Refuse to Obey – Designed to Empower
An article by Tablö Creative
To kick-off 2020 we interviewed the ever so talented and empowering female creator behind the Refuse to Obey fashion brand, Nat Mazzilli. Her one-of-kind garments are best described as “leatherwear for empowering women”. During our discussion we learned about her journey to becoming a designer, the evolution of the Refuse to Obey brand, where she draws inspiration, and her creative process.
How It All Began
It all started at a very young age when Nat began sketching and sewing designs with her grandmother who was a seamstress. They would hand tailor young Nat’s outfits for every occasion. The idea of fabricating clothes based on her own personal vision intrigued the young creator. The process of bringing a design from a simple sketch to fruition planted a seed which would later evolve into a career in the fashion industry. Her personal style would evolve over the years. Though one thing remained the same; the rebellious appeal behind her personal style.
So many limitations are put on women by men, society, and themselves. Putting your foot down and knowing what you want is so fucking cool.
Her innate passion for fashion design lead her to attend the Academy of Design back in 2015, which is now called Toronto Film School. Although she didn’t know how to sew yet, her burning interest drew 19 yr old Nat into wanting to learn more. She shared, “I told myself ‘I’m either gonna fucking love this or fucking hate this’. I sat down at the sewing machine, and it was the hardest thing in the world. I felt so outside of my comfort zone. I knew I could design, I could see the idea in my head, and I wanted the final product so badly, I knew if I just pushed really hard I could figure it out. Now I can do it with my eyes closed.”
Refuse To Obey, The Brand
We asked Nat to walk us through how her brand came to be from concept to fruition. “Refuse to Obey was the very first name for my business.” It all began when she would wear a jacket which read “Refuse to Obey” on the back. Men would come up to her and ask “What are you not obeying?”. She explained, “So many limitations are put on women by men, society, and themselves. Putting your foot down and knowing what you want is so fucking cool. You have to stand firm, but also know when to be soft. No one is a bad-ass bitch at all times. Explore both sides of the spectrum and find a balance.”
Drawing Inspiration & The Creative Process
Every creative’s process is different, this leads to producing unique work that is a direct representation of who they are and what they’re feeling in the current moment.“My brand is so close to who I am, me and the brand are just one. It’s so vulnerable, you’re turning yourself inside-out for the world to see.”
Other sources of inspiration are the domination culture and metal bands from the 80’s. Music is a huge inspiration behind the brand’s aesthetic. From Motorhead and Judas Priest, to Betsy Bitch – the classics. All of which are directly translated into her work.Keep going...
A Gang Of Badass Women
Meeting Nat, it’s evident that the fashion brand is a direct representation of who she is. Decked out in black, studs and leather, the young designer has a badass appeal. She’s jam packed with a contagious energy which is bound to uplift and empower any woman she comes into contact with.
We dove deeper to learn about the community of badass women she has built around the Refuse to Obey brand. Intrigued by dominant women who carry out that role in the bedroom and in their real lives, the designs cross over bondage and fetish wear. The garments are considered a “power” statement, and the dominant feminine energy is amplified within every piece.
Fashion is known to be transformation to one’s spirit and self-perception. It has the ability to shift the person’s energy and pull out qualities within that them they may have not yet discovered. “I don’t get to be there when international customers put things on, but when I’m working with models and seeing them put something on is the coolest. It shifts the energy in the room and brings out the power within them, it’s fucking cool to experience. I hope that whenever someone gets a package, they feel that.”
The Unconventional Creatives
With every Unconventional Creatives interview, it’s always interesting to see how the entrepreneur’s background, where they draw inspiration, and their creative process comes full circle to create their brand.
What does the future hold?
To wrap up the interview, we asked Nat what her business and personal goals are for 2020. Aside from expanding into a warehouse and producing on a larger scale, she plans on getting away from her sewing machine for a bit to ride cross-country this summer. She aims to connect with people, sell at bike meet ups and festivals.
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