Through an intertwinement of environment-sourced inspiration with the goal of producing wearable art that embodies the soul and storytelling that underscores their brand values, the queer duo behind the brand Mashat has cultivated a line that marries functionality with artistic expression.
Channelling a desire to utilise daily life as a canvas for creativity, abstract sensations serve as a starting point for the design journey for each piece, which then influence the textile selection process, which draws upon inspirations ranging from materials found in nature to upcycled computer parts. Mashat is also extending their creative expression into the world of zines, venturing into explorations of current affairs that unite their artistry with the realm of the political. Here, we talk to the label’s founders, Màri and Tasha, about the history of the brand motto, environmental consciousness when designing, and the vision for their most recent collection.
To begin, what led you to the world of fashion and how did you come to own your own brand?
My journey into the realm of fashion and the establishment of my own brand was deeply rooted in my upbringing and early passions. Having been born and raised in Ukraine, my connection to art, particularly decorative and applied arts, began to flourish at the tender age of 13. For me, starting from that time, the allure of art lay not only in its beauty but also in its innate ability to harmonise functionality with aesthetics. Pursuing Cultural Studies in university years further shaped my vision of fashion’s profound cultural essence. Since then, I have treated fashion design as a lifelong fascination. Speaking about Mashat, it was launched when I met my love and life partner, Tasha, creative director and CEO.
Let’s discuss the brand motto, Vive la Routine, symbolic of the way in which you’re able to inject your vision into the daily realm. What does it mean to you? How does it impact your artistry?
Vive la Routine is a way of life; in simple words, it’s about the appreciation of everything we have. I derive inspiration from the basic things we are surrounded by, which are usually neglected by our eyes and minds, such as dust, mud, tires, wires, and I seek to convert those ideas into eye-catching pieces. With time passing, this motto remains relevant. In Mashat we believe that every day is a time to be and to act. To exist and to persist in creating a bright future.
Your designs feature an ethereal blend of textiles that play with both harmony and juxtaposition to create pieces that marry contrast with unity. How do you go about selecting materials in your design journey?
I start each collection with a concept. First, comes an issue. Then, I look for materials that will echo the core idea via the sensual feeling because clothing design is about that human element and how clothing will interact on a physical level with the idea you put into it. At this critical juncture, my quest for materials transcends mere aesthetics; it becomes an exploration of tactile sensations and emotional resonance. For instance, the Organza Line pieces from the latest collection provide both cover and shine to the person who wears them. Even more, they lend a sense of lightness and elevation.
Another pillar to your brand ethos is that of the Artistic Casual. What elements of your artistry are you sure to always include in order to, as you put it, “decorate the physical reality” of our daily routines and lives?
Artistic Casual is the answer to daily wardrobe culture. In Mashat, we make clothes that serve as wearable art in daily life and provide our customers with tools to create their own masterpiece out of their looks. The idea is not merely to be engaged with art by visiting galleries or theatres, but to embody it, living within its realm consistently—a lifestyle where life itself becomes the canvas of one's artistic expression.
Elements we use to implement this idea from collection to collection originate from the collection’s concepts. To name some, in Route In, we made handles composed of tires for bags, in The Unified Field we incorporated upcycled computer parts to create accessories, and loose thread overlock root detailings and detachable moss found their place in our latest release Nomadne2s.
Experiments with colour also feature prominently in your work, never shying away from underscoring your storytelling through the incorporation of a range of hues - what role does colour play for you when creating?
This is more of a personal story of discovery. I am very critical, but if I dislike or am afraid of a certain colour, I will make a leap of fate and choose it to work with in order to push myself out of my comfort zone. You may even see some beige in the upcoming collection (laughs). And of course, it is also based on the collection’s matrix and analysis of customer interests.
Environmental consciousness is clearly a foundational component of your values as a brand, through the implementation of various forms of upcycling, as well as pieces being made on a pre-order basis to minimise waste. What steps do you think the fashion industry could be taking to strive towards a more sustainable approach to design?
We love that sustainability from a trend became a clear-cut filter. I feel like the industry has stepped on the right path. The next task is to make environmentally conscious goods more affordable. We require advanced technological means and investments from well-established companies to make this happen. And of course, there is a need to slow down consumerism, to convert the ‘want-receive’ approach into ‘want-think twice-receive’. That is why we make goods for pre-order only, which takes time and prompts reflection before making a purchase.
Mashat has also launched a digital zine, the first issue of which serving as an exploration of cyber literacy and the various characterisations of the digital realm. How do the topics explored here influence your creativity at large?
Well, we love to explore new mediums and work cross-sectionally. We find it crucial to react to modern-day concerns. We worked on a cyber literacy issue during the pandemic. Now, as Russia has launched a full-scale war against Ukraine, we are preparing to air a poetry Zine named *An Asterisk as an aside-project.
The upcoming issue will contain curating works of contemporary Ukrainian artists of various visual disciplines and their reflections on verses written by Antivianti Márii, one of Mashat’s founders. Given the pain Russians bring to Ukrainian soil, we feel the need to share words that generate empathy, unite the community, empower, and support, as well as explain the state of affairs to foreigners. In this project, we also uncover new approaches to articulating poetry pieces into a collective artistic backdrop and update its image, making poetry more visible. 
I’d like to know more about your latest S/S 2024 collection, Nomadne2s, for which you sourced inspiration from the spirit of the nomad, through the use of draped, delicate fabrics that often-featured sheer components to create looks that fuse artistic expression with environmental consciousness. How were you able to actualise your vision for this collection?
The concept of Nomadne2s appeared in the autumn of 2021 and foreshadowed the future in some sense, as starting from February 24, 2022, the world faced another massive wave of immigration and a new manifestation of madness by the aggressive state. Nomadne2s stands both for a nomadic journey and no madness. So, we made a decision to move back to Ukraine after residing in Canada for several years and to start working on the collection with our Ukrainian team.
We were initially thinking of a collection concept holding an idea about a ‘raw and naked’ journey into the inner depths. That is why you can see so many sheer and shimmering elements, as it is supposed to refer to the divine nature of the soul. As we face a harsh reality, the number of looks enlarged to reflect a complicated and hostile material environment. The memory stone suite, for example, is made from asphalt grey taffeta and tender viscose silk as the lining, repeating the natural shape of a random brutal stone. Thus, most collection’s garments are featherlight, some portraying scenic landscapes of the journey, making a great camouflage for a wanderer to continue the trip safely and not bear the burden.
Who would you most like to see in a Mashat piece?
At Mashat, we position the brand as a creative hub and envision our community led by talented and creative personalities. But to put it simply, we don’t have a special type. If we vibe, we vibe!
Finally, what are your plans for the future of the brand?
Our immediate plans are to prepare the new F/W 2025 collection, which is planned to be released in early spring, 2024. We are currently working hard and experimenting with techniques and solutions for our new designs. Will not reveal all the details, but I can mention that it will be an ‘ageing’ collection, where we will continue our job with fur upcycling.
As well as this, it will be composed of four main lines.  We are also working on a joint project with a Ukrainian LGBTQI+ organisation Ukraine Pride, which makes a queer movement in Ukraine visible. In the process, we intend to raise awareness of the positive role of queer culture and presence in society.