I’m feeling playful this week – and it is just as well as I’m going to be talking about clothes inspired by playful ideas! Grabbing attention at festivals from 2009 with their handmade animal hoods, my guest this week – Meg from Merrimaking – has since branched out to include a playful range of glittery jumpers, tropical bumbags and gender-free slogan t-shirts. I caught up with Meg recently to find out more about this fun loving brand…. Hi Meg….
Hi, I’m Meg, co-founder of Merrimaking. I live in Brighton with my wife, 4 dogs and a hamster called Sally. And I love to rollerskate.
What inspired you to set up your clothing company, Merrimaking?
Being self employed and running a creative company was always going to suit me, but setting Merrimaking up was actually a bit of a happy accident! It was nearing the end of summer, Harri and I had just graduated and we really wanted to go to the Green Man Festival to see Bon Iver, but we’d spent the summer going to various festivals and we’d run out of money! At uni I’d been making Animal Hoods for parties and just generally life, and that summer at Secret Garden Party they started to get a lot of attention. Harri and I thought that if we made some extra, we could take them to sell them on site at the Green Man Festival and cover costs of being there plus a train home. So we made 30, cycled to Wales and we sold them all! They even had their on stage debut with Molotov Jukebox. So, with Bestival left to go, we decided to try it again… and then we started getting invited to make them at various events (including at the Tate, which was so exciting!). It wasn’t long before Selfridges bought 200, and then it really kicked off! What started as a label that hand-made faux fur Animal Hoods, Merrimaking now hosts an entire wardrobe of playful ideas.
Have you always had a background in, and a passion for, fashion and sewing?
I’ve always been making things, ever since I was young. I think my brain very much works in 3D, so creating pattern pieces, for example, comes quite naturally. My degree was in Fine Art, and my practice involved a lot of costume-making, and the hoods led on from that really… I’m very visual and I think looking back through photos, I experimented a lot with my clothing! Identity really interests me, and clothing plays a big part in that.
I love the cake sweatshirt and the woven patches! What styles are proving popular amongst your customers this season?
The ‘cake sweatshirt’ is one of my favourites! Popular this season… Watermelons have been selling well, the Cloud Jumpers/tees and the Bumbags too, and our ‘Over It’ Rainbow Beanies.
Out of all the outfits/accessories in your collection, do you have a favourite?
The hoods will always have their place, just because that’s where it all started. And obviously our ‘Dog Party’ sweatshirt because it features my 4 dogs! Saying that, I most often wear the ‘Cake’ sweatshirt, or the ‘Disco’.
Your brand is influenced by playful ideas and the festival scene – have you a favourite festival? If you could go to any festival anywhere in the world to get inspiration for a new collection, where would you go?
I grew up at festivals, and having revolved pretty much every summer of my life around them, I’m actually taking a year off! I know… though I did say this last year and then I found myself at Secret Garden Party! (…and I did go to Love Saves The Day festival a few weekends ago…). For inspiration… I’d probably hop between Dreamland in Margate, and Ocean Drive / Miami Beach. I watched The Birdcage recently and I loved it! All the architecture and the rollerskates and the queens!
Your clothes have already been worn by celebrities such as Ellie Goulding, Zoe Ball, Rizzle Kicks and Rob Da Bank. However, which famous lady/ gent would you love to see as the “face(s)” of Merrimaking?
I’ve always really liked Lily Allen, M.I.A and Sia, in fact I met Sia and gave her a hood, but in the end her drummer wore it. Still made my night though, it was one of the best gigs I’ve ever seen. Also, can I go back in time to the 90’s and say a spice girl?
Your Summer 2016 collection included the themes of clouds, glitter, fruit, and a clear love of pastels. Looking ahead to Autumn/Winter 2016 – will you be adding more styles and/or colours?
The short answer is yes! I’ve lots in the pipeline…. but whether I can wait to launch them in Autumn is another question! I get excited once they’re complete, and I really want to put them out there! I can never force myself to come up with new work, so I have to seize the moment when I’m feeling inspired, meaning I create new collections on a very adhoc basis and they’re often very current. Fortunately, because all of our pieces are made in the UK, and mostly made/assembled by us, it does mean that once we have a new design, it can be finalised and added to our website within just a few weeks (sometimes even less). This isn’t very helpful when press releases often need to be sent out 6 months in advance!
As you are based in UK, are your outfits available to purchase overseas?
Yes absolutely! I love sending our pieces far and wide. For the first few years we plotted on a map each time we sent a parcel to a new country, and we’ve spread ourselves pretty far now 🙂
When designing and making outfits to add to your collection – do you take into account your own tastes, your customer base, current fashion trends, requests, or bits of all those?
I try to design pieces that either I, or a specific couple of my friends would want to wear. I never sit and trawl through the internet, or look at fashion forecasting, it never holds my attention. My own personal interests come into it hugely, I’m noticing that the clothes I’m drawn to are increasingly more camp and I’m enjoying exploring that through Merrimaking. If a design goes down really well, I try to give our audience more of what they like by creating variations or working with the same theme.
Personal now – what outfits and shoes would you normally be found wearing?
Right now I’m wearing leggings, a t-shirt with a high neck and a ridiculously good pendant that Harri made me, which features my dogs Tomboy and Dexter!I have this pink fluffy bomber jacket that I made out of a huge teddy bear, it has a dogs head instead of a hood and I literally love wearing it! But that one only comes out for flamboyant occasions… and when I can be bothered to spend the evening being stroked by passers by!
Do you have any favourite shops or online sites? (Apart from your own!)
I struggle with Etsy as I can’t quite shake-off finding it a bit too craft-based and ‘twee’ over all, but I’m starting to find it more exciting and there are some really great finds on there by amazingly talented, independent designers! I shop in American Apparel a lot too. I love that you can tell one of their pieces a mile off, but it’s never smothered in their logo. I’m not always opposed to brands,for instance, I love the three stripes on Adidas Originals!
What’s next on your clothes/shoe wish list?
I have fallen completely in love with an Alexander Mcqueen fur-trimmed bomber jacket, but it’s real fur and I won’t go anywhere near real fur. I’m so gutted though!
Boots or Shoes?
… do Rollerboots count? 🙂 I otherwise only ever wear trainers. Even wore them on my wedding day with my dress!
Links you would like to share e.g. website/facebook/twitter etc so that readers can find out more about Merrimaking.
Thank you Meg for chatting to us on the blog today and I really do love your fun attitude! So dear readers, a bit of a fun question for you – Meg does a variety of animal hoods but if she did a hood of an animal or other mythical creature that depicts you, your personality or just your favourite beast – what would it be? I love the book, The Girl With A Dragon Tattoo – I wanted a dragon tattoo but have got a sort of lightening bird pattern instead – so I would pick a dragon 🙂 I look forward to finding out what beasts you all are!
All photos have been published with kind permission from Merrimaking.