Some people just embody fashion; Max Trowbridge is one, with DNA seemingly woven from the finest silk. Born and raised in the UK, she graduated from the London College of Fashion in the early 1990s then worked as a fashion designer at Mansfield, a British women’s ready-to-wear luxury brand. Trowbridge, who lives in Dallas, has recently launched her new fashion collection and e-commerce site, Eve and Max (“Eve” is an homage to her grandmothers, who shared the name) and collaborated with British artist Adam Ball.
Eve & Max was “founded with a conscious ethos to reimagine the life cycle of fashion.” Can you expand on that?
The fashion system needs to change. The life cycle is antiquated, and holistically we’ve outgrown its process as a consumer on a global level. For years, I’ve thought about this moment: creating a business that slows down to stop this endless and needless constant consumerism. I want to reimagine a new life cycle that supports one seasonless collection a year that reduces overproduction, minimizes waste, and supports our environment on every level. For me, sustainability begins with the business model. I’m not saying I have a 100 percent sustainable business, but I’m conscious of every business decision. With only one collection a year, sold direct to consumer or via pre-order, I don’t create inventory; I produce made-to-order and deliver four to six months later. Let’s consciously think about our wardrobe. Let’s curate it with purpose — no more fast fashion.
Your debut is titled Collection Twenty One: Respair. Will every collection reference a work of art you will commission?
Art is always a source of inspiration for me, and an artist will be featured in every annual collection. For the debut, I’m collaborating with British artist Adam Ball. I own a beautiful work of his, a detailed hand-cut paperwork of his DNA structure, but I was particularly interested in his previous paintings of rainforests. For this collaboration, Adam painted an oversize work in pink shades — a very detailed, pointillism-style abstract of a rainforest. I will be donating a portion of sales from the collection to the Rainforest Foundation. The work, titled Respair, means a return to hope — so apropos, representing the very heart and soul of the collection.
How did you approach the creative design process during the pandemic lockdown?
In addition to my collaboration with Adam, I’ve co-creatively designed the collection with my dear friend Samudra Hartanto. Formerly the senior womenswear designer for Jean Paul Gaultier, Samudra and I reconnected a few years ago, after studying together at London College of Fashion. It’s a poignant delight to design with his incredible insight and experience collaboratively. Adam lives in London, and Samudra live in Paris, so the creative process blossomed between three cities during the pandemic. Given the circumstances, we made the design process work, a force of positivity for all of us, and I managed the sampling process from Dallas.
The elephant in the room: COVID. Can you share any charming stumbling points to designing and launching a business in 2020?
Creatively this journey started in 2019, and along the way, I had to adjust and pause this collection, originally scheduled to debut last September. Since the world came to a halt, of course, access to everything stopped. Thankfully before lockdown, I visited London and New York sourcing fabrics; I’m unsure I could’ve started the collection without those trips. Also, I’ve been very thankful to work closely with Khanh Nguyen with all my samples produced locally. The localized aspect of sampling allowed me to continue moving forward.
What is your inspiration behind the collection?
The result is culturally an East-meets-West story. The inspiration started with a kimono I purchased in 2013 after a trip to Japan. I’m fascinated with the layers of wearing a traditional kimono, from the undershirt, or nagajuban, to the obi. There are multiple elements of layering that I think are essential in our daily styling. On the other end of the spectrum, I love hoodies. But I wanted a more glamorous style without looking like I’m ready to work out. I think this collection has something for everyone.
Collection Twenty One: Respair, available for pre-order beginning April 1 at eveandmax.com.