Minnie Muse is pleased to announce the release of our highly anticipated ‘MMerch’ product line. Since its inception in November 2017, Minnie Muse has been a website focused on producing original content driven by curation, contextualization and exploration. Drawing connections between the history of art, fashion, architecture and design, are hallmarks of the Minnie Muse brand. In keeping with this philosophy, ‘MMerch’ is both a physical and metaphorical extension of the content we create daily on Minnie Muse. Without further ado, we are excited to announce the debut of our first two products, the Minnie Muse ‘MMerch’ Reversible Hoodie and Bubble Wrap Tote.
Built off the same brand pillars, researched historical references, and thoughtful attention to detail we instill in every article we publish, Minnie Muse ‘MMerch’ pulls inspiration from our favorite brands, objects, ideas and visuals of the past, to create products that are hopelessly modern, highly covetable and uniquely Minnie Muse.
Since designing the trademark ‘MM’ logo and developing the visual identity of Minnie Muse, it was always my intention to one day expand the Minnie Muse brand to include product. As it so happens, the name ‘MMerch’ was born from a conversation I had last July (2018) with Richard Prince, who was at the time designing his own merch for a project he was working on. It occurred to me that ‘merch’ as a product category – much like Minnie Muse – spans not only art and fashion, but entire industries and time periods. Thus, the name ‘MMerch’ – the double ‘M’ representing the Minnie Muse logo – was born.
In many respects, ‘MMerch’ is a double entendre; denoting both Minnie Muse merchandise, while also paying homage to a much larger category of branded products and ephemera with deep ties to popular culture dating back to the 1960s. This philosophy directly inspired our first two products, and will forever motivate all subsequent designs.
The ‘MMerch’ Reversible Hoodie, produced with Madhappy, an active wear and lifestyle label based out of Los Angeles, is a physical embodiment of the concept ‘Form Follows Function,’ a phrase coined by late American architect Louis Sullivan. Drawing on principles associated with late 19th and early 20th century architecture and industrial design, it was of the utmost importance that the first ‘MMerch’ garment performs at the highest level, while forever maintaining aesthetic beauty.
As such, the hoodie’s two-in-one, reversible design – branded on either side with the Minnie Muse logo and wordmark – incorporates an oversized kangaroo pocket offering wearers possibility and utility. While the hoodie’s relaxed fit, locally sourced material – 100% French Terry – and trademark Minnie Muse red hue only approve upon with every wash. In keeping with the philosophy that form follows function, each of the hoodie’s ornamental details, whether it be the garment’s exposed seaming or hood stitch detailing, serve aesthetic purposes that never interfere with fit and practicality.
Our second debut product, the ‘MMerch’ Bubble Wrap Tote, draws on similar ideals and thoughtful means of fabrication and construction. When approaching the design of any garment or product, I start by asking myself, “If Minnie Muse were a _____ , what would that be?” As such, when I embarked upon the task of creating a tote bag, I started by questioning materiality. As a fan of all things industrial, I find myself most attracted to objects that utilize commonplace materials in unconventional ways – Miuccia Prada being the quintessential mastermind of this phenomenon.
Having amassed a small collection of the white, dense bubble wrap-esque bags from the Prada Foundation in Milan, I also discovered that for a brief period in the 1990s, Miuccia produced colorful bubble wrap shopping bags for her other namesake brand, Miu Miu. While the bags’ thin plastic handles appeared to lack the sturdiness one expects from a proper tote, I knew a variation on this idea had potential.
With that in mind, I turned to Ed Ruscha’s 1968 artist book entitled ‘Billy’ – a catalogue he designed for friend and fellow artist, Billy Al Bengston – for which Ruscha employed coarse sandpaper as the book’s front and back cover, and industrial bolts as a binding. The beauty of Ruscha’s ‘Billy’ book resides not only in artist’s use of unorthodox materials, but the seamless dialogue he generates between the book’s exterior and the content hidden within. In keeping with this philosophy, I asked myself “What could MY version of industrial bolts be?” Using Ruscha’s binding as a parallel for the ‘MMerch’ Tote Bag’s handles, I explored durable, natural materials that would both compliment and contrast the bag’s bubble wrap body, while offering strength and stability.
After selecting a cotton herringbone ribbon sourced from Japan - hand-dyed in Minnie Muse red – one final obstacle presented itself. In wanting to incorporate Minnie Muse and ‘MMerch’ branding on the tote’s exterior, and learning that traditional silk-screening would not adhere indefinitely to bubble wrap, a turning point emerged. Of course, the red cotton handles could be embroidered with Minnie Muse and ‘MMerch’, in contrasting white stitching, mimicking our hoodie’s interior label. This seemingly simple solution, which may never have been considered had an obstacle not presented itself, was the final design element that, in my mind, is the bag’s defining detail; differentiating the ‘MMerch’ Tote from all bubble wrap bags that have come before.
While at times stressful, my first exercise in ‘MMerch’ product design – or any unchartered territory, for that matter – has lead to some of the most fulfilling outcomes and discoveries. Minnie Muse has officially expanded outside of the digital space and into the physical world. Keep an eye out for more ‘MMerch’ to come.