WAUKEE, Iowa — When one of the most famous celebrities in the world wears your clothes, it doesn’t happen by accident. For the last few years, 23-year-old fashion designer Antony Muse has made a name for himself and his brand Muse Clothing.
Muse, who grew up in Des Moines, has seen his clothes worn by artists like Alessia Cara, Lany, Marc E. Bassy, Anne Winters and Skizzy Mars among others. But the latest celebrity to put on his brand may be the biggest on the planet.
Last week, Muse was sitting at his home in Waukee when he received a message from his sister. It was a YouTube video showing a behind-the-scenes look at reality TV star Kylie Jenner’s latest photo shoot. Jenner can be seen wearing a Muse Clothing hoodie that is prominently displayed for much of the seven-minute video.
“It’s crazy. It was unbelievable,” said Muse. “That is literally something that you couldn’t make happen. It’s something that just sort of has to happen on its own, and I’m glad it did.”
Muse released the “moods” zip-up hoodie that Jenner wore as part of his brand’s fifth collection last year. He says there were only about 30 or 40 in existence, and he doesn’t know how one of them ended up in Jenner’s possession.
Jenner is a massive figure. Forbes listed her as the highest-paid celebrity on its 2020 list. She has 195 million followers on Instagram and 8.8 million subscribers on YouTube. The video showing Muse’s sweatshirt was viewed more than 3 million times and was trending in the top five on YouTube after it was posted.
It’s the kind of exposure a fashion designer can only dream of. It’s one thing for a designer’s clothes to end up in a celebrity’s wardrobe and it might show up in a paparazzi photo, but it’s another thing when it’s worn in a video that is viewed by millions of people online.
Muse’s messages on social media were soon flooded by people asking how they could purchase the hoodie. Due to popular demand, he decided to re-release it.
“I never thought that I’d go back and re-release something from a past collection, but I also never thought the most famous person in the world would find my little brand,” Muse wrote on his website.
The “Kylie Effect” is very real. In terms of sales and social media growth, Muse said it was the greatest week ever in the history of his brand. And he doesn’t want the moment to slip. He now feels pressure to capitalize on the new exposure and use it to propel his brand to new heights.
“I haven’t slept in days trying to keep up with everything,” said Muse. “I was planning to do more releases really soon and starting to release stuff more often. Then something like this happens that just jump starts your brand, and now your foot has to be on the gas.”
Origins of Muse Clothing
Muse graduated high school from Des Moines Christian in 2016. He played football at Grand View University for a semester before transferring to the University of Iowa. He started Muse Clothing in 2017 during his sophomore year.
“I didn’t have any connections at all in the industry. Not one. I waited on tables like crazy to get my first collection out. I quit the day I had enough money to release my first collection, which was dumb because I had to get a job later. I was just being unrealistic about what it would be,” Muse said with a smile.
With Muse Clothing, he wanted to put a unique spin on the streetwear style.
“In streetwear, there’s a lot of negativity. The clothes are centered around a lot of negative things, whatever it may be. Streetwear is more of a darker scene,” said Muse. “There’s an opening or a hole in the community for someone who is putting out more positive shirts.”
Positivity is a theme he tries to incorporate in his designs. Messages like taking care of yourself and loving others are what he tries to instill in others through his brand. For example, one shirt he put out had the message “I hope you think of yourself from time to time” printed on it.
“The biggest goal for the brand is to affect people in a positive way and to create a lasting effect that they do that with other people,” said Muse. “That’s all we can really do as people is put positive things in the world and make it a better place.”
Muse views the brand as an extension of himself, and he designs clothes he wants to wear.
“Everything that I put out are the staples of my own wardrobe,” said Muse. “I feel very connected to the brand like it is an extension of me. It’s pretty important to me that it’s true to who I am and what I care about.”
It didn’t take long before his brand started to garner attention, but with no connections in the fashion world, it was difficult for him to break into the scene. Muse said he owes much of the success he’s had to a rapper from New York.
“Skizzy Mars was the first person to really give me a chance in this industry, and I’m extremely grateful for him,” said Muse.
Harlem rapper Skizzy Mars found Muse on Instagram through some mutual friends. The two started talking and they eventually met up at Zombie Burger when Skizzy Mars toured through Des Moines. It was the beginning of a close friendship between the two.
At the end of his sophomore year, Muse decided to move out to New York City to further explore his creativity. He messaged Skizzy Mars when he arrived in the city and the two linked up.
Their friendship blossomed and Skizzy Mars asked Muse to join his team on tour as a photographer/videographer and as a merchandise designer. They collaborated on clothing designs and Muse was able to get his brand more exposure. Through touring, Muse made connections with other artists in the industry. He’s done work for or collaborated with artists such as 24kGoldn, Quinn XCII, The Band Camino, Yoshi Flower and YouTuber Justin Escalona.
“My mentality in this whole scene has always been to be unashamedly myself and then people will appreciate that,” said Muse. “People just like what’s different, so if you are yourself naturally, then you’re going to attract those people who are also like you and then you’re going to have connections that way.”
Making meaningful connections has been important for him to be able to expand his brand’s reach.
“I’d be a fool to think that this industry isn’t all about connections. Getting my foot in the door was the hardest part. Now that my foot has been in the door for a while, it’s easy to see that if you are yourself, you’re going to find the right people in the scene that are going to be those connections for you. You don’t have to make yourself a certain way to make it happen,” said Muse. “Especially being a kid from Iowa, you think you have to go to a big city and be a big city person, but when you’re in a big city and you’re a small town person, people notice and appreciate that. Being yourself in that way is always important.”
The Future of Muse Clothing
Muse has done the work that’s allowed his brand to end up on one of the biggest celebrities in the world. Jenner wearing his clothing is a career-defining moment for him, but he is always setting even bigger goals for himself.
“Especially with this Kylie Jenner thing, something like this happens and it’s a massive event, and then you think about the next barrier I have to overcome for myself. The culture moves so fast and you have to be moving with it or you’re going to be left behind,” said Muse.
His ultimate goal is to be able to make art for the rest of his life and earn a living from it. But he also wants to get to the point where he can use his success to help others.
“What Kylie Jenner just did for me, I’d love to be in a position to be able to do that for other artists. Just being able to have a voice to put people onto others. The possibilities for what Muse does are endless. I gave up trying to point the ship a long time ago because there’s so much stuff you can’t account for and then stuff happens and you have to figure out where to go with it. And I think that is a lot of what it’s going to be for a while. It’s hard to have a job where you don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s fun and I love doing it,” said Muse.