We’ve never been shy about our unabashed love for Madewell–so we were pretty psyched to hear that the brand is putting out a catalog, set to hit stores on August 27. Madewell’s big sis J.Crew does a catalog like none other, so we were pretty confident Madewell would do a bang-up job with theirs. And they did.
We got a first look at the brand’s inaugural catalog a few weeks ago on Madewell’s road trip to Montauk where Madewell’s creative director Kin Ying Lee and J.Crew CEO Mickey Drexler were both on hand to talk about the brand to a handful of editors. Issue #1 of Madewell’s catalog looks more like an expensive indie fashion mag–it’s oversized (10×13″ on matte broadsheet) and mixes editorial features with Madewell designers and brand “insiders” (think Alexa Chung) with beautiful images of the fall collection. The catalog will be quarterly, with the next issue set to drop for Holiday 2011.
We got a chance to talk with Kin, a calm counter to Mickey’s high energy, about Madewell’s evolution, her fall favorites, and how Madewell’s mag will set itself apart from imposing big sis J.Crew.
Fashionista: You’ve been designing for Madewell for six years now right? How have you seen the brand change and evolve?
I have been working at Madewell since it re-launched in 2005 (it started out as a workwear company in 1937). In the beginning we focused on getting our foundation right. That’s when we created iconic styles like our Archive boot, Almanac boot, V-neck pocket tee, and washed rumpled leather jackets. We spent a lot of time creating and perfecting great fits in our denim assortment, like our Rail Straight. The line started out small and over the last few years we have grown the collection organically, adding a lot more to our range.
We’re drooling over Madewell’s fall collection–what inspired you?
The idea for fall was ‘Madewell goes to work’–mixing a clean, crisp look with the laid-back Madewell vibe. I was really into 60s retro colours like tomato reds, shades of camels to rust and rich burgundies. Also adding touches of cobalt blues and bright kelly greens. I wanted to embrace classic fall hues with exaggerated pops of colour. I love the idea of combining Madewelll tried and true items like cool slouch tees with more tailored men’s inspired trouser in an unexpected palette. Fall is my favourite time of the year because that’s when you can layer up—and I love the idea of layering.
Mickey mentioned that J.Crew and Madewell are all about telling women how to dress. How do you think Madewell does that?
Our life is surrounded by visual stimulation and I think that people don’t want to think too hard about how to make an item of clothing work in their wardrobe. It’s important to inspire our customers when they walk into a store or shop online. They can get ideas on how to wear or incorporate ideas and items into their own wardrobe and life.
Which trends do you avoid? What’s something you would never find at Madewell?
You can never say never…but whatever we put in the store we all stand by 100-percent.
We’re big fans of Alexa Chung’s line for Madewell. Which other celebs or brands would be dream collabs for you?
Well.. Alexa was definitely one of those dream collaborations. We were over the moon to be able to work with her. She gets Madewell and her own sense of style is so effortless and cool. It was a great partnership. As for other dream ideas, you are gonna have to wait and see.
Everyone looks forward to their J.Crew catalogs in the mail–how will Madewell’s be different?
We created the catalog with the hope that people would want to save and collect it: it’s appealingly oversized, it’s printed on textural matte paper, and it’s an object that you just want to open up and explore. Content-wise, it allows for even greater editorial exploration of Madewell, from diverse ways to offer product, to all the fun stuff that goes along with it. Basically, we wanted something that both inspires but still has a sense of humor.
What are your top five favorite pieces for fall?
I’ve become an investment shopper. I like to buy thing that have longevity in my wardrobe. Here are a few items that would be great in anyone’s closet.
1) The Archive Leather boot–My Autumn officially starts with a pair of these beloved boots (they’re so popular, we bring them back every year.
2) Fairbanks Parka–On warmer days I’ll just pop off the furry trim on the hood.
3) Driggs Ex-Boyfriend Shirt–Our take on the timeless plaid shirt – naturally, with a twist.
4) Perfect chambray shirt–My go-to shirt. It’s basically an extension of my body – I wear it constantly.
5) The leather transport tote–This bag is probably exhausted from how much I use it. And yet it only gets better with age.
Take a look at a page from Madewell’s new mag featuring more of Kin’s favorites for fall.