Interview with 2018 UpNXT Winner, Maddie Iverson on Her Upcoming O’FIELD Fashion Label
An Interview with Maddie Iverson; Conducted by Kyle Sosa
Good afternoon Maddie,
I’m so glad you allowed me to speak with you and a warm congratulations on being an UpNXT winner. Tell me what you enjoyed about UpNXT the most. How was your experience?
MADDIE: Thank you! My experience was very good. It’s an amazing program and I have learned so much through all the different classes that we went through in the summer, as well as getting things ready for an international platform. What I enjoyed the most was being able to work with so many creative professionals in the industry, learn from them, and be able to apply their knowledge and experience to my business.
How were the UpNXT facilitated mentorships, classes, and business meetings helpful to you as a designer?
MADDIE: They were really good! I am still relatively new to the fashion and design world. It definitely helped give me more information in regards to the different business aspects of starting my new label and making connects within the local fashion industry–things that are invaluable.
Much of your show featured a balance between edge and elegance. For instance, you would piece a more structured aztec-printed coat with an organic lace flowing skirt. Tell me, who is the O’FIELD customer?
MADDIE: I’m striving to be able to create luxury and one of a kind apparel for a modern woman who believes in the finer things in life, but also strives to make bold decisions in her life as well as in her wardrobe. I really believe that fashion is emotional. The way you dress can say so much about who you are, who you want to be, and how you wish to portray yourself to the world. I do my best to create and design clothing to empower women who are striving for bigger and better things in life.
As a designer, of coarse, you are interested in fashion. But at what point in your life did you realize that you not only loved fashion, but had something to offer fashion?
MADDIE: I fully realized that in the last two years during my college education. I was participating in some creative fashion shows working on my final senior collection. I ended up meeting with Tito as well as others who work at FashioNXT. Being able to learn from them and learn from the FashioNXT fashion incubator program really inspired me. Even though I was young–even in this industry now, I still am young–I believe I have a lot to offer. I am very passionate about what I am doing and I have the drive to match that.
As we know, fashion is such a competitive industry with so many different designers and artistic visionaries. Do you feel that you have come into your own as a designer and a creator? Do you feel that you have found your voice?
MADDIE: That’s a good question. I think that everyone across the board, me included, will always be finding their voice. There’s always more things to learn and more things to explore within yourself creatively. So, I’m definitely still finding where I stand. I do think that my style shifts overtime but ultimately is also grounded. How I was raised, my family background, and my heritage is what I believe sets me apart as a designer. My background is pretty unique for the fashion industry. I grew up on a sheep farm and am technically a fifth generation sheep rancher. My family goes very far back in the wool industry. That is where I started, and I pull a lot of inspiration from my family heritage, my Irish lineage, and the wild west.
Tell me more about your creative process and what that looks like for you. Where do you draw your inspiration from and how to you begin to process inspiration into your physical work?
MADDIE: A lot of my inspiration is actually fabric first. I love finding extremely high quality beautiful fabrics and using the limitations of the fabrics that are available to create something that is truly unique, one-of-a-kind, and high fashion. I also have a very modern but slightly western style, so I’m always looking for ways to incorporate traditional American clothing and accessories in an edgy modern way that’s appropriate for the current consumer. A lot of my inspiration comes from fabric, it comes from the wild west, it comes from my family background, and it comes from analyzing the current trends and where the market is going.
Would you describe yourself to be a very hands-on designer? Do you draw? Do you sketch? Or do you work straight from the fabric and go from there?
MADDIE: Honestly, it really depends on what I’m feeling at the moment. I started drawing and painting when I was very young. Sometimes I start drawing first, sometimes I look at the fabric and then start drawing, sometimes I am draping directly onto my dress form. It really varies. I wouldn’t say I start consistently in one place.
I have found that many designers have an ideal, visionary woman that they are designing for each collection. Who is that woman for you?
MADDIE: She is happy and confident and bold. If you’re looking for something more specific, she is probably in her early thirties to late forties, solid career path, etc.
If someone had never seen your shows or viewed your collections, how would you describe your typical designs to a potential client?
MADDIE: My typical designs are usually focused in contemporary and country western style outerwear. I also do bespoke bridal and custom pieces of wool with my ready-to-wear collection.
As part of the prize for being an UpNXT winner, you are awarded a show in the 2019 FashioNXT runway show. What is inspiring you for your next collection? What can we expect to see from you this upcoming October?
MADDIE: I’m actually working on designs for this next fall/winter right now. I’m feeling very inspired by classic western novels such as The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Women. I’m also hoping to bring something new to the table. I’m thinking about the space cowgirl idea as well as astronomy. I would love to play with combining those two but not in a costume-type way, in a very wearable way.
Do you see yourself transitioning into menswear at all? Given that your collection this year was exclusively targeting a female market, would you explore that area of fashion at all?
MADDIE: I am doing that right now, actually. There will be a few men’s styles incorporated into my collection as well this upcoming season.
What are your goals for the future? Are there specific things you are imagining for your career moving forward from being an UpNXT winner?
MADDIE: After I won UpNXT 2018, that was the launch for my label officially. I am really working now towards increasing production levels and being able to get my products and my clothing in front of more people. I’m aiming for a few more store counts in the next few years, looking forward to participating in FashioNXT continually, as well as experiencing some new shows.
Could you see yourself opening up your own store eventually?
MADDIE: At the moment actually, I would prefer to stay online through instagram and sell through a few select boutiques nationwide, and eventually worldwide. I’m not sure that opening up a flagship store at the moment would be the right move. Things are definitely much more digitally focused, but we’ll see. The market may change and it just depends on what happens in the next five years.