In the ever-changing world of fashion and trends, it’s important to have a brand that stands out and stands for something greater. Insert Broken Promises, the contemporary streetwear brand that does just that. The name alone reminds the masses that while we all go through our own struggles in life, giving you the subtle reminder to know you’re not alone.
Founded by Mandee Bence and Jason Blake in 2017, Broken Promises caters to the new generation of both youth and adults, giving them an outlet for self-expression while staying fly at the same damn time. To date, artists and celebrities from all walks of life—from Lil Nas X and Miley Cyrus to Swae Lee and Gunna—have been sighted rocking their clothing, a truly organic phenomenon when it comes to all things music, fashion, art, and pop culture.
When it comes to their designs and endless array of pieces to choose from, Broken Promises continues to elevate, dropping a capsule every single week for the remainder of the year. Their items to date include outerwear, denim, graphic tees, jewelry, headwear, knits, loungewear, swimwear, and accessories, as seen in over 750 Zumiez stores nationwide.
The sky’s the limit for Broken Promises, who recently got their feet wet in the beauty space by releasing their own limited-edition eye shadow palette for 4/20.
Flaunt caught up with founder and designer Mandee, who describes herself as a “super creative person.” She states, “I’m one of the few women that is really doing something in streetwear right now.” Read below as we discuss her journey into fashion, how Broken Promises came about, her designs, what it meant for Miley Cyrus to rock her brand, DMing Machine Gun Kelly, her new PCH collection inspired by Los Angeles, expanding into kids, and more!
How does it feel to be a female CEO in the fashion world?
It was definitely more difficult for me as a woman to make it in streetwear because it’s such a male-dominated industry. I definitely had a lot of struggles; I had to outwork a lot of guys. When I first started working in streetwear, I was interning and working for free which is fairly standard in the fashion world. Some brands I worked for, they didn’t even call me by my name. They called me intern. They didn’t call me my actual name, which is crazy. Now that wouldn’t be okay, but during the time I was really trying to make my name as a designer in streetwear, that’s what I was dealing with.
Growing up in Woodland Hills, how did you get your start in all these?
I started in modeling. My parents put me in runway modeling classes. I did that for a little bit and realized I didn’t really like being the center of attention, but I still really wanted to be in the fashion industry. I started getting into fashion design and ended up going to Otis and got a Bachelor’s degree. A lot of my classmates ended up going to work for Tom Ford or high fashion designers, but I found my way into more action sports and streetwear.
When did you first get the idea for Broken Promises?
Me and my now fiancé came up with the concept together. We started Broken Promises in 2017.
I started really diving into what made brands important in the industry and what caused longevity. I really wanted to create something people could relate to, beyond just printing t-shirts. The one thing we found as an underlying theme is that everyone can relate to an emotional feeling. We started using emotional phrases and imagery to bring up a memory or a feeling in someone. That’s why our customer has such a strong connection to the brand, because they can connect to it on an emotional level.
What are your favorite pieces and why?
I really like the fact that we came up with our own anime. A lot of other brands have been tapping into anime licenses. I didn’t want to do what everyone else was doing, so we created our own anime characters. Each one ties back to a different emotion.
People love anime too!
They’re super into it right now. It really tells a story and proves that our brand can’t stand on its own without having to do a collaboration. We still do collabs with other companies, but when we do that, we try to put our own twist on it. We try not to just slap someone else’s characters or logos on our clothing.
What’s your favorite anime girl and why?
We had an event where we did this walkthrough maze, you could find out which character you are. Mine was Desire, that’s my favorite one because I relate to her the most.
Celebrities from Miley Cyrus, Wiz Khalifa, Swae Lee, Machine Gun Kelly have rocked your brand. What was the first one that made you realize you had something here?
Miley Cyrus was the most impactful for me. One because she’s a female and I love seeing girls wearing my stuff. She’s one of the celebrities that I’ve been a fan of for such a long time. I watched Hannah Montana as a kid. Just seeing her develop throughout this entire time and how her fashion has evolved, then for her to find a place where she relates to my brand is super crazy to me.
Any other impactful moments?
Machine Gun Kelly was the one I was trying to place on for so long. He totally embodies the brand—and I knew it’d happen eventually. I went into his DMs like “Hey, you’re going to wear my brand. I know you fuck with it, I know you’re going to wear it.” I kept DMing him and he never wrote back. One day, he was wearing our shorts and I was like, “yes!!” It took me forever though.
I was manifesting in his DMs. I said “you’re going to wear Broken Promises. You’re going to wear the green hoodie this week.” Then the next week, I’d say a different piece. [laughs]
What is the future of sweats and graphic clothing, which spiked during Covid?
Sweatsuits had such a huge moment in 2020 because everyone was at home. I really feel like with everyone wanting to go back out again, wanting to dress up and do stuff again, that’s going to flip really hard. I can already see some of our more wild and crazy designs selling better: all over prints, matching sets, denim. People are wearing jeans again a lot, which they didn’t for a while. I’m trying to focus more there. I think sweatpants will fall off a little bit over the next 6 months or so.
Because people want to go out and be seen. Everyone’s getting vaccinated, things are opening back up. I’m trying to go to festivals, I’m not wearing no sweatpants to a festival. [laughs]
What’s the latest collection?
My current collection is called PCH: People Change Here. It’s a huge story for me because it’s all about my hometown of LA, inspired by different cities in LA. PCH stands for Pacific Coast Highway, but for us, it’s People Change Here. It means a lot of people come to LA from other cities thinking they’ll find themselves, but they don’t realize what LA can really do to you. It can change you. Some people become flaky, some people really change their attitude and who they are. My designs are inspired by all different cities in LA that I’ve lived in, and my experiences there.
You released your eyeshadow palette on 4/20 this year, talk about expanding into the beauty space.
Yes! That was my second one. We did an anime one first, then a 4/20 palette. Both of them did super well, I’m so excited that people are into it. I even had some guys wearing the eyeshadow, which to me having a unisex brand is so important. Seeing girls wear the sweatpants and guys wearing the makeup is so cool to me.
Do you plan on going deeper into beauty?
Yeah, I’m developing eyeliners, lip gloss, lipstick, a highlighter and lashes. I’m going to be dropping all those items this year.
What does a day-to-day look like for you?
I mean, I’m pretty much sitting at the computer all day. [laughs] When you own a business, you have to do a little of everything. I’m designing new products, managing the website, doing customer service, creating social media posts, and editing product photos. I’ve figured out how to manage my time – I try to end my workday at 4pm and jump in the pool. [laughs]
What’s next for the brand?
We have some huge collaborations in the works, but I’m not allowed to say what they are. We’re expanding into kids, which will be huge. I’m really excited to be able to open up another category for kids.