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The Founders of Interior Are Masters of Earnest Angst

Best friends since middle school, Lily Miesmer and Jack Miner chat with us in their attic studio.

The Founders of Interior Are Masters of Earnest Angst
Sarah Lou Kiernan

When the founders Lily Miesmer and Jack Miner of fledgling New York-based label Interior were conceptualizing their Spring ‘23 collection, they found inspiration in Jane Eyre, the novel by Charlotte Brontë. The strong-willed protagonist carried little favor for the creatives, nor did her rugged love interest. Instead, they honed in on the misunderstood woman Mr. Rochester kept locked away in his attic. “We relate to her and how misrepresented she was,” says Miesmer. They obsessed over this idea of deterioration in her mental state—and her night dress.

They personified this idea in a white, almost monastic floor-length shirt dress, “a surrealist nightgown” as Miner calls it. The effect is somewhere between asylum escapee and loyal patron of The Row. The designers further massaged the idea of a shirt dress in said look's runway predecessor by tacking up the hemline and reimagining the construction. “I think for us there's always something a little wrong with everything we make,” says Miesmer. “So if retailers love a cute little poplin dress and if women love that and if I love that as a woman, okay. But we're going to make it backwards and we're going to give it four arms so it can be worn with the arms tied up, or with the arms tied down," she continues. "It looks like this cool deflated octopus.”

Interior co-founders Jack Miner and Lily Miesmer in their midtown studio.

The kindred spirits and co-founders met in eighth grade math class. “We were always really interested in the same shit,” says Miesmer. In high school, they bonded over a shared love for Brett Easton Ellis, Kathy Griffin’s My Life on the D-List, and a mutual distaste for their suburb in New England—the type of stuff “suburban kids are so often into but honestly shouldn't be,” Miesmer clarifies. The best friends “fell in love” to the tune of Fireworks by Animal Collective. It was "classic teen angst," explains Miner of their innocent nihilism. Some twenty years later, they wanted to create something that would spark the same emotions as those high-school-era art forms. And they wanted to do it together.

After years in the fashion industry (Miesmer began with a quick stint in the editorial world then onto marketing, Miner in fashion VC then operations at Bode), they birthed Interior in 2020. When it started, the brand wasn’t so much about product in the fill-a-gap-in-the-market sense. The two creatives attempted to channel their shared ethos into the form of clothing, Miesmer explains of their “super villain origin story.” Luckily, they like—and hate—all the same things. “In a showroom, we'll meet Lady in the Tramp pasta-noodle-style on the same fabric,” she laughs.

Essentially, Interior exemplifies their own taste, which they hone further every season. “This angst-y, nostalgic-feeling, emotional charge through our friendship and our bond and our love for one another naturally comes out in the brand by nature of when we first came together,” muses Miner. “If we had met in our mid twenties, it just wouldn't be there.”

“In a showroom, we'll meet Lady in the Tramp pasta-noodle-style on the same fabric,” Miesmer says of their shared preferences.

"There's something really nice about being in a space that really feels like a representation of who you are," says Miner.

"Fashion is often so about having this iron clad face that you present to the world and this bulletproof sense of aesthetics," says Miesmer. "Often, I get dressed and I'm like, 'you look like shit.'"

Initially, they experimented with “more cautious, earnest elements," but with "a lot of the off-kilter stuff that we really love,” Miesmer reflects. Think a piece-y jacket inspired by armor that looks as if ribbons are barely holding the fabric together or a corseted blue dress whose silhouette appears physically twisted. This past season felt a bit more refined, a bit less sweet. “The collection was really the most me that we'd ever made,” says Miesmer of what I perceived as a sophisticated older cousin of the Indie Sleaze movement. “I was finally gloves off, just selfishly designing for myself.” Miner constantly deferred to Miesmer as not only the expert in minute product details, but the expert in a woman's approach to getting dressed.

“I dress like shit," she laughs. "It's very important to dress like shit." Miesmer describes The Row as “monastic,” “hilarious,” and “worth every penny.” She loves Old Cèline, Margiela, and Issey Miyake. She buys pants too big and rolls the waistband—a habit she attributes to the Soffe shorts she wore as a tween. When we visited Interior's studio, the designer was dressed in grey sweatpants, an Interior button down, and dainty ballet slippers—the footwear of choice for their most recent fashion show.

"Even though it's only four years of our lives, high school felt like this ocean of time where you were just really working through things. It fortified such a strong bond between the two of us. These two people who felt so like-minded coming together and working through the complexity of being alive and growing up," says Miner.

A glimpse of their Spring '23 collection.

“It's not all perfect taste. Sometimes it's bad taste,” Miner posits. “What could be more boring than perfect taste?” He grew up a Connecticut lax bro coming to terms with his sexuality. "I was deeply closeted and very much so posturing as your classic New England athlete." Don't be fooled though; Miesmer assures me he found ways to eek in his own taste with cool details, albeit subtly. The high schooler might wear a vintage polo or a torn country club t-shirt. In this same manner, he and Miesmer love to lightly “fuck up” their designs.

They describe their clothes as sexual, even perverse, a notion Miesmer explains in a story from a recent design meeting in which Interior's head of design summed up what they mean when they use the latter descriptor. She pointed out that women are so often othered, particularly in the workplace, and they deal with this very gruesome thing that happens universally once a month. Miesmer continues, "throughout most of our life experience, there's often a lot of gore and a lot of anger and a lot of surrealism,” so she laughs when male designers seem to redact womanhood down to two concepts: softness or strength. In her clothes, she attempts to “give credit to women for being the freaks that we so often are.”

The Spring '23 collection hangs in their studio.

Their process for design is highly collaborative, emphasizing both discovery and emotion.

For Spring ‘23, the Miesmer and Miner drew upon Martin Scorsese’s The Red Shoes in addition to Brontë's gothic hysteria. “I loved how in The Red Shoes, as she dances and dances and dances, her clothes and her ballet costume becoming increasingly tattered and all fucked up and covered in ash,” Miesmer explains. This obsession takes the form of a dip-dyed, frayed ballerina skirt they paired with an unraveling sweater and, of course, ballet flats. The result looks like a Degas dancer who traipsed through a muddy forest.

Today, that collection hangs in their own attic space, where we sat for our interview. Six months ago, their team of six moved into a white-washed office that sits on the top floor of a building in New York’s garment district. Now a creative haven, the space used to serve as a small theater venue. "There's something really nice about being in a space that really feels like a representation of who you are," says Miner, before Miesmer adds, “We're little dolls in our crazy Victorian dollhouse up here."

Lounging upon the blanched couches, our conversation pendulates between tangents about gory menstruation and the showing of silly duck memes they send to each other. More often though, the attic studio is a space to channel their own creative Brontë-esquemadness, whether that entails taking a steel brush to Italian linen mere days before a fashion show or screening a Fellini film for inspiration after admittedly self-prescribing a little too much DayQuil. Luckily, large windows and a skylight keep their hideaway feeling light and bright—and everyone is free to come and go as they please.

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