Our team at SOUL was luckily able to sit down and explore the unhinged and stimulating clothing brand that is Marsanne Brands. The young clothing line sparked a particular interest to the staff at SOUL as their designs called upon a distinctive and unusual aura--the clothing giving off a "beauty in disaster" notice. Even within this short prologue, attempting to describe the complete aesthetic of Marsanne Brands seems nearly impossible as the embroidery, structure, colors, etc. are extremely unique from one another. Regardless, Marsanne Brands encompasses the root of SOUL and that their designs stem from within their personal perspectives. The ideas and designs that Marsanne Brands executes comes from a spiritual and emotional level that keep them rooted in not only their designs but ultimately, their mission.
Chloe Marsanne: Founder, head creator, and CEO of Marsanne Brands
Hailey Rutt: Creative coordinator and designer
Click to explore and shop Marsanne Brands
Kylie: So how did this all start? How was Marsanne Brands created?
Chloe: I'd like to say that it started when I was born because I have always had a niche for sketching and making faces and color. When I was little I use to spend a lot of time in my dad’s gallery-he owned an art gallery. I just acquired that through my family; they’re heavy antique collectors so I always understood shape, and proportions and I always had a deep interest in color and its relation with life, and the psychology of color. I think that the seed where it stemmed from was in high school when I was interning at Harvard at a dart frog pigmentation lab, which are these bright colored and most poisonous frogs in the world. I loved it--the colors not the science. I mean Science is a beautiful industry and I think it's amazing what people do, but it is totally not for me.
At first I wanted to be a stylist because I love pairing things together and I wanted to be in PR because I love talking to people. I formally worked at Zac Posen and learned a lot but again, I always had the idea swimming in my head that I was just going to do it. It started about 3 years ago but I couldn't tell you the exact date.
[I] was working at another job and sketching on the computer and not doing the job I was suppose to be doing, and I was like "this is my passion", "this is what I have to do", "this is me" and it clicked. It clicked, it clicked it clicked. I left my job, I said 'whatever' to everything.
Kylie: Your design process, can you guys walk us through the technical aspects?
Chloe: We dived into this a little, it is a very much of a scientific process and all of our clothes are different sizes and different cuts and have different things on it. We don’t discriminate what we use- i even thought about putting scissors...okay maybe not scissors, but maybe pens on shirts. It's so much more of an art process, it's emanate. I see my work in colors and i think that we go with a color; we hand dye all of our clothing, and we start by a color base and we go from there. It depends on the work too because for customs we sit down and meet with the person and really determine what their personality is and try to take who they are and embody them into the garment. I wouldn't say there's a specific design process, we don't have a house of 50 different cut and sews. But we try to embody everything ourselves, and it takes a long time. We always do different faces, we print everything ourselves. “
Hailey: When we’re sourcing, we don’t always know what we’re going to do in a piece but i think we both have a skill to see the potential in something. As a designer it’s great to work with someone like Chloe, because there’s no strings attached, there's no exact route, but it's very collaborative. We ask each other what do you think looks good, and we pass things back and forth-like a tennis game. We both pull from the same well, from the same inspiration and creative direction and we trust each other in that way.”
Chloe: For example, when we're tired of a garment and we can't stand looking at it anymore, we pass it back and forth and be like do something with it. It's a new vision and new eyes, and we really really do love collaboration and i mean that in the smallest sense. We do have a lovely team of interns and sometimes we even ask them their opinions. It's not about doing things a certain way but learning from each other and learning from our mistakes and sometimes our mistakes have become the greatest pieces ever. They can stem from one type of error then you realize, wow, that's not an error. It's totally about discovery and exploration.”
Isiah: Can you further explain the idea of sourcing?”
Chloe: Yes, taking quick snaps of a weird cm of a painting and make a shirt off that. I usually end up going somewhere completely different then where i start on a piece. We're always looking for new fabrics to work with, different mixes because it's a long process figuring out what fabrics hold dye. We’re completely self taught, neither one of us have design experience. We can't even tell you how many shirts we have thrown out because the dye has literally eaten the shirt-but that's nature. That’s what we mean by sourcing, trying new material and seeing what holds dye and finding new inspirations.
Isiah: Just regarding the struggles and conflicts you guys have, we understand the fact there's a lot of trial and error, but how do you overcome these?
Chloe: I think that first, the most obvious, when anyone is starting a company you find things that that work and things that really don’t work. When we first started designing our pieces we had a lot of rips. They were not selling and people didn't like them-- a lot of people didn't like them. We thought it was really cool and that demonstrates another problem. It's really hard to establish problems in your own vision and you need other people to show you them.
How do you differentiate what you want to do and what's actually in good health for the company? The rips are a great example: we wear rips, our interns wear rips and our friends wear rips, but we tested the market and it didn't work. We went back and forth with it for a long time but this grounded us. It was something we really struggled with.
“Silencing your ego is also extremely important.” –Hailey
Chloe: This isn't something we struggle with, but we see is important, and whether we're working with an artist who's been in Nylon or Complex or a person with a 100 Instagram followers and have nothing, we treat everyone the same. They get the same amount of attention, the same amount of effort, everyone gets the same reply.
Chloe: “The last struggle we struggle with is artist block; just feeling not inspired. We will abandon garments and they sink and how do we deal with that? We’ll change location, or talk to someone and hear stories and take their struggles and kill it in a garment. Trying to take different people and their experiences and translate it into our own language. Trying to translate a lot of abstract work that we do-like our videos. They have become much more user friendly and us trying to figure out how to be approachable.
Hailey: Asking ourselves: "how weird can you be to the public”
Chloe: Or what even is your image and these are things that become emanate with me-and even now how do you even answer these interview questions and not be too abstract- we struggle with that filter. But finding that core trust in yourself, and once you have that trust your problems get easier.
Kylie: “What piece was your most influential design. Was there any moment or event or person where the garment meant something different personally?
Chloe: I think first the moment your sketches come to life. We keep all of our paper sketches and when you actually see it on a garment it feels like your dreams have come true. It's the same sensation with everything, even with making the website. A moment I personally feel alive is when someone is really feeling my image and what i stand for, like wow this person just clicks with me.
Hailey: I don't know. I think in the process of working and you're in a drop and then you look back at old ones wondering why didn't we do this before. I feel like there's moments before a photoshoot where everything is set up, the camera is charged and the model is ready and it's like wow. Even right in the morning where everyone is focused, you're focused the interns are focused and it makes you want to do it everyday
Chloe: I'd also say from a entrepreneur standpoint. I was in a proof of concept stage-growing a fanbase, being cash flow positive, really selling and when that moment happened i had something i could live off of-that was the moment. You need to make money somehow and when you do you realize this is something i can do and people can feel my passion and they can feel like they're part of something. When they feel lonely and alone they could go on our website and they can feel connected to other people wearing our stuff and be a part of a community. Even in the tiniest ways if it's helping them survive another day of school because they feel good in what they're wearing then that’s why we design. They can start conversations because someone else likes the big flower on their shirt. We want to create the words when they don't have anything to say.
"We are picking up on a story already started, and were writing another part of the story and continuing to pass it along You hit it on the head Chloe, we’re just trying to create a community that all speak the same language." —Hailey
*images provided by the editorial staff at Marsanne Brands