Mari Michel was founded in 2020 by Mari Michelson. Guided by the beauty of natural materials and with a mindset towards sustainability, an idea emerged to use silk from second hand mens ties.
We rescue this premium material and turn it into Fair Hair Ties.
Silk is the strongest natural fibre and one of the most luxurious, coveted fabrics in the world. The proteins in silk have enormous benefits to the human body, and are now widely used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes. Learn more about silk properties here.
Sustainability is an underlying value in everything we do. At Mari Michel, we don’t only consider environmental sustainability, but all the four pillars of sustainability: Human, Social, Economic & Environmental. Learn more about it here.
Who is Mari?
“From an early age, I have found tremendous joy in expressing myself through clothes.”
As a kid you could see her wearing a turtle-neck with a spaghetti-strap top layered over, it combined with embroidered jeans with one leg cut short from knee-length - all that peculiarity standing confident on white rubber platform shoes. In teenage years, you could pass her on the street seeing her sport a
deep red velvet price costume with an old suitcase in hand (Jimi Hendrix painted on it with acrylic paints).
“I remember waiting in the bus stop to catch my bus home from high school & a small girl with much astonishment in her eyes raised a hand to point at me while saying to her dad: “Look, dad, it’s a prince!”
These choices at the time were risky and she was ought to get into trouble. She tells a story of herself as a 8-year-old, taken into the head teacher’s office, for disobeying the school’s dress-code policies. “I remember this vividly, one of my favourite things to wear was a white cotton scarf with silver and gold lines wrapped around my head. When I went to school with it one day, the teacher had taken it as a turban and I was blamed for cultural appropriation. What did a 8-year old know of a cultural appropriation? For me it was just comfortable, pretty, and went awfully well with my purple-yellow tracksuit.”
Mari was born in a post Soviet country, just 4 years after re-gaining independence. Schools and other institutions needed time to gradually adjust to the newly found freedom. Everybody in Estonia was breathing in the freedom & Mari was part of the first generation that could fully immerse herself in it.
When she turned 16, she moved to England to study fashion.
“I had never been to England before nor had I been alone on a plane. Everything about England was calling me in – the style, the music, the art, the movies, the old architecture & an abundance of people from different cultures living together – I was set on chasing my dream.
I came from a culture that is very sensitive towards the natural environment and has integrated a variety of beliefs into its cultural fabric that give respect towards nature in many areas. My understanding of creating apparel was deeply aligned with these values and the collections I had made as a hobby few years prior to the move, were all recycling, rescue or upcycling projects.”
“In England, a harsh reality hit me – in order to survive in the field as a successful designer, I was expected to make new designs more than seasonally that were all mass produced in low labour cost countries and disregarded just a short while later. I had trouble placing my “small production” attitude from a small country and after seeing the London Fashion Week for the first time, I got completely disillusioned.”
After fashion studies she moved to Finland & a while after, started travelling.
"With my eyes open, I had an urge to see the world and meet people who live alternatively. I backpacked through Europe to find sustainable initiatives, volunteer in permaculture farms & meet passionate people.
“After travels, in 2016, I met Levien – my partner and muse in life. We were both looking to build up something meaningful & live closer to nature. Both of us being city people, we turned away from the main road and moved to the countryside in South Estonia, in the middle of swamps, woods and fresh water springs, far away from the city. Our garden was often visited by deer, beavers, foxes and once even a lynx. We tasted everlasting flow of inspiration in the silence of the nature and learned new ‘forgotten’ crafts, like smithing, basket making, felting, embroidery and woodwork.
In the local thrift store, I found many precious materials that nobody bought and plotted a way to put them in use effectively myself. It was a disregarded abundance – silk, cotton, linen, wool and fur. A thought emerged to use men’s silk ties for new clothing and accessories design.”
“In 2019, life brought us to Levien’s motherland – the Netherlands. I was still working in software and observing how fashion industry had been changing in the Lowlands. I also noticed that people are more environment conscious and less taken back about reusing items. I got confidence to go for my passion on my own terms.”
Partners in crime
Levien is the photographer, brand-marketeer and marketing mind behind Mari Michel. With a multimedia capability, he constantly experiments with collage making, graphic design and photography to bring across new outrageous campaign ideas.
Levien’s provocative sense of humour, creative thinking and witty writing comes out in much of our brand expressions.
His style is authentic and being inspired by Mari, he has grown fond of apparel design himself.
When you see him on the street, you can recognise him easily by a golden leaf pinned on his dark grey cashmere flat cap, a colourful collar shirt and signature camel chinos.
Interested in more photography? levienlockefeer.nl
Any questions? Contact us here