In Conversation: Art, fashion and politics with fashion muse's Brian of Whatever 21 and Lindsay Jones of Músed

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Story/ Jonatan Mejia
Interviewer/ Jennifer Ortakales
Photography/ Chris Luttrell
Styling/ Savannah Louise
Model/ Adina of Rsntments
Clothing exclusively provided by Whatever 21 and Mused SS17
Razorblade necklace by n0thingisnew

People usually underestimate the power and influence of club culture. So we decided to sit down with influencers Lindsay Jones of Músed and Brian of Whatever 21.

Sitting down with them we learn about their spontaneous approach to design as well as how they’re planning to transition into what may be a dark time in American history. Lindsay says “Don’t fuck up the world” is one of her statements from her SS17 collection; which you can tell just due to the intimacy of those pieces. With Brian’s approach he uses an ironic playfulness, which you can tell due to his aesthetic.

Just like the Ying Yang symbol it makes sense that Músed and Whatever 21 compliment each other so well.

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First off, where are you from and how did you get into fashion design
B: I was born in Queens, NYC and grew up upstate. I went to school for fine art and education and spent a few years teaching art before I switched gears. I have a background in graphic design and screen printing, so I started the brand as an outlet for me to print some of my art on t-shirts. I sold them off a fence on the streets of Bushwick and Williamsburg and and popped up tables at my friends DIY shows and people loved it. I’d say I quickly gained a cult following and soon after I got picked up by Vfiles and a bunch of stores internationally. After a while I craved more and I started working with Lindsay who taught me about pattern making and sewing which is what elevated the brand to the point it is at now.
LJ: I am from the mountains of Utah from a small town you haven’t heard of. I’ve been traveling for modeling since I was about 14 and ended up in NYC to model and study fashion design. I was making art painting and sculpting from a very young age and was given scholarships for sculpture. However I learned to make my own clothing with one of my best friends former model Sibyl Buck. We would sell one of kind sort of far out designs from reworked vintage. I went to school to refine my process but really learned the most in high end fashion studios. Primarily Zac Posen’s studio first as an intern. In the end I was Zac’s head draping assistant on gowns. I still feel my work is highly sculptural, heavy on draping.. and relative to my art core and creative spirit. I can literally create anything a-z design as well as facilitate the entire design process. That said I still try to choose work that is exciting for me; that I’m either learning from or
expressing a creativity that feels genuine.

Where are you based and when did you start your label?
NYC. Whatever 21 started in 2012 and Músed was started 2015.
What is your mission as a designer?
B: I want people to have fun and feel empowered while getting dressed. Whatever 21 often incorporates dark aesthetics and messages wrapped up in a big LOL. It’s a crossroads of highbrow and lowbrow. It’s a hybrid of the future and the past. I take my brand and my designs very seriously but there’s always an element of tongue in cheek. I want people to be able to wear something that is serious but fun at the same time.
LJ: To create a vision that is fully manifest. I would like to interact with other people. Dressing people and making them feel great and cool and transforming the experience even subtly with perception is an interaction I enjoy. I’ve been putting messages I believe in into the work more recently and taking a more active role for my platform. I have more serious goals for the brand but would rather act with action then to discuss verbally. Visual aesthetic is also a form of communication. Creativity is an obsession that is extremely important to me. It feels useful to not only myself but those I work with and dress.
How did you two meet and begin collaborating?
B: We met initially through Facebook! I believe Lindsay heard about my brand through a mutual friend and she ordered some pieces through my online store. Lindsay has an extensive design background but took a few years off for personal reasons. We were starting to get close and become really good friends when she decided she wanted to get her hands back into designing. Lindsay had a dream that we were working on fashion together side by side, giving it our all.
This was around the same time I was invited to show a new collection at Google Plus Mexico City Fashion Week. I only had a month to put the collection together and Lindsay offered to help with anything I needed. Her dream came true, we worked relentlessly day and night to get the collection done. Shortly after that she launched Músed and our brands have been completely intertwined ever since.
LJ: I met Brian on my Birthday irl. I knew of his work and wore his designs prior. Brian really inspired me in an otherwise rather difficult moment. He was both a source of inspirations as a friend and supporter. Working next to him and giving what I could to learn and complete his goals really woke me back up to doing my own work. He’s an angel there’s very few people who give back and are as supportive and thoughtful as Brian. Both as a friend and a Business Colleague.

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What projects have you worked on together? Tell me a bit about one of your
most recent projects together.
LJ: Well recently many stylists are pulling our work and shooting editorials together with mixing our two brands. The brands are very different but quite complimentary. We recently showed together in Miami at the Satellite Art Fair as part of Fashun Tweek. We are currently starting a modeling agency together as it’s become undeniable we have a special gift with casting.
B: Yes, our brands are like brother/sister brands for lack of a better term. Whatever 21 is like street with a bit of elegence and Músed is elegant with a burst of street. We definitely compliment each other very well, and constantly consult each other while making creative decisions. Lindsay and I worked side by side relentlessly on Whatever 21 SS16 and I’ve consulted her on every season since.
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What type of man/woman do you design for?
LJ: my Múses vary. If the clothes speak to you they are right with you. You will know. I like to think a classy creative with edgy sensibilities..that said the brand strives to be inclusive and so it’s really a magnetism that’s beyond my ideals as far as who’s desiring the clothing.
B: I try to make Whatever 21 a brand where there’s a little something for everyone. Some of the statement pieces are more likely to be worn by urban goth street warriors or edgy club kids but there are also T-shirts and hoodies that appeal to an audience that relates to the concept but prefer to play it a little more safe with their looks. Most of the pieces are one size fits all. Many items are modular, tactical or multi-functional, so that people can wear the garments in a way that they feel best suits their look or needs. I try to keep costs low so I can sell it for a price that people can afford. I design Whatever 21 for the people, for my friends. I find myself in my designs almost every day because I’m making exactly what I want to wear.
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How do political and societal issues influence your designs? Give me one
example of a narrative from your latest collection (please include season
and date it launched).
LJ: “Don’t fuck up the world” is one of my statements from my Spring/Summer 17 collection. I created the collection out of a vision of Dystopia/Utopia themes I was envisioning very subconsciously. I found that it was very much in the current moment reflecting the youths ideals in high end fashion that often overlooks what is a bit deeper of a statement than say your average T shirt. I felt since I was gaining a bit more of a platform I wanted to include things I actually care about even in a subtle way.
With the election results that followed shortly after I’m happy I carried out the vision when I did as some people told me to avoid this area but something inside me knew it was correct to express this.
B: Every Whatever 21 collection has an element of humor and irony that goes along with the looks. This current collection has been given the nickname, ‘Ready To Die.’ It’s playfully dark in a time that reflects our rocky social and political climate. Of course I’m not really ready to die. I think there’s a lot that can be done and I’m actually now, more than ever ready to live and ready to fight.
How do you see fashion influencing the world around us?
LJ: Like with all major movements. It’s the build up of many small movements. Inclusivity. Human Rights. Equal Rights. Work standards. Environmental standards. Are all things we can start to address and change starting with design but influencing other aspects of the world around us.
B: I agree what what Lindsay said, and I’d like to add that fashion can be used to build community. I co-produce a monthly retail event called Multitask which is a pop-up shop, a fashion showcase, a daytime party and a free concert series. My co-producer Mackswell Sherman of Moves Concept store and I very carefully curate 20-30 of who we see as the most cutting edge independant designers in NYC with a focus on locally and ethically made clothing. Some of these designers are showing or selling their work publically for the first time. We charge a very small fee for renting a booth and take that mopey to book some of the most exciting live acts and DJs around. We offer it as a free concert series to really draw a crowd in and the audience in turn gets to meet the designers in person and making purchases that helps support these amazing designers in our community. Its a micro-ecoonmy. The next event is Dec 17 at 301 Ten Eyck St in Brooklyn from 5-11 pm!
Do you view your designs as clothing first or art first? Why?
LJ: if I remove the art from my pieces.. it’s much easier to order something that already exists like a white t shirt (I love white T by the way) but why exist what’s already overly produced? I prefer to create a special vision that feels a bit unique a bit special. Like a piece of art you wish to collect and keep over a long period of time.
B: As I mentioned earlier, I come from a fine art background, not a fashion background. I approach my designs from an artists’s viewpoint with a concept first and foremost. I definitely see my clothing as wearable art.
What projects do you have planned in the next few months?
LJ:
NYFW Fall/Winter 2017
Agency launch
I have a trunk show in LA in March
Too much traveling and work to mention. ❤️
B: I’m currently designing my FW17 collection to be shown at NYFW in february and working hard on producing Multitask on 12/17 while planning our January event! Looking forward to getting through this next fashion week and taking a long overdue vacation!

You can find Brian on Instagram @whatever_twentyone and Lindsay Jones @_mused_

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