Get to know Maisie Wilen, new LA-based brand approved by Kanye West

Home / Get to know Maisie Wilen, new LA-based brand approved by Kanye West


13th Jun 2019

For any young designer, gaining favour in the fashion industry can be a long, arduous—and, contrary to popular belief, unglamorous—road. Trends are fleeting; styles evolve with every season; and opportunities to show one’s collections to the right buyers, stylists and decision makers in power are few and far between.

That’s why with the right mentor on side, a moment in the spotlight is easier to reach—a reality Kanye West realised while Chicago-native Maisie Schloss was working for his brand Yeezy. Officially marking the launch of the rapper-cum-designer’s fashion incubator program (Schloss is West’s first seed funded protégé), Schloss debuted her label Maisie Wilen last week in Los Angeles. To celebrate the occasion, the up-and-coming womenswear designer chatted to Vogue about her experiences working with West, the inspiration behind her first collection and the process of designing her own line.

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Image credit: Sam Massey

“Presenting my debut collection has been so exciting and exhilarating!” the designer reflects to Vogue. The collection in question, which features 27 pieces and is heavy on printed stockings, textural play and bodycon dresses, is born out of an interesting symbiosis of ideas, apparent in Schloss’s diverse references. “I was inspired by rhythmic gymnastics and robots both aesthetically and conceptually,” she explains. Breaking it down even further, Schloss illuminates: “in my process I’m very regimented, systematic, even repetitive yet my final product feels very organic and lighthearted”—a juxtaposition, she introspects, “which mirrors the nature of the two inspirations.”

An alumnus of Parsons School of Design in New York City, Schloss is hyper-aware of the ways in which her studies have inflected her designs. She is especially considerate of her clothing’s ability to be worn easily, reflecting thoughtfulness about the real life application of apparel that is so often lost on high fashion runways. “Parsons trained me to think practically about what I’m designing,” she reflects. “To draw back and see what I was making as not only a piece of art or design but also as clothing. That’s why I champion making clothes that are not only interesting but also what women will really want to wear.”

Image credit: Sam Massey

This attitude infiltrates every touchpoint of the Maisie Wilen brand, from pricing to the kind of woman Schloss hopes to portray. “The Maisie Wilen woman is creative and confident with unconventional taste,” Schloss sums up of her wearer. “She is fashion-conscious yet idiosyncratic, sexy, and playful with her style.”

This vein of playfulness is not lost on the clothing’s pricing. Pieces in Schloss’s first collection range between $144 to $1368, highlighting that the womenswear designer is alert to the importance of democratising fashion and making it accessible to a wide net of consumers. “I want to make clothes that are affordable to as many people as possible while maintaining responsible production practices,” she emphasies, “maintaining a standard of ethics should be the standard for all brands [and] my values are communicated through conscious business practices.”

Undoubtedly influenced by her experiences working with West, Schloss is quick to acknowledge the formative role the popular tastemaker and music icon has played in catapulting her brand onto the industry stage. Reflecting on her time at Yeezy, Schloss admits, “[it is] an amazing place to work because you are able to have visibility and input into a diverse variety of projects. By embracing the wide range of opportunities I was able to work from my initial assistant role up to womenswear designer.”

Image credit: Sam Massey

On being selected as West’s first protégé, Schloss exclaims: “when Kanye offered to back my own project I was floored! Working with Kanye is truly amazing. He’s been very supportive of me and really encouraged me to pursue my unique vision and aesthetic.”

At the same time, Schloss is conscious that developing her own brand is a whole new undertaking, with a whole new set of challenges and rewards. “Working for my own brand has made me feel both indulgent and vulnerable; I’m really putting my work, my aesthetic, and myself out to the world. I’ve loved the experience and feel extremely lucky to be in this position.”

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