Asata Maisé is the designer proving that sustainable fashion can be vibrant with her eponymous label. The designer prefers for her brainchild to be referred to as an ‘ongoing project’ in lieu of the word ‘brand’ because according to Maisé, ‘brand’ feels impersonal and she knows her work will continue to evolve. The ongoing project received an immense amount of support in the year of 2020, which has positioned the designer to sell out in under an hour each time she drops another batch of designs. In addition, Maisé’s works have been recognized by renowned publications, making its founder a recipient of Halsey’s Black Creators Fund Initiative and most recently, spotted on the mommy-daughter duo, Gabrielle Union and Zaya Wade.
Running her business out of her design studio in Wilmington, Delaware, which is also the birthplace of the 28-year old entrepreneur, Maisé is known for her rare, nostalgic-patterned fabrics and her out-of-the-box ability to mix and match materials into one tailored garment. The designer offers a selection for both genders, ranging from bucket hats and mini handbags to stylish polos and delightful dresses. Each Asata Maisé design is unique and one of one, with subtle differences as the designer uses vintage and reclaimed materials.
In addition to her designs being in-demand, Maisé is grounded in ethics of “slow fashion” so each drop is spaced out and contains limited quantities — making her pieces even more special. Asata’s desire to be grounded in slow fashion and sustainability is rooted from her humble beginnings, learning to design at 14-years old through re-working garments she found at thrift stores. Now, the designer is extremely intentional on being committed to her ethics and the cause of sustainable fashion to build a community of supporters that truly appreciate her art.
ESSENCE got to sit down with the designer to learn all about the journey, and what’s next for the future.
ESSENCE: How long have you been running your namesake label?
Asata: I’ve been sewing since I was 14 years old, so for 14 years I’ve been making garments to sell. 2016 was the first year I started selling my clothes through Instagram, though. That is also when I started using reclaimed and vintage materials because I was really inspired by ’50s and ’60s cinema. But, 2020 is when I officially began to run the label full-time and depending on the business.
ESSENCE: How does it feel to transition from working as an in-house designer to working as an independent designer and being recognized so widespread?
Asata: It feels amazing. I worked under couture designer Michael Costello, worked for Odd Future at a pivotal moment for them, and even interned in London for Palmer Harding, and I was just grateful for those opportunities and grateful that I was given a chance because I dropped out and didn’t have a portfolio at the time. All of my experiences as an in-house designer were in very different environments and had different work styles, so I was able to learn a lot. Now, my work is a mix of every experience I’ve had.
ESSENCE: I see the mix of experiences in your work. Your designs are very fun, and nostalgic, but very clean.
Asata: Thank you, you get it! Although I’m using repurposed fabrics and vintage materials, symmetry and clean silhouettes are important to me.
ESSENCE: Supply and demand – what does that mean to you?
Asata: I’ve had a lot of support from great individuals and I feel like my way of giving back is through making clothes. I’ve had to learn how to provide more, but still work within my own morals. I don’t feel like I’ll make thousands of quantities because I don’t think that’s sustainable and I think doing so would compromise my ethics. I want people to know what and who they are supporting, which is a young, Black designer from Wilmington, Delaware who sources and produces ethically and sustainably. I want my customers to know that these pieces are special and one of a kind, literally, no garment is exactly the same. I hope my pieces are handed down to the next generations.
ESSENCE: Are there any muses that you would love to see in Asata Maisé?
Asata: Rihanna, she’s fearless when it comes to dressing. Also Steve Lacy. I think he’s so cool and I feel like his music resembles my designs.
ESSENCE: If you could describe the Asata Maisé woman or man, who are they?
Asata: I make clothes for real people and a lot of my supporters are artists themselves or just creative individuals. They’re people that understand historical references and truly appreciate art support my vision, and I love to have that kind of community.
ESSENCE: Can we expect anything upcoming from the ongoing project?
Asata: The summer collection will be coming soon, which will include the infamous bucket hats. And later in the year, I will be releasing a new baguette.
Shop Asata Maisé’s collection here.