Streetwear can be an alienating place for women. We’ve already discussed the effects of the sexist imagery in streetwear, but it’s not just the imagery that’s problematic, it’s the overall lack of women’s representation in the scene. Luckily, there are a few women working behind-the-scenes to make the culture a more diverse and welcoming place for women.
No one’s more accustomed to working within the male-dominated streetwear space than Erin Magee, the Head of Development, Special Projects and Production at Supreme, and founder of women-focused streetwear brand, MadeMe.
MadeMe began because Magee saw a gap in the market. While there were individual streetwear brands that she was into — mainly X-Girl, Liquid Sky and Laura Whitcomb’s cult brand LABEL — Magee explained to us that when she first started working in fashion over a decade ago, there wasn’t a fully fledged streetwear “scene” for women.
She started MadeMe in 2007 to change that, a brand that she says “came from a very naive place.” Running MadeMe as a side hustle to her full-time position at Supreme, Magee has produced full MadeMe collections, alongside collaborations with huge names like Stussy, Vans and the brand that inspired her in the first place — X-Girl. Obviously, her naivety paid off.
Despite the continued success of the brand, Magee said that lots of people don’t really get why women’s streetwear needs to exist. In an interview with Dazed, she explained “it’s hard for people to swallow and understand women’s streetwear and right now, it’s very popular to just wear the menswear brands.”
But MadeMe isn’t about shunning men’s streetwear, it’s simply giving women their own options. Oversized T-shirts and hoodies fit everyone, but if you want to branch out from basics, having a designer consider the female body is vital. MadeMe's collections include everything from form-fitting tees, skirts, and jackets, giving women more choice in how they dress — without having to look outside of streetwear.
For Magee, wearing MadeMe shows that you’re interested in streetwear beyond just the hyped pieces. “The girl who buys a MadeMe piece or is associated with MadeMe is someone who is strong enough to do their own thing and not follow a super-trend,” she told Dazed.
Standing out and doing your own thing is at the basis of everything Magee does, and the MadeMe girl that Magee wants to portray is only amplified by the people chosen to represent it.
Recently the brand has tapped people like Princess Nokia, Kim Gordon’s daughter Coco, Lola Leon and young Instagram artists and models like Alexandra Marzella and Manon Macaset. It’s also worked with up-and-coming women-led brands like Me and You, run by Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis.
Across all her projects for MadeMe, Magee told us “I just try to create cool, strong pieces and interesting imagery for young girls. I like working with and shooting cool girls from an atypical perspective.”
“I intentionally work with women (and sometimes men) who don’t apply to a typical beauty standard,” she continues. “Girls who are intelligent, capable, and strong.”
While it would be hard to say that Magee’s models aren’t conventionally attractive, it’s clear that the designer picks the girls for more than their looks alone.
Models can oftentimes be seen as disposable, but MadeMe’s models live and breathe the brand. In fashion there’s lots of discussion about what type of “girl” a designer creates with in mind, but for Magee, her girl isn’t hypothetical — they’re her models.
While MadeMe is regrettably still one of the few women-focused streetwear brands around, by choosing young creatives as her models and muses, MadeMe is not only fostering young talent but ensuring that what little representation women have in streetwear is done for — and by — women.
At its core, MadeMe is about carving out a space for women in a scene that doesn’t always want them, so it makes sense that she’s using her influence to support the next generation of young creatives.
While it would still be hard to pinpoint a women’s streetwear ‘scene’, women’s visibility in streetwear has hugely improved since the ‘90s and early 2000s, largely thanks to women like Magee paving the way. It still often feels as if women are being excluded from streetwear, her success is proof that this is changing and the scene is slowly improving.
To women who feel intimidated by streetwear’s male-dominated scene, Magee offers us this advice, “Don’t let something that’s ‘not welcoming’ hold you back from anything in your life. The moment you recognize that, do everything you can to overcome it. Work harder, stay later.”
Shop MadeMe's latest collection over at the brand's webstore.
For more women's streetwear content, here's how Frankie Collective is proving that streetwear isn't just a man's game.