In a saturated streetwear market, Mershy stands out. The Los Angeles-based brand is more than a gender-neutral loungewear label: It's also a digital platform that celebrates creativity and individuality.
Designer Gabriela Mershad founded Mershy — a play on her last name — after graduating from the University of Colorado with a sociology degree. When her horseback riding career ended around the same time (she was a devout equestrian for 15 years), Mershad headed west on a whim to pursue a new creative career.
"I was a hippie creative, but the horse world was so elegant and serious — I was having an identity crisis. I felt like I was okay at a lot of things, but without a skill set," Mershad tells UncoverLA. "As soon as I stopped riding, I was in a very difficult place in my life. I had no idea what to do with myself. I had majored in sociology and my degree wasn't something I wanted to pursue."
After several internships in the fashion industry (including at Sam Edelman and Brooklyn PR), Mershad was inspired by a friend to take her artistic strengths and build a fashion brand that represented her values: Creativity, community, modern spirituality, and connecting people through art.
She continues: "I started using art and writing as an outlet for myself and what I wanted to change in my life. The whole process was healing for me. For a few years I was brainstorming what my brand could look like if I had one, but when my internships ended, I went in full force, using my journal as the backbone for the brand identity and everything I had learned in the industry."
Mershy launched in October 2020 with gender-free basics featuring hand-drawn artwork. Priced at about $130 apiece, the '90s-inspired range is comprised of sky blue tie-dyed oversized hoodies, bomber jacket-style sweatshirts with O-ring zippered sleeve pockets, and neutral matching separates with surrealist-meets-Y2K graphic designs.
Mershad always knew that she wanted to kick things off with high-end loungewear. "When I started the brand, I didn't necessarily know it was going to turn into what you see now," she says. Her long-term goal is to create a space to inspire other creative to trust their own intuition.
We recently chatted with Marshad to learn more about her journey as a creative, the inspiration behind her fledgling fashion label, and her vision for the kind of synergistic brand she wants Mershy to be.
What led you to start Mershy?
Outside of my internships, which were all in the fashion industry, I started writing down brand names for fun on the side. Basically, that evolved into an opportunity to have a brand. I met the right person through a friend of mine that had a production house in L.A. and he was the first person that inspired me to start drawing. I used to think, 'Oh my god, I don't have an idea, and I didn't realize that everything was derived from something else.'
I soon realized I had already come up with designs — I wanted to do loungewear to begin with because for me comfort is the most important thing. I wanted to create the best quality and fit of things I wanted to wear every day at the best price point.
What inspired the interactive portion of the Mershy website?
My biggest fear was that I would just become another brand and get lost in the crowd, so I wanted to have a strong message people could relate to and get inspiration from. The whole process turned into a healing process for me. I started using art and writing as an outlet for myself, to figure out what was wrong, what I wanted to change in my life, getting into spirituality.
I did so much self-reflection. I started drawing a lot, doing a lot of art, until I was fully clear on everything. For me, I knew how to make art but didn't know how to make that into something usable for clothes and Instagram. Through a friend of a friend, I ended up meeting an amazing graphic designer. She takes all of my artwork and concepts and brings them to life.
The Muse page is so unique. How did it come about?
Originally I had so many ideas for the Muse page, but the main reason was I didn't want to just sell clothes. I wanted Mershy to be a whole experience. I wanted to allow people to dive into my brain, in a sense. I feel like it's a reflection of the process of how this brand got started. It shows people what I worked through in order to get to where I am.
I wanted to inspire people and to show them that you can create whatever you want to create. I wanted to show people that journey of feeling hopeless and lost, and transforming into a new creature, like being reborn. I wanted to create something where people could have an experience and walk away and be like, 'Okay, I know what this is about.'
How has COVID affected the launch of the brand?
I started working on this brand two years ago, but not everything came fully together until during COVID-19. I had already had the backbones of the brand done, like my core styles ready, and it was just all about the graphics and the color palette. I started in March and launched October 10, so seven months of production.
I was in a crazy creative flow when COVID started — I was Hawaii when I found out we were going to be in lockdown. My boyfriend lives in London, so I thought I was going to lose my mind so I just went out all and worked my ass off.
Where do you see the Mershy brand going in the future?
By 2021, my goal is to be 100% sustainable. I connected with a company called Ethics Matter. Their whole thing is bringing sustainability and transparency into businesses. That's very important to me, but it was so hard to launch the first line that we weren't as sustainable as I wanted to be.
We've been working on creating an all sustainable, lounge-ish wear that is more upscale, high-end, with clothing features like recycled plastic buttons, and compostable fabric. We're also creating a new section of our website called the meet our makers movement, so customers can see everywhere the garment was before it gets into their arms.
Artistically, my desire is to really develop my skills because I want to eventually be able to do all the graphics and content for my brand. I also want to learn how to create textiles, because I love abstract art. I want to create more interactive art for the website and infuse more of my spirituality into it.
Lightning round! What's your current favorite band or musician?
I really love H.E.R. I love all her messages and music. I think she's so soulful and relatable.
What's your streaming show of choice?
I have been binging Outlander and it's so good.