Melian and Kalyn are two LA-based multifaceted artists who collaborated on a reconstructed denim collection titled ‘Individuality’, under the umbrella of Melian’s current bespoke fashion label ByMelianJ. Both artists take pride in drifting between multiple fashion platforms from styling to modeling and even live performative art as well. Join me in conversation with Melian and Kalyn as they share how they stay inspired and envision their place in the fashion world.
How did you both end up working on a denim project together?
Melian: It initially started because while modeling and starting to get my designs off the ground I was facing a lot of closed doors due to the competitive nature of the business. It was feeling as though because I was creating my own designs other designers were keeping me out of their creative circles “due to conflict of interest”. I had been following Kalyn for a long time and saw that he was experimenting with denim as well. I decided to take the initiative and invite him to work together because I don’t think young designers should be in competition with each other – we should be empowering each other.
Kalyn: We hadn’t even met before we decided to work together. We were just riding the vibes we had off the internet and once we actually did meet it was so easy and we got right into it.
Why choose denim out of all the different fabric options you could have gone with?
K: I love denim, even in high school it was my thing. I was the kid that would distress everyone’s denim and would always pull up to school with some type of crazy denim piece. So naturally, I gravitated to what I love especially with this being my first project.
M: It’s crazy because I came into fashion the same way as Kalyn, just kinda altering and distressing denim. I wanted to go to fashion school but it was crazy expensive so experimenting with denim was an accessible way for me to dive into that world on my own terms. Also with denim, I felt like it related to everyone – there isn’t one person in the world that doesn’t own a piece of denim – so I felt like it was a full-circle connection to the world. Eventually, I will use other textiles, but right now I’m enjoying my journey with denim.
How does ByMelianJ encourage individuality?
M: I take a lot of pride in including people in my campaigns who are fearless in how they express themselves and give them a lot of input so that our message and brand identity will always remain authentic. Also in my designs, they are very bold and they force people to be their most confident selves. It’s hard to wear a ByMelianJ piece and not feel 100% you.
K: For this project we put a heavy emphasis on making sure everyone we cast was unique and had their own voice. We invited them in as a blank canvas (white tee and fav pair of denim) and styled them based on their natural aura. It’s really easy to inspire others when your whole team stands alone and go against the grain.
What would define success for the mission of individuality?
K: To just see a diverse range of people fuck with it. We didn’t design this for any one type of person, we want to see everyone sharing it. I want people to show us how they styled it and to push the boundaries of the designs even further than what we initially intended. A lot of the pieces have multiple functions, so it will be cool to see all the different ways people will wear them.
M: Yea, I def want people to buy their fav piece and try to find the most fun and unique way to wear it. I want people to be super experimental – that would make this collection a success for us.
Are there any changes you would like to see in the fashion industry?
M: I would like brands to practice mindfulness when it comes to the environment. There is so much waste and also so many synthetic fabrics that are very harmful to the earth, so also using more natural fibres can be super helpful. And that makes me circle back to the first question of why I use denim and I think it all was very intuitive; I always had the intention of improving the environment and upcycling denim is a great way to chip in from my current platform.
Olivia Davis @peachesfr
Brittany Colombo @colombolov3
Cara Rain @cararain
Abdulina Ortiz @aabdulinaa
Savannah Miller @vannahtyannmiller
Sisi Lee @restingwitchf4ce
Elizabeth Tyson @liztyson
Widny Bazile @widnybazile
Kaylee McKenny @fantasyarbiter
Iyana Banks, Arianna Hall, Bre Segars, Nyzeire McGee, Cara Carberry, Sisi Lee, Kalyee McKenny, Mercedes Schmidt, Olivia Davis, Nicolette Vakkur, Savanna Miller, Relixza Reyes, Brittany Colombo, Abdulina Ortiz, Aixa Ricketts, Elizabeth Tyson, Cydnei Jordan, Widny Bazile
Designers: Melianj, Kalyn Mitch
Photographers: Hadas, Ray.B, Asia, Brandi
Stylist: Diallo Mitch
MUA: Nica Tan, Elyse Thomas, Jami.J