FASHION CRAWL / MIA VESPER

Ever since the launch of her blog, debuting herself to the world as BabySlice, Mia Humber has been growing her audience faithfully through social media and the power of networking. What once began as a personal, creative outlet where she could explore her passion for vintage wear and self-made clothing eventually expanded to a potential brand that just kind of came to be. It’s clear that authentic fashion dressing had plans for her and BabySlice accepted it with open arms. Today, as the new Mia Vesper, the rebranded designer has risen from the ashes leaving behind childish slices in order to evolve as the designer she now prides herself to be. Debuting her work on the streets of New York Fashion Week, it’s clear that Mia has been busy developing her own signature mix designed for the person who loves and respects the art of dressing.

The 25-year-old nomadic designer talked to us about shedding skin, her design process, what ‘dressing’ means to her, and the future of her brand. Interview by Meg Galvin, photographed by Jo Bailon.

MEG: Mia! It was such a pleasure getting to meet you in real life and being able to see your creations in the flesh after stalking your Instagram for way too many years. Can you tell Atlas readers about you and your brand? How did Mia Vesper come to be?
MIA: It was so great to meet you at long last! My brand began on Instagram — that’s how I sold my first piece — and so I’ve always felt really kindred to my followers. It’s how I make a lot of IRL friends and work relationships. Long standing, reciprocal admiration is a powerful connector!
My brand started as a way to have the clothes I wanted to wear. I posted what I made on Insta and began to get orders from my followers. That’s how I realized I could be a designer in the first place — it took me a long time to become aware that I had a “product”.

MEG: You recently changed your name from Baby Slice to your namesake. I’ve been dying to know the origins behind the Baby Slice name. Still feeling like a proud mom after your name change because baby’s doing big things!
MIA: When I started Mia Vesper, formerly Baby Slice, I didn’t think of it as a brand. It was a blog dedicated to posting photos of my thrift finds and my DIY projects, accompanied by ramblings. I chose the name Baby Slice because it was irreverent, ephemeral and weird… it was what I thought fashion was at the time. My feelings about the industry and my own craft have changed though. I take myself marginally more seriously now and I have began to think of fashion as a way to change the world rather than just a way to change myself. It’s hard to explain; the brand just sort of stopped being Baby Slice, or I guess I stopped being Baby Slice (RIP). Anyway, The new name sounds a lot like my real name Mia Humber and it’s got strong roots in badgirl-ery, which is crucial to me. Vesper is Latin for ‘evening’ and a common word for ‘bat’.

MEG: Do you have any formal design training?
If not, do you think that helps or hinders the way you create your dream clothing?
MIA: No I don’t have any training. I mess around with design and DIY projects on my blog but when it comes down to it I’d rather delegate the detail orientation of clothes making to my sample room. I like to draw the vision and then see it come to life. The in-between is a torturous, mathy means to a glorious end. I actually find myself constantly apologizing to my sample makers- same goes to graphic designers and coders. I’m always like, “SO sorry to ask this of you” before remembering they actually enjoy what they do even if it’s not my thing.

MEG: Your personal style is very colorful. This was a brand created to fill a void in how you personally wanted to dress. What is it about Mia Vesper the brand that you think people are attracted to?
MIA: I actually wear a fair amount of neutrals, but as far as creating content for consumption, making colorful clothing is just a far less trodden path. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with normcore or “black on black” within someones personal style, but I do have a little bit of disdain for it when it comes to design. Before making or posting anything, I always ask myself if it deserves to be seen or if it’s worth its carbon footprint. Unusual color and pattern combined with classic shapes creates something that is unique but extremely wearable; the perfect concoction for good clothing.

MEG: Are you mostly inspired by the textiles when creating your pieces? All the jackets are very carefully planned so you use the best parts of the textiles to create mirror images and visually interesting details. That, on a simple jacket shape, makes what I think is the special Mia Vesper touch.
MIA: The textiles create a lot of restrictions for me, for which I’m actually grateful. There’s so much about the textiles that dictate how the piece is going to go.
I think there’s a reason in art class you’re given projects rather than just being told to do something artsy. If I had just decided to make fashion I would feel totally overwhelmed. I think it would be really easy to make a lot of stuff that just looks like stuff you’ve already seen before- thats why there are a lot of cafe’s in Brooklyn hung with screen prints of gap-toothed Lara Stone mouths. It’s often parameters that catalyze creativity.

MEG: What else do you draw inspiration from? Do you draw inspiration from the histories of your tapestries? Researching those bad boys must be so fun. Are there any other designers you’re following who’s work you admire?
MIA: Actually researching them is a huge pain. Usually “research” means spending a lot of money and waiting on tender hooks for three weeks as it ships from whichever origin. Then when the package arrives it’s often nothing like what you imagined, or impossible to sew through. It’s those stumbling blocks that make it rewarding though when you get it right though.
And as far as admiring designers — yes totally. I take inspiration from myself as a consumer; what shapes and colors do I most want to wear right now? I just design as a person who loves to wear clothes.
I’ve found myself both following trends and, in my probably biased opinion, predicting them. It’s because so much of fashion is referential of its contemporaries that I have decided to specialize in tapestry for the moment. Fashion is moving way too fast.

MEG: What is your textile deciding process like? You obviously come across a lot of tapestries but what special details do you look for? What qualities do you need look for in fabric/textile that determines it’s worthiness of being turned into a Mia Vesper piece?
MIA: It’s a process I’m still working out. I used to discard 75 percent of what I purchased. That number is shrinking the better I get at recognizing what works and what doesn’t. I just look for designs I’ve rarely seen before. While I’ve seen designers use vintage material before, I think my taste in color and pattern is what makes my collection something extra. That and the juxtaposition of the vintage material with the modern shape. I’ve started making basketball shorts out of tapestry lately. I like shapes that elevate the concept of repurposed vintage material from its usual bohemian look into something sporty and cool.

MEG: Where do you want to see this brand in 5 years? Would you want to create other pieces to create full layered looks instead of the classic carpet tuxedo you are known for or would you want to stick to roots?
MIA: As a really small designer, I have limited resources and it’s been necessary to focus my product in order to succeed. That’s why I chose to work with just tapestry for this collection. And while I think I’ll continue to make tapestry clothes for the rest of my career as a designer, it’s far from the only thing I want to produce. You can expect more textiles and shapes in just a few weeks!

MEG: Time for the most oh so original question. What do you love about clothing? As a tool of self expression, do you consider outfits art? Is fashion art? Do I sound like an asshole yet?
MIA: No you don’t. Yes I think fashion – or I should say “dressing”— is definitely art for some people. Those who don’t love fashion don’t count in as far as this conversation — they are simply dressing to be clothed, and that’s totally respectable. But for people who love fashion, we dress to say something to the world- to be perceived as something, whether that something is what we are or what we aren’t yet. And that’s a silent conversation that is incredibly moving and artistic.
And if you’re asking me whether I think like the craft of making a garment and sending it into the world is art? Yes, of course it can be. The skill and intention and impact of fashion is undeniable but because of its consumer aspect, fashion can also be extremely uninspiring and recklessly damaging. The fact that fashion stratifies people of different income brackets is another reason it’s often seen as less than art.
For those reasons, I’d say I feel closer to dressing as an art form than I do about actual fashion design. I think it’s wonderful to invest in small designers who make their clothing ethically, if you can. Thrift if you can’t. Avoid fast fashion whenever you’re possible (and it’s always possible). Be an artful dresser.

MEG: How can Atlas readers keep up to date on your work? Are your pieces available in any retail locations?
MIA: Yes! You can shop styles online at miavesper.com or at Flying Solo in Soho at 224 Mulberry street. And follow @mia.vesper on Instagram for updates!


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