It was music that brought Mark Tango and Estel Day together in the city of Angels that initiated their story. Met through working on music recording sessions and photo shoots, Mr. Tango and Ms. Day immediately knew they were going to work together in the future. “We realized the first time we really talked that we shared many of the same visions,” said the duo simultaneously. In 2005, their fashion brand Mark and Estel was born in Los Angeles with the concept of creating a unique visual and audio expression that bring out the individual style of each person.
“We try to enjoy and be influenced by everything out there,” say the designers. “We prefer edgy designing and seem to appeal to people's rebellious side.” The “people” mentioned happened to include style icons Mary-Kate Olsen and Lady Gaga. The latter wore their custom-made ‘Ripped & Holey Leggings’ on her Fame Ball Tour. Known for their classic tees and long dresses, their rocker chic collections are stocked at over 300 retail locations internationally today.
Here, Mr. Tango and Ms. Day reveal their fashion and musical talents, their creative bond, and the key to looking cool.
OUR CREATIVE BOND functions somewhat like a back and forth conversation. One of us will suddenly have an idea and get very excited about it and run to the other to share the idea. Usually we instantly both share the enthusiasm since we mostly think alike on such matters. Then the other will embellish on the idea and then the first again will embellish more and so on back and forth, until we both feel sure that the concept is complete. Then when carrying out the idea or putting the plan together, same thing back and forth until completion. The process can go all over the place and be a bit more messy than that.
THE LESSONS ARE FAR FROM OVER. Every new collection and every project is different and more challenging than the last, so probably the most important lesson is to expect to be taught more lessons. One of the very important things we learned is that there is a certain amount of time necessary for a collection to 'ripen' like a fine wine. Several months are usually good, but taking more time than that can also spoil the collection because then you might lose the spark of the moment. So it is very important to balance between giving it enough time yet also being spontaneous enough for it to be exciting!
CREATING MUSIC AND FASHION is as natural to us like flying is to birds. Life without them would be sad, because so much fun and joy come from music and fashion. There is so much beautiful music out there, we are just trying to hear it all.
WE START WITH MAKING THE MUSIC for a collection and then build the designs from there, creating wearable 'pictures' of our music. Often the way we make music is one of us is suddenly inspired with the idea for a song, then we build the song together. Estel vocalizes, composes, and plays the cello. Mark vocalizes, composes, plays guitar, bass, keyboards. Both of us write lyrics, create drum patterns, and produce music.
OUR INSPIRATION is the girl who owns the world. This is a line from our song 'Forward to the Old World'. The girl who puts her true self out there and is confident. This concept is not about a particular look, rather she creates a unique look by complementing her personality with her clothes and owning this attitude.
WE LOVE STREETSTYLE. We saw a lady wearing one of our swing tees in white with the rest of her outfit all grey, grey jeans and grey boots and grey gloves, and all her jewelry massive and golden. She had her hair up in a curving pony tail. Her look was simple and very sophisticated and somehow very edgy. She stood out in a very soothing way and heads were turning in admiration. It is not about this particular combination, but something about the attitude and the moment. Moments like that are when you can sense a true pleasure of fashion.
TWO OF THE PROUDEST MOMENTS were when one of our first fans listed us as their favorite brands and the first time we saw a lady walking on the street wearing one of our designs. Both of these happened in New York in 2005.
FASHION SUICIDE is when you dismiss your own style. Always wear what you like and be true to your own style. Get inspiration from others, but never ever let them dictate or peer pressure you away from what you love and what you feel in your heart is good. Trends are supposed to be inspirations not dictations, fashion is supposed to be about fun, not about conformity.
WE WANT PEOPLE TO HAVE FUN and to be happy. So we want to reach and communicate with as many people as possible. With that in mind, we want to turn the whole universe into one huge celebration of fun. It's a big dream, we are working on it.
Photography by Robert Johnson; styling by Robert Mishchenko; hair by Blake Burkholder / Jed Root; make-up by Stephanie Peterson / Art Department; model: Ona / Fusion; casting director: Megan McCluskie.
Opening Image: overall by Mark and Estel; sandals by Birkenstock; ring by Zales.