The fashion world is progressively moving toward a less-is-more mantra, where quality trumps quantity and a style uniform reigns supreme. At the epicenter of this new world order is m/f people, a gender-blind lifestyle brand that aims to change the way we think about clothing and beauty.
Created by Greg Alterman, the founder of Alternative Apparel and Juice Served Here, m/f people embodies a sleek, minimalist aesthetic and takes a fewer-is-better approach. This translates to versatile wardrobe essentials such as Pima jersey tees, lightweight French terry sweats, and knit hoodies, along with a range of fragrance-, gluten-, cruelty-, and paraben-free skincare and bath products. Alterman also intends to take the label into home goods, food, and beverages in the future.
Gender roles have been a trending topic over the last several years and the fashion industry has taken notice, with big-name brands like H&M dabbling in the unisex space. But gender neutrality is at the heart of m/f people’s brand, a position which, when paired with its Cali-cool vibe, gives the label a serious competitive edge.
We spoke with Alterman to find out more about his burgeoning label, available online now. Read on for details about the inspiration behind m/f people, what it takes to create a genderless line, and the m/f products Alterman wears on repeat.
Brit + Co: What brought you back to fashion after your Juice Served Here venture?
Greg Alterman: “It’s in my blood after a long career with Alternative Apparel. Every cell in my body wanted to get back to what I love and what I really know! After a life-altering brain hemorrhage in late 2015, I spent six months horizontal recovering at home. I had the time to dream up the ‘one last’ venture.”
B+C: What drew you to the idea of launching a unisex line?
GA: “It all started by realizing we ALL are creatures of habit and do the same things to get out of the house. Our routine — from the bathroom to closet — has us all touching so many different products yet we really have little understanding of what these brands we have a relationship with really stand for and what lies deep within their ethos. I wanted to provide a uniform solution to aesthetically update the experience and pare down the typical ‘his and hers’ options. m/f is designed for sharing.”
B+C: What inspired the label’s design and aesthetic?
GA: “I live in Malibu, in a spa-like setting. However, my bathroom was looking like anything but a spa — cluttered with too many options and bottles with loud logos and bold colors. It was aesthetically unpleasant and distracting — it was causing me anxiety! I went out and purchased clear bottles and dumped these products into them, but that didn’t solve the problem because, after a while, I didn’t know what was what. I needed a solution and started working on the idea immediately. Minimally designed white bottles with a slick, super thin angled line became the trademark for the m/f people lifestyle. Male/female, minimal/functional.”
B+C: What have been some of the challenges of designing a unisex line? How do you ensure that the fit and feel work for both men and women?
GA: “It’s very challenging. The small and extra-small items are cut slightly out of grade to appeal to a female or small man more so. Our fabrics are also super sheer and delicate and stretch a lot, so the shirts somewhat conform to the body and grow in just the right places. This kind of knitting promotes comfort, but doesn’t come without its difficulty.”
B+C: Consumers are increasingly asking more of the fashion industry in terms of social and environmental impacts. How is m/f people responding to this paradigm shift?
GA: “We are focused on ‘less is more’ and our packaging is part of that. We try to provide a protected product without the excess of unnecessary paper and plastic. You will find our ‘unboxing’ to look plain and with no extra frills. We also sourced factories that produce our garments with 30 years of import experience and selected people and companies we know are treating their own employees fairly, with fair pay and conditions that are properly fit for this kind of work.”
B+C: What has the process of developing the skincare line been like?
GA: “I was lucky to have a best friend in the business who spent the last 20 years building a private skincare label. He helped me with general positioning and ideas that took my learning curve from five years down to one year.”
B+C: Who would you say m/f people is designed for? What aspect of the line would appeal to those who don’t typically do the minimalist thing?
GA: “It’s meant to be ‘for all people,’ hence the name, m/f people. We try to position ourselves as an aspirational product at an attainable price point. We realize some may find our moderate price too expensive, but we like to refer to our concept as ‘affordable luxury.’ We are primarily for minimalist fashionistas and what we call the expert aesthete — those who can appreciate quality and the details of a luxury product. However, after one use of any of our line and I think generally people will understand the quality and general ‘simple’ positioning. m/f people can be for everyone in that regard.”
B+C: What are some of your favorite products and pieces right now?
GA: “For skincare, it’s the super Scrub Face ($38), Super Scrub Body ($18), and Charcoal Toothpaste ($14). And my apparel favorites are the Staple Henley ($68), Breezy Raglan Tee ($48), People’s Sweatshirt ($78), and Unified Track Pants.”
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