LABELS (SHE) LOVES: TALKING COOL BRANDS WITH OUR BUYER
Ever wonder how all those Labels We Love,wind up on our site and shelves? Enter: Kristine, brand-discoverer extraordinaire. She’s got a pretty cool gig as our buyer, so we sat down to ask her all about it.
Tell us a bit about what you do here at Madewell.
I wear a lot of hats, but essentially I’m responsible for curating our branded product assortment each season, in addition to concepting and executing exclusive product and collaborations. My role is extremely unique as I get to be creative, strategic and business-minded. I partner closely with several different teams (from marketing to legal) and our head designer, Joyce, to bring collaborations to life. Basically, I get to be a “cool hunter” for Madewell and I’m always coming to the table with new ideas!
So fun! What are some of the ways you discover brands?
Before the pandemic I would scope out tradeshows and markets like Shoppe Object or Echo Park Craft Fair. I also love to pop into independent boutiques in New York or while traveling to get inspired. When I’m not looking for brands IRL, I do a ton of research through Instagram and have an entire saved folder dedicated to my finds for Madewell!
What’s one discovery story that felt extra special for you?
I’ve followed sustainable designer and artist Sarah Nsikak and her brand La Réunion over the past year and fell in love with her hand-quilted pieces. When we got a chance to collaborate with her on a capsule it was such a dream come true! The collaboration was our first one made exclusively from recycled Madewell materials. I felt a sense of satisfaction and pride putting it out into the world, as each dress was not only a wearable art piece but also waste-free.
Yes, what a great collab! Do you have any favorite labels that we’re carrying this summer?
So many! Like most people I’ve kept it pretty simple during COVID, so I’m excited to wear beautiful summer dresses like the ones from Mes Demoiselles. I love a feminine silhouette and romantic print. Also, the brand Carleen—the way they repurpose vintage textiles is incredibly cool and inspiring. I’ve been loving Unsun, too. As a woman of color, it’s often hard for me to find clean, no-residue sunscreen. Theirs helps me feel protected and blends into my skin seamlessly. And one more—Mahnal's brass jewelry. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness designer Shayba Muhammad puts behind every piece.
Love those picks. Okay, last question: what’s the very best part about your job?
I would say the top three are working with small brands and giving them a platform to tell their stories, brainstorming and concepting collaborations (I love putting together mood boards) and finally, getting to build relationships with brands and artists I admire—it feels like a pinch-me moment every time!
Thanks so much, Kristine! Explore all the Labels We Love right here.