INTERVIEW: New York Fashion Week Debut WE ARE MORTALS at Dapper Q

Interview designer Anji Becker about her Los Angeles brand WE ARE MORTALS and her NYFW debut.

1. Just coming off your nyfw debut at Dapper Q how do you feel?

I feel spectacular! I feel like I've taken a step forward and accomplished another one of the goals I've had on my way to success. The brand is still quite new and I still have a lot of work ahead, but I'm making progress and getting recognition, which feels great.

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2. What was the inspiration behind your collection?

Continuing with the idea of gender-free fashion, I went with the idea of fluidity and took my inspiration from dance. I used to study dance and just really love the art form, so for WE ARE MORTALS I've tried to collaborate with dancers a lot. Voguing is especially cool, since it originates from the gay ballroom scene at a time when the LGBT lifestyle was very 'underground'. It's important to me to incorporate art into my line, so I asked an Austrian illustrator that goes by the name "Flow" to sketch some vogue dancers for us, which I then had embroidered on some of the garments. I also worked with Brian Vu, a NY-based artist/graphic designer to create the graphic with the definition of the word 'fluid' that I found in the Merriam Webster dictionary. I think the two designs fit well together because dance is fluid and can unite people of all backgrounds through a universal language. I found a really good quote by a dancer named Isadora Duncan that says how dancers can "convert the body into a luminous fluidity, surrendering it to the inspiration of the soul." I think all people, dancers or not, can tap into their fluidity and see the beauty in not conforming to the gender binary and the gendered fashion industry that feeds into stereotypical gender roles.

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3. Why did you want to show at nyfw at Dapper Q?

The DapperQ runway show was a perfect opportunity for us to debut this collection. I love that there is a message being delivered along with the clothing itself, one that aligns with the ideas I have about the direction I would like to see the apparel industry go in the future, and I also love that it takes place inside the amazing Brooklyn Museum! This movement that I've been lucky to be a part of with DapperQ is all about challenging the norms and asking the fashion industry and the public to rethink things when it comes to style and gender. It's always been very important to me to make sure my brand stands for something and communicates a forward-thinking view, so it's wonderful to find like-minded designers and work together to accomplish something. The experience of being in this show was so positive, with a real feeling of pride and mission when it comes to coming together to lead change.

4. What was the process like getting ready for your show?

It was exhausting to get everything done in time. I was literally packing my suitcase an hour before leaving for the airport at 3am on no sleep at all, and then sewing last-minute details by hand in the Airbnb once I got to New York the night before the show. When found out I would be showing in New York I had nothing but ideas in my head, so I had to get the whole process done in about two months: sketching, sourcing materials, creating artwork for the prints, pattern-making, sample sewing... and of course organizing the details for the show like getting shoes for everyone, selecting runway music, and finding the right models and hair/makeup artists in New York. I'm sure many designers do this in less than two months, but since I don't really have a team yet it is quite challenging to get all of this done on my own!

5. What are your goals for We Are Mortals?

I want to make steady progress with the brand and eventually get to a point where it can be a sustainable, profitable career. In the very beginning there's no way to expect a ton of monetary success with something artistic like this because it takes time to build the brand identity and get exposure, but over this past year we've gotten some good press and created a brand with a strong message that I hope will attract investors. Once I have the ability to hire a team I think things will progress alot faster. In the beginning, though, it has been very important for me to take my time thinking through every aspect of the brand and making decisions myself so that it will be solid whenever I'm able to add employees. This year I want to focus on sales and would love to see some MORTALS designs on a big celebrity!

All runway photos by Mariusz Michalak, Hannah Cohen, and Oscar Ouk"


Watch the runway show below!