The Incorporated founder, Mark McGinnis, reflects on his brand's freshly minted Highsnobiety Crowns Award and expands on his label's off-kilter approach to design, and why he wants to use fashion to unapologetically express solidarity with the oppressed.
It’s been three whole years of our annual Highsnobiety Crowns – a dedicated end-of-year awards roundup of the very best influencers, brands, products, stores, and sneakers from the past 12 months. Out of each shortlist, our readers picked their favorites, and we compiled the votes into one definitive list of results.
With the winners now crowned, we sat down with a few of the key players for a more in-depth look at what made last year so successful for them. Today, The Incorporated designer, Mark McGinnis tells us why he thinks his label’s fine-tuned, DIY-aesthetic has earned them the ‘Best Under the Radar Brand’ crown of 2016.
The Seattle-based label might only be in its infancy, but its meticulous approach to reworking sportswear with hand-painted details, unexpected prints, and punchy political statements has proven solidly effective.
You’re only a few collections deep, but taking the gold spot in our annual Crowns for Best Under the Radar Brand of 2016 is a sound affirmation you’re doing something right. What does the win mean for you and the brand?
To be nominated and to place in the Crowns is both confirmation that people are starting to really pay attention and validation that we are headed in the right direction as a brand. Winning Gold is amazing, but just to see The Incorporated on Highsnobiety is blessing enough.
Tell us your origin story. How did you get into designing clothes?
I was always that kid in class who was drawing instead of taking notes. I wanted to be an "artist" but you can't do much with a drawing or a painting. In college, I got really into The Hundreds' blog and realized that clothing was a product that allowed people to actually use my art, rather than just look at it. So, I started The Incorporated with two friends, Kelly and Stewart, in 2010 with a snapback and three screen-printed tees. Our collections have progressed a lot since then, evolving into the "contemporary menswear" category, but the brand is still firmly rooted with the people and the basements where it was born.
More importantly, what was it like taking The Incorporated to showcase at Capsule in New York and Paris? Any particular highlights or moments that’ll stay with you?
It was our second Paris Men's Week, our first in NY, and my main thought each time is just that I am very lucky. Seattle is a long way away from Paris, in miles and in fashion, so the opportunity to showcase my designs alongside the greatest brands in the world is not lost on me at all. My favorite part is bringing my team of young creatives out to Europe to see a new part of the world and see this "fashion" thing play out in real life.
Are there any particular brands, designers, or artists that resonate with The Incorporated?
Ken Griffey Jr, Jimi Hendrix, Shayne Oliver, A$AP Rocky, Kurt Cobain, Virgil Abloh, Caravaggio, Martin Margiela, and Martin Luther King Jr.
There’s a strong, new wave of streetwear coming out of the West Coast, so, do you feel pretty well-positioned geographically in Seattle to be a part of this coming insurrection?
Yeah, Seattle doesn't even know what it's sitting on yet, let alone the rest of the country or the world. It's always been a place where creative individuals have flourished, but the city is still working on creating a community and culture of its own.
Any other West Coast brands and artists we should keep an eye on?
How has the past year been for you as a rising independent label — have there been any huge hurdles or big challenges you’ve managed to overcome?
For me personally, I've had to become a better leader and “boss." It’s tough bringing more people into the brand to cross things off our ever-growing to-do list. As a brand, getting banks and investors to believe in us financially has proven really difficult, but that's nothing new, so we're not phased.
Do you feel that not being based in more conventional fashion centers like L.A. or New York holds you back as a young fashion label?
In the short term, it is definitely a challenge. "Fashion" is real in those places, they have the most talented people, the best brands, all of the high-end retailers and an overarching structure that facilitates fashion businesses. However, for The Incorporated it has been helpful to remain mostly in the shadows of the Northwest. The distance allows for some mystery as well as some space for us to perfect our collections and brand away from too many distractions.
Any insight into what’s on your mind for the next collection?
At this point, it's always just a decision of how political to get with the imagery. At the moment, it's feeling like it's going to be pretty political...fuck Donald Trump.
For a closer look at The Incorporated's latest collection, check out its FW17 lookbook