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Behind The Design: Madhappy “Vintage Goods”    

Behind The Design: Madhappy “Vintage Goods”

This month, The Local Optimist has been exploring creativity from many different perspectives. From interviews with leading Black creatives like photographer Atiba Jefferson and podcast host Dom Roberts to helpful guides that can help unlock creativity.

As much as we enjoy looking outward for stories about creativity, we wanted to look inward as well. Creativity is a crucial part of everything we do at Madhappy and The Local Optimist. It comes to life in the graphics on our clothing and in the unique design of this website. 

And we are always trying to push our creative boundaries and explore new spaces. That played a big part in the design process of our new “Vintage Goods” collection. The collection, which drops on February 23, includes a number of vintage denim pieces that were sourced and then reimagined to create truly unique garments. 

To learn more about what went into the creation of the “Vintage Goods” collection, we spoke with Mason Spector, who was part of the creative team that designed the pieces, to learn more about the hunt for the right items, the appeal of vintage, and applying the Madhappy POV.

Where did the idea to start upcycling garments come from?

We had seen some warehouses with thousands and thousands of vintage items and always thought it would be so cool to do something with them one day. For us, it was always about having it make sense within the collection we were creating and the story that we were trying to tell. With “Vintage Goods,” it was finally the right time. 

How did you go about sourcing the raw materials? Was it a little bit like a treasure hunt? 

We are lucky to have been in this industry for over half a decade and be located in downtown Los Angeles. The people you meet and the places you see are straight out of a Dr. Suess book. People have all kinds of archives and warehouses filled with anything you can imagine. If the garments aren’t properly cared for or stored they can get pretty worn down, so it was important to find pieces that were still in good shape. Once we found that, it was really about three things: color, feel, and fit. 

You used American-made denim for this project. Why was that important?

All our garments are made in Southern California, so it was important for us to find denim that could match that. It was also important for us to find denim that fit the aesthetic of the rest of the collection which was inspired by vintage Levi Strauss. 

When you work with vintage garments, do you feel like the finished product has a little bit more soul because of that heritage?

Without a doubt. There is a certain character that vintage garments have that you can just feel. It's almost as if they are alive and have a story to tell. We view them as living breathing things, almost like an old tree. To us, the best part about them is that the feeling isn’t something that you can create. It is only possible to develop over time. That's a big part of what makes these garments and any vintage clothing super special.

What was the creative process like? How did you go about making these garments distinctly Madhappy? 

In everything that we do, and especially with new products, it's important for us to maintain the identity of the brand and still make everything still feel like a Madhappy product. While it can be challenging, I think that’s one of the fun things for a design team. How can we always be changing and staying the same. Like I said, the garments are already so special in the first place that for us, it was about just putting some cherries on top. Small stitch details, patchwork with some curated fabric swatches. 

How important was sustainability in the decision to pursue this project?

Anytime you are repurposing vintage goods, sustainability plays a big part. It's definitely part of the appeal. Not only do these garments have this awesome character and feel, but they can also play a small role in helping to preserve the environment. 

Do you think you'll do more upcycled collections in the future?

Who knows? It was definitely a fun experience that we will keep in the back of our minds. I think it all depends on what the specific project is and if it makes sense. Maybe if we ever partner with a band or a school we could repurpose some of their old vintage goods. That would be pretty sick. 

Even if there aren’t anymore upcycled collections for a bit, we are always drawing inspiration from vintage styles and designs. It is without a doubt one of our largest influences. 

Keep the conversation going by commenting on this story below. You can also connect with us about whatever’s on your mind by texting The Local Optimist Hotline at 310.299.9414.