interview - caleb mayerson
walking into the mayson studio, i immediately felt at peace. wood pieces hand-crafted by caleb himself immerse the visitor into the world he’s crafting with his brand. everything about the space is so intentional yet so effortless. the clothing line itself looks so at home on these fixtures. one gets the sense of an intrinsic commitment to slow. after making us both a pour-over, we sat down to chat about the brand.
how did the brand start?
i don’t come from a fashion background and i was simply looking for clothes that i liked that aesthetically fit with what i was looking to wear but from a brand that i really connected with. ultimately, i couldn’t really find it in the price point that i was willing to pay. i like simple, streamlined clothes with no outward facing branding and a lot of brands are like that but i also wanted a sustainability component to it. the more i looks the less i could find. thats where the idea really stemmed from and its grown and evolved and pivoted a couple of times.
when did the brand officially start?
we launched in 2018. i had quit my previous job, i wanna say, in the fall of 2016. it took almost a year of research, design, and waiting on the manufacturing for it to happen.
what was that process like? did you feel like there was an immediate fit?
i don’t think there’s one way to do it. it was a lot of trial and error. we worked with 3 other factories in the US before working with the factory down in Peru. this factory just stuck and has been really great.
the first part for me was understanding material and understanding different aspects of different materials. so i started by asking myself what’s an eco-friendly performance apparel brand, well more like a performance fabric, that had some eco-friendly options and the more i looked the more i was totally turned off by all of these plastic fabrics. they’re all petroleum based and ending up in the oceans and our food and its terrible.
so when i switched over to more natural materials, i wanted to start with just your basic tee. i was drawn to pima cotton which is lightweight and durable. this mill down in lima, peru, which was an introduction from a friend of a friend of a friend, met all of my requirements of organic, certified fair trade, really just as good to the planet as possible. and the factory piece was trial and error. there is a movement which is made in america, which i love —
and a lot of those factories are based in LA.
yea a lot in LA!d i was working with new york factories because i wanted to be close enough to be able to go visit the factories but the communication was terrible. i mean, i was low on the totem pole and i had a small order size, but the communication was bad, the quality was fine, and it didn’t feel right. right when i was introduced to the mill in Peru, they were extremely attentive, got back to me quickly, the turn-around time was great, and the quality was incredible. it’s more important to me to have the relationship with the factory than have the ‘Made in America’ label.
do you feel like your lack of experience in the fashion industry has been a challenge?
really it’s been mostly just me being naive about how the industry is and it’s been challenging not having connections right off the bat and having the basics of the supply chain like having a schedule with the factories. however, i can be more scrappy, i think, not seeing how it was done on a larger scale. some people come in from these larger companies where they have design teams and pattern makers in house and i am just not operating in that way. but i also have never operated that way. what i know is frankenstein-ing garments together and being comfortable with asking questions and not coming at it from an, ‘oh i know everything there is to know’ but instead an ‘i don’t know’ and people have been really receptive to helping me. i think showing vulnerability is something people respond to.
what inspires the look of mayson?
i think i’m trying to create the anti-brand. i want the clothes to stand for themselves. what’s really inspired the design is architecture and furniture. natural tones and wood colors are heavily reflected in the palette because i don’t want anything flashy. i designed the clothes with the mentality that i want the person to stand out for what they do not for what they’re wearing.
have you always been passionate about sustainability?
i have been into sustainability in the sense that i always did outdoor activities. my dad used to work for eastern mountain sports. beyond that, that’s it. but for me, if i'm going to be putting a new product into the world and I'm responsible for that product’s impact, i dont want it to be around 500 years from now floating in the ocean. i don’t think i feel good putting out a plastic product and i want to feel good about what we’re making. the more i get into it, the more i see the negative effects that apparel manufacturers can have. it’s hard because there are so many aspects like dyes, hardware, buttons, everything. there are a lot of different pieces as the garments continue to get more complicated beyond t-shirts.
how do you feel about sustainability and minimal design as a trend? someone could make that mental connection between your brand and brands like Everlane or Asket which are leaders in the transparency, traceability, and sustainability space.
i think if it’s a trend, then it’s an incredible trend. instead of a color trend we have a way-to-run-your-business trend. it’s a responsible way to run your brand. i’ve always wanted to make stuff that’s not going to go out of style. no matter how much time has elapsed i wanted to be able to wear this stuff in 5 years. i don’t really compare what i’m doing to these brands. i see these brands as having a similar approach to creating things that are timeless.
its funny that you say 5 years because that’s the number that i always jump to because i feel like i never hit 5 years except for something with a coat.
i mean, i think part of that is that you wear a t-shirt every day but a coat far less frequently. but still, it should last. the way i see it is that i see fashion about 10 years behind food. and what i mean by that is, historically, food and fashion were both slow and well made. with food, it was more local, healthier, the ingredients were better, it was what was available. and then came fast food. and now we have fast fashion. and it’s like, i dont want to think about this stuff, just give it to me, i’m going to consume it. and people have been pushing back against fast food. look at the rise of whole foods and farmer’s markets. i think i see the same trend in clothes. we have fast fashion and it serves a lot of people but a lot of others don’t want to be involved in the industry.
how do you feel about boston and being in this space here?
i love being in boston doing this. i think boston needs more cultural relevancy, it needs more modern brands and modern dressing in our city. i see a real need and want for boston based brands. i think it would be a cop out for me to move to nyc and i don’t want to. i love being here. and there a lot of big brands here like converse, new balance —
yeah, and reebok in the seaport.
yeah there’s a lot of footwear and there are a lot of consumer goods here. i like being removed. i think it’s easier to make a name for yourself in this smaller pond. plus, i feel like there aren’t a lot of design oriented companies in boston. if you make something good, modern, and consistent, then you can stand out.
whats your creative process like because you also make furniture!
yeah and i would say thats whats most reflected in the clothes, the wood tones, the natural tones. i used to design and build furniture full time and i still do build it. thinking about whats next, i’m exciting about incorporating it into the brand and selling some of the products alongside the clothes. it all fits together. looking at my clothing rack, holding the clothes i’ve designed —
it looks incredibly cohesive.
thank you. i’m excited but also nervous because i need to change messaging. it goes from an apparel brand to some other brand. like who does clothes and furniture?? my creative process, in the same with furniture, i’ll be inspired by something random. something will inspire me and i’ll sketch it. i take a ton of pictures of colors i see and try and match it so i can make clothes in that color.
in terms of design and fit, i don’t have a good answer, its really that i see something that i like. for example, the jacket is going to fit differently than the t-shirt, like it’s going to be looser. i’m really designing for myself and, that sounds so conceited and i dont think i’m a beacon of style, but i think it’s all just simple. these are the pieces that work for my life. they’re the pieces i want to put on at the beginning of the day, do all the things i need to do, and go out later, i dont want to have to change. it’s the elevated basics concept which i know i didn’t invent.
it makes sense. i feel like now, its part of our lifestyle and we’re on the go. when you leave the house, you often have to commit to that decision.
so final question, what’s next for mayson?
big piece is going to be integrating the furniture into the shoots. i want it to be a full style brand. one year goal is to have a coffee shop retail experience. i want it to be a place for creatives to congregate and have a space.
we’re going to do some pants, some chore pants. it’ll bee similar to the coat it’ll have outward pockets, natural and black, with this nice mid-weight twill for this fall. we’re going to expand on knitwear, more long-sleeves and goodies for the fall. more home goods. more objects from all natural materials.