MM: I was a shopper too. I loved clothes growing up and I spent all my money on records and clothes. I started with athletic clothes, when I was working at a sporting goods store and making T-shirts. I had access to all the tools we used back in the old day to make team uniforms with the numbers and the letters. Then, I started becoming interested in thrift stores in high school. 

    Is that still something you do?

    DM: We used to every weekend, any free day, any road trip! Lots of pulling over to every roadside thrift store. 

    MM: Whenever I travel, that's my main goal. I rip out the thrift store page in the yellow pages. I don't have as much time to do that anymore, though. I do still go to flea markets pretty often — there's a good shitty one in Jersey on Saturday mornings. 

    What are you looking for?

    MM: I'm just treasure hunting. But I'm always looking for old clothes, military stuff, records.

    Are you a record collector?

    MM: I used to be. I got rid of them twice but I had between 10,000-20,000. I refused to get a CD player. But I finally gave in, and records became stupid. You just have to get up every 15 minutes to flip it!

    You've collaborated on clothing pieces with hip hop artists, like Pharrell and Cam'ron. Do you listen to it?

    MM: I never listened to hip hop until I started working with Pharrell. I hated it! It just wasn't for me. I didn't get it. Singing about me me me, and money and hoes and gold chains didn't appeal to me. But then my brother turned me on to Kanye and I started listening to that. There was just a lot of good stuff that I missed and didn't know about. 

    It's cool that you've been able to collaborate with a wide range of people and kind of make your own rules in how you approach your brand. It seems like your collections are the same way — more inspired by moments. 

    MM: I like that. I'm going to use that to explain myself…my "inspiration is moment-based."

    Can you think of any of these specific moments?

    MM: One recent thing is looking at pictures of vintage race cars, with the circles and numbers. I see that and it's striking to me in a way that can work with graphics. I do a collection with Kazuki Kuraishi from Heather Grey Wall and I remember in Paris we were scheduled to meet at the trade show. I had thought of absolutely nothing; I had no ideas whatsoever. I saw a guy walking by in a red nylon jacket and James Dean popped into my head. So my idea was, tape seam jacket in red nylon. I've also been infatuated with the Stetson Open Road hat, so that vision of James Dean with the cowboy hat down.

    And then, I had to do this European presentation, and I asked my assistant to draw these trousers in gray with a navy blazer. And I got the sketch and it was reversed — he'd made the trousers navy and the blazer gray. At first I was like, "you idiot!" And then I was like, "Oh… wait a minute." And so then the idea came together about, let's just reverse everything. Let's do gray blazers with navy pants. Let's do a military shirt in blue oxford cloth. Let's do a button-down shirt in khaki poplin, let's do a jean and khaki twill. Let's do a military chino in denim. The whole thing is reversing. It's taking things I see and turning them into something else. 

    Daisy, do you think in a similar way?

    DM: I relate to it. I'm not producing anything. There's nothing tangible for people to see. But when I think about ideas they are sparked by random things that I have trouble explaining. 

    You've taken some time off school to figure out what's next — do you think that's a product of a new generation's way of thinking about careers? That there's not as much pressure to just "make a choice" about what you want to do?

    DM: The past two years for me have been about branching out and seeing what else exists — I know so many people my age who just don't really know, and I know that comes with being young. But it's confusing because when I talk to older people who have had success I feel like they say, "Well, I just kind of fell into it." 

    Maybe some of that has to do with location? You talked about how you feel that opportunity more when you're in New York.

    DM: Yeah, exactly, that's one of the best things about living here — you can just really let it happen that way. Traditionally, and still in a lot of places, there's a lot of pressure to make a choice. I feel like here there are so many opportunities to pull you in different ways. Whereas other places there's not as much temptation. 

    MM: That's what happened to me. I didn't know what I was doing. I moved here and things just happened. 

    DM: Here I feel like I can do anything. I have such a broad range of interests that I haven't been able to pin down. . . yet. 

    Mark McNairy's Space Ninety 8 pop-up is up 9/12-10/31