Max Mollison Fashion Designer  NZ

Deep within the screen is another world, but You Wouldn’t Get It – really!


Massey fashion graduate, Max Mollison knows it all. He knows everything: he knows the people who wear his clothing, he knows what they think and what they say. He knows the parties they go to and what they drink. He knows their lives.

Inspiration? Concept? Call it what you will, for his graduate collection You Wouldn’t Get It, Mollison has taken on the role of film director in and created characters for his clothing. Through an ingenious use of social media he has established characters which reflect his designs and not the other way around. His love of the digital world has led Mollison to design prints from electronic collage yet he has created a collection as subtly detailed and complex as the lives his characters inhabit.


Max, can you describe your collection to us?
What can I say … forget Dawson’s Creek and Gilmore Girls, THIS teen drama comes straight out of my Girl Tech Password Journal 2.

My collection may seem random, satirical and nostalgic to different people for different reasons but most people will relate the icons and imagery within the clothing to something personal in their life.

The collection is jam packed full of totally cool looks you can wear to the Sadie Hawkins dance after a galactically brutal summer. It’s pretty much what Romy and Michele could wear to their next high school reunion; it also describes the construction of masculinities within clothing as I see it.

Did you start to design the collection with such detailed characters already in your head? Would you describe them as your target market?
Not at the beginning. I didn’t intend to fulfil a specific market; I just started making garments at random. I put pictures of them up on Facebook and Instagram which is when I discovered my specific market: essentially the people that were interested in my work at that moment.

Max Mollison Fashion Designer NZ

Social media helped me to define my target market. I was able to gather information about the people who liked or viewed my work. I set up a Facebook page and Instagram account and determined that my market is mainly Australian or American, aged 18 to 25. I would say my client is someone whose favourite movies include, Bring It On, Bring It on Again, Bring It On: All or Nothing, Bring It On: In It to Win It, and maybe but not necessarily Bring It On: Fight to the Finish.

So did this identification of a market modify your design; is it in the end a market lead collection?
Even though I specifically identified a client/market; the collection is defiantly not market led. It is an expression of my identity. Unless I am supposed to sell the collection I couldn’t care less if the market liked it… Even if no one liked it, my mum will probably pretend she does like it.

You talk a lot about storytelling and television. Did this inspire you from the start?
I am greatly inspired by television; my life revolves around the television and in a way so did this collection, each look in the collection is almost like a character.


Max Mollison Fashion Designer NZ

Reality television was a big inspiration; I was looking at shows like Cops, WWE live sport and Jackass. In these shows I looked at the projection of masculinities and the connotations of man in the clothing. Identifying masculinities within clothing like a masculine sport strip on a sleeve, the shape of a neck line or the bagginess or oversized proportions of a garment. I liked to think that the different looks in the collection are like different characters in a TV show or movie. This collection is like my own movie. I like to make up names and stories for them and then photograph the look/outfit/character to reflect that. Another big influence that played into that was Technology and social media, apps on your phone, dating apps and selfies. I even took a selfie on my designer wave at the end of the fashion show.

Did you start by looking at images on a screen?
I looked at DVDs, videos, PlayStation games, YouTube clips or anything on a screen then I took photos of it on my phone and made collages on image manipulating I-phone apps. Finally I tried to make this new image into a garment, or a print.

What do you think are the best parts of the collection?
It’s humour and ability to tell a story. These are also the things I enjoy the most in real life.

But is there anything you would change in the collection?
The collection is complete and over, I do not want to revisit it! Before I had finished it I was already over it and thinking about something else. When I look at it now I’m sure that there are things I would do differently but there are things that I would definitely never do again. I indulged heavily in popular trends like grid iron and sport which I think makes the collection date very quickly. I wasn’t going for a timeless feel, timelessness just irritates me!

How did people respond to you collection? Was it like in a sitcom with a broad and thorough range of reactions?
I like people’s reactions to my work because everyone’s is different and sees in it something different that they identify with, something they feel nostalgic towards or something they find funny. I like the way people build their own relation to my work, how they will pick on a detail and connect it to something very personal.


I almost like everyone else’s interpretations better than my own. Some think it’s completely random and satirical and some find some grim message. I like letting the audience decide whether I’m serious or not.

Do you think that the collection reflects you?
Yes I think so. I feel this collection has a little bit from every stage of my life, so it’s a nice reflection of my life up until now… or a not so nice reflection … you decide.

Was it difficult dividing the collection between menswear and womenswear?
Designing menswear is a challenge. I find it difficult not to design what I would want to wear. So I am conflicted when I realise I wouldn’t wear something and wonder if I should produce it or not and then I realised this is my collection I can do what I want. I used that personal taste filter that I thought was holding me back to dictate my signature style as a designer.

Would you do anything differently if you had the option?
As I said before I wouldn’t think of going back and changing the designs but I can think of things that I would do differently next time. I would channel my designs down to 2 or 3 characters. There is a lot going on in this collection, a lot of ideas and a lot of stories. I think next time I’d like to make the stories smaller and focus on one character, one girl or boy and make up a story about what they are wearing, what they are doing and who they’re texting.

Max Mollison Fashion Designer NZ

How do you feel about trends? Do you consider them and do they affect you?
I find it really hard to identify or predict trends, I never realise something is a trend until I’m told it is. I’m still looking at inspiration I collected 5 years ago which is probably a bad thing! I think I’m better at paying attention to bad rather than good trends. Maybe that’s why I made bad fashion choice in my collection like denim on denim, socks with sandals, prints all over, showing your boxer shorts and showing bad tan lines.

Where would you like to shoot your collection?
At the Mall, it’s full of colour and characters and food courts where high school students hang out when they are skipping school. It is also a good spot for people watching…it’s just like a reality TV show.

Written by James Bush

James Bush

James is predominately interested in visual culture and aesthetic theory. After completing his BDes with first class honours in 2012, James began 2013 studying toward a postgraduate diploma in Art History with a focus on French art of the 17th Century. Despite, or perhaps because of, a strong interest in this subject he relocated to Paris halfway through the year to work in the atelier of designer Martin Grant.
James’ work is heavily focused on form and blends traditional Japanese philosophies of art and design with aesthetic principals of the west resulting in a fluid and refined approach to modern womenswear.
He will continue to pursue a career in design and plans to move to Belgium at the beginning of 2014.