Issue 12  •  Spring 2013

MadeMe Over: An Interview with Erin Magee

Written by Anna K. Vognsen
    Active Image                        After meeting Erin Magee, odds are you’ll end up with a crush on her and a strong desire to swap outfits. From college jock to coffee girl at Umbro, to head of her own streetwear company for badass girls, MadeMe, Magee has made a unique place for herself in the fashion world. MadeMe, now in its third year, is a Lower East Side inspired line with a luxe edge. Full of athletic-chic tees, gorgeous leather jackets, and skintight patterned and shiny pants, Magee’s upcoming fall line manages to hit all the right notes from club kid to high fashion.
Photos by Jason Rodgers
 
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After meeting Erin Magee, odds are you’ll end up with a crush on her and a strong desire to swap outfits. From college jock to coffee girl at Umbro, to head of her own streetwear company for badass girls, MadeMe, Magee has made a unique place for herself in the fashion world. MadeMe, now in its third year, is a Lower East Side inspired line with a luxe edge. Full of athletic-chic tees, gorgeous leather jackets, and skintight patterned and shiny pants, Magee’s upcoming fall line manages to hit all the right notes from club kid to high fashion.

Raised in Canada (in a really small town outside Toronto), Magee always considered herself a future New Yorker. Now a twenty-nine-year-old living in Williamsburg and in a steady relationship with her wife, Magee is still anything but complacent with her life. Determined to make MadeMe a household name for street savvy, Madonna-loving chicks everywhere, Magee won’t rest until she has her own store and Internet domination. If her fall collection is any indication of what this woman is capable of, we’re pretty sure she can handle it.

Anna: What made you decide to move to New York?

Erin: I always knew I wanted to live in New York. I mean, this is where a lot of my inspiration comes from even now, like I’d read all these books about Madonna and the Lower East Side, and Grace Jones. I used to be a really big collector of their art and music of that time period when I was young. I remember reading all this stuff and going into this fantasy land, like, I’m going to live in New York and that’s where I’m going to be and I’m going to do all this dope stuff too.

Anna: A ton of people dream about moving to New York and living the rock star dream…how did you actually make it here and survive?

Erin: I played a lot of sports in high school and I got all these scholarships to these big universities, like I got one to Kansas, one to Iowa State…all these really dope schools but in these really shitty places.
 
Anna: I wasn’t going to say it, but…

Erin: Ha, yeah, like these schools had these amazing athletic and education programs, and then I got one from Hofstra University in Long Island, and I was like, fuck it, it’s the closest ticket to Manhattan. So that’s how I ended up here.

Anna: So you’re like a fashion designer jock? 
 
Erin: Yeah, it paid my bills. I was a dual sport athlete—I played Division 1 basketball and soccer. I did six years of school and left with no debt.

Anna: Pretty sweet, not many people can say that. So do you think your hyper athletic background influenced your collections?

Erin: I’m a fucking tomboy. I’m gay too. I’ve gone through stages in my life where I dressed super masculine and athletic and stuff, so yeah, that all had an influence in my life and my designs.

Anna: What kind of influence did Canada have on your designs?

Erin: I feel like I’m not…I don’t want to say I’m not Canadian, but…
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Anna: [But] you’ve always been a New Yorker inside? What’s that saying…after ten years, you can consider yourself a New Yorker?

Erin: Yeah, and I’ve lived here eleven, so I’m set. I don’t think Canada has…like, I don’t put canoes on my shirts or anything.

Anna: Or snowshoes.

Erin: Ha, no! No snowshoes.

Anna: You say Madonna is one of your biggest influences. Do you think there are any Madonna-like characteristics you want to see represented in the MadeMe girl?

Erin: Of course. I mean, that’s what it’s all about really. You know, everybody has their downfalls, and when I was younger, I used to be really into Madonna. I used to lock myself in the basement, and watch all her videos, and my whole room had no wallpaper, so it was one huge collage. Every little picture I could find in the paper, I would tape to my wall.

My mom would always tell me, you can admire Madonna but you can’t worship Madonna because she’s a human being and she has her faults. But a lot of things she represents, I find attractive and cool. You know, an attractive woman, a strong personality, a good sense of business, super successful, humongous fashion icon, really fucking talented, like all those great things that are associated with her. She’s a badass in her own right; she’s done all these crazy things to get attention.

Anna: Like that random British accent.

Erin: Ha ha, yeah, but she’s been credited with things like putting the music video on the map. She’s really inventive, and a smart woman.

Anna: Madonna has also been credited with reinventing herself and her style over and over again. Do you get inspired by that characteristic as well?

Erin: Completely. In fashion, people create these brands that are super associated with one thing, like skateboarding, or I don’t know, the club type of girl. That’s what’s great about Madonna—she’s been able to take a lot of these cool elements like, one day she has a British accent and is a proper housewife, and then the next day she’s at a club with a bunch of gay kids that are eighteen, and I think that’s really cool. I like to think of MadeMe as really versatile like that. And being authentic in each one of those roles. You know, she seems to be able to pull off all that stuff, which is kind of bizarre. It’s cool. She’s cool.

Anna: You started off at Umbro on the lowest rung getting coffee and making copies. Do you have advice for young women who want to make it in the fashion industry?

Erin: Work your fucking ass off. I’m not the most powerful designer in the world, but what I can sit here and say is that I worked my ass off. I am super focused on my goal and I got shit done and that comes through in the end. So, I can say I’m nowhere near where I want to be. I want to run a company, and create a business, and have a line that I’m super proud of. I’m not that young anymore and I want to have something I’m really proud of doing. I never want to put something out there that I’m not proud of creating. I do luxe stuff like dope leather and fur, but also like eighteen dollar tees. So I really reach both ends of the spectrum. I want to reach young girls who really feel it, who feel like it’s a brand they can really get down with.

Anna: And then you moved to Supreme. What happened, were you headhunted for your supreme talent or something? Oh god, forget I said that.

Erin: Ha, no. At Umbro, when I worked there, I was in charge of all the special cool collabo stuff. I was doing the most random shit—we did a collaboration with Kim Jones, we did a collaboration with all these Puerto Rican reggaeton artists, like I was in Puerto Rico for six months with Daddy Yankee. And then we did a collaboration with Supreme, because they wanted the most authentic soccer brand to do some street clothes with them. So I was heading up that project, and then they needed someone and I moved over. Working at Supreme, I learned everything about running your own business from touching up drawings to being in conceptual meetings to production. I figured I was doing this for someone else; why not try to do it for myself?
 
Anna: How is your business going? I know it’s your third year, but it’s a really tough economic climate. Are people receptive to the MadeMe brand?

Erin: When people buy my stuff they’re really taking a chance on it. It’s hard, it’s tough. You gotta work with what comes to you and hope it gets out to the people who are gonna understand it and love it. You gotta reach for that, you know?
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Photo by Jason Rodgers 
                                                                                                                              

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