Rebellelion is not your average way of spelling the word, but it comes from two inspirational components that encompass the brand’s message. ‘Rebelle,’ is a take away from the identity of a French rebel girl and ‘lion’ highlights strength and power. Madi Hadel, owner and creator of the brand said, “I want Rebellelion to show ordinary people that they can have style without needing to be rich or have a fashion background, they just have to do it, and that’s all it takes.”
Hadel upcycles used and recycled clothing in her effort to be eco-friendly in an industry that’s the second largest polluter in the world. “I wanted to make sure that everything I created wasn’t adding any more waste to the environment. It was also a great way for me to create fashion, on a budget,” she said. Her most popular items are her upcycled denim; one of her jackets was featured in a previous issue of Teen Vogue. Although streetwear and denim are her more popular looks, her brand gives her the leeway to create any kind of aesthetic she likes.
This year, we’ll get to see her new line of looks on the DFW runway on Thursday, November 8 for our streetwear night. Here, we took some time to discuss what she’s looking forward to and a further peek into what her brand is all about.
303 Magazine: Your brand is centered on upcycling pieces and straying away from the fashion industry waste – what’s your creative process in making these recycled items into your own? What kinds of clothing items do you gravitate towards most?
Madi Hadel: I began upcycling simply because it was what was available to me, with little money or even little knowledge of an approach to fashion design, I began experimenting with the resources around me. The first pieces I designed were my own clothing that I’d deconstruct or I’d use old linens for fabric. I didn’t know how to sew in the beginning so I did a lot with tying things together, shredding, painting, dyeing and bleaching. Eventually, I bought a sewing machine off Craigslist and when I went to pick it up the seller showed me how to thread the machine. That’s really the only knowledge I started with, so I just began putting fabric through my machine to see what would happen. My process is more refined now, but the approach is the same. I find clothing at thrift stores, yard sales, alleyways, or clothing donated by friends and family. I’m constantly collecting textile scraps, cutting out graphics from old t-shirts, hoarding patches anywhere I come across them. I have a stockpile of re-purposed materials that I dig into anytime I begin working on a piece.
I mostly gravitate towards working with denim because it is such a versatile material. It’s a tough textile and can endure a lot of abuse when it comes to sewing patches, shredding, painting, bleaching and cutting. I feel like I can really do anything with denim as a blank canvas. I’m deeply inspired by Japanese Boro, the art of rag stitching, which has influenced a lot of my obsession with patchwork and texture. I’ve always enjoyed making collages and I feel like working with denim gives me an outlet to collage in a more tactile way.
303: How do you feel about having Rebellelion in Denver Fashion Week this year? What kinds of styles can Denver look forward to seeing on the runway?
MH: I’m in love with Denver and I’m so proud to be part of this community, so having a chance to share my designs on one of the most prominent runways in the city is so exciting. I remember going to Denver Fashion Week for the first time years ago and feeling absolutely electrified by the experience. I even wrote in my journal about how watching the fashion show was so affirming to me that I was on a path that really resonated with me. I wrote about a secret dream to show in Denver Fashion Week one day, so seeing that dream become a reality is absolutely surreal.
For the show, I’m actually going to stray a bit from my signature street style that usually incorporates a lot of denim. I’ve been reworking my great grandma’s patterns for a vintage inspiration and trying to really nail down some designs that I can offer in larger quantities with more diverse size runs, instead of always making one-off pieces. With my personal style I’ve always lived in this duality of grunge and elegance, so this collection is dipping into a more sophisticated side of Rebellelion. My vision for this show is inspired by a gothic 1930s flapper aesthetic mixed with old west cowgirl vibes.
303: How would you describe the Rebellelion girl/guy?
MH: Honestly, I’m always so surprised by the people who wear my clothing. One time I sold this denim vest to a woman in her late 60’s with a killer silver mohawk, I was feeling like, “Oh my god, that’s the coolest woman I’ve ever seen in my life and she just bought my clothing.” My favorite thing is seeing people who buy my denim pieces and incorporate their own flair, like adding pins and sewing on new patches. I love the idea of lifestyle pieces and having something, like a denim jacket, that you can evolve over a lifetime. To answer your question, the Rebellelion person is someone with an awareness of the world around them, someone who embraces their individuality and lives authentically. You know, Rebelles/Rebels.
303: You see a lot of clothes coming from multiple time eras. What’s a time era you get most excited about when finding clothes?
MH: My favorite fashion era is the 1970s, which I’ve heard referred to as “The Era of Bad Taste.” One of my favorite vintage pieces in my collection is a ’70s white bell-bottom jumpsuit with a halter top, it’s so dreamy. The ’70s had this great balance where you had hippie culture with bell sleeves, corduroy and velvet in earth tones like mustard yellow, moss green and brown. Then on the other end of the spectrum, the ’70s were so glam with disco fashion like platform shoes, sequins, and faux fur. Mix that in with the incredible rock n’ roll scene of the ’70s with fashion influenced by iconic bands like Led Zeppelin, Bruce Springsteen, The Doors, Jimi Hendrix — come on, the ’70s were so cool! Besides that, I love coming across clothing that is incredibly old and special. I have a Great Depression era simple silk dress that is so delicate and thin, I’d never wear it but it’s like this secret treasure in my studio that I’ll unzip from its clothing bag and just admire.
303: You say your brand is all about collaboration and working with “other weird people,” who is someone you would love to work with in the future?
MH: The coolest part about collaborating is it allows an opportunity to work with so many different kinds of people like photographers, musicians, actors and performers. The first “weird people” that come to mind are all locals in the Denver fashion scene that I really admire. I’d love to work with Jain from Wavy Jain, I think we’re definitely on the same wavelength when it comes to fashion design, so creating with her would be epic. I met her at a womxn’s networking event hosted by SAFEWORD, which is a really awesome collective in Denver that hosts events to bring together the creative community. I love hosting events too, so working with the SAFEWORD women would be so much fun, they work so hard!
303: As a DFW newbie, what are you looking forward to most?
MH: Fashion shows are always so exciting because you get to spend time with a group of creative and badass people like the models, hair and makeup team, photographers and the show’s producers. It’s so thrilling being part of this huge event where everyone is working together and sharing this charged energy. There is so much preparation and build-up for just a few minutes of your collection actually on the runway, so you experience this crazy adrenaline rush that makes you feel so high on life. Of course, it’s really awesome to be able to share that with my friends and family like, “Look, Mom, look at what I did!”