Support Local Artists: M.RAGE Original Streetwear and Fashion
Artist Alley: Artist area full of original work
Convention: The assembly of people gathering for fun nerdy entertainment and panels
The Fashion Industry is always evolving with new trends, color palettes, and styles. Fashion companies are connecting more with anime. I strongly believe that cosplay and fashion intertwine. Conventions are increasingly more popular, and these are places where creative people are allowed to express themselves and meet other artists.
I want to talk about fashion within the anime/cosplay community. One awesome business you all need to check out is M.RAGE. They are a Japanese inspired street apparel brand. Their store carries shirts, stickers, windbreakers, fanny packs, and so much more! Their brand embraces and embodies the principles of “see no evil, hear no evil, and speak no evil.” These artists are strong believers in supporting local artists. The creative space they always promote stands against all forms of evil such as social injustices, plagiarism, and artist theft. This is extremely important to note, because there are a variety of small businesses that steal the original artwork from Japanese artists and call it their own graphic tee which is wrong.
I had the opportunity to talk with the brand owners themselves. They are the nicest and most passionate people you’ll ever meet. Sugi (he/him), is the lead designer and co-founder of the company. Narrzi (she/they), is also the co-founder and in charge of public relations. Together both of them make a dynamic duo. Upon the interview, both of them brought positive energy and these were the questions asked:
What ideas and concepts inspired you all to create the brand you have today? What is the meaning behind the name?
Narrzi: “Since I am a big part of the cosplay community and convention scene, Sugi and I have been a part of it for a while and we’ve always seen cool fashion brands. We’ve always seen streetwear and that has always interested us. We’ve always tried our best to support local artists such as artist alley. I’ve always been into creating and constructing garments since I’ve started cosplay since I’ve created costumes from scratch over ten years now. Since we love streetwear, high fashion, anime/nerdy, and conventions we decided that we wanted to start our own. As for the name, there are different pronunciations mirage, mdotrage, or anything in between. We decided we wanted to go with M.RAGE.”
Photo 1: Model Name: Narrzi/Instagram: @narrzi
Photography: timoteatime/Instagram: @timoteatime
Company Instagram: @mdotrage
Photo 2: Collaborating Company: CEO Gaming (https://ceogaming.org)
Collaborating Artist (Hoodie): Hijiri Takeuchi
Sugi: “A lot of our designs are based on our experiences as Asian Americans. We do a lot of Japanese street-wear influences. Many of the ideas and concepts that inspired us to work on our brand are some of the Japanese tech-wear. So there’s a lot of sci-fi and Neo-Tokyo, and we do a lot of experimentation when it comes to our brand. We were deciding how to pronounce the name because we realize how we have an interesting way of spelling it and all of the pronunciations are acceptable. The reason why, is because fashion means something different for everyone. When you look at fashion, everyone has a different perception of it. It’s like a mirage.”
Photo 1: Model: Narrzi
Photo 2: Collaborating Artist: jazikinn/Instagram: @jazikinn.art
Since the pandemic hit, how has this journey been emotionally for you all?
Narrzi: “Stressful. Being an anime convention brand is so hard because we don’t have our main source of income. A lot of other brands are feeling the same way. On top of that, other artists from artist alley have been having a difficult time. We want to be as safe as possible, and we don’t want to add unnecessary stress to people. We want to put every attendee, customer, and others’ safety first. Their health is of the utmost importance and that is what matters right now. It has been stressful with sales, but we are so grateful to have loyal and regular customers. Social media is such a struggle with small businesses. It is a little disheartening to not have your main source of fun, entertainment, and connection. Before we were a brand we were big convention-goers and it was emotionally draining especially when not seeing your friends, your biggest supporters.”
Sugi: “Stressful for everyone. Stressful for us in particular because we just started this adventure. We had lots of things planned. We started the planning process halfway through last year and only launched at the end of December into January. We planned for conventions, photoshoots, product designs, so the pandemic really put a backburner on all of our plans. This was kind of our debut, so we were hoping to have the full year by building our brand and getting people to recognize the name. The small community we’ve built, they’ve helped us out and we are very grateful for that.”
Being artists how does your brand evoke empathy? What social narratives do the designs tell?
Narrzi: “We are trying to do something that is not seen very often in the anime convention scene. We’ve worked with small-time artists or people we’ve trusted. We want artists we work with to be credited. Same with our models and photographers. We also make sure to not stay silent on any type of social issues such as Black Lives Matter. Our motto is fear no evil, we believe that everyone should be treated equally. We include that in our photoshoots because representation is extremely important. We try to have everyone from all shapes, sizes, backgrounds, religions, etc. We try our best to offer XL to 2XL in all of our designs because we believe plus sizes shouldn’t be treated any differently. We are open, visible, and honest. We don’t hide anything you can see on our website. Our designs are subtle and gender-neutral in order to be inclusive. We also quality check everything by hand.”
Sugi: “Coming from a niche community such as the anime/nerdy genre, there is a problem with companies stealing and not getting flagged for it. We want to be better than that. We are trying to change things by setting an example by supporting your local artists. By stealing others’ arts you are devaluing the content. That character and art does not belong to you and it is wrong. We believe in producing original art and characters. We want to be ethical and authentic. It is very important to respect artists. When we consider designs we don’t think female or male, we just think cool.”
This interview was very reflective. These two artists had many great things to say, and again please check out their brand. Artists support artists, it is extremely important to set the right example and that’s what this brand does. Support and send some love to M.RAGE! Fear No Evil!