Mari Gustafson and Dave Ball are the partners behind UZI, the Brooklyn-based fashion brand beloved for its art-teacher-chic smock dresses and free-size tunics. In addition to being a big fan of their clothing and a consistent stockist of the brand, I admire their anti-fashion establishment approach to the business of fashion; the Mari and Dave operate very much on their own terms out of 600 square foot studio-factory in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Their designs aren’t necessarily classic or vanguard, but they aren’t trendy either, at least among traditional fashion channels. But they are coveted by creatives who appreciate the no-nonsense designs and silhouettes that allow them to look good while they focus on other things. You either get it or you and don’t, and if you get it, you can’t get enough of it. And Mari and Dave are just fine with that.
I make frequent trips to their studio to pick up orders (when they aren’t able to bike them over). Earlier this summer, I stopped by and sat down with them for a (very) brief interview.
What inspired you to start UZI?
That was 25 years ago and we remember it completely differently. so we don’t really know.
Partnerships can be challenging, but you and Dave appear to have a great balance of skills and responsibilities. How do you maintain that balance and a strong partnership?
When things things go wrong (which is all the time) we have to fix it cause no one else cares.
Do you have any advice for an emerging designer hoping to build a brand in NYC?
No matter how desperate the situation is do not despair, it can always get worse.
What’s your design philosophy?
There is nothing and there is the absurd. We submit to the struggle of being somewhere in the middle, but with clothing.
Interview: Kate McGregor
Creative Director: Keif Matera
Photographer: Jason Roth Photo