How can you not smile when you hear the brand name Marshmallow? Before you even see the clothes, you sense that they’re a little sweet, or even fluffy—if not in texture, then in their lighthearted attitude. That’s certainly the case for a new line by creative director Susan Winget and fashion historian Laura McLaws Helms. The women have been friends since they met in the ’90s at Winget’s former partner Tracy Feith’s Nolita shop. “That store was like a tribe of mythically powerful women, and Laura came in one day when she was very young,” Winget says. “We had this weird connection, because she’s obsessed with the late ’70s, which is the era that I grew up in. It’s funny. I have nostalgia, and she has this fantasy version.” Over the years, this affinity has translated to a shared love of vintage shopping, pretty florals, and the lush bohemian imagery of that decade—and a few coauthored projects, too. First, a magazine and website called Lady, a “democratic, fundamentally inclusive” place to feature artists, designers, musicians, and other ladies they idolize. Next up, the aforementioned Marshmallow, which will provide a new body-positive uniform for those same trailblazing women.
Much like the pages of Lady, Marshmallow is unapologetically feminine, personable, and accessible above all. “When we decided to start making clothes, [we realized that] it goes back to the beginning of our friendship in Tracy’s shop,” Winget says. “For years, Laura and I have been talking about the rise of e-commerce and [how it lacks] the subtleties of a great dress shop, where you know every client, you know their ne, you know if they just had a baby or broke up with someone . . . we knew all of that language.” And so, even before they considered what the clothes might look like, Winget knew how they should feel—evoking the same ease and comfort as Helms’s newborn kitten, Marshmallow. “Laura would post all of these photos of the cat luxuriating in her beautiful apartment, and I said, ‘I just want to be like Marshmallow!’ ” she says with a laugh. “I want to lay around and stretch all day on that gorgeous couch . . . so one day I said, ‘I think I want to make stretchy clothes and call them Marshmallow.’ ”