Judging from the social media buzz and enthusiastic fans who voted on their favourite designs for this project, the roller derby world is super pumped about the STEAKS x MX LOUD collaboration. This sort of thing doesn’t happen every day, so we decided to talk with the two cool creative minds behind it all to hear more.
We asked Suvi 💎 (Product Designer & CEO of STEAKS® Contact Wear) and Sarah 🌈 (Pattern Designer and founder of MX LOUD) a few questions about how they found each other, why their two brands work so well together and their inspiration for the project:
Let’s start with how you met. One of the great things about roller derby is that it’s such an internationally diverse community. How did you become aware of each other’s brands?
Sarah 🌈: We’ve never actually met! Not in person anyway. To be honest, I can’t pinpoint when or how I became aware of STEAKS… but it was roughly two years ago and I’ve worn them non-stop ever since.
Suvi 💎: I had come across MX Loud on Instagram, and I was amused by their “Anti-Cameltoe technology” – which was a similar kind of crotch gusset that we use in our shorts. We just did not have that cool name for it! Then I checked out the MX Loud website. I learned that it was an indie brand from Australia and from the IG post, I assumed it was from roller derby community, but at that time I wasn’t sure who was behind it.
The unique collaboration between STEAKS® Contact Wear and MX LOUD brings two very different design aesthetics from two very different countries (Finland and Australia) that are on opposite sides of the globe, together.
Sarah 🌈, what drew you to STEAKS?
I was already using STEAKS and was a fan of the product before asking Suvi about collaborating. I remember not ever having any second thoughts about the need for wearing STEAKS in this sport (roller derby) and acquired them quickly after learning they existed. I have been unlucky with injuries, so I don’t see the point in not taking all the precautions you can.
Suvi 💎, what do you like about MX LOUD?
I like the designs! The playful colours and oversized patterns, that make MX LOUD loud, but not in an awkward way. I am a fan of 80’s and 90’s nostalgia. The prints remind me of my childhood, big hair, electronic pop, power suits and action heroes. I also like how Sarah has built the brand website and brand message. The overall look is clean and easy to understand.
Did you know right from the beginning that you wanted to work on something together? How did that develop?
Sarah 🌈: My business hadn’t been born yet when I first started using STEAKS — though I did know that I wanted them in colourful and cool patterns, as my only criticism of the STEAKS products was that they were only available in black. I didn’t think I would be the one designing these first fun patterns.
I was in contact with Suvi for a couple of STEAKS related things; I helped one of their sponsored skaters (Lorrage) with a STEAKS promotional video and was also one of the people working with Suvi in the development and organisation of VRDL’s current uniforms.
By the end of 2017, I was starting up my own leggings brand with fabulous designs on tough sports fabric. Whilst I love my leggings, I found that I wasn’t wearing them to roller derby because STEAKS® Contact Wear to me is essential. Just as I wouldn’t skate without my helmet, I also wouldn’t skate without my STEAKS shorts. So if I wanted to wear my leggings, I would wear them over my STEAKS shorts in winter.
I finally figured there was no harm in asking Suvi whether she wanted to collaborate, because as an avid STEAKS consumer myself and talking to teammates, I knew there were most likely others that would be keen for colourful STEAKS. Because I knew Suvi has an ethical production process like me, I thought a collaboration would be worthwhile in helping our businesses grow, not only for the roller derby community but to support businesses that are doing their best for makers in the fashion industry.
Suvi 💎: Sarah’s suggestion came at the right time. STEAKS® Contact Wear was born in Finland, where nature is black, white and all shades of grey most of the year. Our green trees and plants are small and modest due to the northern climate — evergreen plants that are dark and spiky all year round. We aren’t used to loud voices and our personal space is 0,80-1,00m. Most Finns suffer from social anxiety, yet our whole population is only 5,5 million people. We like black as a colour because it matches our souls, but it’s also practical for team uniforms.
For us, making the shorts in bright colours is like speaking another language. We are super stoked to collaborate with MX LOUD, who speak that language better than us and can help us reach new listeners or bring a new perspective to our existing customers.
Together STEAKS® Contact Wear & MX LOUD bring you
4 STEAKS products in 3 MX LOUD prints:
Basic Crash Shorts
Flesh Diamond Shorts
available in the prints Loud Leopard & 80s Excellence
available in the print Intracellar
available in the prints 80s Excellence & Loud Leopard
available in the MX LOUD pints 80s Excellence & Loud Leopard
Sarah 🌈, your patterns have a fun 80s/90s vibe to them. Where do you get your inspiration when creating your designs?
Definitely the 80s and 90s, all those types of designs that are no longer in circulation. Over the years I’ve kept my eyes out but I haven’t been able to find quite what I’m after, so I figured I’d design the patterns of my dreams. Often when looking at patterns in adult clothing, I’ll find something that is almost excellent but is ruined but something my partner and I call “adult colours”: Imagine a bright pink, blue and purple pattern that then has a khaki or maroon component mixed in for no apparent reason other than to ruin a perfectly good pattern (in my opinion)… It just makes you question “whyyyyyyy?????” 😩
I’m also very particular about shapes used, as well as the size and detail of repeats in patterns. As such, I make my designs on a large canvas to ensure varied and seamless repeats. Like many artists, I am a perfectionist and sometimes, to release designs, I have to reign it in when I find myself fixated on all the possible options and unnecessary details.
Suvi 💎, up until now, most STEAKS products have been sleek and simple in black. What made you decide that MX LOUD’s patterns would be the best way to bring a splash of colour into your collection?
I had been thinking of making colourful versions of the shorts, but being a practical Finn, that colour splash could have been something as simple as army green or dark grey. Adult colours, like Sarah, said! Working with an outside partner helped us to step out of the brand and play around a bit. We are like children who roleplay colours now! Instead of bringing one or two adult colours into the collection, it was better to blow minds all at once — and blame MX LOUD for it.
The initial MX LOUD patterns that were put up for the vote!
MX LOUD design pattern: 80s' Excellence
Fun fact: this pattern almost did not make it into production. Thanks to your votes it did.
MX LOUD design pattern: Loud Leopard
This was one of your favourites and also one of ours.
MX LOUD design pattern: Intracellar
Another one of your favourites!
MX LOUD design pattern: Queer Giraffe
One of our favourites, but not yours - it did not make it into production.
Have you learned anything from each other while working together on this project? How is developing a shared product different than working on your own?
Sarah 🌈: Through collaborating with Suvi I have learnt how different production systems work; the different stages and details compared to MX LOUD‘s processes in Australia. I’ve also been exposed to STEAKS’ in depth marketing approaches. Probably most eye opening for me is that I should give more of my designs a chance, as Suvi loved some that I wasn’t quite sure of. This gave me more confidence in my ideas as well as the drive to ensure I consult with my customers before I repurpose them or write them off.
Suvi 💎: I‘ve learned that there are other colors than black and people have liked them! Our customers are bolder than I expected.
Inclusiveness and body positivity are really important values for both of your brands. How does this collaboration celebrate those ideas? How do you want people to feel when they put on your new products?
Sarah 🌈: Wearing bright “Loud” patterns is a simple way of affirming you don’t need to be hidden. It’s one way of displaying that you are proud of who you are no matter what form you take — regardless of your size, race, background, gender and/or sexuality. In this collaboration, I want people to feel confident, not only because they can express themselves in fabulous patterns but also because they are wearing the best personal protection wear in this sport.
Suvi 💎: Couldn’t agree more. Our approach to the inclusiveness has been always taking care of the individual aspect in this sport, everyone needs to be protected — now with bright colours on top! I want people to feel powerful, happy and supported when they are wearing the new products!
If you had to sum up “The Summer Will Be LOUD” collab in one word (other than “loud” of course), what would it be?
Sarah 🌈: Antici….pation.