If you have lived in or visited New York at any point in the past 20-plus years, chances are you have been in one of Meg Kinney's shops, aptly called Meg.
Kinney arrived in the city in the early 90s to attend FIT and opened her first storefront in the East Village at the age of 22. The woman, like her designs, is straightforward, low maintenance, beautiful and empowering.
We spoke with her about her love for "urban women with big lives", the importance of supporting products and causes that support women, and took a tour of two of her six shops. Read on to meet the force behind Meg, and stay tuned to see some of our favorite women of an "uncertain age" styled in wares from the line in months to come.
You started Meg in a small studio (which also served as your home and shop) in the East Village in the early 90s. What was the impetus for launching your line? What did you feel was missing from the industry that you were able to provide?
I was in my twenties, and all I wanted to do was make stuff I wanted to wear. I always loved fashion but never could find what I wanted, so I made it. It was exciting to get my product in front of people to find out that it was filling their needs as well.
How would you describe your personal style and the style of the Meg client?
I am very low maintenance; my personal style involves putting on a piece that looks great and will take me through my day. I enjoy pieces that have architectural and feminine elements but are not fussy.
The goal is to feel like you are wearing PJs, but your clothes do all the work to tell a story of a cool urban woman. Urban women with big lives are my clients, and they are always looking for ease, versatility, and timeless feminine chic pieces from me.
What do you value most in your designs? How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
I value most the durability, because I ask a lot of myself in a day. I want women to feel that their pieces are appropriate for wherever they have in their day and that my pieces make them feel comfortable and confident.
Your company's sustained growth and longevity are rare in the fashion industry. To what do you attribute your success?
First, thank you! Yes, this business does seem to be fleeting for many. I guess I attribute my success to never giving up, taking risks, trusting my instincts, and learning from every move I make.
I have also never stepped away from being in my stores physically every week — [there's] that balance of designer and retailer, so I am working with my customers, gaining immediate feedback, [and] seeing what needs they have. It has kept me sharp able to pivot if and when necessary.
Why now, more than ever, do we need pieces that are designed and made by women, for women?
I think now more than ever, women should support one another, and supporting women-run businesses that have values that support the needs of women is a great place to put your dollars.
As a company, we prioritize women's issues and our local community. We are here to empower women through fashion, whether that is producing our pieces in the garment district in New York and in Toronto, buying women-owned accessory and jewelry brands, or involving ourselves with girls' education. In recent years I am proud to say we have supported and partnered with Planned Parenthood, The Women’s March, The Women's Prison Association, Border Angels, Girl Rising and others via various fundraising initiatives including sales of our statement gear.
What have you learned about style, trends, and yourself in your 20+ years in the industry?
Style is eternal, trends are bullshit and still after 20 years, there is so much to learn!
How has your personal style evolved with age? What design aspects do you appreciate now that you may not have noticed when you started?
From a personal style evolvement, I now start my outfits from the shoe needed that day and work upwards...when I was younger I tortured my feet!
A design aspect that I appreciate now is great simple cuts and shapes and high-quality fabrics — these two elements always make for timeless, enduring pieces.
What are your go-to pieces when walking out the door in the following scenarios: work, a big meeting and a night on the town?
What is the one piece in your wardrobe that makes you feel most confident and comfortable in your skin?
Jumpsuits (one and done!) and pants.