Student Spotlight: Momma’s Little Mess Up

Sophomore at the University of Iowa Matthew Loes had known since high school that creating a clothing brand was something he aspired to do. Now, in college his brand “Momma’s Little Mess Up” is about embracing and stepping into yourself.


Matthew Kennedy

University of Iowa student Matthew Loes sits at his desk at his home studio on Nov. 7.Loes created his own clothing apparel brand, “Mom’s Little Mess Up.”

Anaka Sanders, Arts Reporters

When asked what his college major is, Matthew Loes answered, “As of right now, we’re Matt Loes.”

The 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Iowa started making clothes around a year ago and has a lot of fun with it year ago and hopes to continue it in his future.

His apparel brand’s name, “Momma’s Little Mess Up,” was something he came up with a long time ago and referenced back to it when deciding to follow his dreams. Asking his friends and other people he decided in the end to stick with the nontraditional name.

“It’s about embracing who you are and all the things that you do that make you you — that maybe your parents wouldn’t agree with or wouldn’t really quite like, but you’re just going to keep doing it anyways,” Loes said. “It’s just how life is.”

As for Loes’ mom’s opinion on the name “Momma’s Little Mess Up,” he said she had “mixed emotions at first, and I think that she still does, but she really likes it.”

The time of the year is a factor that helps Loes determine what he makes. Over the summer, he decided on bucket hats to block the hot sun. The majority of the time, he just creates a new product based on what he likes. If he has a favorite hoodie or T-shirt that he loves, he’ll be motivated to make his own and will ask himself, “What’s my wardrobe missing?”

He said his biggest inspiration comes from the people around him, whether it’s at class, in the gym, or walking around downtown, Loes remembers the designs and styles of the outfits he thought were interesting and embeds them into his work.

The design process begins with Loes marking up the designs on his computer or notebook. Then he either makes them himself — like he did with the bucket hats and the custom painted shoes he just released — or sends them over to an Iowa City-based screen printer for printing.

In October, the brand did its first collaboration with the UI men’s water polo club team. Loes said he dabbles in water polo and was playing with the team when he started making clothes. They asked him if he could make shirts for the group, and he of course told them yes. The black shirts feature a white outline of a water polo ball along with the words “water polo 2022” in a 3D yellow font.

RELATED: Student Spotlight: UI student creative mastermind behind ‘String’ costuming

As a clothing designer, his dream collaborations would be with artists like Kanye West or Drake, though in the near future he would love to work with the UI sector of Barstool.

“It’d be able to give me a lot of exposure,” Loes said. “I think it would expand me to a lot of the Iowa students who have yet to see what I’m doing and what I have to offer.”

Loes is active on Instagram — where he posts photos of his latest clothing drops — often in front of popular downtown Iowa City graffiti that reads “Sorry Mom.” The graffiti is located by Elray’s as well as the Ped Mall. He first noticed the spray-painted words about a month after he created his first shirt, and he thought, “This is it right here.” The page is filled with shots of him and his friends modeling the brand’s various products.

He also uses his Instagram to host giveaways when he has a few items left over from previous releases. Loes wants to give those pieces away so people can wear them and increase  his brand awareness.

Loes favorite part about “Momma’s Little Mess Up” is “just repping it.”