Amplifying underrepresented voices

‘This Belongs To Us’: ShyGirl & James Massiah Collab on MCQ’s Genesis II

MCQ’s debut collection, Genesis II, emphasises accreditation and collaboration with a new platform led by emergent global creatives, and fuelled by creativity and a ‘test and thrive, test and learn’ mindset.

Interview by Francesca Ricciardi


If having one’s name printed on a piece of clothing equals exercising its proprietary rights, having one’s words embroidered across it implies the speaker clearly has something to say. And this is just the case for ShyGirl, a London-based vocalist, and James Massiah, a DJ, poet and producer, two of the collaborators behind the making of MCQ’s newly launched debut collection, Genesis II. 


The fashion line aims to build a new model for the future where all the creatives involved in the designing, curation and planning behind each collection (or icon, as MCQ calls them) are fully credited for their contributions.


The Genesis II line stands out for its distinctive choice of having no named creative head, giving its collaborators
carte blanche in their creative process with minimum direction and maximum freedom. Behind it is a team of five collaborators and three organisations who, as well as James and Shygirl, include Alexandra Lesse, a filmmaker and photographer from Hong Kong, Duncan London, a director from the namesake city, and Ewen Spencer, a British photographer.


James and ShyGirls, who both have lyrical backgrounds, have had their words hand-embroidered on some of the line’s garments and accessories. Many of the messages that appear on the items speak out on humans’ accountability for climate change with calls for action such as “This Belongs To Us” and “Fast Asleep, Wide Awake” accompanied by colourful bouquets of decorative flowers.

With its packable macs, naturally dyed denim and a backpack that transforms into a belt bag, the Genesis II collection also sports a focus on the practical and the functional attribute of fashion wear with sustainability in mind.


Aside from their artistic contribution to the line, ShyGirl and James have devised the concept for the Genesis II launch party they will be hosting. Speaking of the creative process that inspired his and ShyGirl’s input to the Genesis II line, James Massiah said, “I’ve had many conversations with ShyGirl over the years, [so] I wouldn’t place the inspiration for this [collection] on any one interaction.”



“There were lots of ideas and all sorts of verbiage floating about, mostly in relation to the idea of a fresh start, or a new beginning, or some type of reaffirmation.” This concept of new beginnings, which is echoed in the collection’s chosen title, also lies at the heart of the label. Operating by completely different rules from the ones we have seen previously, MCQ, a creative platform and label born out of the house of Alexander McQueen, aims to break free from outdated notions that force the fashion establishment into a hierarchical institution. 



Embracing technology as a means for connecting collectors to collaborators, MCQ is about letting the garments tell the story of their creation in an ever-so-transparent way. The new tag system gives labels a new purpose by endowing them with an NFC chip which gives them access to a new digital platform, MYMCQ. The chip allows buyers to physically interact with the purchased garments by scanning their tags and consequently gaining access to a social network connecting creators and collectors, offering buyers exclusive behind-the-scenes content and allowing them to trade MCQ pieces through it in order to increase the garments’ lifespan as much as possible.


MCQ has adopted an end-to-end packaging system too, meaning the company uses the same packaging throughout the whole production process as a means to reduce wastage – a recurring theme that goes back to the brand’s own mission statement, that is to work towards the creation of a more responsible future, both environmentally and corporately speaking.


Picture credits: Ewen James & MCQ