MAYAAGAYEVA comes to the spotlight as the fashion brand we needed for so long because its distinctive ideals include plurality, progression, and sustainability.
After the presentation of Burden Wonderland, their SS22 Collection during the London Fashion Week, we had a conversation with Mayya Agayeva, the fashion designer who brought to life the eponymous fashion brand, and we talked about her experience on becoming a fashion designer, the values of MAYAAGAYEVA, and her much-needed ideas about gender and diversity in our current moments.
You are more than welcome to the world of MAYAAGAYEVA.
Mayya Agayeva | Exclusive Interview
VT: Please, tell us a little of your story. How did you become a fashion designer?
MA: My fashion journey started in the arts. As a kid, I loved oil painting and sculpting. I went to art school in Kyiv, where I was exposed to many art media and explored my passion early on.
My love for fashion stemmed from the ability to transform someone’s mood in a second. I thought it was magical; the way people put on clothes, as they would their identity, empowered and strong — it fascinated me. That felt like a potent art tool where I could help people become empowered through design.
In university, I went on to study architecture but soon decided to pursue fashion instead. The transition came naturally as visual and 3D art relate. The creative process is a loop where, in the end, you come back to where you started. Now, I often look at my childhood and architecture for sources of inspiration.
VT: What would you say are the values of MAYYAAGAYEVA?
- People, inclusion, and diversity: The inclusion and representation in media of all genders and races is a brand pillar. In each collection, we build an image of equality and acceptance.
- Protecting life on earth via sustainability: We aim to support the complete sustainable chain, which concerns the production, materials, and design process. Our ethos is centered around clothes made to last and to stand as a post-modern classic of any wardrobe.
- Constant progression: As our community grows, our brand will grow with them. Each collection progresses into the next, as our line acts as a continuous exploration of current social concepts, exploring what’s right and what’s wrong.
VT: How does your brand embrace sustainability?
We are continuously enhancing how we source recycled deadstock or raw materials to assure minimal social and environmental impact.
We also embrace sustainability as part of our design process. We design garments that have a multi-functional approach that can change shape and length, extending the life of the garment.
Moreover, all production is made to order, avoiding any waste. The key is never to have stock leftovers, and when we do, samples are donated to local charities.
Burning Wonderland: designed to be sustainable
VT: What can you share with us about your participation in the latest London Fashion Week?
MA: It was terrific to work with BFC, Toni&Guy, Getty images, and everyone involved! That was my first experience directing a film.
I am lucky to have friends who support me, and I am grateful for this experience. I’m proud that London Fashion Week has adapted to the concept of genderfluid shows, and I’m excited to be a part of it.
VT: How was your collaboration with TONI&GUY for this event?
TONI&GUY were terrific. Sam Elliott and his team created stunning hair — soft wet waves with a new modern edge. The inspiration was 1920 waves, and the Toni&Guy team still managed to have a completely current approach to hair.
VT: Now, let us focus on your SS22 collection; what is your message with Burning Wonderland?
MA: Behind Burning Wonderland is the underlining theme of global warming and our contribution to burning down the earth, while wonderland represents our planet.
The collection was, of course, designed to be sustainable. I wanted to explore how garments can change forms and how textiles can contribute to it. Many of the SS22 garments are improved versions of the past season. I constantly work on perfecting my designs and making improvements.
VT: This collection also seems to defy heteronormative structures. Do you consider fashion can have the impact to make people move towards social changes?
Fashion is a machine for change. I believe you can let it have an influence on your life and help you share a message.
I plan to have many more collections and films focusing on defying heteronormative norms, patriarchy, and social concepts. That’s because I always struggled with the images shared in the media and how normalized they were.
I think people need to see that there is a spectrum and that there are different images.
Right now, many young people struggle with social media and face issues such as bullying and criticism at a very young age. We need to change this culture and show more inclusivity and teach kindness and acceptance through diversity and inclusion.
Wear MAYAAGAYEVA how and where you want
VT: What do you think about gender and diversity representation in fashion?
MA: There is still very little representation surrounding gender spectrums. We have a long way to go, but we have seen some glimpses of progress.
Now, we see social movements that are more open, accepting, and freeing, which I believe have propelled the next generation forward. It’s a fascinating time to be in the fashion industry.
Through my brand, by creating unisex and more gender-fluid designs, we don’t define stereotypical categories of female or male. Garments that any gender can wear are more inclusive.
There are no rules at MAYYAAGAYEVA. Wear our brand how and where you want; it’s all up to the interpretation of the person who wears it.
VT: Which message would you like to share with those young people who might be facing identity issues?
MA: Struggling with identity issues is natural and normal. What’s important is, to be honest, and to embrace change.
Work on finding your passion, community and focus on what makes you happy, your values, and your interests. Commit to finding your own identity, be it through films, books, or online, and do what feels right for you.
You should never apologize for being yourself. If people don’t support you, let them go.
Last, don’t be afraid to ask for support or help. I discover more of myself with each collection. My identity and self-understanding grow and change through my work and the people who surround me.
VT: Anything else you would like to share with Vanity Teen?
MA: I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak about sustainability, gender, and diversity. MAYYAAGAYEVA was born to be more than just a fashion brand. It’s a vessel for industry change and a welcoming place for all. I’m grateful to be part of the conversation.
Before we go
Times are changing and depend on us that all the changes be for the better.
In the post-pandemic world we are becoming, I cannot but thank designers like Mayya Agayeva and her team for the great gift that they represent to a society that, most of the time, spent decades trying to ignore that beauty lies in everyone, and fashion, just like MAYAAGAYEVA, is a welcoming place for all.
Let us remember that none of us should ever apologize for being who we are and embrace ourselves with love.