It’s a very rainy Tuesday night in New York and Me and You designers Julia Baylis and Mayan Toledo are running around Dossier Outpost, wearing matching white schoolgirl skirts and white tees that proudly read “Feminist,” The T-shirts, just like the Me and You undies lying on a pile nearby, are showered with red-lipstick’d smooch stains. At the other end of the room, friend and collaborator Petra Collins is chatting away with gallery-goers, fans and friends alike. The brand’s first lookbook, shot by Collins, stares from the walls in all its candid girliness, one First Response pregnancy test wrapper at a time. Amidst the room lays artist India Salvor Menuez on a single bed, one hand on her chin, tending to the music. The dimly lit room itself could easily get mistaken for a teenager’s bedroom in the middle of Lower Manhattan: Plates of pink-glazed sprinkle cookies – ghostly remnants of a sleepover that never happened – lay here and there. The air is filled with the new brand of feminism that surrounds Tavi Gevinson and her online zine Rookie; that of creative young women who work together in a sense of community and do what comes naturally.
Infatuated with Me and You’s first ever collection, we caught up with the designers Julia Baylis and Mayan Toledo at the first night of their Dossier Outpost pop up and asked them all the things you will want to know.
What’s the story behind the name “Me and You”?
Julia Baylis: Mayan and I went to school together; we both studied fashion design at Parsons.
Mayan Toledano: We always shared things we liked with each other – we would always say, “Oh, that’s so me and you… It’s so cute; it’s me and you.” Eventually, we were both like “Okay, that’s our name.” We wanted to create something that was about friendships because we’re like best friends.
We feel like there’s this new feminism right now where it’s so much about and a group of women doing things together in a creative community — the likes of Tavi, Petra, and yourselves. What’s your take on it with Me and You?
MT: I think feminism in fashion is not even a niche yet because it’s so small and not treated, and we just wanted to do something that is so obvious. We also wanted to take a word that has all these associations and make something cool out of it.
JB: And make something fun. For us feminism, girlhood, and creating things for women are such natural things. But it’s also something that is still not natural for a lot of people. So putting the word feminism on a t-shirt and making it something that’s really relatable makes the word a little bit less loaded.
Do you also feel so conflicted every time someone asks someone like Katy Perry if she is a feminist?
MT: That Katy Perry quote is something we bring up a lot. The word “feminist” – instead of it being something so forced, or official, we want it to be easy, fun and cool.
JB: Well it’s interesting, too, because I talk to my mom about this a lot — and she said that our generation wants to dissociate itself from the word, whereas so many girls benefit from it and don’t even realize. They don’t realize that the struggles that women did before us is feminism and the fact that they get to not even call themselves feminists is also kind of feminism.
How did you start collaborating with Petra Collins?
JB: One of the reasons why Mayan and I started collaborating is because Petra always needed clothes for shoots. She was always looking for something special to shoot, and we kind of first went with things we thought would look good in photographs.
MT: And we also take photographs together. It’s the idea of creating images, taking photos of them, and creating clothes that look good in photos. It’s like a circle.
JB: I think that’s where our mind also is. Like “How would a girl look if she took a picture of herself in this shirt and put it on her Instagram?” It would be so cute.
We love the ‘Thank You For Shopping’ bag dress. What was the inspiration behind it?
JB: A lot of the dresses and prints we do are re-appropriations of symbols that we always see. It could be fake tattoos, kisses, or a shopping bag – all these images and things we see every day and relate to. We want to take and interpret them in our own way. When you put the shopping bag on a really pretty, silver dress, it becomes something really beautiful, and something you’d want to buy, versus a shopping bag itself is something you’d throw away.
Do you have another collection on the way?
MT: We have more ideas for fall! We want to make sweatshirts, tracksuits and printed bathing suits down the line.
JB: We’re not going to do collections per se. We’re just going to create specific things and build from there. We started with the t-shirts because this is so underground for us. Right now, we print everything ourselves, and it’s all handmade. We just graduated, took the small amount of money we had together, pooled it and started the brand. But hopefully we can start building a budget from here and then go into dresses and production on a bigger scale.
Do you have a certain kind of girl in mind when you are designing?
JB: We’ve had a pretty supportive following online, so we really want to create something for the kids and the people who have been so kind and loyal to us. Just getting responses on Instagram and on Tumblr really motivated us to be like “Okay, we can do this. There’s a market for that.” And we’re really thankful for that. It’s an amazing thing.
The Me and You pop up will be open at Dossier Outpost until August 15, 2014. An online shop for the brand is also in the works.
Dossier Outpost will be open till August 31. Find out more about the shows here.