Madhappy takes over NYC, LA for Mental Health Awareness Month – WWD
Madhappy wants to make sure you’re okay.
The Los Angeles-based brand that celebrated its fifth anniversary in April is rolling out a number of initiatives for Mental Health Awareness Month in May, including capsule collections, their latest campaign Out of Home billboards in Los Angeles and New York, and has new stores planned for this year.
In late April, Madhappy launched positive-message billboards throughout Los Angeles with phrases such as “empathy is free” and “treat yourself like someone you love,” which will run throughout of May. On Monday, he officially took over the space billboard in Times Square with a similar theme of positive phrases and symbols to “spread optimism around the city,” said Ravi Shah, Madhappy’s senior brand manager, also present throughout the month.
On Tuesday, the brand will launch a capsule collection of swimwear and fleeces supporting the recently created Madhappy Foundation and on May 12, will present a vibrant and psychedelic Mental Health Awareness Month capsule. The collections will be available on Madhappy’s website and at its Melrose location.
“I think Madhappy has been so successful tapping into Gen Z and responding to cultural relevance with something mission-driven. Mental Health Daily was a combo of two,” Shah said.
Mental Health Daily, one of many mental health initiatives launched by Madhappy, was a digital campaign where friends of the brand answered a series of daily questions on Instagram. The brand wanted to show how mental health challenges and successes cut across age, race, sexual orientation, and socioeconomic status, among other differentiators.
The mental health awareness push also comes from a personal place for the brand. Co-founder Mason Spector opened up about his battles with addiction, depression, and suicide. He is also a co-host of the Madhappy podcast with its co-founder Peiman Raf. On the show, they have weekly conversations with special guests about their personal experiences.
“It’s very personal for him,” Shah said. “As it became something, we said to make the brand more impactful than just clothes. Mental health was important to the founding team. It’s hard for people to put us in a competing space, because we operate in streetwear but a pseudo sanity space. I think that’s what’s exciting about the future of the brand, that’s for sure.
Spector said Madhappy’s growth forced him to deal with his issues of anxiety and depression as they manifested in addiction. Tackling the issues led him down the path to sobriety.
“The things I have faced will be things I will face for the rest of my life, but I now have the skills to handle them productively; learn to live with them,” Spector said. “I realized that the real lesson in all of this is that I am not ashamed of my experiences. They have made me who I am, and most importantly, they have also illustrated how mental health is so important and must be taken seriously. I am fortunate to be able to incorporate these lessons into my professional life as well, where Madhappy’s ethos aligns with many of my own personal struggles.
Spector, Raf, his brother and celebrity stylist Noah Raf and Joshua Sitt co-founded Madhappy after seeing a lack of inclusivity in fashion. “Growing up around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills, they were surrounded by brands that had an air of exclusivity,” Shah explained. “There was no feeling of warmth, welcome or positivity. That “too cool for school” vibe and wanting to be something you’re not. Welcoming everyone has always been a priority.
The co-founders opened pop-ups in Los Angeles and New York in 2017 and secured $1.8 million in seed funding led by LVMH Luxury Ventures in 2019.
Shah revealed plans to open more physical gates this summer and fall, but did not disclose the cities. Madhappy has visited pop-up stores over the years, including Los Angeles, New York, Miami and Aspen over several years. Last December, they landed in the city to welcome 70 members of its community to organize mental health activities like guided meditation led by Jesse Israel and Jackie Cantwell, ski and snowboard, dinners and offer its entire collection. Shah said, “We want to keep the exclusive brand on our doorstep.”
Madhappy has partnered with Meta to support collection and create hype and awareness. The brand reports some of the best first-day sales numbers in the business since its launch in 2017.
In 2021, Madhappy launched its Out of Home campaign for Mental Health Awareness Month and World Mental Health Day and launched capsule collections for both events. The brand also launched the Madhappy Journal to encourage journaling and help shoppers form the habit of self-care.
“It quickly became one of our best-selling items of the year,” Shah said. “People feel discouraged when they start journaling, but we wanted to walk you through this process.”
For the past several years, Madhappy has partnered with the Jed Foundation, The Healthy Minds Project, and the University of Pennsylvania Center for Positive Psychology for conversations, research, and efforts focused on mental health. This year, the company created the Madhappy Foundation to put resources in good hands. to improve mental health worldwide. The brand launched a collection this year with the Los Angeles Lakers for the benefit of the foundation, just one of eight collections they launched this year to support the foundation.
While 1% of its sales go to the Madhappy Foundation, 100% of the proceeds from the Madhappy Foundation capsule will go to the organization.