Man Repeller Leandra Medine Collaborates with Atea Oceanie
The blogger on personal style, sarongs and her cool new collection with a Kiwi
If you click on ManRepeller.com today, you will find a searingly honest conversation about the importance of sexual health next to a fabulously comprehensive list of tops, shoes, bags and hats which you will absolutely want to add to your wardrobe right now. It’s a captivating, if unexpected, mix which comes courtesy of the site’s founder, 27 year-old Leandra Medine and which typifies the philosophy of The Man Repeller, which she has been developing since founding the site as a lighthearted blog back in 2010.
Since then, Medine has become the modern poster girl for being fearlessly experimental with fashion. She's carved out a reputation as a Pied Piper of clever styling tricks, introducing us to ways which immediately make getting dressed in an interesting way 1000x times easier. She coined the term ‘Arm Party’ to describe stacking piles of bangles, bracelets, watches and even silk scarves on your wrists to liven up your look, while recent Instagram shots show her wearing a silk dressing gown as an actual dress and turning a plain white shirt into a one-shoulder top.
Now that Man Repeller has become a media empire in its own right, employing a team of writers, photographers, designers and marketeers, Medine has started collaborating with her favourite brands to create the pieces she really wants in her wardrobe (ergo, you probably will too) but just can’t find.
The latest of these collections is with Atea Oceanie, the London-based label creating luxuriously minimalist tailoring, founded by New Zealander Laura Myers. Medine discovered Atea Oceanie a few years ago and says that the brand’s impeccable pieces “gave me a way to nail down basics and bring out the weird.”
On a recent visit to London to launch her collaboration with Atea, Medine divulged on all things ManRepeller, personal style and why sarongs are making a comeback this summer.
So, what actually is Man Repeller? For the uninitiated
“At the centre of the Man Repeller ethos is this theory - well, fact actually - that a woman’s interest in fashion doesn’t minimise her smartness or her intellect,” asserts Medine. “Just because she cares about what shoes Hillary Clinton is wearing doesn’t mean she’s not also the most formidable opinion to hear on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy record. I really, really wanted to drive that point home.”
Why women should always dress for themselves
“Even though the definition is about clothing trends which women love and men hate, that of course still exists because female fashion is always going to be about appeasing the female gaze and not necessarily concerned with the male gaze, so whether that means body-con dresses or suiting is kind of irrelevant,” says Medine, “because it’s still about empowering a woman to make a choice about how she presents herself to the world . The crux of Man Repeller is exactly that - empowering a woman to be whoever she is, whatever that means.”
The high and lows of wearing menswear
“I’m nuts about menswear,” enthuses Medine, “ I wear a lot of men’s robes. I wear a lot of my husband’s shirts but something about the collar is too rigid, it doesn’t do what I need it to do which is flop open naturally and reveal my chest. At least, that’s the case with the ones my husband likes.”
A lamé suit is your new work-to-party solution
“As soon as we started talking about the collaboration, Leandra was like ‘lamé!’” says Myers. “It was about pieces I’d seen Leandra wearing and the way she styled it was great and different from how we usually approach the brand.”
“As soon as Laura said we could do the lamé suit, I was like ‘Great, can we get the samples like right now?!'” Medine laughs, “I really wanted a metallic suit for last Christmas party season. I love menswear and suiting and I knew the silhouettes could hold more whimsical, quirkier fabrics because they were so timeless.”
Sarongs are making a comeback
“I really wanted a bandana print sarong. I was looking for a really long time and was starting to think that I would have to cut the bandana fabric myself and make one.” Medine tells us of her long search for a very specific kind of sarong. “Then I was at the Hermes shop in Paris over fashion week and I just saw these bandanas and was thinking ‘Oh god those are HUGE! And 600 euros is SO expensive but I have been looking for this or two years.”
“I bought it,” she continues, “it’s going to be around my waist all summer - even before I’ m on the beach. I’m going to do a post on how to wear a sarong in the city. My head is in a different place because I’m trying to get pregnant at the moment so I think about fashion in the sense of what's going to look good on a fatter woman.”
Why London is the best-dressed fashion city
“London is so much fun. London Fashion Week is my favourite time during fashion month,” Medine says. “It’s very Man Repeller - people who respect and honour fashion but don’t take themselves so seriously and dress accordingly. (Fashion month) was getting a little dreary for a minute with all of the white sneakers and black pants and grey turtlenecks. But that never really became the norm in London so it’s been most inspiring to be here."
Taking ManRepeller from a blog to a media company
“It’s difficult, running a business is no easy feat” says Medine. “It feels like coal mining many days. There are bouts of excitement which come out of you and you can extricate yourself from the environment and think I can’t believe I built this. But they last for very short periods - because they’re always interrupted by an HR request.”
This is the era of personal style
“We are living through the era of personal style - hello Gucci!” Medine tells us, “ but you can’t really say minimalism is over. That’s the aesthetic for a lot of people. Period. That’s the aesthetic that works on them.”
“I can define personals style but I can’t define my own,” she continues, “when you ask me to define my personal style that’s like asking my to define identity or put my personality in a box, and it doesn’t fit in a box. But personal style- you do have a choice because you’re selecting from the styles that are being thrown at you. You‘re making a decision to discard or retain something that you’re seeing. Personal style is a lot like personal branding which is a big and important concept right now also. It’s the way in which you elect to have the world perceive you without using words.”
Don’t let Instagram get you down
Sage words from Medine about making social media work for you; “Instagram is a prison or a fortress depending on how you use it. If it’s actually helping you to feel satisfied and get a point across then by all means use it but if it’s turning you into a self-conscious self-doubter then that’s terrible.”
— The Daily Telegraph