Walter Lee came into fashion by way of music. After a few years getting his feet wet, he decided to launch MEDEN with the help of three former athletes who came on board as investors. Fall 2014 was Lee’s first collection and it is comprised of sleek separates done in wool, cashmere, alpaca, and jacquard. While the line is based in New York Lee is currently finishing his graduate degree at Central Saint Martins in London.
What’s your fashion background? Are you based in New York?
My path to fashion actually began while I was working in the music industry promoting artists music. The two worlds often mixed together, especially at the time when I started my career in Los Angeles. I eventually found myself more interested in fashion rather then music and was given an opportunity to dive into the business at a local contemporary brand. I have now been in the industry for 7 years now and the last 3 in New York.
Our design studio is based in Soho, New York but I divide my time between New York and London where I am finishing my post-graduate studies at Central Saint Martins.
Launching a fashion brand is expensive, and most designers launch and look for financing later – how did you know to get your financing squared away first?
I was heavily influenced by my past work in various fashion companies. You see the ups and downs and how much financing, or the lack of impacts the brand on a day-to-day level as well as its long-term plans. Planning was important for us as a group and we wanted to have concrete goals. We knew that in order for us to achieve those goals it would be important to have the correct financing in place.
Did you know Derek Roy, Mark Napoli, and Michael Dombkiewicz before they invested in your brand?
No, I didn’t. I knew of Derek and Mike Napoli from their careers as athletes but was the last to join the group. It started with Derek and Michael and their dream of starting a fashion company. We met early on in that process through a mutual friend and realized we wanted the same things. It was very easy and we quickly knew we wanted to start the brand together
How much input do they have on creative?
It has been great to have the creative freedom to do what I want but often times they are the one’s I share my thoughts with first.
Roy, Napoli, and Dombkiewicz are all former athletes – does this influence your inspiration?
It’s actually never really crossed my mind. I can’t say it will never happen though.
What can you tell us about the aesthetic of MEDEN?
It’s modern and strong. We want to convey an attitude and a feeling with what we make. Whether its bold or understated it makes a statement. A person embodies different traits and emotions and we want our clothes to do the same. We strive to stay away from conformity and repetition.
Can you describe the woman you are designing for?
I design for women with a confident point of view. She can be analytical but at the same time creative. She doesn’t follow trends but rather looks for pieces that compliment her personality.
Why did you decide to present at NYFW with your first collection? What was the response?
Fashion week in New York is such an important event especially for young designers like us. It has such an impact not only in the US, but globally. This has been so important for us and has already helped tremendously. We’ve met so many great people that are important for our brand and the response has been better than our own expectations.
What can you tell us about your Spring 2015 collection?
The spring collection was inspired by the idea of fine art mixing with mechanical art. I was really struck by certain artists such as Jacob Hashimoto, Klemens Torggler and the De Stijl movement. I was inspired by different textures through treatments. I used hand screenprinting and engineered them to fit on panels and also used double layered digital printing. I wanted to convey a sense of depth within the prints. The colors were inspired by ocean and sunset hues.