“I just recently learned this term: shrink and pink. Have you heard of it?” asked Erin Magee, who founded MadeMe, a women’s streetwear brand, in 2007. “It’s when people design men’s clothes and make them smaller and make them pink. I think that’s the world of women’s street clothing and that’s fine, but MadeMe is a little bit weirder.”
MadeMe is a passion project for Magee, who also works at Supreme as the director of development. And while the brand’s downtown origin stories might be similar, MadeMe, which is carried in retailers ranging from Urban Outfitters to Opening Ceremony, has built a loyal following by embodying rave, punk, Nineties club kid and queer culture and speaking to a specific audience in an authentic way.
Converse wanted to tap into this audience and enlisted Magee to reimagine the Converse One Star sneaker. They teased the collaboration in February at the One Star Hotel activation in London where Magee re-created her own bedroom from the Nineties and visitors could purchase the yellow corduroy One Star she designed with a platform sole.
The collection, which will be released on May 24, includes two corduroy One Stars in green and yellow and two suede options in blue and black. Each has a platform sole and will retail for $110. There is also an assortment of complementary apparel that consists of a hooded track jacket, matching track pants, a long-sleeve graphic T-shirt, a halter top, oversize shorts and a backpack.
Lourdes Leon, Madonna’s daughter who previously worked with MadeMe, appears in the campaign. The apparel retails from $30 to $90. The collection will be stocked in retailers including Dover Street Market in London and New York, Opening Ceremony, converse.com and MadeMe’s e-commerce site.
According Amy Rauner, senior footwear designer at Converse, the brand is making a concentrated effort to reach the female consumer — the company recently released a collaborative collection with Miley Cyrus — and the approach to designing for women is no different than designing for men.
“Our goal is to make great product that pushes into new spaces,” Rauner said. “If you start with your vision and your community, you have a more fertile ground instead of saying, ‘I need to design for women.’ That’s where women’s product can fall short. You start falling into these tropes of what women want in footwear and you land somewhere that doesn’t feel interesting or new or doesn’t have attitude.”
For the launch of the collection, Magee is bringing the essence of MadeMe to life with a gallery space that opens on May 22 and will be designed to mimic the East Village Shoe Repair, an iconic spot that was located at 1 St. Mark’s Place before shutting down and reopening in Bushwick in 2014. Boris Zubore, the co-owner, whose skills extended beyond a shoe shine or a heel repair, will be on hand to transform Converse sneakers with platform soles. Outside the U.S., they will also hold an event and pop-up in Berlin at Isla Nails, a salon and concept space that’s designed by women, for women. And in Paris, they will celebrate with a 10-day pop-up at Starcow Woman.
Magee has collaborated with brands such as X-Girl in the past, but this is a bigger partnership for the brand, which releases two collections a year. But she’s not sure if she would ever work on MadeMe full time.
“I’m lucky because I love Supreme and I love MadeMe,” said Magee, who recently had a child named Goldie. “But I was having a major heart to heart with a friend and she looked at me and said, ‘I think it’s either MadeMe or Goldie’ and I looked at her and said, ‘Don’t say that to me. It’s Goldie, but I can’t stop MadeMe.’ There are so many girls who live and die for it, so I’m torn. But MadeMe is cool because it is small and maintained. Maybe that’s part of why people are really liking it. If I was forced to do four collections a year and 50 pieces a collection it would lose its allure and authenticity.”