me and you: feminist underwear by petra collins' bffs
Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis launch their line of girl power t-shirts and underwear today — and a website that feels like your sticker-covered teenage bedroom.
Barbie and Diana by Petra Collins
Mayan Toledano and Julia Baylis' world is flamingo pink and decorated with rainbow stickers and lipgloss kisses. Exhibit A: their Instagram (together, they have a combined following of over 45,000). But as with their other best friend, Petra Collins, their dreamy, teen-bedroom aesthetic is paired with tough-talking feminism. "Feminism is not a trend," they insist (despite what recent media coverage might imply), and they're part of a larger, loosely defined group of young artists and photographers who are working to prove that, one Instagram of an unwaxed bikini line at a time. It's a movement; you could call it pastel power.
"Girls can be whoever they want, whenever they want, and wear whatever they want," Mayan and Julia told i-D earlier this week. "We wanted to create a brand that could speak to that." So they created Me and You, a clothing line, and — as of today — a website, on which they will share the work of their friends and like-minded contributors, including Petra and LA-based photographer Arvida Byström, another advocate for candy-colored empowerment.
The line's "feminist" printed t-shirts and white cotton underpants, which can now be yours for pocket money prices, have already become a kind of uniform for their friends. And the girls in the posters here, shot by Petra and made exclusively for i-D, embody exactly what Me and You is about: fearless, 21st-century girl power.
Here's everything you need to know about Me and You, according to Julia and Mayan.
How did you guys meet? And when did you both know you'd become friends?
Julia: We met in college. People were always telling me, "You should meet Mayan, you guys would get along so well," then one night Mayan invited me over to watch the first episode of Girls, which is kind of perfect. And then we started to take every class together and were inseparable. People in school even thought we were dating!
Mayan: We met in first year. We just had like a casual, desperate student talk in the hall. I even remember what Julia wore! And then in second year Julia looked through my sketchbook and showed me photos Petra had taken of the same place I had just visited, Salvation Mountain. Now that the three of us are glued together, that memory makes me lol.
Tell us about what we can buy on your site!
Julia & Mayan: We are so happy to finally release the pieces! Over the past year we have developed such a loyal fanbase, we feel so lucky and are so excited to share this with our audience. The feminist undies, feminist t-shirt, and babygirl t-shirt will all be for sale, and dresses are available for custom order. We're also developing sweatshirts to be released soon!
Me and You is also about more that clothes — what do you hope people find on the site?
Julia & Mayan: We originally started the project because at school we both felt confined to one medium (we studied fashion). Both of us love to express ourselves in all sorts of ways and we wanted Me and You to reflect that. Also, we are lucky enough to be part of a movement of female artists who are doing incredible things and changing the scope of art and design, so we wanted to include that on the site. Fashion is so fluid now, it's no longer about an elite group of people telling you what to wear and how to look.
You guys are both obsessed with bedrooms. If the site were a bedroom, what would it look like?
Julia: Probably like the bedroom Mayan made for the video for "Move On" by Garden City Movement, or like one of our favorite subject Ama's bedroom. She's 15 years old her room is a total dream: there are little lights everywhere, bright votive candles, a Jesus hologram, old VHS's. Her room immediately transported me to a comfortable, dreamy place.
Mayan: The Me and You world rests in a messy teen's bedroom — lots of posters, stickers, chachkas, notes and things. There's something so magical about those confusing years; everything is so intense. I think when you're young your bedroom becomes your world, the first place where you can be creative, escape, be vulnerable. I'd like to think that Me and You understands the intimacy and privacy of a young girl.
Who are some of the contributors whose work you're most excited to share?
Mayan: Petra was the first person to take photos of our stuff, even before Me and You existed. Looking back, I'll always remember that first excitement and feeling of support. But all of our contributors are a dream to work with: Arvida Byström, Sofy Mesa, Sam Guest. Our friend Zara [Mirkin] took amazing photos of our undies in the desert.
Julia: It's cliche to say but they are all so great, and they all bring such different things to the table. Petra is the third one of us, so her photographs are a perfect companion to the clothing. And Arvida did a series of self-portraits while we were in LA and they are so clever: she single-handedly changed my opinion of the selfie stick.
Big question: how much of a role do you think feminism plays in fashion currently, and what role do you want it to play?
Julia: I think that most importantly it can't be regarded as a trend, because it's not. There have also been a lot of instances in the media recently where young women don't want to call themselves feminists. Their explanation is that they don't want to label themselves. I only wish it were that simple. That would be a valid argument if we lived in a world that was equal or where no woman could consider being female a weakness. I love Emma Watson's approach with He for She because she's not saying that it's girls versus boys, its about men and women supporting each other in order to create a society that is equal.
Mayan: It's always sad to see how feminism is used cynically or as a trend. Especially in fashion, where the role of beauty is so extreme and unsupportive towards women. I wish fashion could be more inclusive than it is today: it's supposed to celebrate womanhood rather than exploiting it. It'd be great to see more variety in body type, age, color and shape in magazines and ad campaigns.
Who are some of your role models — as feminists, but also as two people starting your own project?
Julia: Mayan has been nursing this obsession with Fran Lebowitz and I've caught it — I think it started when she watched the HBO documentary about her. She's so strong, powerful and no bullshit, we love that. We both read the interview she did with Elle in which she talks about how people can't dress. It's hilarious. She's so her own person and not afraid to say anything!
Mayan: Fran Lebowitz and Meryl Streep. They're both such inspiring, timeless, strong ladies.
Text Alice Newell-Hanson
Photography Petra Collins