It seems that there is a new underground streetwear label launching every day. With so many options for buyers, is there a key to getting noticed? Seoul based visual artist and founder of SKOOT APPAREL, MLMA (@melovemealot), shares the story of how she combined the knowledge gained at MIXXMIX with her penchant for throwing house parties to create an original and thriving fashion brand.
Interview Paula Ponzer, Photography via SKOOT
What is your name & where did you grow up?
My name is MLMA (@melovemealot) and I am from Seoul.
Why did you start Skoot Apparel? How did the idea come about?
I decided I wanted to start my own brand after quitting my design job at MIXXMIX in 2014. The idea was quite simple at the beginning, just to make socks that people haven't seen before. The style inspiration came from observing trends where hip-hop and street fashion started to creep into the K-pop aesthetic.
Why did you start off with socks?
Socks were first because let's face it, no one does socks well. One of two things are always missing. Either the design is good and quality is terrible or the quality is good and the design is terrible.
I know that most of Skoot's promotional images are taken at actual house parties where you invite friends to wear your clothes. How did you come up with that idea?
The Skoot house parties just came about. Our workshop is in our flat and naturally we would give away products to our friends. Eventually people started wearing them throughout the night and everyone would want photos. Now it has become a thing where even new guests who drop by are prepared to get their photo taken.
Tell me about your initial start-up process. From idea, to design, to the first order of stock and so on. What are the first steps?
Just wake up and do it. Decide that your going to design a line. The concept is whatever you want it to be. 99% of people talk a lot about doing things but never even start. So just start!
Why does a brand fail? What do you think is the biggest mistake other young designers make when wanting to start a brand?
Most brands fail because they reproduce an image that already exists. You should make something original. The biggest mistake you can do is jumping in too fast. Get a job working for a brand or under a designer. Be overqualified. Experience is everything. Learn to be organized, handle finances, how to negotiate pricing and be mentally strong.
What makes South Korea a good (or bad) place to start a fashion business?
The country doesn't really matter. What matters is the people doing the work. If I was in North America or Europe I would probably be doing the same thing.
What is the hardest part about growing Skoot?
The hardest part is that no one takes you seriously because like I said earlier 99% of people talk about doing something and never actually do it. So naturally how can they believe in you when they don't believe in what they say themselves?
It must be stressful. How do you destress?
I punch a punching bag.
What tools do you think are essential these days for marketing a small fashion brand?
Social Media and lovely articles like this one ;)
What are your goals for 2017?
To be happy and keep on doing fun and interesting things. Skoot Apparel began as something fun and as soon as it is no longer fun I will stop. The goal is to do art in any medium. Fashion is just one of them.