Next week at the prestigious Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, dozens of fashion designers will take to the runway to show off their newest styles. None of them will be like Mark & Estel. The West Coast-based duo are not only coming up with new looks in the clothing business, but they're also musicians creating new sounds - and they'll be performing their new single, "Malibu Anthem," at their Fashion Week presentation. We recently hooked up with Mark & Estel to talk fashion, music, and how they mix the two without running out of energy.
"We were making music together even before we started designing this line," Mark explained. "We had the idea to make band T-shirts for our music project that would sort of communicate our music, not onlywith graphics but also the way they were cut and designed...and that turned into us doing both [music and fashion design]."
"It kind of just came naturally, because they are both of our passions," Estel agreed. We thought why not put both of our passions on one platform and do this together."
In fact, Mark added, "It would actually be harder for us to separate the two."
It's hard to argue with the combination, because they've already accomplished a lot in both aspects. Their clothes have been worn by the likes of Lady Gaga, Heidi Klum, Gwen Stefani, and Kelly Osbourne, and they're credited with inventing the 'swing-T' in 2005, while their music plays in the background of all their fashion shows - and sometimes, like next week, the pair will take the stage to perform their songs live. They prefer to release both their music and their fashion collections simultaneously, as their designs are inspired by their music. Oh, and their clothes are proudly made in the USA.
"We're the only ones I think that we know that make wearable versions of our music. We mix music and fashion together," Mark said. "The thing I think is the most notable about us is that we perform our music on the runway."
"Basically the idea is, we're going to do this show, and at the same time our album comes out and five of the songs are going to be in the show," he continued. "We've kind of actually started working on the next one. We want the next one to be a sort of part two to this."
It's hard enough to be a steadily working musician, and being a fashion designer is no walk in the park, either. So what does it take for Mark & Estel to be able to sustain themselves in both disciplines? "It's all the work one can possibly do," Mark laughed, while Estel agreed, "[There is] no free time."
But working doubly hard is a lifestyle that they've accepted with open arms. Asked what would make them ultimately feel successful, he told us, "It's whatever you feel passionate about. We're already happy we did this. In itself, it's already rewarding."
"It's kind of everything I always wanted to do," Estel reflected. "I think the hardest thing for me is choosing a career path. Because I'm a fashion designer, I'm a musician, I was a fine artist, I was a painter." Now within her partnership with Mark and their dual careers, she can combine all those skills into one creative force.
That creativity, as well as their enthusiasm for art and for life in general, comes out in everything that they do. Whether it's the catchy sound of "Malibu Anthem" or the distinctive styles they create - many of which you can see in the slideshow accompanying this interview - it's clear that Mark & Estel are both inspired and inspiring. They can connect with audiences both visually and audibly. Yet with their excitement for everything that comes their way, they're also people to be admired, because they have a level of energy that most of us only wish we possessed.
But surely it's not always sunshine and laughter? Working on both new music and new fashion at the same time, spending all that time together, clearly they must occasionally drive each other crazy, right? "It's always fun," Mark laughed. "I've never been bored or mad at Estel ever."
"Of course, like anyone working together, we'll have arguments and stuff like that," Estel continued. "But we're like family. I feel like he's family." And next week, this dynamic duo will welcome audiences both in New York and online - via the Fashion Week website - into their extended family. Give them a look and a listen, and you'll be pleasantly surprised.
Mark & Estel will rock the runway at 11 AM EST on September 5th in New York as part of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week; for more on that event, click here. You can also visit their official website (markandestel.us.com) and follow them on Twitter (@MarkandEstel).