A Look Inside: Made Above

Today's more established street wear names have  departed away from their original aim of spreading a positive message through branding concepts and designs, but upon chopping it up with Arnel Custic of Made Above I realized that their may yet be hope. Made Above is a high-end street wear brand specializing in bold, conceptual, and expressive clothing for a cosmopolitan audience that hopes to inspire the masses to dismiss negativity and embrace positivity in their lives. Here is A Look Inside: Made Above. 

Could you introduce yourself?

My name is Arnel Custic and I be that pretty muthaf*cka, Seattle's what I'm repping... just kidding. This hook by ASAP Rocky is catchy though, check him out if you haven't yet.

Who are the members of your team?

Me & my conglomerates shall remain anonymous.

How did you guys start designing?

I've always been into drawing but freshman year of college is when I picked up a pencil and pad and began making actual sketches for the brand (Fun fact: at that time, the name of the brand was Cap the Climax). Then, I taught myself how to use Illustrator and since then it's been a beautiful struggle.

How long have you guys been around?

Made Above has been in official existence since July of this year, although the idea behind it and the designs have been in the making for a few years now.

Where are you from?

The deep echoes of the Puget Sound.

How would you describe your area's fashion scene?

Unlike any other.

How has that impacted your brand's style?

Our designs should reflect that.

What is the meaning behind Made Above?

The name, Made Above, initially came to me while I was coming up with a simple way of describing the line and the message or idea behind it. Since I felt that I was taking the line in a completely opposite direction of every other line out there, as well as the fact that the line embodies positivity and uniqueness, it only made sense to name it this. However, I didn’t actually decide to officially name it Made Above until I creatively played around with the two words and gave them more substance. After careful thinking, I ended up transforming the concept into a triple entendre. For the first interpretation, I wanted to make note of the origin of the designs – implying creativity within the designs. When a design is “Made Above,” it is thought up, created, and inspired by the most creative part of the brain. With all of the designs we release, we guarantee you will notice how much subtle attention to detail there is within each – not just within the design itself but also within the accompanying positive message. For the second interpretation, I wanted to pay homage to the street culture within which the line is entering by implying that everything we release is high and fly – meaning cool, dope, or whatever term you feel most comfortable with. So with many of our designs, you will notice us not only putting out fly stuff but also using symbols or images that embody this concept, such as in our first product (the “Seattle Love” tank top) in which we placed clouds within the center of the heart as well as an upward pointing arrow on top of the Space Needle to give the design not only a true feel for the city but also a notation that Seattle and Seattleites in general are fly individuals. The third and final interpretation is, as I already mentioned, the best way I could come up with of describing the entire line, the clothes, and the positive idea behind it in as few words as possible.

How would you describe your brand?

Made Above is a high-end street wear brand specializing in bold, conceptual, and expressive clothing for a cosmopolitan audience that hopes to inspire the masses to dismiss negativity and embrace positivity in their lives. Thus, our products always have a positive message contained within them, are meant to stand out (in terms of color as well as words/symbols used), and strive to be expressive while also subtle at the same time. Inspired by the works found within a gallery, we try to fill each design with enough detail and substance that an onlooker has to spend more than just a quick glance to understand the full meaning behind each product.

How did you come up with the concept for your brand?

My inspiration for the line emerged during my freshman year in college when I somewhat foolishly began to use the majority of my financial aid money to immerse myself in the street wear culture. Initially intrigued by the many colors, styles, and designs that were out there for people like me to scoop up, I couldn’t help but to try to get my hands on the freshest and most exclusive clothing I could. However, a love-hate relationship sprouted immediately from this because, although many of the clothes were exquisite, many of them I felt lacked a real message – or at least a positive one. That’s when I began thinking: there must be countless others out there who have the same desire as me – to wear something that’s exclusive, dope, yet simultaneously portraying a positive message. At the same time, I also began noticing that women weren’t really being catered to by any of the brands out at the time, aside from a couple shirts here and there. So not only did I feel that a brand with a positive message lacked in the street wear culture, I also felt that unfortunately women were being neglected too. Being the innovative person that I am, I saw the gap as a way for me to do something positive for the world while at the same time making a name for myself as an entrepreneur. Plus what better way to get your hands on some fresh and exclusive clothing than to make it yourself? After I had this epiphany, I began sculpting out various designs for the brand. I didn't want to rush into anything, however, because I wanted to make sure it was a success, which is why for the next couple of years of my college career, I spent my time coming up with countless designs until I felt I had a good grasp on what I wanted the brand to portray.

How is Made Above different from other brands?

We promote positivity. We spread love. We don't care for competition nor money nor even fame. Life is hard as it is, to be honest. We just want to do what we love and push ourselves while we're at it.

What is the message that you would like to be sending?

Embrace the positive in your life and dismiss the negative. And while you're at it, spread love and chase your dreams.

What was the most difficult obstacle you faced, in establishing your brand?

The financial side to it most definitely. Graduating from college with loads of debt, no job, and trying to start your own business is not where it's at. The bright side to this, however, is that it makes you reflect back on your entire purpose, brand, and designs in particular. When you know you can't afford to put out a half-ass design, it really makes you push yourself creatively and artistically. With the Seattle Love shirt, we ended up putting it through 3-4 transformations before we finally felt satisfied enough with it to put it out -- and it was worth it.

What is the most rewarding aspect of running your brand?

Genuine love and support. 

Who are some of the people that have shown love to your brand?

A plethora of people have been showing us love, from hip-hop artists (Macklemore and Sol) to local newspapers (Seattle Chinese Times), not to mention the 800+ likes we've managed to rack up on our Facebook page alone thus far (www.facebook.com/MadeAbove). And keep in mind that this is all with only one shirt out -- the red and white Seattle Love tank top that we put out mid-summer. So we're definitely feeling blessed and thankful for all of the support we've received so far and look forward to showing you all that we've got going on in the kitchen.

What brands and designers do you look up to?

Taz Arnold & TISA. Brooklyn Circus. Pink Dolphin. Adapt. And also Jimmy Bui from King Me. If it wasn't for him and his help early on I'm not sure if Made Above would even be in existence today to be honest with you. So big shout out to him as well as everyone else on that list.

If you could collab with any one brand who would it be?

That's a really tough one because, believe it or not, there's quite a number of brands out there that I'd like to collab with. I guess if I had to choose though it would come down to either Pink Dolphin or Adapt. Both brands seem to embody this positive image that we're also trying to push in our camp, both brands are into bold colors, and both just put out downright dope and creative designs.

What does streetwear mean to you?

At this moment in time, streetwear means life. Made Above has taken over my days and nights. And I love it.

Do you have any words of Inspiration for the young aspiring designers out there?

No matter what, just keep designing. Push yourself to make at least one new design a day if you really want to get good. And be conscious of the fact that your early designs are probably not going to be that good. But that doesn't mean that you should disregard them. Keep them in a folder and every now and then, in between your other works, go back to them and see if you can improve them. This will not only make the designs better but it will also allow you to gauge how far you've come as a designer. Also, ask for honest feedback (in particular criticism). And most importantly keep an open mind to new ideas and suggestions. Don't be that dick that thinks he's got it all figured out. No. There's always room for improvement and there always will be. And remember, art is never finished, only abandoned so come back and come back often.


TWITTER: twitter.com/madeabovexo

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