Malachai Spivey from Human Nature’s authentic path.
In the streetwear industry, many brands are born of the desire of designers to tell their stories, but what makes you identify yourself amid such different narratives?
You can open your Instagram right now and be bombed by tons of people talking about everything, sharing every second of their day, but you never know how much of it is real.
“I'm very transparent with everything I do – be it my personal life or my work life – because I feel that's a lost part of what's going on with the internet era. It's the disconnect of just human beings. That's why the brand is called Human Nature Worldwide.” Model, designer, full-time-creative, and HNW founder Malachai Spivey told us.
For him, it's essential to keep the authenticity and show those who support the brand that they're looking for the same thing. Spivey started to create his own pieces thinking about what he'd like to wear, what didn't exist in the right size, and the right & future-proof materials to make that piece stand out.
Not attending a fashion school and not having big contacts may have been an obstacle, but it made him grow. For the Brooklyn boy's limitless mind, the whole process was necessary for him to show who he really is.
From there, people's connection to his story was natural, attracting celebrities like Lil Nas X, Machine Gun Kelly, and Aleali May to his leather Bondage pants and other OG designs. In an exclusive chat with us, Spivey talks about the power of authenticity and how he'll turn all this humanity into a lifestyle in 2022.
How did fashion change your path and how did creativity get you here?
Well, starting off with modeling, I feel like that was a great introduction to just giving me knowledge about the game. I didn't have any guidance as to what's the next step. Sort of how I get ideas, produce, or do just any simple things. I didn't know what I was doing, but being a model, I was getting to be around designers, being on the sets, seeing their creative processes, and how everything played out.
And then just making connections through modeling gave me a boost to when I wanted to actually start to do my things. Because, before I wanted to do anything, I wanted to get knowledge on everything that I was gonna be before I did it.
So the modeling, and then just being a style influencer, and just priding myself in my clothes. I just always would study those things before I started to get into design. And then getting that knowledge for about 10, 15 years.
I've been into fashion since I was a little kid. And I put it off 'till I turned 18 or 19. That's when I started to actually do things with it. But I started the brand, I would say, about three years ago. And that's after finally getting everything I thought I needed to. I'm still learning aspects.
I feel like that impact, that modeling and just being into clothes definitely helped shape my mindset of how I wanna be the brand. Because I started off, I had my favorite brands, like Pyrex with Virgil. Those were the first-ever brands that I was interested in. And that was a big part of me building my story for my brand.
So, was it very natural for you? It's your story and the story of your work together.
Right. A lot of people ask about the story. I feel like, at first, I used to try to think very hard on a cool answer to give like "This brand was created because, you know, what I did," and so, and so. But I felt like the true story of the brand is that I'm telling my story.
I'm expressing myself through my clothes. Whether it's things that I was interested in as a child, or the way that I envisioned my life in the future. It's all just me telling my story through my own eyes, my perspective.
Which story are you most proud to have told so far?
It was the confidence. Basically, I try to push a lot of boundaries with my designs. And whether that's pushing boundaries with making masculine pieces, but doing feminine details to it. Whether it's the materials or the cuts, or how it's done. Because that's how I like to dress.
I feel that, when I design, I try to bring that same thing to my life with, "This is something that may not be accepted, but I like it and I feel good about it, and this is how I envision myself."
I'm trying to share this with people in a way that can be appreciated. And some people do appreciate it, some people don't. But it's just the fact that I'm at least able to tell my story. And people get it like that. People understand, especially seeing anybody that has followed me. I have people that have told me they've been following me on the internet for about five or six years. So, they've seen the transition of how I've grown.
When they see the pieces I make, it makes sense to them, because they know the transition that I've made from when I started to get my confidence. It's like a butterfly in a cocoon. I've got to that point now where I'm fully comfortable in the skin that I'm in. So now I'm just showing my wings, and I'm showing them through my clothes and my designs.
Your work with Human Nature seems to go beyond a brand, it's a feeling. Some of your pieces symbolize this to the maximum level, like the Leather Bondage Pants. Can you talk about its process?
With that piece, I made that design a staple piece for the brand, making it in different materials, different colors over time. But that was actually the first-ever piece that I designed and constructed. When I started with that, at this time - I think I designed those in 2018 - I posted the first samples, when I made them, on my Instagram.
I was trying to create a piece that I felt. I wanted to create a design that I've always wanted, basically. I'm very big on silhouettes of clothing. I feel the materials and everything can be played with, but it's the silhouette that makes something stand out.
Take apart, what makes Rick Owens such a big brand? The fact that he plays around with these crazy silhouettes, it's what makes them stand out. So I wanted to find a pair of pants, and I couldn't find a pair of pants. I'm so skinny, I couldn't find a pair of pants that fit me the way I wanted them to fit. And I'd like to have that look where you're a skinny person, but the pants can look a little baggy on you.
I wanted to make something a skinny person, or anybody, could wear. That was just the idea that I had in mind. And I played around with it, I made it, I sketched out. That's how I usually work, I will sketch out a design from something that I created in my head. And then I'm very hands-on, so I need to do it, even if I'm not with the person that’s manufacturing the piece.
I have a manufacturer overseas, but I'll work with him throughout the entire process because maybe at the final moment I want to add a button. So, as I was making those pants, I was like, "Oh yeah, I want to be a bit skinnier, I want them to fit like this." And I literally made those pants for myself.
That's the idea of the brand. It's like I'm making things that I've always wanted, for everyone else. And I just hope that some people will enjoy it and appreciate it the same way that I do. But coming up with the process of those pants was literally just trying to make the perfect pair of pants for myself. And I know that a lot of people want that same thing too.
How does your brand relate to people your own age, or even younger, and the message they expect?
I feel like people relate to the brand, that is my age because they can see that this was not just an overnight success. This is something that a lot of people have grown with me. I'm 25 years old now, I'm still very young. So, if anybody's been following me for even five years, they've seen me in high school. That's a big transition to where I am now.
I don't want to portray an idea of me based on the internet. I'm a real human being and I want to interact with other human beings, as real human beings should. I feel like people just appreciate the authenticity that I bring.
You can notice it through a design, you can notice through the way that I interact with people. Everything just has to be authentic. Even the models, or the celebrities I gift. I don't even like to gift celebrities that I don't build a personal relationship with.
I am a regular person, and I'm showing you that you can do exactly the same things that I'm doing. 'Cause I don't look like a guy that's in a place that you can't be. I'm from Brooklyn, New York. I've shown all these things and aspects of my life that will make people understand that.
I don't really like to use the word underdogs, because I feel like that's like selling yourself short a bit. I feel like the people who maybe don't have enough courage or are undiscovered, those are the people that I push for.
Because I've been going at this for so long. And sometimes people will be like, "How have you not gotten to this level yet?" or something. But I don't judge it in that way, I see the growth, and it's appreciated more in that way. So, the authenticity of everything is what I stand on and I feel like that's what people relate with the most.
When you're imagining your designs, do you already imagine the material you're going to use?
Actually, when I create my designs, I like to think of the piece first, because I want to make a design that I can wear like those leather Bondage pants. But basically, the point of it is that I feel that if you create such a unique design, you can play around with materials and make that an entirely new piece.
When people look at the Bondage pants that I've made in leather, and when you compare that with the same design that I've made in another material, they even fall differently, they fit differently. Leather is one of my favorites, so that's usually a go-to for a lot of them.
I feel that's the thing with fashion, it's very hard to do things that can make yourself stand out. You need to always have pants, you need to have jackets, you need to have shirts. Those are always gonna be done, but how can you make a shirt not look like all those shirts? How can you make a jacket not look like that? I feel once you get the authentic design done, you can play around with the possibilities.
What can we expect for this year?
I wanna say that I'm gonna really turn this brand into a lifestyle brand. Which has always been the plan for the brand. 2021 was me trying to introduce people and get people familiar with just a piece of my mind. I've only maybe released less than 20 pieces, but I've designed so many pieces already.
I wanna make houseware, I wanna make furniture, I wanna make collectible things that just transport way beyond clothes. Because I'm not just into clothes, I'm into art as a whole. I like to decorate my home. If you're into style, you want your home to look good, you want your car to look nice. Everything about you has to fit that same aesthetic of your life.
I wanna continue to make things that I feel like are not in the world, that I want. And I just wanna continue to show people the way that I process life and understand human beings and that takes me further with this too. Not just seeing things through my own eyes, I just wanna do every type of artistic thing that I can.
I know that I do have many ideas that I've already put into production, samples that I've gotten made, so I'm just gonna be as creative as I possibly can. I don't wanna waste any days with ideas. Sometimes, I'll just sit and think about ideas and, then, I'll get upset at myself like, "Why are you still thinking about this when you can just literally put it out?" That's just what I've been doing, so you'll see lots of clothes, but also more than just clothes.
Just for the record, we don't forget the METCHA x Malachai podcast idea. While we don't meet again, we can feel something in the air, it's Spivey's creativity spreading. And if there's anyone who can bring humanity back with all-in-one designs, it's him.
Discover what the world will look like for creatives in the near future.