MultiplicityTO: You are heavily involved in second-hand clothing community and movement in Toronto, whether that be through thrifting or working at various consignment stores. Can you speak more on this involvement?
Mary Stacey: I’ve actually been involved in vintage and second hand ever since I started to have a sense of style, or a choice in what I wear. I’m constantly being involved with it — I’m always trying to sell my things whether it be literally outside of my house or just at small local venues or collaborating with other girls trying to sell their stuff. I’m always thrifting and scouring second-hand clothing stores, and I think it’s a little bit of a strange addiction.
MTO: It’s like the hunt.
MS: Yeah, it’s literally the hunt! I had someone tell me that I can just easily go on yahoo.jp and select what I want and order and that’s it. They were like, “You can skip the hunt and get the thing you want right away,” and i’m like, “no no no the process is the hunt,” and there’s an addiction to that feeling of ecstacy when you find that one treasure, and knowing that this treasure has been and can possibly be with somebody else at another time.
You value and appreciate the simplicity of the treasure and how much memory lives inside this one thing.
I’m always thinking about secondhand clothing and vintage clothing and where I work — I’m constantly being surrounded by people’s lives and peoples closets and it’s really intense, especially being a sensitive person, but I think that’s part of why this is all so appealing to me. I get to experience so many different kinds of lives, just looking through people’s bags of clothing.
MTO: What do you love about fashion as an outlet of POC?
MS: I feel like I love that I have control. As a POC, you sometimes feel like other people control you and other people have the say. It’s almost like you’re just a trope or a character of some sort, kind of like a made up version of whatever people think you are. And I feel like clothing is an unspoken language to deflect that. It’s a statement. It’s like, this is actually who I am and I’m going to express myself in whatever way I want — and that’s what I love about it. You have absolute power and people may not think that clothing has a powerful effect on people, but it’s the first thing people see, it’s almost even more powerful than first impressions. Actually, the first impression is what you’re wearing, it’s how your expression is co-existing with what you’re wearing. That’s the first impression and that has a lot of power.
I see a lot of POC individuals especially in this day and age having very unique styles and feeling more comfortable in their skin and being able to mold themselves to however they want to be. And I even see it in like 80s and 90s Tokyo fashion— they have been doing this for so long! And the fact that they have existed and they have this fashion platform is just really inspiring and I don’t feel as scared to express myself.
"You value and appreciate the simplicity of the treasure and how much memory lives inside this one thing."
MTO: How do you mediate yourself as someone who curates versus someone who creates? Or do you not see a distinction between the two?
MS: I definitely struggle with knowing that they’re both different and distinct from each other, and I try to trick myself into thinking it’s the same thing. I feel like whatever you choose, whether it’s a designer or a buyer, it’s all underneath the same umbrella. They’re just subcategories of design. I definitely have a dream of having that absolute control and on a blank piece of paper drawing whatever I want and having that be created but I want to be able to be more in touch with reality first, and then move on to my fantasies. I feel like one is reality and one is fantasy and i’m trying really hard to just work within the reality that i’m in— and I feel like clothing gives you that. It’s a grounding feeling. I feel like I don’t have control in reality, and so much control of fantasy that it becomes an uncontrollable like—
MTO: That’s so Pisces.
MS: Oh my god, it’s so Pisces! [laughs]
So I definitely struggle with thoughts that I am a “fake artist” because i’m just collecting things and delving into my imagination and pulling random ideas from my head? But I realized there is an art to curation and finding beauty in the ugliest things.
MTO: Through your curated fashion and social media platforms you seem to have a very distinct aesthetic. What are the things you love that drive and influence you creatively?
The things that I love? Wow.
MTO: Is that hard?
MS: Yeah, it’s a very intense question. In the way that I express myself, I feel like I’m actually just pulling things from my past self, reiterating them and then making them extremely obnoxious — that’s my self expression. And I like to describe it as a very self-aware, unapologetic, and cringe. I love just enveloping myself with the things I used to love. I remember all the things I used to love like animation, dolls, music and all of these things I used to be embarrassed about when I was younger. Now that I have a more stable sense of self, I can bring these things back to the present and be completely obnoxious about it. That’s what is really powerful about having a social media personality and profile, you can carefully place everything where you want it to be.
MTO: With Multiplicity, we try to acknowledge everyone is more than one thing, whether that be through our cultural identities, or even through artistic practices, such as not fitting into one discipline. It really relates to what you said about curation vs creation. There’s this idea of binaries there but Multiplicity encourages transgressing the idea of binaries.
MS: I feel like I can relate to Multiplicity in being mixed. I’m never feeling like I’m one thing. My entire being is just completely chaotic, but in the best way possible? I feel like a chameleon and just all of these different things combined. And this feeling has been growing more present and more present every day that I continue to exist and I can’t wait to just be an old person and continue to develop myself.
MTO: What are you up to now?
MS: I’m trying to work on exposing the thoughts and feelings and ideas that I have and I want to share myself. I feel like I’m very guarded about myself, but the more that I share myself with people and the more that I involve other people and accept other people, the more we’ll all grow and the more safe we’ll all feel. So I’m trying to do that with PURRR. It’s this intangible, not even a club, because that sounds exclusive, but just this group of love. I’m also trying to actually get out there with selling and sharing clothing. Just being more proud of who I am and who I am as an artist.