If there’s one ’90s nostalgia trend that seems to be here to stay, it might just be the classic shoulder bag. The latest designer to remix the silhouette with modern verve is Asata Maise. Made from a patchwork of colorful fabric, each piece is one-of-a-kind, selling out in a matter of hours once uploaded to Maise’s Instagram. Vogue’s own associate market editor Naomi Elizee can attest. She was one of the first to scoop up Asata Maise’s colorful new arm candy.

And bags aren’t the only thing that the Delaware-based designer has been cooking up since she launched her label two years ago. Her signature look is essentially all patchwork everything, from body-skimming dresses, tailored blazers, and most recently bucket hats. That magpie approach is sustainable by design: if she’s not sourcing vintage textiles on Etsy and eBay, she buys them at her local mom-and-pop fabric store. It’s an ethos that extends beyond fashion: Maise is composting enthusiast and a die-hard when it comes to recycling, too. “It reflects what I believe in and what I do,” she says.

Maise, 27, first started making clothes at home when her grandmother gave her a sewing machine for her 15th birthday. “I just really enjoyed doing it and I went to college for it,” says Maise who studied fashion design at Albright College in Pennsylvania but dropped out to get more hands-on experience in the industry. A year later after moving to Los Angeles in 2012, Maise started working with Project Runway-winner Michael Costello and later for Diane von Furstenberg back in New York City. It was after a trip to Art Basel Miami that she realized she wanted to get back into creating her own pieces. To support her business, she worked at restaurants part-time before launching a Depop for her label.

As her small but dedicated fan base has grown, Maise has become a savvy one-woman fashion band. After shooting her first collection on a friend in Greece, Maise had intended to have current collection captured on a model. Her plans were put on pause when the pandemic hit. “I thought to myself, ‘The only way to sell it is to see how it looks on the body.’ My friends were like, ‘Oh, you look great!’” says Maise, who shot the collection on herself using an iPhone XR. “I was a little insecure when I was younger and I lacked self confidence, so wearing my own clothing and just getting dressed and feeling good about myself just helped me feel better.”

As her bags and custom clothing continues to gain popularity, the designer hopes to expand her business beyond Instagram. “I’d like to continue to create bespoke and sustainably made garments with brick-and-mortar shops in different parts of the world,” she says, “I’d also like to launch a truly sustainable and eco-friendly textile manufacturing company and a free design program for upcoming designers.” That mindful, community-focused vision, that will surely make this label one to watch.

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