With the MECAmorphosis and Senior Thesis show drawing the school year to a close, we interviewed MECA’s four Fashion & Textile Design Majors about their inspiration and what comes next.
Jordan Carey blends aesthetics seamlessly and in unexpected ways, mixing the concept and vibrancy of dashiki with the warmth and texture of an Irish Aran sweater; in effect, “knitting” together his own heritage.
A: How did you get into this field? What drew you to fashion/design?
J: I was more interested in conceptual art, was doing lots of drawing. Then Freshman year I took a fashion class on a whim. I found it so conceptually rewarding to work in the language of clothing, I felt that my ideas were directly impacting real life. Fashion is a really quick accessible for people to take what I was offering and bring it into their everyday life.
A: Why Maine/Why MECA? Any particular Maine inspiration you draw from? Maine is such a “brand” at this point… very well marketed and recognized. How do you put your own twist on this? or do you forego the Maine vibe all together?
J: I’m from Bermuda, but I spent a couple years in Boston for high school so I was sort of acclimated to US society, but what really what did it for me was that my mom recommended it. I have a lot of respect for her thought process and think she is very thorough, so the fact that she was adamant about me spending time at the school and visiting it was very exciting. I visited and found that it was the right fit for me in terms of strict academia, which I was used to with my British school background, and my sort of freedom-loving artistic side…The facilities are amazing, and I like having access to all the equipment [at MECA.]
A: Discuss your creative process, and the inspirations for these projects. What is the degree of work that actually goes into the production of a line? Connect people to the clothes and the labor of love that is fashion design.
J: Bermuda is a very multi-cultural place, and because of that they have their own culture voice that is unique to them, even amongst the islands. My own background is very multi-cultural: I am Portuguese, Irish, African, different Caribbean islands, all these things with very tangible voices for me. So my work is about transitioning cultures and globalized cultures, transforming in terms of how we interact with each other, but not necessarily in terms of aesthetic.; I think when cultures hybridize, so often they default to European, British, and Italian aesthetics.
I work a lot in reference to Irish Aran sweaters, tribal motifs, and family motifs, fusing them a lot with inspiration from African wax print, color, and clearly nuanced reference to “tribe” in that way.
I think when people want to participate in these maybe marginalized groups aesthetically, they are so niched, like a dashiki shirt. I find that when people are trying to add in cultural influences, they are usually cheap because the people doing them do not have the economic backing to make quality products. I’m considering class, but I am interested in providing this visual culture in a quality way.
A: The jacket you showed me today [with the shells], I can’t even begin to imagine how many hours you spent adding this detail. What you would estimate?
J: I basically spent all of winter break doing the stitching and drafting [chuckle]
A: Where do you see this line going, with the amount of time spent, and how will you make these designs in an accessible price?
J: If I’m making political work, it starts to pose questions of class. In the civil rights movement, that’s something to be aware of. I definitely intend to create with an awareness to the civil rights movement, with larger price points, like the shell jacket, but also things like the hoodie that have a simple construction and print, that are more accessible price-wise to a larger market.
A: What are your plans post graduation?
J: I can see myself in Portland for the next couple years, and hopefully gain some momentum. You know, Bermuda is really small, and so everything has to be imported, it makes everything very expensive. Americans don’t want to pay Bermuda prices, it isn’t the right market at this time for a designer.
A: At what point do you feel like you will be able to say “I’ve made it” What does “making it” look like for you?
J: I think, when I have 10 employees and I can pay them all well, and pay myself well. When I am starting to create a noticeable wave within the [group of] people I’m interested in starting conversations with… To inspire people to take pride in their own identity, whether that is attached to one group or has tendrils in many groups. I would love to accomplish that.