January 12, 2013
Ever wonder where we draw our inspiration for our signature sweaters? Well, the answer can be found in our designers’ closets: endless amazing vintage pullovers snagged over time at flea markets across the country and around the world. Neat, right?
What’s your most coveted vintage find? Tweet or Instagram a pic to us @madewell1937.
November 18, 2011
by Dana Lee (Madewell)
Ever since I sketched the design for our Llama Love Sweater, people have been asking me why I chose that funny little animal. And now that it’s just hit Madewell stores, you may be wondering about it too. So here’s the story: I’ve always really, really, really loved camelids—llamas, alpacas and vicunas included. As a sweater designer, I first fell in love with chunky Peruvian alpaca yarns for how soft and luxe they were and for all the beautiful natural colors they came in. There’s something about these yarns that makes you feel so homey and warm in the winter.
Beyond the yarn, I’ve always loved how funny and cute they look—especially that fuzzy fur and those big eyes and superlong eyelashes. So oddly adorable! When I was in Ecuador, I actually spent hours taking photos of llamas on mountaintops—and tried to squeeze myself into every possible shot. I still remember one llama squinting his eyes and staring right at me: He didn’t move an inch or break his stare, and the nonchalant look on his face was absolutely priceless!
At the flea market, I purchased essentially every existing llama figurine and llama-patterned object, and to this day, whenever I come across anything llama, I have to get it.
For Madewell’s holiday collection, we wanted to do a whimsical animal sweater, and before anyone blinked, I knew that animal would have to be a llama! Check out the graphic closely and you’ll see I made sure their big eyes and eyelashes were featured prominently. Hopefully everyone enjoys wearing this cozy little sweater as much as I loved designing it.
November 7, 2011
True story: Everyone at Madewell (including us) was collectively swept away when they first laid eyes on this season’s hands-down most amazing accessory series, our Storyteller Scarves. Their color and graphic quality were like nothing we’d seen—so obviously, we had to know more. Luckily, the talented lady behind these handmade designs—our accessories guru, Nichole—was literally a hop, skip and a step away. Below, she lets us in on her inspiration and process (hint: it involves lots of glue).
What inspired the idea for this series?
I had been collecting a lot of images of antique quilts as inspiration for peculiar colorblocking arrangements and also wanted to work with vintage maps in some way. I found this funny old atlas that had a fascinating assortment of maps in great colors. After looking at all this imagery, the ideas kind of combined themselves!
Where did you find the scraps in your sketchbook?
Our accessories design team just took a trip around the corner from the office to NYC’s legendary bookstore, the Strand, and found so many great things: an atlas of the universe, ’70s and ’80s photography magazines and a huge catalog of the history of American textiles. My favorite find was a book from 1971 depicting ghost towns of the west.
How do you personally like to wear the scarves?
I’ve been wearing them with a huge old sweater of my Dad’s—its classic sailor stripes are perfect for adding something quirky. I also hang them on my walls!
What was your favorite part of making them?
They were so much fun to design. I love projects that involve hands-on art time—I was covered in glue and map scraps for days! There’s something about assembling these by hand that makes them feel more special than digitally collaged images.
A snippet of Nichole’s sketchbook page with inspiration for our Storyteller Scarves.