Thank you to Vogue.com and Emily Farra for this lovely write-up of our collection!
How can you not smile when you hear the brand name Marshmallow? Before you even see the clothes, you sense that they’re a little sweet, or even fluffy—if not in texture, then in their lighthearted attitude. That’s certainly the case for a new line by creative director Susan Winget and fashion historian Laura McLaws Helms. The women have been friends since they met in the ’90s at Winget’s former partner Tracy Feith’s Nolita shop. “That store was like a tribe of mythically powerful women, and Laura came in one day when she was very young,” Winget says. “We had this weird connection, because she’s obsessed with the late ’70s, which is the era that I grew up in. It’s funny. I have nostalgia, and she has this fantasy version.” Over the years, this affinity has translated to a shared love of vintage shopping, pretty florals, and the lush bohemian imagery of that decade—and a few coauthored projects, too. First, a magazine and website called Lady, a “democratic, fundamentally inclusive” place to feature artists, designers, musicians, and other ladies they idolize. Next up, the aforementioned Marshmallow, which will provide a new body-positive uniform for those same trailblazing women.Much like the pages of Lady, Marshmallow is unapologetically feminine, personable, and accessible above all. “When we decided to start making clothes, [we realized that] it goes back to the beginning of our friendship in Tracy’s shop,” Winget says. “For years, Laura and I have been talking about the rise of e-commerce and [how it lacks] the subtleties of a great dress shop, where you know every client, you know their needs, you know if they just had a baby or broke up with someone . . . we knew all of that language.” And so, even before they considered what the clothes might look like, Winget knew how they should feel—evoking the same ease and comfort as Helms’s newborn kitten, Marshmallow. “Laura would post all of these photos of the cat luxuriating in her beautiful apartment, and I said, ‘I just want to be like Marshmallow!’ ” she says with a laugh. “I want to lay around and stretch all day on that gorgeous couch . . . so one day I said, ‘I think I want to make stretchy clothes and call them Marshmallow.’
The first collection hit Lady’s e-shop a few weeks ago, an exclusive selection of bodysuits and matching skirts (plus a few crop tops) that create the effect of a lean midi dress when worn together (or, as Winget jokes, makes you look “wallpapered in florals”). The lineup hits several of the duo’s obsessions: There are bohemian florals and pastels; the throw-on-and-go, dress-up-or-down ease of the two-piece sets; and a subtle nod to ’70s-era attitudes about exercise. Each piece comes in a special stretchy, supersoft rayon, but unlike modern “athleisure,” Marshmallow is meant to skim your curves—not reshape or compress them.“We noticed that the way people talk about working out now has shifted from the stretching and softness of the ’70s,” Helms explains. “There’s this push for everything to be so strenuous, and to resculpt your body into something else, with less of an appreciation for the soft, feminine body.” In contrast, Lady’s Instagram feed is a gold mine for retro workout inspiration: women stretching blithely in jewel-tone bodysuits; Leslie Browne practicing ballet in the 1977 film The Turning Point; a calming yoga instructional video from 1972. There’s also a circa-2018 video of Leore Hayon doing yoga in her pale blue Marshmallow bodysuit, and in another clip, Hanne Gaby Odiele takes hers for a dip in the pool. (In lieu of traditional marketing or campaigns, Winget and Helms create their own content, namely these casual videos of cool girls in their designs.)Though Marshmallow is not technically a workout label, its overtly feminine aesthetic remains a refreshing counterpoint to the black Spandex and lace-up leggings that populate social media #fitspo. “We want to [promote] this idea of your body being something you should love before you start working out,” Winget says. “We thought these clothes should feel incredibly delicious, they shouldn’t grab you anywhere, and they should feel like you’re almost naked.” Can you think of a better uniform to wear all day, every day this summer?