Built By Wendy Founder Wendy Mullin (pt. 1), 90’s & 2000’s Indie Fashion Dare-ling, Home Sewing & Vintage Patterns, NY Underground Scene and Pre-Internet Brand Building
March 23rd, 2021
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We have an extra special treat for you this week - Wendy Mullin from the iconic fashion label Built by Wendy is joining us for this super exciting episode!
Want to Support Wendy?
Shop her online store www.builtbywendy.com. For 20% off her NEW collection use the discount code TheDepartment at checkout.
How she Built by Wendy
Established in the mid-’90s Built by Wendy went on to establish itself in a pre-internet era as the covetable and girl-crushable indie-brand of our dreams. Really one of the first indie fashion brands to lead the way for so many others to this day. We saw this label in literally all of our favorite magazines that we talked about a few episodes ago - Bust, Nylon, etc - particularly being worn by the coolest musicians and it-girls and guys. She fascinated us with vintage-inspired apparel, printed tees with drawings of legendary characters and people, jeans, hipster logo cotton totes and even her infamous guitar straps. Wendy and her brand went on to continue to explore and inspire a whole DIY movement happening in the 90’s and aughts - partnering with Simplicity Patterns and even publishing her own books on sewing.
Kim: I am literally getting goosebumps thinking about how 90’s Kim would be in complete awe of sitting here today talking to someone that was so influential to me and I am sure a lot of other people out there. I know for one - Wendy is one of the reasons I went to fashion school in the early aughts!
Amanda: I’ve talked on Clotheshorse Podcast about how I was lucky enough to learn sewing in girl scouts and home ec, but Wendy really empowered me to think of sewing as a COOL thing. Sewing patterns had been in an uncool rut for a long time. I have been moving the same copy of Sew U back and forth across the country with me for 15 years now! I specifically preordered it when it came out in 2006 from a very nascent Amazon. And I have traced the patterns to make them last longer!
Wendy laid the groundwork for so many designers and DIY-ers out there - offering them not just guides and inspiration but also encouraging a movement that would offer more opportunities for better indie fabric and materials stores to start opening up giving people accesses quality and selection unheard of in the pre-DIY culture.
Wendy is an inspiration to all we are so excited to have her tell her story! Please listen for the entirety of the episode as Wendy talks about how she got into design and started her brand in the 1990’s, developing her iconic aesthetic and built the brand in the era pre-internet!
Pre-Internet & Pre-Photoshop Ads
The Zine-style of Built by Wendy’s ad creative (circa 95)
And innovative marketing schemes of the 2000s :
More Show photos!
The Rick Rack Skirt!!
and Built by Wendy trade show booth!
From moto jackets with stand collars, hipster haircuts, arrows, nautical themes and buffalo plaid galore - Built by Wendy hit the Brooklyn Hipster trend nail on the head through the 2000s: