Checking In: Six Questions for Brooklyn Designer Mary Meyer

Many designers declare themselves "bi-coastal" in spirit, but few have as legitimate a claim on the title as Mary Meyer, who first started producing her printed tees and dresses in San Francisco's Bay Area before shipping off to New York City in 2006. A trained painter, Mary's eponymous collection is known for its quirky hand-painted jersey separates, which are equal parts 1980's skate-punk and casual chic. We caught up with the designer to see how her style and business sense has evolved over the years, and to get the full scoop on the public studio and shopping space she'll open in Bushwick this summer.

Thread NY: You're a true bi-coastal designer, having produced clothes in both California and New York City. How do you think your west coast background is reflected in the collection?

Mary Meyer: The West Coast is all about layers, especially the Bay Area, so the whole element of layering that you find throughout my collection is straight from there. My early upbringing was on the Venice Beach boardwalk and the print influence of surfer and skater culture, as well as '80s graphic tees, can easily be traced to that.

Has the line changed since its early days in California? How?

Some elements have completely changed while others have remained the same. It's still a predominately jersey collection, and right from the start I was experimenting with things like bleach. But since being in New York I've taken more risks with forward silhouettes and I've also committed to the language of my prints, which have become my hallmark.

What's the best thing about living and working in Brooklyn?

I think the immediacy of life here, out here you can have an idea, collaborate with someone and have something to show for it easily within a week. Out west, people are more laid back, which is nice, but it also has less productive energy. New York City is a also hard place to live, it's a place that pushes you and so the fact that you have to toughen up here makes a person stronger.

You're opening a new showroom in Bushwick this summer. Tell us how the idea evolved and what you hope the brand will gain from the new space.

Well it's going to be a studio/store that's open to the public, not a showroom per se. It evolved because I've always done a lot of hosting in my space and love to introduce bands and brands that I think are cool. So it just made sense to open a space where I can host shoppers and also showcase all the talent I'm surrounded by. Also, it's going to give me the opportunity to start putting out short runs of exclusive and hand-painted product, which for me is really exciting. 
How has your background as a painter served you as a fashion designer?
My education as a painter was always pushing me to perfect my craft and also develop my artistic voice. Those key elements are things I still work with constantly. 
What's the most valuable thing you've learned about running your own business as an independent designer?

That it is so much harder then I ever could have thought, but that the most important thing is having a clear vision of what you want to do and then just taking the steps that you need to do to make it happen.

Mary's latest collection, inspired by summers spent on Far Rockaway beach, hits her website this morning. To view the complete collection, visit her website at

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