As he looks to the future of his brand, Brandon Maxwell looks back.
In an interview with Fairchild Media Group editorial director James Fallon on stage at SXSW, Maxwell said one of his main inspirations was the state of Texas, where the festival is held each year.
“Texas is ingrained in everything I do,” Maxwell said. “Most of my inspiration comes from here. There is joy here, everything is big and exciting.
Maxwell’s relationship with fashion began at an early age. “I grew up around fashion, my grandmother ran a clothing store and she was a stylist,” he said. I’ve been around fashion my whole life.
He moved to New York to pursue career opportunities ranging from assisting a photographer to assisting a stylist. He then became his own stylist before eventually starting his own label.
“When I started the brand, I had a very small office. For the first two and a half, three years I was working as a brand stylist. I have done many jobs,” he said. “In the first six months I had this office, I filled the walls from top to bottom with pictures that I loved as a child and reference pictures that I use in my own work.”
While Maxwell’s vision has evolved, he says his latest collection is a return to the brand’s roots.
“I was always going to do minimal stitching: not too strong a figure and not too much color. When you look at my first couple of collections, they were mainly black and white,” he said. If you know my brand in 2019 or 2020, a lot has been happening in my life and you don’t have time to focus. The collections became more colorful, but the DNA of the brand is those early collections. In fact, most pieces [in the fall 2023 collection] My earlier collections are a rework of what they were, just with different creations.
Although Maxwell’s career peaked before the pandemic, he admits to taking advantage of the isolation caused by the coronavirus.
He said: “2019 was probably my biggest career year – I was on the cover of magazines, I won my second CFDA. [award], I started appearing on television. Looking back, I now have a time away from that, even though I had a dream, it was really scary for me and filled with a lot of anxiety.
“We all had to lock ourselves up at home, and even though it was a horrible time with so much pain in the world, it was a relief to me that I could pause and take back my life as it was and how I wanted to do it. Go ahead,” he continued.
Part of that move forward was taking on the role of creative director of Walmart’s Free Meeting and Scope fashion brands. It was a move that surprised some in the fashion world, but Maxwell says he has learned a lot from working with the world’s biggest retailer. Growing up, he said, his family always shopped at Walmart, and he prides himself on being able to dress a large part of America at affordable prices.
Maxwell talked about how he created a five-item bucket list when he started his career as a designer. “Working with Walmart was one,” he said, adding that he completed four of the five.
The fifth? “I don’t think that’s going to happen now, me and having a baby,” he said to laughter from the audience.
And while Maxwell has only recently started taking the brand back to basics, it hasn’t caught on to that epidemic. “i don’t think so. [the pandemic] It changed my aesthetic because it changed my priorities,” he said. “It’s made me realize all the possibilities again, and you’re lucky to have a career that I feel so blessed to have. Ultimately, I’m here to make clothes, and everything else is stuff.
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