Shayli Harrison of MUTANI speaks about staging a creative coup

Shayli Harrison of MUTANI speaks about staging a creative coup
Courtesy of MUTANI
We interviewed Shayli Harrison, founder and creative director of the network MUTANI, about her work as a designer and her actions on the front lines of the digital fashion revolution. Harrison is originally from Australia but relocated to Belgium to study at the legendary Fashion Department at Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp. After graduating she founded MUTANI in collaboration with industry veteran Ann Claes. The following conversation has been edited for clarity and length.

Tell us about the inspiration behind the name MUTANI.

We called our company MUTANI as an alternative (and cute) way to spell MUTINY. This is a name and a network with which we are staging a creative coup against repressive fashion industry models.

How does your brand fit into the unique fashion scene in Antwerp?

MUTANI is born out of the Antwerp fashion scene. Our co-founder Ann Claes has worked in the industry for 30 years now and advises fashion start-ups through her work at Flanders DC. I am a graduate of the Antwerp Fashion Department, where I was mentored by Dirk Van Saene and Walter Van Beirendonck – two of the Antwerp Six that placed this city on the map and in the history books of avant-garde fashion.

Like my peers, I moved on to work in luxury and couture fashion – where many graduates are spearheading and designing for some of the most progressive brands of our time. For example, Demna Gvasalia (Balenciaga), Glenn Martens (Y/Project, Diesel) and Raf Simons (Dior, Calvin Klein, Prada), as well as those who have left great legacies such as A + F Vandevorst, whom we share an office with. All of us transit this space because we are passionate and creatively fueled, which is why at MUTANI we have an advantage to start at our own front door. Of course, we are not exclusively working with Antwerp fashion connections, but this is the benchmark for the raw imagination we are looking for. We feel this is what makes sense within game subcultures and immersive virtual environments.

Shayli Harrison

How exactly does MUTANI collaborate with designers and platforms?

We are building a network in the digital ecosystem that offers guidelines, support and services to IRL designers looking to reach URL audiences. We curate and match next-level designers with our technical teams to produce digital assets that feel the fantasy of games spaces and on-chain marketplaces. We consider ourselves as one resource for all parties: designers, developers, marketplaces and game spaces.

DEEP FEE(R) by Shayli Harrison x MUTANI at CFW 22

Your recent work at CFW 22 was marked by a strong political engagement, and also a unique cultural aesthetic. Tell us more about the garment and how you conceived it.

π““π“”π“”π“Ÿ 𝓕𝓔𝓔(𝓑) Β is reflective of the current state of our oceans, referencing the protective medical wear the pandemic scattered all over the world. Stained by the artificial colours of ocean debris, the appearance is so unnatural that it meets the unique hues that is the coral reef. Contrasting with plastics treated as elegant textiles, this look eloquently tells the tragic tale of sea life caught in trash.

What are some of the upcoming projects for MUTANI and what directions do you want to take the fashion house in the future?

We have been hard at work on a six month project supported by the City of Antwerp, working with six Antwerp Fashion Department alumni on some face-melting digital fashion animations. Currently it is crunch time, so my face has melted into the computer screen!

In the future, our goal is to become the premier source for the most far out fashion in the cyberscene. We will expand our network, community and development teams to create more and more and more immersive extravaganzas.