INTERVIEW: Inside the Weird and Wonderful World of Tyler McGillivary
We caught up with the designer to find out more about her inspirations, upcoming swimwear line and foray into home goods.
Tyler McGillivary‘s distinctive designs can be spotted from a mile away. From her signature butterfly dresses to venus flytrap tops, the New York native has a uniquely ethereal aura about her, one that extends to her vivacious designs. Drawing from her own childlike curiosities, motifs of bugs and butterflies frequently adorn McGillivary’s pieces, interspersed with physical manifestations of color theories and explorations of the “bizarre and beautiful species that share our planet.”
Alongside her own clothing designs, McGillivary has an acute fascination with furniture. For her, fashion and furniture go hand in hand — though the art of acquiring such pieces requires a starkly different approach for each, according to the designer herself. “Furniture and fashion design both go into the construction of personal identity, but in distinct ways,” McGillivary tells Hypebae. “The transformative quality of clothing enables you to try on different personas and create a distinct character every day. In contrast, the furniture you choose for your home is more private and enduring,” she adds.
It comes as no surprise then, that McGillivary is set to launch her own line of homeware in the coming months, something that’s been in the works for quite some time. We caught up with the eclectic designer to find out more about how her inspirations have shifted since kickstarting her brand alongside the importance of conscious consumption and her plans for the future.
Scroll down to read the full interview.
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Your pieces have long been known for their vivacious designs and vibrant color palettes, where does your inspiration come from and has it changed since you first started out?
I’ve always been really interested in color theory and the ways certain colors can elicit different emotional reactions based on what palettes they’re part of or where they are situated. I love how certain interactions of colors can feel “wrong” or “right” experientially and try to play with combinations that toe this line. I collect palettes in photos on my phone of odd color pairings that occur in my daily environment like on signage or in a row of frosted pastries. But where my work used to focus a lot more on color and abstracted or conceptual prints, we’ve shifted focus recently a lot more towards the natural environment. I am fascinated by the bizarre and beautiful species that share our planet and love to research plants or animals that seem otherworldly.
You’ve often cited furniture design as an influence on your works, how would you describe the relationship between furniture and fashion?
Furniture and fashion design both go into the construction of personal identity, but in distinct ways. The act of getting dressed allows you to choose each day how you want to present yourself publicly and the set of values you want to align with. The transformative quality of clothing enables you to try on different personas and create a distinct character every day. In contrast, the furniture you choose for your home is more private and enduring. Since you are committing to a home environment for an extended time, you have to be more critical of how you want it to look and what you want it to evoke. It’s exciting to me then when people choose to commit to the most outlandish, artful furniture because they are willing to look at it and engage with it every day. I think it made me realize that if people were willing to have their homes filled with these surreal objects they would be willing to wear them too.
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Floral motifs, butterflies and cartoons feature heavily in your collections. What feelings and moods do you hope to evoke in doing this?
I think nostalgia, fascination and wonder. I am drawn consistently to butterflies, flowers, and bugs because they remind me of my obsession with those motifs when I was younger. I could be entertained for hours catching caterpillars and sitting in the grass picking flowers and I want my work now to evoke that memory.
Sustainability sits at the heart of your brand, why is that important to you?
I think the more we lean into the natural world as a main influence, the more important it becomes to support conservation and advocate for sustainability as a brand. Obviously as a company producing clothing, we have already chosen something inherently unsustainable as an artistic medium, but if I’m able to highlight the beauty of the planet and give back to it through my work that would be the absolute ideal.
How do you ensure that your collections support conscious consumption?
As a small company, we focus on producing limited stock in high quality materials that are meant to last through time. I try to create designs that exist largely outside of certain trends, so that when you buy something of ours it stays in your closet for years in the hopes of gaining a history. We have shifted towards sustainable packaging and our hope is that within the next year we’ll be able to start donating a portion of sales that feature certain species to conservation efforts for their continued survival. I really hope to be able to dig deeper into recycled material developments within the next few months also.
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Previously, you’ve talked about opening your own physical store as one of your biggest goals. Where are you at with that now?
This remains one of our biggest goals in the next year or two. We just sort of started discussing it more seriously as an idea, though it still feels far away in a more practical sense. When we do it, I want to lean fully in and make it this sort of wonderland space filled with my favorite artists and designers that can act as a community center for events and classes and performances. I want it to be a sort of surreal seventies cabin filled with plants and weirdo light fixtures and everything you want to buy.
What are some of your other goals, and what’s next for you?
This spring we’re launching swimwear which I am so excited for and then this fall we’re dropping our first-ever home goods items. We’ve been developing both categories for a while and they’re going to be so good. This September I’m also launching a project with Isabella Lalonde of Beepy Bella called Silver. We’ve been working on it for about a year and I’m so excited for the pieces to finally be released into the world. It’s wild to start something with experience as opposed to just jumping in and I’m really proud of how far we’ve come with the project.
Take a look at McGillivary’s latest collection above, and head to the brand’s website to shop.