Fashion designers are a different breed. Some can be charming, quiet, and eccentric, others loud, irritating, and obnoxious. For Stefan Ayon, creator of STAY MADE, a brand he describes as having a "minimalist, blue-collar aesthetic," not being a cookie-cutter designer may be one of his greatest strengths. "Not going to school for design has allowed me to color outside the lines," he told Input in an interview. "I know how not to make a garment as [much as] I do the correct way. It allows for a lot of freedom of expression."
Ayon, who was born in Canada but is based in New York City, says he officially founded STAY MADE in 2017, though his vision for it started in 2012. Since then, STAY MADE has had collaborations with T.U.K, MAPLE, Kluane Mountaineering, and Lichen, which range from a line of footwear and jackets, to jewelry, and furniture. "STAY MADE is just a reflection of me," he says, "the brand changes and evolves as I do. My ethos is simply: nothing superfluous, nothing overlooked."
Sustainable goods — You can get a sense of these ideas through Ayon's design obsessions, like veg-tan leathers and his commitment to sustainability — a major area of focus for the fashion industry right now. For example, he says the majority of STAY MADE's fabrics, which are sometimes decades-old, are sourced from warehouses across New York and New Jersey. And Ayon says his brand only produces enough goods to fulfill the orders he gets, an efforts that ensures he's not wasting any materials.
"Support local small scale designers," says Ayon. "Yes, we're more expensive, but the hands that touch each step of production are well-paid craftsmen and women protected by labor laws. Not to mention [the product] is far superior quality that will last you years, as opposed to one or two washes." Ultimately, Ayon says his goal with STAY MADE — which is sold at sites such as Ssense and Garmentory — is to reach people who have a fond appreciation for the arts and well-made goods. "I mean, Solange owns my veg-tan leather 'McDonald's Big Mac Meal,'" he says. "She seems cool."
To get a deeper understanding of Ayon's process as a fashion designer, he broke down a list of essentials in his every-day life, which you can check out below.
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“Solange owns my veg-tan leather 'McDonald's Big Mac Meal.' She seems cool.”