Made Lapuerta, Harvard's Up-and-Coming Designer!

A few weeks ago I met with current Harvard undergrad Made Lapuerta who has launched her own clothing line. Made studies Computer Science and Economics and is in her junior year at Harvard. Her line was recently featured on the runway at Harvard's annual Identities Fashion Show (images of her clothing on the runway are included below).

Computer science and fashion seem like such different career paths! Can you tell me a little more about how you balance the two?

Although I love all things tech, it’s really important to me to maintain a creative outlet outside of school work. This past summer I decided to start a clothing line mostly as a side project to challenge myself to step outside of my comfort zone and try something completely new. I used to take sewing classes when I was around thirteen years old, so I was familiar enough with fabric, sewing, and apparel design to be able to develop a vision for this project.

I originally launched my line as “BYTES Clothing”: clothing particularly catered towards women in male-dominated STEM fields. Its purpose was to inspire women and allow them to feel comfortable in tech classrooms or workspaces through the clothes they’re wearing. Ultimately, after a couple of months, I decided to expand my audience and integrate tech into my line in a different way; by producing designs driven by data and data analytics. I rebranded as “Madeleine Inc.”, taking after my first name.

What inspires your creations?

Initially, my designs, such as the “CODE” crop sweatshirt, were inspired by my experience as a college-aged woman studying computer science. Here, I wanted to use fashion as a tool to allow myself as well as my peers to feel more comfortable and confident in male-dominated classrooms. However, my more recent, hand-sewn designs are inspired by data analytics I compile from current fashion trends. For example, the red tulle dress was based upon data collected from the Grammys, Oscars, and Golden Globes, showing how red gowns are being worn more than any other color, coupled with the popularity (especially amongst college-aged women) of bodycon clothing. I joined these two trends: a white bodycon base under a long red tulle gown, to sew my first red dress. My biggest fashion inspiration is Alexander McQueen, who inspires me to push boundaries and see the beauty in everything I create.

Why and when did you become involved in fashion?

I was definitely not a fashionable kid in high school, and definitely became more fashionable when I arrived at college. This past summer is when I finally decided to dip my toes into the fashion industry. A lot of the popular or sponsored content I was witnessing on my Instagram feed was of influencers promoting their own brands or projects. I have always been interested in business and entrepreneurship, and seeing so many other young girls put their ideas into action made me realize that I didn’t have to wait any longer to create something of my own. I figured I would learn by doing, and just started designing designs I would wear, reaching out to manufacturers, and playing around with a sewing machine my mom mailed to me through Amazon Prime to see what I could do. Again, Alexander McQueen was my biggest inspiration here; in trying things out for the first time and leaning out of my comfort zone.

Why is your line unique? What makes your clothing different?

My line is unique primarily because it showcases a lot of different variety of products. At Identities fashion show alone I showcased an evening gown, a mens’ sweatshirt, and a piece from my Women-in-STEM collection. I guess there is no one central theme all my pieces revolve around. Once I get an idea, no matter how random, I want to create it and work on it until it becomes a reality. Additionally, basing all of my pieces on collected data allows me to really understand the fundamental appeal of certain fashions and designs. Thus, my line attempts to appeal to people through data; through information and insights they are sometimes unaware they are providing.

Read more about Made on her website: https://www.madeleine.me/

To find out more about her clothing line, follow this link: https://www.madeleine.me/inc