Fashion designer MI Leggett is making gender-free and anti-waste clothing through their line Official Rebrand (@official_rebrand) that makes people feel more empowered, more embodied, and more themselves. “Style is really a poem you can write every day, say who you are, who you wanna be,” says MI. “It’s a way to turn your inside to the outside. Especially being gender nonconforming, style can be a tool to just construct the self that you truly are.”
The designer believes gender-free garments offer more freedom for self-expression than gendered clothing. “I think about gender-free because of freedom to play, freedom to experiment, freedom to figure out what’s right for you,” says MI.
In addition to making gender-free clothing, MI has also found a lot of fulfillment in repurposing garments, because waste is such a huge problem in the fashion industry. MI repurposes both pre-consumer and post-consumer pieces to make their clothing, “removing gender in the process,” they explain.
Their repurposing process can involve painting on the garment itself and creating a totally one-of-a-kind, unique piece. Or, it can be a batch of garments that had a production error, and MI has to make the design work through the error. “I have deadstock from brands that have closed down, trying to make it suddenly from something that people don’t want into something that people have to have,” shares MI.
Like the garments they work with, MI has taken on many evolutions throughout their life, and that cycle of change is reflected in their repurposing process. “Everything about this process is so exciting to me,” MI explains. “And I always felt like I’ve been constantly changing over the course of my life, and I feel as if you can kind of reflect that change in the life cycle of the garment as well.”
Of course, fashion’s a tough gig. But when MI is feeling low, they remind themselves of why they’re doing this in the first place. “Sometimes [I] can feel like, ‘Ugh, why am I doing fashion? No one needs this!’ But then you put on some clothes that make you feel empowered and embodied, and that’s just highly motivating,” says the designer. “And knowing that you can do that for other people creates such a drive for me never to give up.”
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