Launching a brand in the middle of a pandemic is hard enough. Madelyn Somers took it one step further and created a clothing line centered entirely around travel amidst the start of COVID-19 called Made Some Souvenirs. Suddenly, Somers was able to get her travel fix without ever leaving the comforts of home.
Kitschy souvenirs like bucket hats, scrunchies, key chains and candy-colored tees all help bring the collection to life. The brand pays homage to some of the most recognizable monuments of India's Taj Mahal, Italy's Leaning Tower of Pisa, Turkey's Hagia Sophia, Cambodia's Angkor Wat and many more.
PAPER caught up with Somers to learn how her many years of traveling inspired her to create a tourism-friendly brand as borders slowly start opening up.
What's your fashion background look like?
I received a graphic design degree from Parsons School of Design and worked in New York for seven years in fashion both as a graphic designer and art director. Growing up, I was always into fashion and since my mom was a fashion designer in the '70s she was always down for a project. I'd always bring back clothing and fabric from flea markets and thrift stores that I wanted tailored in a certain way and she'd help me turn it into something unique. My childhood and still to this day—when you go over to my parent's house there is always a project happening on the dining room table; sewing machine, paper for collages, paints, colored pencils, you name it.
What was it like creating a brand centered around a love for travel whilst in the middle of a pandemic?
I've been really fortunate in my life that I've gotten to travel—I've made it a priority to see as many places as I can. So obviously during the pandemic I struggled to find new things to inspire me—a reason I love to travel is the immersiveness of new cultures, foods, sights, art, design—so I decided to pay homage to the places that had inspired me and thus, Made Some Souvenirs was born.
What about traveling the world made you want to create a souvenir clothing brand?
I've always loved the idea of a souvenir—some kind of keepsake to remind you of a place you've visited or an experience you've had. There is something so wholesome about wearing something that tells others you've been there in the same way we take photos. My home is filled with all sorts of mementos like that plate I got in Puglia during my road trip through Southern Italy with my dad, or that coke-a-cola bottle written in Arabic from a work trip to Morocco or that ceramic mug I got from a souvenir shop during my New Years Eve trip to Japan.
I look around my home and I can't not reflect on all that I've experienced because of what I see around me and it makes me smile. I started with places I had been to and recently started making souvenirs for places I've still yet to explore...still a very long list. I also love the humor and familiarity behind souvenirs like t-shirts that say "I went to Mexico and all I got was this lousy shirt" or Milton Glaser's famous I <3 NY logo to promote tourism in New York City. These logos and sayings are ingrained in our culture like knowing that everyone who goes to the Leaning Tower of Pisa will get the shot of them holding it up. It's all just so lighthearted and fun.
How does the '70s era of travel that you based your collection around inspire you? What are some of your other inspirations?
My love of the '70s really came from my parents since that's when they were in their 20s and being carefree. My dad grew up in Venice, California, and surfed the world in the '70s while my mom who also grew up in LA was doing her art and living in Hawaii. Looking at old photos and hearing stories it was such a laidback decade, blissfully naive and living life to the fullest—something that has been sadly stripped away in recent years. That way of life was something I wanted to infuse into Made Some Souvenirs—that youthful vacation energy—that first time exploring unseen places, unheard sounds, and untasted bites. They're a reminder that travel is more than just the moment, it's the memory. I also love the color palette, graphic design, and tourist photography from the '70s. Alexander Girard, Slim Aarons, and Martin Parr are some of my heroes.
You have clothing and accessories based on some iconic places like Greece's Acropolis and Cambodia's Angkor Wat. What is one place you're looking forward to going to in the nearby future?
India has always been at the top of my list. It's such a beautiful country—so rich in color, (two of my favorite colors being orange and green), culture and authenticity. I really can't wait to see the Taj Mahal in person one day.
What is one clothing souvenir that you have cherished the most over the years?
I have so many favorite t-shirts from places I've traveled over the years although my souvenir tourist tee is now my go-to. I do still love this really simple one from Cadaques, Spain that I wear all the time. I also have an Athens' Olympic Bucket Hat I got when I was last there in 2019 because they had an overstock of it from the 2004 games. I love anything Olympic-related.
What's next for the brand?
I have a lot of exciting collaborations coming up with some notable brands which I can't wait to share. But I'm really trying to focus on expanding my product categories. I know the men have been asking for some souvenirs—I definitely want to come out with more unisex offerings. The world of souvenirs is truly endless and I want to continue to stay in the travel realm—so working on a packable tote and some more playful novelty items because Made Some _______ is really endless.
Photos courtesy of Made Some Souvenirs