The Mini-Apple spirit could not run deeper than it does in the fashion brand Minneapolis Made, created by Elena Bagne. She printed on her first shirt her senior year of high school just for fun. After that, her friends pushed her to move forward in full force to reach her highest potential. She loves that fashion allows people to express themselves simply by wearing it.
For many in the local art scene, Minneapolis Made truly embodies what the city is about. Even people outside of the Twin Cities have shown support: Canadian singer-songwriter Jessie Reyez has been seen sporting the brand on stages around the world, and YouTube personality Casey Neistat slipped on a shirt for a photo and gave them a huge shoutout on his vlog.
The clothing consists of solid shirts, sweatshirts, and pants with simple hand-drawn graphics that speak volumes. Their most recognizable slogan is “Support Female Artists”. It’s printed on t-shirts and sweatshirts of all sizes and colors. It’s a bestseller.
Minneapolis Made also partners with local organizations making change to help create merchandise that can be used at protests or to simply make a statement. They did a collaboration with MN Students for Change to make shirts that state MN students stand up against gun violence.
Elena never thought she would be here, “I always knew I wanted to do something with art when I was younger. But if you would’ve asked me five years ago that fashion was my way in, I would’ve laughed because I was probably the least fashionable person around. Now I truly don’t know what I’d do without it.”
Everybody wakes up everyday and has to decide how to start their day and what to wear. Fashion ble into so much of society I kinda see it as a mirror. As we evolve, so does our clothing. Fashion has been used as a way to protest and a way to express yourself. What people choose to put on their body reflects in some of the ways the state of the world around them. I think that’s beautiful.
The city of Minneapolis is woven into everything I am. This is one of the most unique places to live and it has taught me so much as a person and an artist. This company means a lot to me and in some ways it’s leading me down the direction I have always wanted with my life as an artist. It pushes me creatively everyday. I love how it opens doors for me not only with opportunities but with just meeting new people. It puts me in spaces I have always wanted to be apart of but never felt “cool” or “worthy” enough to participate in. It has showed me what I’m capable of but also shown me I have so much farther to go.
Minneapolis is an incredible city because we’re not defined as much as all the east and west coast states. We are this weird beautiful mixture of everything in between. Each side of the country has its own kind of vibe and scene but ours is always developing and changing. I think in some ways it never is definable.
Just about everything is done by me.
I do the designing, printing, shooting photos, managing the website and social media. But I do have some of the most amazing friends who help and inspire me. From listening to me stress over FaceTime, modeling fits, and hauling gear for pop ups…I would really be nowhere without them, they push me everyday. I love them!
How would you describe the design or look of your clothing?
Oversized fits, DIY, quick line work, color mixtures, fabric layers, my dad’s work wear, tomboys, skating, urban landscapes, natural decay, noise.
What do you want people to think and feel when they see or wear your clothing?
How did you get Jessie Reyez and Casey Neistat to publicly endorse you?
I met Jessie over a year ago at a GOSHOW event for 95.3. I had one of my first support female artists long sleeves with me in my backpack. My friend Katie grabbed Peter Parker and asked if we could be introduced to Jessie because we wanted to give her this shirt. We were introduced to her and she was so genuinely interested in my ideas and vision. We ended up just kicking it with her backstage for a while. We met the managers and even her DJ, she introduced us to Dej Loaf who actually was given the shirt we had for her. We met up again about a month later and she invited me and my little bro Mikey to her show at the Xcel Energy Center. She wore the gear, shouted us out on stage, and the rest is history. I saw her in New York by accident the following month when she did her TRL performance and I was out there for a few weeks running around. So we have been able to keep the door open with her and she has always been down to support us in anyway she could. She posts us on her Instagram so that feels pretty good. Jessie is honestly such a humble and positive person, the way she moves is inspiring. But now every time she comes to the cities we try and link up and get her some new clothes.
I met Casey when I was in New York almost 2 years ago. I was outside his studio and I had an SFA (Support Female Artists) shirt with me, and he wore it with a photo and talked about it on his vlog. Both these people are huge inspirations to me so for them to get behind what I’m doing meant a lot.
Jessie Reyez and Casey Neistat showing support has been unreal. But I think one of our biggest accomplishments is keeping our heads above water in terms of figuring out what it takes to run a business. There is so much behind the scenes that go into this that people don’t get to see. Especially when everything is hand printed by us. I also think having a really strong slow-grown following is huge. People are finding out about us through their friends and at school and I love that.
It’s hard to pinpoint one thing, but I think an important one is showing love and support for other female-identifying artists. So many talented womxn get overlooked for the next guy in line and we want to see more womxn represented across all artistic fields.
What are some goals you’re currently working on? Any future projects?
Right now we are working on getting a studio set up for us to work out of, print, and sell products. Eventually having a 100% eco friendly set-up is big, we are getting closer to that but are not quite there yet. Films are another big project we plan on jumping into. Further down the line we want to expand so we are accessible to folks all around the world, and host events that give the spotlight to other young creatives.
Give people art they didn’t even know they needed, stop comparing yourselves to others, and work hard.