Talking to Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis, the best friends behind Me and You

27.07.2015 | Art , Culture , Fashion | BY:

What started as two design students connecting over their love of everything girly, and their dislike of the elitism and limits imposed by fashion school, led to the creation of Me and You—a fashion label with a cult following. Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis are the best friends behind the label known for its beautifully simple underwear emblazoned with ‘feminist’ in pastel pink lettering, floaty tulle dresses, and fitted T-shirts covered in lipstick kisses.

Me and You began while Baylis and Toledano were studying at Parsons School of Design in New York. “We started collaborating on art pieces because we really liked the print studio at our school and it was a good getaway for us from regular class—because we hated it,” says Toledano. “It was very business oriented,” adds Baylis. “It was either become an assistant designer or become the next big thing, but we really wanted to design stuff that is accessible.”

“We always say that Me and You is about going to that place when you’re a young girl and you’re sitting in your room, where you feel safe and comfortable and creative.”

Snatching time between classes and assignments, their collaboration continued to develop. But it was the response they received on social media that really pushed the best friends to take it from escapist pastime to an actual business. “We didn’t sit down and decide to start a clothing label together, it was very organic,” says Baylis. “We began to print pieces and then our friend Petra [Collins] photographed some of our stuff, we put some of it on Instagram and people were commenting on our work and getting excited about it.”

The internet has been a critical space for the fourth wave of feminism, and Me and You has found a dedicated fanbase among young females who aren’t afraid to call themselves part of the movement. While some brands have tried to use feminism in cynical, attention-seeking ways at a time when it’s getting renewed interest, for Toledano and Baylis it is instinctive. “The idea of feminism was always so natural to me, I don’t even remember first becoming aware of the word,” says Baylis. “The perception of the word has changed so much, it has and morphed through each wave of feminism.” This is what lead the duo to incorporate the word ‘feminist’ into their designs in the way that they have. “We decided to take that word, which is so loaded, and use it in a fun, accessible way, in a pretty way, making it something that girls can relate to,” says Toledano.

Those tired of homogenous fashion imagery so far from a representation of themselves are turning to a new era of creatives unafraid to offer up a different vision—like Baylis, Toledano and their collaborators, who include Barbara Ferreira, Petra Collins, Arvida Byström. The imagery created for Me and You, which is as much a part of the brand as the clothing, stands out for the diversity of girls—and occasional boy—featured. “Who we photograph is never calculated, it’s just people we see in real life or on Instagram,” says Toledano, “We would never airbrush our images, we show cellulite and whatever.” They have no qualms about body hair either, but point out that they see shaving as just as valid—what’s important is knowing that it’s a choice.

‘The idea of feminism was always so natural to me, I don’t even remember first becoming aware of the word.”

With Me and You, Baylis and Toledano have created a world of comfort, vulnerability and the freedom that comes with having total support from a community of like-minded individuals. That is perfectly encompassed by how they describe their label: “We always say that Me and You is about going to that place when you’re a young girl and you’re sitting in your room, where you feel safe and comfortable and creative. We always reference that place because we think that exists within everyone. It’s that place where you feel uninhibited, you feel yourself.”

www.itsmeandyou.com

Photography by Zara Mirkin 

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