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MADEWELL x DYE GUY: THE STORY OF A SIDE HUSTLE

So, we’re always very excited about collaborating with artists and labels we admire, but our new tie-dye collection made with West Harlem-based Lung Ung (aka Dye Guy) is especially close to our hearts. That’s because Lung is a designer here at Madewell (!). He’s one of the brains behind our jackets, pants and skirts, but it turns out, he has a great eye for dye, too. We chatted with Lung about the collab, his process and how he’s balancing this passion project on top of his 9-5.

Hi Lung! What got you into tie-dye? And how did you get so good?

So, at the beginning of the pandemic, with all the free time in the world, I started upcycling the plain old sweats and tees I had in my closet to something a bit more colorful for the dreary time. I started with just a few items—but soon, basically everything in my closet was tie-dyed. I posted my process on Insta and got great feedback from friends, so I started doing custom pieces for fun. I’m still working on my process and techniques and going through a lot of trial and error, exploring different ways to dye.

Love that. How did the actual collab come about?

Our head designer Joyce and senior concept designer Emily also saw my tie-dye journey on Instagram, and I did some custom dyes for them—it all started from there!

Tell us more about the techniques.

For this collab, I used an ice tie-dye technique, where you sprinkle pigments onto the garment, put ice on top and let nature take its course. This process is completely random—the way the ice melts is unpredictable—but I think that’s the beauty of this technique. Every piece is one of a kind and special.

What’s a typical day like now that you’re balancing both your 9-5 and Dye Guy work?

Every day is a little different, depending on what’s going on at Madewell. Sometimes I like to take my lunch break to prep for my evening dye party, and then start dyeing after I log off. Some days I spend hours at the laundromat after work to wash all my tie dyes. It’s still very much a side hobby, so I try to make it as fun as possible without burning myself out, especially since I’m doing it all out of a small NYC apartment. Once we go back to the office, my goal is to separate the two a little more.

Thanks for making it work and sharing your tie-dyed beauties with us, Lung! Quick, shop the super limited-edition matching sets before they’re gone.