As much as I love editorials and photography (This blog wouldn't exist if I didn't!), we almost never get to see or hear about the people behind the lens or behind the brand. Who makes these gorgeous clothes? Who is the creative director for that shoot I loved? I love reading interviews with people who work in the fashion business, mainly because I admire their work so much. I'm always interested to know how they got their start, what inspires them etc. Knowing your trade is so inportant, and what better way to learn then hearing little gems of wisdom from people who already have their foot in the door of the fashion world? I recently got the awesome opperitunity to interview Marcus from M by Marcus, and I was able to ask him about how he got his start, how he believes bloggers are changing fashion, his design inspiration, and his Spring 2012 collection! He offers such great insight, and as a future trend trend-forecaster I definitively learned a thing or two.
Justine: Can you tell us a bit about how you got started in fashion?
M: That’s actually a funny story. My story actually starts with my being scouted by a professional basketball team in South Korea. It was a short lived career due to an injury. At the time, I had a few options, and one of them was to come back to the U.S. and apply for college. I ended up entering the Interior Design/Fine Arts program at the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). My true talent was and always has been my drawing ability. I love creating and drawing in my head and then seeing it all come together for others to enjoy as well. My advisors and professors encouraged me to see the different ways I could develop this talent since I was able to tackle a number of different fields. They strongly pushed me in the direction of fashion because of my particular knack for drawing clothes and figures.
After taking one elective class, the professor pushed me to switch my major to fashion. Submitting a portfolio, that I actually did on the fly, I was able to switch my major. Since then, I have never turned back. There was always a part of me that loved the details and intricacies of fashion. The simple, yet rich and deep, nuances in a well-constructed piece always captivated me. Getting my feet wet in designing at school and while studying the mechanics of constructing garments quickly became a passion of mine. It brought together all my senses from the visual to the tactile.
J: How did studying fashion prepare you for your career?
M: It was a wonderful experience. I learned the foundation that I needed to not only design, but also to construct and develop a full line. Since I did not start as a fashion major, though, I was able to pick up other knowledge along the way that allowed me to bring different aspects into my line. I am sure most people are aware that going to school for fashion will not make you a great designer, but I think that it is very difficult to be a great designer without going to school. I value not only the technical skills, but the network of brilliant and interesting people I made throughout my academic career.
It also gave me real confidence in my ability and the tools for me to develop my skills. At 19, my second year in school, I was able to use my portfolio to land a job a well-known label. It would have been hard for me to start as a designer had I not had a well-developed and polished portfolio ready for professional critique. It was a lot of hard work, but this time really allowed me to push my limits and see what works and what does not.
J:What inspired you to pick fashion as your career?
M:Fashion is simply awesome. It is so powerful, prevalent, and in some ways larger than life. And yet it is so common and you see it in everyday life. I love how real and surreal it is.
I believe this field really challenges me to grow and takes everything I have. The art of designing is so involved. You not only have to come up with something new and fresh, but you have to be a great observer and have a large knowledge base. You need to know how trending works and then the logic behind why something would work and why the same exact thing in a slightly different context would not work. Nothing is ever really right or wrong and the possibilities are limitless.
The culture in fashion is extremely intriguing too. There are the nuts and bolts and the people that make things work. They come from all kinds of different backgrounds, but somehow they all work together in a romantic symphony. I think fashion is one of those rare fields where this is quite true.
At the end of the day, I really wanted to be someone that created something for everyone. Not a one-size-fits-all piece or fashion. I mean something specific for that person with lots of design and details, but something you wish you could wear every day.
J:Where does your design inspiration usually come from?
M:My inspiration comes from a lot of different places. I love looking at the past and seeing the very best with a good 30 or 40 year buffer between that period and our time. I also love to travel and seeing life happening around the country and the world. Last year, I think I spent a good portion of the year leaping from one city to another and just observing what is going on. There are a lot of things going on everywhere. Each part of the country has their own charm, but it is like the collective consciousness screams for that next thing. I think mainly, I try very hard to observe and listen. Although as a designer I want to satisfy the client, I also have that streak that wants to constantly challenge and stretch the limits.
J:What do you enjoy most about being a designer?
M:I love the satisfaction of a well-made piece that is loved by the wearer. It is always the best compliment when someone tells me they love my piece and that it is one of their favorites. I try to think about how this piece will fit into your closet. How it will pop, but compliment your wardrobe. I also love it when people appreciate the workmanship and quality of the garment. It is my obsession to get every detail right from the selection of the color, to the fabric, to the stitching, to the minutest details that most people would miss. People know quality and I love that feeling when they can blatantly see that I have really put the time into developing a piece with the utmost care.
J: Do you look to other designers for reference in your work?
M:This is a hard question, to be honest. I appreciate all the designers from those exclusively on the runway to the more of the avant garde to the best of the RTW world. What I love to do is look back at the past years and borrow the best of. Not particularly the designs per se, but in the construction and attention to details. It is crazy how modern periods like the 60’s and 70’s are. The level of craftsmanship is certain admirable in how polished and complete each design feels.
J:If you could describe your brand in three words, what would they be?
M: Pure, Simple, Unadulterated...
J: Where do you see M by Marcus in 10 years from now?
M:I think because my inspiration comes from all my travels, I would like to have a strong international presence. I believe that emerging markets will really have a strong impact (as they already have) on how fashion is perceived. It is hard enough to actually manufacture garments on an international scale, but I think it would be my vision to actually design with international appeal. No matter what region or climate or culture, I would love to have a universal sense of appeal that continues to intrigue and challenge.
Having the strong roots and ties to certain regions that continue to this day, I would love to have flagship stores that celebrate the local people and culture. We want to also be a globally relevant label with a purpose and try to use our reach to improve the lives of everyone around us from our very sourcing to our clientele.
J: What is the inspiration behind your Spring 2012 collection?
M:Colors! We really believe in simple, polished colors. Not edgy in an obnoxious way, but really refined colors that capture the eye and imagination. We also wanted to really lean toward the easy-to-wear styles for everyday life. After all, we spend all day working or doing one thing and then change it up at night. We wanted something that could withstand and embolden that transition. You can see it in the suggestive, figure accentuating pieces that are still subtle enough for the professional arena. All of our pieces feel rich to the touch, the colors are pure and rich to behold, and our styles are simple, but sophisticated.
J: How did M by Marcus come to be a brand?
M: M by Marcus is the culmination of years and years of toiling and planning and butting heads. I always had strong ideas of what direction a collection should take each new season. I could already see and imagine all the colors and styles coming together, but I really did not have an outlet until now to put this together. Just as my passion has been translating the ideas from my mind’s eye to something concrete and communicable, my pain has been compromise in the past. I value all the experiences and professionals and talented people I have had the pleasure of meeting and having the chance to collaborate. And it has been a wonderful ride in bringing all that is has been my life and having the chance to lay it out and go all-in on my name.
J:How do you see fashion bloggers changing the fashion business?
M: It was amazing seeing the impact of fashion bloggers grow. They really have clout in this industry to sway people’s minds and even point the industry toward different directions. A mere hobby for some at the onset has grown into such a serious art that spaces and accommodations are made at the world’s biggest fashion shows for this group. I believe they will continue have a place in the fashion world. People really trust the opinion of bloggers and with so many different interests and people, the fashion world needs bloggers to really get the word out. Although blogging may have been developed and validated as a serious medium recently, it is hard to imagine the fashion world without it or the bloggers themselves!
Thanks so much, Marcus! Check out the M by Marcus website here and like them on facebook!
Thanks so much, Marcus! Check out the M by Marcus website here and like them on facebook!