Behind the Craft: An Interview with Austin McMahon of MAPLE

How MAPLE Defined Its Own Style in the Realm of Accessories

Meet Austin McMahon, the creative mind behind MAPLE, a brand known for its unique and eclectic designs. Drawing inspiration from the world around him, Austin's creative process is a fascinating blend of spontaneity and meticulous planning. As MAPLE has evolved over the years, Austin has stayed true to his vision, focusing on creating pieces that resonate with his own style rather than chasing trends.

Austin's journey in the fashion industry is intertwined with his relationship with HAVEN, a connection rooted in friendship and mentorship. From DJing to designing, his path has been shaped by the support and guidance of those around him.

Looking ahead, Austin hints at exciting collaborations on the horizon, including projects with Edwin Denim, Subsun UK, and Texas label 'And After That.' Reflecting on MAPLE's journey, Austin finds pride not only in the brand's success but also in the recognition from fellow artists and the ability to support his loved ones through his passion.

Where do you draw inspiration for your designs?

A lot of my inspiration comes from random stuff I see online or in the world. It can be anything. Random designs on old buildings or posters, an iron fence, vintage estate jewelry, movies, something I heard someone say in passing. I’ll see something and it will spark an idea. I usually snap a photo/screenshot or write something down in my notes so I can come back to it. I see things and think in terms of music production I guess, I sample and remix.

Walk us through your creative process when coming up with new designs or ideas?

Generally, I log a ton of photos and screenshots over a few months in between seasons on my phone. Since I work according to the fashion calendar (Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter) I need to have new samples ready in time to go to Paris and show buyers every January and June. I give myself a 2-week window to design new products about 3 months before an upcoming season's show. I take all the photos I saved and I create a huge collage in Illustrator. I usually smoke some weed/have a drink to get in the mood, haha. I’ll listen to music on my headphones and see what gets me excited and move accordingly. Most of my free time during those 2 weeks is spent trying out designs and seeing what hits. I’ll work on a design and then abandon it for something else as new ideas come up. I’ll come back and tinker on things as time progresses. I basically stay up till 2am-3am every night during this time trying ideas out but not marrying myself to anything in particular. In the last few days of the 2 weeks, I’ll start finalizing and speccing out designs as far as measurements, finishes, and fine details.

How has Maple as a brand evolved and changed since you started?

Well, it’s evolved a lot from when the brand began. I think early on the focus was trying to make things for the market whereas now I make things for myself. Too many times with a lot of brands you try to be on trend or do what’s “hype” at the time and you end up missing the mark.

"The biggest evolution has been to trust in my own point of view."

How did your relationship with HAVEN come about?

HAVEN is family to me. Probably around 2009, I met Daniel and Arthur. I was a DJ and they would hang out at some of the bars I played at. I originally wanted to open a store myself and I pestered them to give me a part-time job so I could learn the ropes, haha. They then became my mentors for a long time and even were a part of MAPLE in the first couple of years before branching off and leaving me to do it on my own. Without them, I might not be doing this so I have to thank them for my time there. All the original HAVEN guys are like brothers to me and we are all still close many years later.

Can you share any info on upcoming projects?

Yes, we have a jewelry collaboration with Edwin Denim and a sunglasses collaboration with Subsun UK that will both be released sometime near the end of April. I’m also working on a jewelry project for later in the year with Texas label ‘And After That’ and another custom piece for the musician Homeshake.

What's your proudest moment for Maple to date?

Tough question. It’s hard to pin down a singular moment.

"The things that make me the most proud are the people and artists I admire being genuine fans of the brand."

That and being able to provide for myself and my family doing something that I truly enjoy and love.

Photographer: Ryan Maxwell | Producer: Theo Berkeley | Stylist: Aaron Banaticla/Austin McMahon | © 2024 HAVEN Apparel Inc. All rights reserved