Marketing Major student Myles Payne studies by day, but in his free time he pursues his ultimate dream of his clothing brand Ugly Face – taking-off with accelerated force. His clothing uniquely stands-out on campus when he walks to and from class. I sat down with this local visionary to discuss his inspirations of his brand, thoughts on Houston fashion, and even his views about black expression and art in fashion.
Why the name “Ugly Face” for your brand?
It just came to me. The name sounded cool and I couldn’t get it ou
t of my head for a while. But I look at everything I make and draw and it’s not pretty. Even the things that I sew, with their imperfections and not being clean cut, I like it like that because people aren’t clean cut. Humans are really driven by emotion, and sometimes that may be deemed as ugly by others because you’re supposed to act a certain way in society, but I don’t like to hide my emotions. That opinion comes down to what I make and wear. I don’t care if you think it’s ugly, I’m going do what I want. And that’s what Ugly Face is about: doing what you want and not caring what others think about your style.
What and/ or who inspired you to first start designing and sewing?
Piet Parra. He’s an artist out in Amsterdam, and he’s basically living the life that I want to live. He does graphic design, makes his own skateboards, and has also worked with a lot of fashion designers like Alexander McQueen. His artwork is really pop-art, and to see that used in every platform for me is like “Okay, I can do that too”.
What’s your process usually like when you design and make your clothes?
I’m really impulsive. A lot of the graphics for the bleached shirts are actually really emotionally driven. They’re some points in my life, and I basically summarize it up into one drawing. I think “This is an important image to me, and I’m sure someone else is going through the same thing”, or they can also interpret it however they want.
For example, I have a flower stenciled t-shirt that was inspired by my girlfriend. It was a token of my appreciation and symbolism for self-love. Another example is the inspiration for the “I am the boxer” t-shirt. It’s been a really hectic year for me. I’ve kind of been homeless. Actually, I’m currently homeless but I’m still working, still making art, still making clothes; I’m the boxer and I’m still fighting. I’m not gonna lie down and let this world run all over me. I’m still going to do what I want to do. I’m also kind of a sci-fi geek. I grew up watching “The Twilight Zone” and “The Outer Limits” with my dad. All of those ‘60’s, space alien costumes kind of found their way into my drawing style. I’ve been stuck on it. Sci-fi is a massive inspiration.
Do you hope to have a future career as a designer?
I want to be like Piet Parra. I want to make skateboards, I want to have my own skate shop, sell my clothes in a skate shop and carry other local designers. My idea of Ugly Face was for it to become more of a collective and have other people on the team creating stuff with me; basically an artist collective like Uncommon Colors on campus. I want to do what they’re doing. They have photographers, models, poets, and musicians. I want Ugly Face to go in that same direction but for clothes; having different types of designers and styles.
What are your thoughts on representation of alternative black people in fashion?
Have you heard of Afropunk? It shouldn’t be compartmentalized to being a creative, artistic, or intelligent black person. You’re just an intelligent black person. The whole Afropunk wave I’m for it, but it’s kind of a shame that we can’t just be; that we have to put someone in a genre just because they’re creative or successful. I walked into a thrift shop once and this lady working there saw the way I was dressed and asked if I was Afropunk. I never had anyone ask me that so I was confused and asked her what it was and she gave me the rundown that she was basically asking “Am I a black person that enjoys art?” or “Am I a black person that is health conscious?” I couldn’t wrap my head around that question.
How would you describe the fashion scene in Houston and University of Houston?
A lot of people have style at UH. I check everyone out a lot and think “That’s a cool fit”. A lot of times the way people dress communicates what they’re really into. For me I’m all over the place so I dress like I’m all over the place. But the punk scene for instance, you can definitely pick up when someone is into that and I get inspired. But as far as Houston, I believe this city has a ceiling and that kind of sucks. But we are a business city. It’s not really about art here, we are about the oil industry and IT work. But I do see the fashion scene here starting to bubble-up.
We have our festivals, Black Market Houston, Spring Street Studios, and Winter Street Studios. When you go to their events, you see that we’re not completely under-the-radar as we typically think. But a lot of the designers and modeling agencies here have a lot to learn from other places. I think in that sense we are still conservative in who gets casted in shows or even what designers make. It’s rare that I see a designer in Houston who creates something that I haven’t seen anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong I have seen it, but it’s very far and few. With Ugly Face I hope that it’s fairly unique to this location. I hope that the clothes that I make and wear is a little out-of-the-norm compared to most fashion-heads here.