Created by UMN students, Pacify MPLS melds social justice and streetwear

A&E sat down with the trio behind local streetwear brand Pacify to talk social justice, art and Jimi Hendrix.

Maddie Bolatto paints a jacket for local clothing brand, Pacify. The brand, created by three local female artists, focuses on creating original pieces from thrifted clothing.

Image by Maddy Fox

Maddie Bolatto paints a jacket for local clothing brand, Pacify. The brand, created by three local female artists, focuses on creating original pieces from thrifted clothing.

by Maddy Folstein

Pacify MPLS is an anti-label, pro-environment streetwear brand — it takes inspiration from pressing social justice issues and its creators’ artistic, though untrained, impulses.

It’s also the brain child of three friends: Gabby Bolatto, a senior in high school; her older sister Maddie Bolatto, a senior studying Spanish and psychology at the University of Minnesota, and Lisa Persson, a senior studying biology at the University.

Together, the trio has created the brand by printing handmade designs on mostly recycled clothing.

A&E spoke with the women behind Pacify about their history, inspirations and goals.

What are your backgrounds in fashion and design? Have you had any training?

Gabby Bolatto: I had a brand before, but that kind of fell through once Pacify started.

Maddie Bolatto: We all have experience in the arts, but not so much fashion. I think we’re all just creative people, and we decided to put it together.

Lisa Persson: And turn it into clothes.

Who are your individual style inspirations?

MB: Jimi Hendrix, lately — patterns and bright colors and trippy clothes.

LP: I used to be pretty obsessed with a brand called Mamadoux [and their creative director, Palma Wright].

GB: Since I shaved my head I’ve been getting into more of a punk look. I feel like I’m just inspired by Willow Smith, in general.

What led you to start Pacify together?

MB: We’ve always been playing off each other, creatively. We thought, ‘Hey, screw this thing Gabby’s working on. Let’s just start our own thing because we all have our own creative passions and good ideas.’

LP: There was one night where we put on a bunch of paint and googly eyes and painted our hair. We were shooting photos and were basically like, ‘Wow, we could actually do something if we just got together.’

How did you come up with the idea of using recycled clothes or items you find in thrift shops?

MB: We all try to live a pretty natural, eco-friendly lifestyle.

LP: There’s a lot of water waste that goes into the production of every article of clothing, and unfair labor practices. If we’re thrifting it, we’re not feeding into those practices as much.

GB: There’s already so much clothing out there; there’s no need to buy new pieces.

How do you create the designs for your pieces? What are your creative processes?

MB: With the custom pieces … we paint on those. And then we get our big collections screen-printed. As far as creative processes, I do a lot of sketching. I will never encounter the denim until I know what I’m going to put on it.

LP: My custom pieces are super simple. I do slime drips, raindrops and patterns. We’ve also been looking into getting more into embroidering.

A lot of your work has a social justice focus. How do you pick these causes, and what made you decide to speak about them through clothing?

GB: I feel like that’s what our brand is about. We accept everyone, and we want to show that in our clothes. It only makes sense that we would donate to causes that we care about because we’re all socially aware.

LP: I think we’re all pretty in-tune with what people our age are concerned about and how the government is impacting the lives of us and our friends. Art always reflects the times, so the more art we create the more awareness we spread. The more money we can raise for our causes, the more change we’ll see.

Editor’s note: this interview has been edited for length and clarity. Lisa is a former Minnesota Daily photographer.