The Questionnaire_Denim Introduction by Ayo Keys

JEANEOLOGY

My Great Great Grandfather, in denim overalls, at his farm with his chickens.

My Great Great Grandfather, in denim overalls, at his farm with his chickens.

The purpose of this project was to learn more about denim in order to create a perfect jean. It began with a pair of ripped jeans and ended with a little blue book. The pair had been ripping near the crotch seam for several months was still wearable. Tiny bits of thread were wearing away on the seat of them until finally they ripped.

They weren’t perfect because they weren’t made for me. They were mass produced in a longer length from cheap cotton and spandex, sold at a low price with a high profit margin. Every year a pair of my jeans rips, I buy a new pair and within the year they rip again. I’m never sure whether to throw them out or to use them. 

It’s not very sustainable financially or ecologically to buy something that continues to rip apart. This realization was rather of depressing. I wondered how other people felt about their jeans the way that I did.

Did they feel that their jeans were made for them? I realized that as a designer it’s important to know what people want from their clothing. Even common and mass produced items should feel special.

I started by looking at my own memories and history with denim jeans. I even found a photograph of my great great grandfather in overalls, pictured left. His overalls are worn at the knee, whiskered at the thigh, rolled at the ankle. They were probably massed produced but they look like they were made for him because his wearing them made them more personal. 

I asked friends and family members to give or send me their ripped or old jeans and looked for quirky stories and character in the rips and broken threads. 

I reached out to small scale denim brands to better understand production and consumption of denim and interviewed a zero waste designer who had professional denim experience to better understand the effects of mass denim production. In the end I realized that everyone wants something different when it comes to jeans. 

I think that as much as I wanted there to be an infinite answer to solving every denim problem, I realized that like the rips in your favorite pair, the holes are what give the overall piece its’ character even when it’s no longer wearable. 

What's more important than having the perfect pair of jeans, is having a piece of clothing that reflects the life you lived while in it. Instead of separate the stories people told me I decided to combine them with my own personal narratives. 

This is a collection of stories. This is a collection of essays. This is about the intersection of clothing and culture. This is about material memory. This is a story about a pair of pants.

The Questionnaire_Thesis 2.4 by Ayo Keys

Jen Lee**

THE COLLECTION A POST-MARKED ARCHIVE*

*Archive. Postal. Experiment.

6 looks - 16 pieces

Sponsors

I was lucky to be sponsored by Hugo Boss, which awarded me $10,000 to be able to fund the creation and promotion of my thesis collection.

Inspired by My thesis is a seminal research for identity through the discovery of my mom’s stamp collection. Her stamp collection is not only an accumulation of stamps, but also the mapping and preservation of moments in my history and society as well. She was able to collect a multitude of stamps not with the help of my grandmother (who worked for the international monetary fund). So in many ways this collection is not only an extension of my mom, but my grandmother as well.

Key Pieces The key pieces and ideas in my thesis were the packaging series, where I developed a series of garments that could be packaged down, sent through the postal system and then the user would therefore open the garment to reveal either a pair of pants, a skirt, or a collared shirt.

The Process Throughout this year I researched many different ideas and concepts such as what an archive means in terms of collected objects, the idea of the travel of the stamp and the network of people that a package can encounter, and even finding similarities to my own life and my own collection of envelops with different security patterns. My design process was very much research based and intuitive; every new idea and concept discovered would affect the next step.

The Customer My ideal customers would be my friends and their friends and the network where people are tied together unknowingly.

What’s one moment or time in your thesis journey that you’ll always remember? I think I will always remember the late nights at open studio, especially spring break where I literally set up shop and slept in a classroom.

THE DESIGNER

**A Problem Solver.

What stores would you like to see your work in? 

I would like to see my work in stores like Colette, DSM, and OC where their spaces are more curated.

Which brands would you like to work for? I’m a very open person, but I think it would be super fun to work for brands like Celine and Maison Margiela.

When you’ve had a bad day what keeps you going? I like to keep my eyes forward even though I know disaster may be in the next steps. Often times, if I’ve had a bad day, I usually go on long walks wandering around the city. It’s in those moments that I can give myself a breath of fresh air and I feel like I’ve walked my problems away.

What items can be found on you at all times? I always have my phone, wallet, and my favorite pen.

What are you addicted to? Currently addicted to Sing Street’s soundtrack :)

What did you Google last?  Hahaha, the last thing I googled was “Lobster Roll nyc”. I was really craving a lobster roll today.

What is the last thing you took a photo of? 

The last thing I took a photo of was at the Tom Sachs exhibit at Jeffrey Dietch. It was of a canon photocopier made of wood.

What’s next? I’m keeping my options wide open. But I’m taking time off for the month of June & July and mapping out the next steps whether I will go abroad or sit put in New York.

 

Credits

Photography: Shirley Yu

Model: Darby Jones

Hair & Makeup: Debie Kim

 

You can follow Margo on Instagram @postmarkedarchive , @jenfrlee and see the rest of her work online at www.jenfrlee.com.

The Questionnaire_Thesis 2.3 by Ayo Keys

NORA MALONEY**

THE COLLECTION FEW + FAR/ZERO WASTE*

*Ethical, comfortable, versatile.

5 looks - 9 pieces

Inspired by Sustainability and ethics in the design industry.

Key Pieces A cable knit sweater using a combination of kettle dyed merino wool and a silk mohair thread. A key Look is a dress that combines a knit top, pleated rip-stop bottom and pin-tucked rip-stop sleeves.

The Process I had never considered zero-waste design techniques prior to my thesis. This was an entirely new experience for me because I learned a new way to design. All of my designs were developed through extensive draping which ultimately lead to my first round of muslins.

The Customer Someone that is consciously minded and aware of the impact that their purchases have on the environment. My collection is not really limited or restricted by age or size.

What’s one moment or time in your thesis journey that you’ll always remember? FINISHING.

THE DESIGNER

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**Curious, level headed, strong-minded.

What stores would you like to see your work in? I would love to see my clothes in small boutiques in the East Village, DUO or sold online.

Which brands would you like to work for? I want to work for a magazine or website as an editorial assistant.

When you’ve had a bad day what keeps you going? My friends and family.

What items can be found on you at all times? Water bottle, cell phone and headphones.

What are you addicted to? Peanut Butter.

What did you Google last? Editorial Assistant jobs in NYC (the never ending struggle…).

What is the last thing you took a photo of? My friend sitting on my fire escape.

What’s next? Find a job! Ugh.

 

Credits

Photography: Lindsey Law

Model: Alexandra Spencer

 

You can follow Nora on Instagram @nora__maloneySnapchat Noron, and see the rest of her work online at www.noramaloney.com.

The Questionnaire _ Thesis 2.2 by Ayo Keys

MIRANDA BENJAMIN**

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THE COLLECTION IT'S OKAY TO BE CLICHE*

*Surprisingly not morbid.

5 looks - 7 pieces

Inspired by My Grandfather was a mortician which allowed me to grow up in an environment where death was completely accepted, it wasn’t until I was much older that I realized society’s fear of death is crippling.

Key Pieces A cable knit sweater using a combination of kettle dyed merino wool and a silk mohair thread. A key Look is a dress that combines a knit top, pleated rip-stop bottom and pin-tucked rip-stop sleeves.

The Process I started by researching cliche surrounding death mostly developed through the victorian eras ceremonies surrounding death. My next step was a combination of drawing and draping including fabric manipulations.

The Customer I’m not sure there is an ideal customer traditionally these looks are very feminine, but I find everyone has fun wearing them and understands the level of comfort I want everyone to feel with death.

What’s one moment or time in your thesis journey that you’ll always remember? 3am dance breaks.

THE DESIGNER

**A dark sense of humor.

What stores would you like to see your work in? I would love to see my looks in any store honestly.

Which brands would you like to work for? Rodarte, Vetements, N. 21, any brand trying to fuck with the way we see things.

When you’ve had a bad day what keeps you going? A good book or Knitting in the park.

What items can be found on you at all times? I always am wearing a watch, my turquoise and cameo rings.

What are you addicted to? Chocolate.

What did you Google last? The Deadpool movie trailer.

What is the last thing you took a photo of? A puppy.

What’s next? I wish I knew.

 

Credits

Photography: Luke Smithers

Model: Ashley Mingot

 

You can follow Miranda on Instagram @MirandaRBenjamin, Snapchat mirandabenjamin, and see the rest of her work online at www.mirandabenjamin.com.

THE QUESTIONNAIRE _ THESIS 2.1 by Ayo Keys

MARGO ISADORA**

THE COLLECTION CONVERSATIONS IN COLOR*

*Vibrant, loved & happy.

10 looks - 16 pieces

Accessories Block printed purses & laser cut earrings.

Inspired by CONVERSATIONS IN COLOR was inspired by my relationship with my 96 year old friend Ilona Royce Smithkin. She and I share a color theory based understanding of color. However, our appreciation of color goes far beyond the easel. One can view the world in black and white, in a very bland way, or in full COLOR. We share a saturated point of view. It is this vibrant perspective that I tried to convey through the print design, color, textile work and silhouettes.

Key Pieces The printed velvet applique on the block printed mesh blue maxi dress in Look 3 was an integral technique in the collection. The screen printed and hand painted extended seam allowance canvas jacket (made from repurposed army duffle bags) look 8, was a key piece that added contrast, with painted raw edges and a larger silhouette, to my feminine collection.

Margo and artist Ilona Royce Smithkin.

Margo and artist Ilona Royce Smithkin.

The Process I developed prints based on eyes, as Ilona draws eyes, and they also represent how we see the world and take in color. I then worked with these motifs to both flat pattern and drape these pieces. I further worked into contrasting fabrics, like richer silks and velvets juxtaposed with less expensive meshes and nylons. This tension furthered my “Conversation” in Color.

The Customer A strong woman.

What’s one moment or time in your thesis journey that you’ll always remember? The last moment before, I presented in, panel my two gorgeous models, Ashley and Jackie, were dressed and smiling and dancing around in my clothes. Someone said, “Your clothes make people happy”. That is all I needed – that is why I do it!

THE DESIGNER

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**Colorful, spirited & strong.

What stores would you like to see your work in? Barney's or Dover Street Market.

Which brands would you like to work for? Proenza Schouler, Mara Hoffman, Missoni, Emilio Pucci, Marni, Marimekko.

When you’ve had a bad day what keeps you going? Writing a list of the things I accomplished that day – be them as small as making breakfast. Looking at what I did do, rather than focusing on all the things that went wrong, often helps.

What items can be found on you at all times? Sketchbook, tea bags, lucky pennies, stamps and postcards..

What are you addicted to? Yoga.

What did you Google last? Cauliflower rice.

What is the last thing you took a photo of? My Mini Rex bunny, Mochi.

What’s next? Based on popular demand, I’ve begun selling my accessories to privately individuals and stores. I am currently interviewing for both print design positions and women’s wear positions at a variety of design houses.

 

Credits

Photography: Luis Corzo

Model: Ashley Mingot

Makeup: Valerie Segal

Stylist: Jane Schneider

 

You can follow Margo on Instagram @margoisadora, Snapchat Margo Isadora, check out her Italian adventure here and see the rest of her work online at www.margoisadora.com.