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As we move deeper into the digital age, culture feels at once more global and more niche. As easy as it is to hear the latest track from the likes of Pusha T (one of this issue’s cover stars) or his G.O.O.D Music contemporaries blasting in the streets and clubs of America, you can travel almost anywhere on Earth — be it Europe, Asia or Africa — and hear the exact same sounds emanating from those seemingly distant locales. While the web has brought us all closer together, the world is still as big as it is small, and fascinating pockets of local culture remain everywhere. Sometimes those pockets of culture are so large it’s a wonder you never noticed them before.
printing Campbell’s soup cans or more recently Richard Prince repurposing Instagram photos as gallery art. Or, as we explore in this issue, the work of the late Elaine Frances Sturtevant, who caught the attention of Warhol himself through her process of imitation. In the modern day we see more and more designers subverting iconography from the mainstream, while simultaneously referencing one another more liberally. Think this season’s DHL logo T-shirt from current fashion darlings Vetements (featured on Page 204 of this very issue.) A simple everyday working uniform is presented as high-fashion, yet at the same time is a re-posturing of past work from the house of Margiela. Love it or hate it, Vetements is making a statement through appropriation, and people are connecting with their creations.
Our second cover star, Chaelin “CL” Lee, is a household name in South Korea and much of Asia. She’s had huge success as a hip-hop-tinged pop star (as her 3.8 million Instagram followers and hundreds of millions of YouTube video views would suggest), yet has managed to stay, for the most part, outside the scope of the American consciousness. It’s actually exciting to realize that even in the age of limitless global access, there’s still plenty out there to discover that you may have been missing out on, even while millions of others are already fans.
And then there’s the inimitable Jun Takahashi, our third cover feature and the legendary designer behind cult Japanese fashion label UNDERCOVER. Takahashi has, for years, successfully drawn from various musical and film references, spinning them into flawless graphic work, covetable apparel and accessories. He’s a true legend of design and one who liberally appropriates and reworks existing material to amazing effect.
What’s perhaps even more inspiring are the ways in which young creatives from around the world are blending influences from both the global zeitgeist and their local experiences to create new work that is unique, yet strangely familiar. We’re in the midst of a creative age where arguably everything is a remix. And, to be honest, we feel that’s a good thing.
In addition to our three cover features (Pusha T, CL and UNDERCOVER) this issue explores numerous other stories, including a look into the genre-bending world of New York’s VFILES, the reimagining of the tracksuit by London’s Cottweiler and the history of the much reproduced Marinière — the unmistakable blue-and-white stripes of the French military. Furthermore, we spoke with the designers behind Italy’s LAobsessed Palm Angels, NY’s dark prince Siki Im, Australian allaround creative Ta-ku and others to learn more about their how they’re harnessing various influences and inspirations to create exciting new work.
The theme of Highsnobiety Magazine Issue 12 is appropriation. Though appropriation can be a bit of a dirty word, when we talk appropriation we’re speaking about the shift of culture and the evolution that happens when artists and designers influence one another. Through crossfertilization and the globalization of subcultures, creatives around the planet are building on the groundwork laid by those who came before them, thus shaping our future.
Enjoy this issue as we celebrate those who are continuing to shape our culture, challenge the status quo and build the foundation for the next generation. Thanks, as always, for reading and being a part of our journey.
Creatively, it’s everything from re-cut trailers, parodies, remakes and samples to cover songs, homages, tributes and, well, even pop art itself. Think back to Andy Warhol mass
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STUDIO COLLECTION | SETTLEMENT
Contents 12 Preface
Kit and Ace
162 Jun Takahashi UNDERCOVER
Cleaning in Progress
Via Pirelli 11
We Never Feel Guilty
From Moscow with Love
Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II
Ferrari & Ford
Never Lost in the Sea of Fashion
After Calm Comes the Storm
The House of Blues
Photography by Thomas Welch
Photography by Dasom Han
JUN TAKAHASHI UNDERCOVER
Selections Photography & Art Direction Benjamin Robinson @ Machine17 Styling Atip W
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COMME des GARÇONS × PORTER HELMET BAG
AXEL è»¸ ARIGATO
STONE ISLAND Ã— NIKELAB KOTH ULTRA MID BOOTS
INTRODUCING THE ELEMENT MINERAL DPM COLLECTION SPRING 2016 ANTON JACKET - DRAPER FLEECE PHOTO BY ELEMENT ADVOCATE : BRIAN GABERMAN @ELEMENTBRAND
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COMME des GARÇONS “DOT” EAU DE PARFUM
Onepiece: Everyday Feels Like Sunday Words Ambrose Leung Photography Felipe Barbosa Styling Iris Gonzales Production Amandine Weppe Assistant Rafael Medeiros Model Paul Amadou Samb One suit, for one body. That’s as simple as it gets with Onepiece. Set out to celebrate comfort and doing simply nothing, Onepiece has been purveying its premium leisurewear since 2007. Derived from the dissatisfaction of post-Y2K social conformities where “bodies were supposed to be perfectly trimmed and our hearts were supposed to be cold as ice,” Onepiece contradicts what is considered fashionable, and is in fact always ready to wear. Combining the hoodie and sweatpant together with a signature large front opening zipper, the single-cut jumpsuit was born. Fast-forward some years later (along with some 1,000,000 cult followers), the brand’s ethos still remains, but with the addition of different materials, graphics and cuts — all meant to take you to that special, comfortable place. For Spring/Summer 2016, the brand released its CAPSULES collection, a collection that gets its name from cocoons and capsule like objects found in nature. Comprised of outerwear, accessories and leisurewear staples, the collection will feature a strong nod towards nature as seen in the selection of fabrics and patterns. Drawing similarities to how a butterfly is first protected in an enclosed and protective cocoon before a butterfly emerges, one must be comfortable before beauty and confidence is realized. Made by a group of Norwegians that live everyday like a lazy Sunday, the collection is for those that truly put comfort first.
DOVER STREET MARKET Ã— GREAT FROG 18CT GOLD ENGRAVED SKULL RING
Freedom of Movement Kit and Ace Words Alexander John
It’s 2016. With each passing day we’re becoming more and more mobile. Our devices get smaller, our wi-fi networks grow wider, and our cell phone service gets increasingly faster. Moving through the city from our morning workout to the office or studio, then to an event in the evening, combining comfort with style has truly become king. Vancouver’s Kit and Ace stands out as an innovative label designed for those with a fast-paced lifestyle who need technical clothing that looks good anywhere. Now it’s safe to say that when you’re thinking about the right piece of clothing to get you through your busy schedule from A to B, cashmere likely isn’t the first fabric that comes to mind. However, perhaps it should be. Kit and Ace takes cashmere into the modern age by combining it with functional properties to create their revolutionary Technical Cashmere™ fabric. Travel-ready, lightweight and easy to care for, Technical Cashmere™ has all the benefits of pure cashmere, yet none of the hassle. Not only is it naturally insulating for those chilly evenings or breezy flights, it’s breathable and has added stretch for ease of movement so you can transition from day to night without sacrificing aesthetic for function. And perhaps most importantly, it’s machine washable and dryable (and won’t shrink, pill or torque) so there’s no need to worry about either dry cleaning or the hotel laundry, giving you more time to focus on the important things. Combining fit, function and tailored design, Kit and Ace’s all-day technical apparel is built for people who love to move and understand the need for comfort and performance in their street clothes. In the modern world, technical performance is the name of the game and Kit and Ace has it trademarked, literally.
G-STAR RAW : A Non-Traditional Approach to Denim Shubhankar Ray Words Sodi St Jean
Shubhankar Ray, a man who has steered the global direction of massive brands such as Camper, Levis, Caterpillar, Stride and Travel Fox. In 2006 he joined G-Star RAW, the Amsterdam-based streetwear-to-premium denim brand, as their global brand director. His collaboration with G-Star touches all aspects of the brand, from creating innovative concepts to developing new ways for the brand to communicate worldwide. It just so happens that he is also an artist and a filmmaker whoâ€™s shown in the worldâ€™s best-known galleries and museums. Needless to say, I was very curious to hear his take on things. 32
Our discussions began surprisingly, but understandably, on the topic of cricket. We soon ventured into the realm of branding philosophies and eventually reached the core of our conversation, the celebration of the G-Star 5620 Elwood jeans collection, the iconic 3D jean silhouette by G-Star launched 20 years ago. As one of the most iconic silhouettes from G-Star, the G-Star Elwood was the brainchild of Head Designer (at the time) Pierre Morisset. Captivated by the cut and durability of ’60s era off-road motorcycle racing pants, Morisset was driven to incorporate attention to detail features, such as reinforced knee construction, heel guards and saddle patches on a pair of modern G-Star denim. From the very beginning I noticed that Shubhankar was cognizant of the fact that today’s celebrities are the most effective sales force — effortlessly popularizing behaviors, ideas, brands and products. Fully grasping this fact, we can see how it informs decisions on matters pertaining to branding.
From a brand perspective, can you speak on the creative process and how inspiration might come to you from outside of your field? I have a lot of influences and connectivity outside of the world of fashion. When I was working 25 years ago for Levi’s, I was working on TV commercials, big campaigns, and learning about branding in a very good school because you’re surrounded by ad agencies, very creative people, and you learn a lot. I also had side projects which were in the world of music and art. I was also working with people like Massive Attack and different brands from England that I stay in touch with, which give me different input from these different worlds. In the end, it’s about surrounding yourself with enough diverse points of view to make you think differently so you can alter and tune your own point of view. In the history of all of the work that I’ve done in the past 25 years, it’s been about taking things from outside and bringing them inside. How does G-Star’s ecosystem relate to the culture and, more specifically, to the G-Star Elwood line of jeans? I think G-Star is defined as a modern 21st century denim brand. It means we’re the opposite of the culture because we don’t fully reflect the culture and history of the denim business. The jeans business is coming from nostalgia, heritage and vintage. Any entering brand makes a sort of fake heritage because that’s the code of the market. A lot of G-Star’s ecosystem is about breaking the codes of the market because we’re modern. We have a collected archive and it’s about what we see in the world that has some sort of relevancy for our work. That inversely means that you are looking for diverse inputs and outputs. As it relates to the G-Star Elwood line, wearers from the beginning to now are two different types of people. So, as long as you have re-recruitment to the ecosystem that means you have new inputs coming in. Because the audience is now reimagining it for themselves, we’re not stimulating it anymore but rather finding out. Since the ethos of G-Star Elwood is functionality, how does that line up with innovation, which, as we’re told, is the DNA of the G-Star brand? And, other than celebratory, is there a purposeful attempt to highlight strides made since G-Star Elwood and at the same time showcase the ingenuity of G-Star releasing such a landmark silhouette and design so long ago? Part of it is to highlight where we come from and when we did it. G-Star, in the handwriting, has always had this 3D approach and that’s what makes us different because everybody is doing five pockets. So the primary goal was to stress the difference, while at the same time reinventing the product. So a lot of it is transforming the context from when you launched it in 1996 to what that means in 2016. Another purpose of the launch was to propose new or nontraditional approaches to denim. It is about celebrating G-Star, because you’re in something for 20 years, which is significant — it’s not 150 years, but it is something.
What are you hoping to realize in terms of impact on the denim hubs of the world like Tokyo, New York, London and Amsterdam? Our approach was more from the standpoint of uptake, not impact. All we could do is put it out there for uptake and if, as we’re seeing, a Young Thug or Raury can appropriate it in the way that they’re wearing it, we like that even more because they’re making it their own without us getting involved. On the other hand, in Europe, it’s going to be appropriated in a different way because everything that’s happening in Europe, fashion-wise, indicates that men’s trousers silhouette is getting wider, with the functionality and comfort of sportswear, but in luxury fabrics and luxury construction. The uptake for Europe would be the wider versions, like the Mark Newson ideation. Luckily, we have enough variety to satisfy all those different people. G-Star is a denim institution based in Europe. How do you look at the early years of G-Star and what role did the Dutch provinces play in the identity of the brand? Interestingly enough, when I met and joined up with the G-Star owner and directors in 2006, they had been going on for a few years, and I had this debate with them based on my experience developing global brands and living in different parts of the world. I felt they needed to hire more international people and have more of a global outlook. I told them I was certain a survey would show that G-Star doesn’t necessarily have a cultural root back into its geographical origin. I didn’t think a Dutch identity was important for G-Star; they were a modern brand, so therefore you could have a global identity. The idea of identity was changing in the 21st century. How does your resourcing speak to the innovative process of G-Star? In terms of feeding in the elements to make the formula for the brand image, a lot of the time we are looking into things that are a little bit unexpected so they get an impact. G-Star is a super specialist in a mass market and we take our position and our approach in terms of product development in a way that elevates a basic commodity product like denim. We’re looking at what the other guys are not doing. For example, the campaigns that we developed with Anton Corbijn, we made a point to highlight Magnus Carlsen, 19-year-old chess grandmaster, which is saying that we believe in youth, raw talent, and we’re not shy of featuring somebody who is intelligent and would be classified as a nerd. So ultimately what’s influencing is this level of diversity.
Two Cords and a Sole KEEN Words Ambrose Leung
Since its inception, the KEEN imprint has always been about the end user of its products. With an affinity for the outdoors and discovery, each silhouette has always considered the wearer, and the various paths he/she would take to arrive at wherever they were going. Such consideration is what lead KEEN to incorporate its signature toe bumper to its very first sandals â€” because a path to discovery sometimes involves steep slopes, slippery surfaces and sharp objects.
This year’s UNEEK releases see no difference in KEEN’s approach in ensuring that its wearers are wellequipped for any chance to explore the wilderness. Whether you’ve been counting down the minutes for the weekend to start or make it a mission to get to the outdoors daily, the UNEEK (Even the name joins KEEN + U, spelled backwards) maintains its breathability, comfort and flexibility, but adds a plethora of customized options. Defying conventions that outdoors-ready footwear does not “fit” with everyday styling, there really is no excuse as such an extensive color palette has been explored, from pure white, black, Everglade, Vapor, Lavender Fog, even colorways titled Dahlia Mauve and Warm Olive. With such a non-traditional approach to footwear design, the UNEEK sheds glues, welding and stitching, so that it can works with the foot’s natural shape. The objective in creating the microfiberand-chord open shoe was less about thinking if it would fit in amongst KEEN’s current line of footwear, and more on adopting the company’s core values within a new design — how could the team come up with something that would bring out the most in day-to-day life, was highly functional, yet not offered by anyone else. The UNEEK is the culmination of 3-years of testing and development, resulting something that can be worn on pavement, sand, rock, grass, and because of its draining properties, actually feels right at home in water. As more obstacles between humans and nature continue to grow, KEEN simply wishes to decrease the number of barriers preventing us from experiencing what the world has to offer. And with the UNEEK, it’s simply two cords and a sole, and you’re on your way.
Light Up the Night Converse Words Ambrose Leung Photography & Styling Othello Grey
With Converse’s reintroduction of the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Last year, it wasn’t necessarily about testing the limits of the age-old adage of not fixing what’s not broken. It was however, a challenge on themselves on how to improve on something that has more or less been unchanged for 100 years. How could they bring about a new Chuck Taylor All Star, yet make it so that it was inherently the same sneaker? 40
What started off as a basketball sneaker in its early stages of inception, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star has made its way as staple footwear for an eclectic bunch of individuals, from sports, music, all the way to art. Side-by-side, the updates in a Converse Chuck II aren’t apparent, but that was the initial intention from the start. Improving upon many areas of the sneaker that could use refinement, the sneaker maintains its iconic silhouette, but finds premium re-worked details. A canvas tongue has been replaced by a padded non-slip version, overall quality of canvas uppers have been improved, the use of molded eyelets give off a premium three-dimensional look, foxing on the outsole has been greatly improved with texture, the sneaker is now lined with microsuede, and signature logo at the ankle is now embroidered. Also, one of the biggest improvement lends itself to parent company, Nike, for incorporating a Lunarlon sockliner for comfort never seen in an All Star to date. As one can gather, the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star II is not so much about looks as it is feel.
a basketball sneaker these days, the iconic sneaker’s visibility amongst many subcultures is most likely what many will associate it with. Hearing that a large consumer base was in fact comprised of many working in creative fields, Converse developed its CHUCK II REFLECTIVE PRINT COLLECTION, a collection that sees Converse’s classic camo and star prints, but with a reflective treatment for low light visibility. As Ryan Case, Product Director, described it, “With the Chuck II Reflective Print, we’ve given our consumers a sneaker that provokes personal style while enhancing visibility in low light, enabling them to do more of what they enjoy throughout the day or night.” With the addition of prints along with a reflective canvas, the Chuck II is intended to be the sneaker of choice, not matter what situation or lifestyle — offering a timeless look combined with attention-to-detail comfort. Available in choice of hi-top or ox silhouettes, the CHUCK II REFLECTIVE PRINT COLLECTION is set to released in March with the Camouflage print pack, followed by the Stars print pack in April.
The list of details in the Chuck Taylor II see a few more additions for Spring/Summer 2016. Used much less as
If in Doubt, Don’t Over Complicate It Element Words Jack Drummond Photography Ben Potier
Element’s Reynald Gautier on how skating transcends fashion, the gritty ’80s UK skate scene, and why there’s few brands with as much skateboarding heritage as Element. Next year, Element marks its 25th year in the skateboarding business. In terms of the scene, that’s pretty much a lifetime, with few brands able to claim such heritage and longevity. With the appointment of Reynald Gautier as the label’s creative head back at the tail-end of 2014, Element has been quietly gearing itself up for the anniversary. Formerly heading up the European creative team of Japanese denim label Edwin, the British designer and former skateboarder has quietly waited in the wings to make his mark on the label — observing and listening before contributing — with the forthcoming FW16 “Black Sky Project” Wolfboro collection, developed with long-time friend Jeff Griffin of Griffin-Studio, the first collection in which Gautier felt like flexing his full creative muscle. You’re a British skater, who lives and works at Element’s European HQ in France, for an American East Coast skate brand founded in the early ’90s. Does this influence you and the brand, or is skate culture so global now that lines are blurred? Globally, skateboarding is not what it was when I was growing up in ’70s, ’80s and ’90s England. The influences were always focused on the U.S. of course, but how we accessed that information has changed, at every level. Skateboarding, art, music, film, culture… all influenced our individual idea and vision of skateboarding. Initially, being a European kid interested in skating meant really going that extra mile to find info to learn from, interpret and define. That info could get ‘lost in translation’ of course, but it also allowed for seamless interpretation and reinterpretation, thus creating new scenes and different ways of living.
Can you touch upon your influences then, both as a skater and now as a designer? Nature, from a personal point of view, and the fact I have a young family. But from a design perspective, I’ve always been interested in functionality, whether in design details, fabrics or construction. As such, my influences revolve around military gear, workwear and outdoor clothing. The depth of references in each is mind-blowing. It remains like a comfort blanket… like, “if in doubt, don’t over complicate it and stick to functionality.” Additionally, trends are trends: they pass… rarely are they about timeless styling. To me, style is very subtle and very unique to an individual. What was it like being a skater in 1980s Britain, where skating wasn’t nearly as accepted as it is today? Damp, dark and gritty. But also very creative as we simply didn’t have the information we craved, so we just made it up. I grew up where skateboarding just wasn’t present — you just skated outside your house until you met other kids who were doing the same thing. That was the first time I ever met other kids and it didn’t result in territorial aggression! It was also when I first felt like myself; I found like-minded people who didn’t find their passion in team sports or drinking bad quality booze down the local park… I mean, this was a period of glue sniffing, Grange Hill and generally having fuck all to do. It was a country filled with football, casuals and hooliganism, and that was what kids were into. So skating a curb or some rough as hell bank you’d just found was a little dangerous. People just used to beat you up. But the thing is, you get older and stronger, and you quickly figure out that you’re also in a group, a group with boards, and that group is global. Describe your time at Paul Smith — how did it inform your journey to where you are today? Like all starts to random career paths, mine started packing boxes on the warehouse floor. Having just finished studying, I was broke and needed a job, so one of my friends I had grown up skating with, swung a job in the warehouse for me. I had not really been interested in fashion before, or at least not consciously. I was more interested in art, print, graffiti, music, skateboarding. So, I started packing boxes as a summer job to pay some rent, and ended up becoming interested in fabrics, cuts, details... I ended up working in the fabrics warehouse part of the design and cutting room, which is where I was able to gain a closer connection with the design room and the magic that went on in there... Over time, I started to gain interest in this, having made friends with some of the designers there at the time. It was really the first time I was surrounded by luxury fabrics, color and such incredibly talented people. Then, the army called… So, I went off to complete a year in the French military when they still had national service. So, by the time I got back and Paul Smith and generously kept my position open, my mindset had changed and I knew that I needed to move on and explore something else. Paul Smith and the people working there during that period are one of the major reasons I ended up working in clothing. Some of the those people remain close friends today and I am grateful to them for having taken the time with that snot nosed curious kid. Jeff Griffin though, he is the one who truly inspired me, taught me so much as my first real job as a jack of all trades within a highly creative start up fashion company. He was the first fashion designer to use the Internet as a tool, the ‘world wide web’… his company was called Griffin-Laundry at the time… those were insane days... It's one of the reasons it felt so right to collaborate with Jeff Griffin & Griffin-Studio on Fall 2016 Element collection with the ‘Black Sky Project’ collaborative venture. It's been a long time coming and something we are very proud of between Element & Griffin-Studio. Element has perhaps more of an environmental focus than any other skate brand. How does that inform what you do? It’s a constant consideration. For example, our woven shirts ’Element Flex Flannels’ are made in solar powered factories. Our ‘Made to Endure’ denim uses sustainable laundries with water purification processes, who also work closely supporting the local orphanage. There’s other areas too, such as our use of recycled fabrics and organic yarns. Equally, our ‘Camp Collection’ bags funds our ‘Element Skate Camp’ that’s run in partnership with ‘Elemental Awareness’ — a nonprofit organization where we focus on bringing kids from underprivileged communities to rural summer camps to teach them about nature, survival skills and, of course, skateboarding. It gives them positive experiences and opportunities beyond their daily reach. What are you excited for in 2016? Obviously, the Fall 2017 25th anniversary collection and the Fall 2016 Element & Griffin-Studio ‘Black Sky Project’ outerwear program, plus some insanely exciting projects that I can’t yet discuss. Also, spending more time with the team managers as they’re incredibly positive, inspiring humans to be around. And, of course, skating with my kids this summer...
Monday Monday Photography Drew Wheeler Styling Atip W Hair Tomomi Roppongi using American Crew Make-Up Andjelka Matic using Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Photography Assistant Richard Ibrahim Models Jasper K @ Wilhelmina, Valters @ Elite London & Shot @ Street Studios â€” Footwear Filling Pieces, G.H Bass & Diemme Website cheapmonday.com
Unadulterated Phototgraphy Sylvain Homo Styling Laura Walters Grooming Jamie McCormick @ Eighteen Management Retoucher Louis Assenat Photography Assistant Danni Jeziorska Model Robbie Mckinnon @ Supa Model Management
Untitled Photography Marlen Keller Styling Naz & Kusi [Tzarkusi] Hair Kiyoko using Bumble and Bumble Make-up Naomi Nakamura Models Callum Rockall & Mari Halang @ Models1
Home Photography Francesco Bonasia & Fabrizio Narcisi Styling Ramona Tabita Hair Adriano Cattide Make-up Giada Venturotti Styling Assistants Veronica Ruggeri & Annachiara Piscopello Models Michael & Eddie @ Urban
JERSEY STONE ISLAND, PANTS NICOLA INDELICATO, SHOES NIKE
T-SHIRT TOMMY HILFIGER, SHIRT NEIL BARRETT, PANTS NICOLA INDELICATO, SHOES NIKE
[EDDIE] SUIT SUNNEI, JACKET STONE ISLAND [MICHAEL] OVERALLS COMEFORBREAKFAST, JACKET VETEMENTS, SHOES NIKE
JACKET & PANTS G-STAR RAW BY MARC NEWSON, SHOES NIKE
JERSEY STONE ISLAND
In the Zone Siki Im Photography Thomas Welch Styling Elaine YJ Lee Hair & Make-up Sheri Pinto Assistant Bryan Luna Model Fon
TOP SIKI IM
When most 15-year-olds were busy torrenting music or pretending they listen to cool artists, Siki Im was creating music — performing, to be precise. “They asked me to sing and scream,” he tells of the band that got him started. But contrary to what one may imagine, the punk rocker who loved skateboarding and graffiti was anything but rebellious. He often passed time quietly building LEGO structures at home and earned his way through high school tutoring math. In fact, Siki Im was, and still is, a nerd. He nerds out about many things, namely architecture (which started from his passion for LEGO), art, sports, and of course, music.“I always, always listen to music — before I go to bed, during the day, [during] my commute, and when I go to bed.” 75
TOP SIKI IM, WATCH CASIO
How the radio-obsessed South Korean immigrant from Germany became a fashion designer is a story that’s been told many times since his New York Fashion Week debut. Graduating from England’s Oxford School of Architecture, he continued to work as an architect until one fateful weekend, when he met designerturned-legendary-stylist David Vandewal. Vandewal took a liking to Im’s outfit and immediately offered him an assistant job at Club Monaco, where he was then the Vice President of Design. Im has a COMME des GARÇONS shirt, Dior jeans and Air Jordan 1’s to thank for this unforeseen career change.
His clothes, however, are less exotic — at least on the surface. They’re not boring by any means, but they’re familiar. Siki Im draws from subjects that resonate with ’90s kids like himself: skate and punk. “All of the shit I do, it’s nothing new,” he told Vice last summer. For his Spring/Summer 2016 collection, entitled “Youth Museum,” Im delivered a boldly silhouetted assortment mixed with tongue-in-cheek accessories that came in the form of Sharpied CDs, computer hardware, and condoms dangling from rope and metal chain belts. “When I skated, I [wore] super baggy pants from my dad. I used shoelaces [as a belt] because I was vegetarian. To make these laces more special, we applied ‘stuff’ on it, which are memories and charms. I have a box full of stuff from my past that I keep,” he explains. The same collection also features work by artist Frank Thiel, whose photographs of Im’s home in Cologne appear as prints on unstructured jackets and pajama-like pants. In this way, Im’s appropriation of his nostalgic pastime is a literal application to his clothes, just as much as they are symbolic.
Although unintended, Im’s professional transition was not a surprising one. “Architecture is really a science applied from notions of psychology and even spirituality. It deals with everything from gender to politics to economics. And it’s the same with fashion,” he told i-D last year. Other notable architects who’ve ventured into fashion are: Pierre Balmain, who originally studied architecture in Paris; Rem Koolhaas, who co-founded shoe brand United Nude; and Zaha Hadid, who once created an exclusive bag for Louis Vuitton in 2012. Although the scale and technical details may differ between fashion and architecture, fundamentally, they are both about realizing a concept with a given set of materials and spatial problems to solve. Im’s disciplined academic training, combined with his inherent talent and watchful eye on culture at large, made him the perfect candidate to become an influential clothing designer.
“T he only thing I can do is be honest about it and not abuse the subculture that I was into.” Often accompanying his clothing presentations are performances to match. At his Fall/Winter 2015 runway, Walter Schreifels of the Gorilla Biscuits staged the opening. “Could it be cliche? Maybe,” he admitted in an interview with Hopes&Fears. “But it was honest. The only thing I can do is be honest about it and not abuse the subculture that I was into.”
Im enjoyed the dynamic pace of fashion and stayed in the industry, following Vandewal through his moves to Karl Lagerfeld and Helmut Lang, where he moved up to the senior designer position at both. When asked about Lagerfeld and Lang’s influence on his own designs, Im cites the biggest lesson he learned is the fact “that fashion is a business.” But Helmut Lang the brand became too much of a commercial machine with the departure of Helmut Lang the designer, and Im moved on to debut his own line in Spring/Summer 2010.
Beyond the surface of his clothes, there exists much more than just nostalgic references to the past. There’s always a deeper intellectual element — a modern challenge — in his designs. Take, for example, his Spring/Summer 2015 “Human/ Machine” collection, in which he explored the effect of technology on human interaction. His thesis was that with things like personal electronics taking over our daily lives, clothes play an increasingly important role in expressing our emotions. The result was a lineup of clothes that were both futuristic and organic, warm and cool, structured and ergonomic. Siki Im is definitely an existentialist.
When we meet with his publicist in downtown New York, he exudes an extremely calm air about him, stern to the point of being a bit intimidating. His whispering tone, head-to-toe black clothes, and heavily ringed fingers signal his decisiveness in manner and style. He knows who he is. “I did crazy things my teenage years,” he says. But he seems to have gotten all that craziness out of his system. And perhaps due to his time in Germany and the UK, it’s difficult to pinpoint the origin of his accent. It’s hard to tell what he’s thinking. This man, who I later find out also attends church on the regular, strikes me as exotic.
TOP, HOODIE & PANTS DEN IMÂ /BY SIKI IM, SHOES VANS
What’s apparent in all of his collections is dichotomy. Whether it’s light and dark, hard and soft, masculine and feminine, everything clashes and coexists. His defiance against gender stereotypes in particular calls to mind Raf Simons’ bold reinvention of menswear silhouettes in the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s surely not a coincidence that Simons was both personally and professionally inseparable from Vandewal, who had a profound influence on Im as his discoverer and mentor. A cursory look at Siki Im’s Instagram profile showcases his other influences: Le Corbusier’s stripped-down Villa Savoye, Giuseppe Perugini’s Brutalist structures, the Gothic Cologne Cathedral, Georgia O’Keefe’s modernist paintings, and Louise Nevelson’s cubist sculptures. Even the Star Wars Millennium Falcon and a Lamborghini Bertone make appearances. While seemingly unrelated to one another, filtered through the lens of Siki Im they collectively make up the foundation of his cerebral — and emotional — universe. Im’s moody and gothic translations of these inspirations may have something to do with his ardent desire to escape from an early age. “Growing up, I wasn’t that fond of Germany,” he tells me. “At home, it was very Korean and Confucius.” Since an early age, Im dreamed of relocating to New York, a free and open zone for creatives, and home to his favorite musicians. And now that he’s in New York, he doesn’t think twice about holding anything back.
Siki Im is unleashing more now than ever, with the expansion of his casual extension line, DEN IM. When he’s not in his design studio, he keeps himself occupied producing and performing hauntingly mellow music with his current act, JVLIVS/ERVING. He visits museums and geeks out on his favorite artists. And as would a true nerd, he collects vintage Transformers figures and still plays with LEGOs. After all, Im seeps himself into everything for his own enjoyment, not to give himself more work. And fortunately for us, we get to experience the outcome.
TOP & SWEATSHIRT DEN IM /BY SIKI IM, SOCKS RAISED BY WOLVES, SHOES DIEMME
#FF7F00 Photography Vitali Gelwich Styling Marc Goehring Hair and Make-up Natalia Vermeer @ Blossom Management using Nars & EVO Hair Hair Color Teresa Hofmeister & Shan Rahimkhan Photography Assistant Marius Knieling Models Enzo @ PMA Models Hamburg, Justin @ Izaio Models Berlin, Valeria Smirnova @ 2pm Model Management Copenhagen & Kean Farrar
It’s My Time — CL Words Elaine YJ Lee Photography Dasom Han Styling CL Hair Dahyun Kang Make-up Sunmi Park
Photography Assistant DQM Styling Assistants JUJU & Minah Kang Special Thanks 01untitled, Peter Chun & Harin Lee
TOP STYLISTâ€™S OWN JACKET & PANTS JUUN.J SHOES DR. MARTENS
DENIM JACKET & DRESS R.SHEMISTE SHOES HYEIN SEO
In Christopher Nolan’s 2014 film Interstellar, the character Murph had to wait seven years for every hour Cooper spent on Miller’s planet. Albert Einstein’s theory of gravitational time dilation explains this odd phenomenon: that the closer one is to the center of gravity, the slower time passes. Despite standing only a few feet away from her in this studio, and experiencing exactly the same level of gravity, I desperately want time dilation to apply right now. Watching her pose in front of the camera, professionally adjusting the angle of her gaze at every flash, I want Einstein to show up in this studio and help me slow the time.
“I’m an alien,” she introduces herself. “A musician-alien.” Despite what she tells me, I already know she’s an earthling — one that’s been known as the leader of K-pop group 2NE1, or “CL,” for the last seven years. She’s never made a formal debut outside South Korea (at least, at the time of writing this in late February), but perhaps you’ve heard of her from Skrillex’s 2014 single, “Dirty Vibe,” or Diplo’s “Dr. Pepper,” featuring Riff Raff and OG Maco. “I’ve only been prepping for my U.S. album for about a year now. What I did with Mad Decent and Skrillex just feels like collaborating with friends.” Some of CL’s other friends include Snoop Dogg, A$AP Rocky, Luka Sabbat, Alexander Wang, Scooter Braun — the list goes on. Braun in particular took a liking to CL first and beckoned her to America last year where she signed with School Boy Records, becoming labelmates with Justin Bieber and Carly Rae Jepsen. How CL caught the attention of this star-shaping talent manager is no accident: over the years, she effectively positioned herself as Asia’s hip-hop queen, and, in her own words, the world’s “baddest female.” Back to the studio: “I’ve always wanted to do a solo album in English,” the silver-haired performer tells me. For someone who says she hasn’t yet even begun her solo activities, CL is strikingly calm on her own. At the time of our conversation, which is nearing 2 a.m., she doesn’t let the hurried movements and passive yawns of the studio staff put her in any rush. “I just got back from LA yesterday and I’m flying to Shanghai for an event tomorrow,” she says with nonchalance. It’s as if she’s already fully come to terms with her independence and the pressure that comes with it. While her public identity has largely been shaped by 2NE1, she’s eager to strike out on her own. When girl group 2NE1 (read as “twenty-one”) first debuted in 2009, it was like a disruptive tornado in the Korean music industry. They made a bang with their first track “Fire,” whose video consisted of a massive Rolls-Royce and four heavily eyelined girls dancing in adidas sneakers and LEGO jewelry. While other girl groups were busy singing about one-sided love and melancholy breakups, 2NE1 sang of power, individuality and having fun. “We ‘bout to set the roof on fire baby / You better ring the alarm / This light won’t last forever but there’s nothing to lose / I want to go crazy / I want to run faster / I want to scream,” the lyrics went. This shock set a new standard for the way female musical acts could act, look and sound — not just in Korea, but in all of Asia.
“2NE1” also sounds like “to anyone,” and this holds the group’s most important message: that music is for anyone and everyone. Their addictive hip-hop, dubstep and reggae beats, combined with uncomplicated verses, powerful dance moves and flashy designer clothes, signaled a challenge to musical genres previously reserved for “hardcore” male artists. With their instant rise in popularity also came Asia’s gender democratization of hip-hop. Rhythmer.net, Korea’s representative hip-hop news platform, gave the chart-sweeping group four out of 10 of their annual award nominations the same year they debuted. And within two years, 2NE1 became the female group with the most grand prizes in the history of Mnet Asian Music Awards, the largest program of its kind in Korea and one that’s broadcast live around the world. Chaelin Lee was born in Seoul under a physicist father and entrepreneur mother, but spent much of her childhood in Tokyo and Paris: Tokyo because of her father’s work, Paris for international schooling of her own accord. “There were a lot of different races, and I grew up with all of them. I’m an open book,” she told Complex in an interview last year. Her multicultural upbringing allowed her a sort of unconventionality and boldness that was atypical of girls her age, not to mention the ability to speak multiple languages (a particularly attractive asset to K-pop agencies seeking to make foreign income). Her early travel and life experiences in these cities, including Seoul, gave CL the rare advantage to draw from a multitude of fashion and musical styles when molding her own image as an artist. This advantage also gave her an unusual sense of independence and confidence. She was able to distance herself from Korea’s robotic education system, homogenous society and herd mentality. And so, when she made up her mind to become a musician, looking to Korea’s YG Entertainment made the most sense. One of the country’s “Big 3” record labels, YG is known for granting its artists more creative freedom to pursue their own projects. PSY and G-Dragon are exemplary success stories that also came out of YG: they compose and produce their own music, rather than submit to the will of legions of groomers, as other K-pop agencies would require. The daring and unconventional way CL got her audition remains a well-known tale among fans: she waited outside the agency’s parking lot, self-recorded mixtape in hand, and delivered it to YG owner and head producer Hyunsuk Yang himself. She was 15. Her bold inner strength and charisma earned her the position of 2NE1’s lead figure, even though two of the four members were seven years older — a big deal in a country where even a one-year age gap commands being treated as an elder. Part of that boldness shines through in trap track “Dr. Pepper,” whose 6.7 million-view music video shows CL transitioning from a green stretch Hummer to an awry Vegas house party. Even alongside American industry heavyweights like Diplo and Riff Raff, CL is at ease. She raps with authority, and is unfazed by the dozens of twerkers at her feet. CL allegedly rushed the lyrics for “Dr. Pepper” after Diplo called for an impromptu recording session, literally taking inspiration from the moment at hand. She was drinking a can of Dr. Pepper, transforming the mundane activity into an unforgettable song. “I’m always a ‘now, now, now’ type of person. I’m more faithful to the present. I always have been,” she says with conviction. “I get inspiration from the women in my family. They have a really strong energy force, and there’re a lot of them. I can’t pinpoint what it is, but I just feel like I’m getting stronger when I’m with them, like when I’m just chatting with my aunts and grandmother,” she says with a smile. Do they also sport pale blonde hair and black lipstick, or distressed jeans and fishnet tops? Not necessarily. “One of them is a gallerist, some of them are businesswomen, some are housewives.” Here, CL puts a stern emphasis on the last word, marking an equal level of respect for her child-rearing relatives as her professionally successful ones. “I definitely want to be a mom. That’s something I really want to do.”
TOP STYLIST’S OWN JACKET & PANTS ADIDAS ORIGINALS
SHIRT R.SHEMISTE PANTSÂ ADIDAS ORIGINALS BY HYKE
DENIM JACKET & DRESS R.SHEMISTE
“I get inspiration from the women in my family. They have a really strong energy force, and there’re a lot of them. I can’t pinpoint what it is, but I just feel like I’m getting stronger when I’m with them.”
CL’s choice of musical subjects reflects her love and pride for women. Her first solo single outside 2NE1, “The Baddest Female,” was a perfect manifestation of her persona. She was the first to take common words like unnie (what women call older sisters or familiar older women) and gizibe, (playful slang for ‘girl’), and coin them as her own. “Men call me honey, women call me unnie / I’m a bad gizibe / Not bad meaning bad but bad meaning good.” Everyone from toddlers to Japanese DJ Mademoiselle Yulia made appearances in the video, dancing to “the unnie.” This was way before the trend of “squad goals” came about, before Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” team of supermodel villains. Then, late last year, her surprise street single “Hello Bitches” made a buzz with its powerful video, performed alongside the infamous all-female crew ReQuest. In a separate interview with W Korea, CL explained, “The word ‘bitch’ can be used playfully among friends. ‘Hello Bitches’ is a gift to my Asian fans who’ve been waiting for my comeback, but I also hope it serves as my proper introduction in the U.S. I felt it was a way to be as ‘me’ as possible. It was a focus on my identity.” Some may misunderstand CL’s badass image as a result of rebelling against traditional femininity. But the opposite is true: it’s a complete embrace of her girl power, feminine desires and maternal nature. CL just happens to be able to express them in men’s clothes, too. As a performer, fashion takes priority for CL. Her petite frame is frequently one of the first to don new collections straight from the runway. She’s the habitual muse of designers like Jeremy Scott and Nicola Formichetti, and mingles with Karl Lagerfeld and Jean-Paul Gaultier. Her sense of style is a free mix of the high and the low, but is also the result of carefully cultivated taste. Perhaps that’s why brands like Kenzo and adidas Originals have asked her to be a regional ambassador, or why Calvin Klein and Donna Karan called her to be the main guest and performer at their fashion shows in Asia. CL is never not busy. Currently, she’s also part of Alexander Wang’s WANGSQUAD for Spring/Summer 2016, alongside Travis Scott and Vic Mensa.
“I want to meet more people and learn more things. I want to see the world. I want to experience more things in this lifetime.” When asked about how she keeps her health in check in between all her work and travels, the answer isn’t rocket science: “I have to sleep at least six hours a day. And regulating food intake is important, which I’ve learned over the years. But the main thing is to focus,” says CL, gesturing with her hands to make a point. “It’s all about mentality. That’s how I recover from any situation.” That mentality will continue to fuel CL in her solo endeavors, especially in the States. “During my year in America, I experienced a lot of failures and disappointments — internally, I mean. There were things that didn’t meet my expectations, or things that surprised me out of the blue. I think it was a time of finding myself, which is something I really needed.” She adds, “I’m also experimenting a lot with my sound. The kind of music I want to write and express has changed quite a bit.” What is CL’s final goal? “My dream is to keep on doing what I’m doing. I want to do this work more. I want to meet more people and learn more things. I want to see the world. I want to experience more things in this lifetime.” But CL doesn’t need Einstein — or anyone else — to slow the time. “I’m almost there.” *CL’s quotes have been translated from an interview conducted in Korean
JACKET RICK OWENS JEANS R.SHEMISTE SLIDES ADIDAS ORIGINALS
The Weird and Wonderful World of VFILES Words Nico Amarca Photography Thomas Welch
The fashion world isnâ€™t one lauded for its inclusivity. To outsiders, the industry is often written off as one shrouded by nepotism, superficiality and grandiose levels of self-importance. Throughout the golden era of print, secrecy and selectivity reigned supreme. Content as it was distributed to the masses was dictated by a pantheon of carefully-chosen individuals who consulted and cavorted high up in a heavily-shielded tower, providing those below with a limited probability of ever gaining entry. Yet this traditional framework that bolstered the industry for so long has now been dismantled almost entirely. Since the dawn of the digital age, the abiding exclusivity that defined fashionâ€™s print monarchy has been forced to welcome democracy, whether they like it or not.
Julianne Anne Quay has been one of the industry’s most outspoken advocates of this so-called shift in power. With stints at Vogue and as the former executive editor at V Magazine, the fashion media veteran has witnessed firsthand how the consumption of content has transformed from flipping paper to scrolling URL pages. “It was 2011 and we had just finished a shoot with Rihanna for V, and there was a whole furor because Rihanna had posted all of the images on Twitter, and that’s when it dawned on me that fashion as this world only given access by a chosen few was just over,” admitted Quay. “With print, what used to happen was that no one would see the images until the magazine came out or if the publication decided to release a few images for press. But then I noticed social media platforms like Tumblr blowing up, and bloggers were becoming more and more prevalent, so ideas were being shared and conveyed unlike ever before.”
Yet while platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook and Myspace served as keys to a portal where content spanning across a swath of varying disciplines could be communicated, according to Quay, there hadn’t yet been a realm designated specifically for people with a fashion-centric agenda. “I thought, ‘You know, we should create some kind of world where people interested in fashion and pop culture could share their interests and connect with each other, bringing themselves to a digital global fashion hangout place.’ And that’s when we started VFILES.” Created for the ultimate “fashion fan,” the online imagesharing platform first launched back in 2012, where Quay was given permission to digitize the entirety of V Magazine’s expansive archive repository. Attracting a flurry of style-conscious youths that included everyone from fashion students and downtown “it” kids to burgeoning designers and local artists, VFILES, to this day, operates on a strictly egalitarian guideline completely curated by the user — a concept many thought impossible initially. “I remember when we first started, Women’s Wear Daily said that there was no way that we could have a democratic platform. They said that we’d have to curate and edit it,” said Quay. “We’ve never once edited our users and we don’t want to. They should be free to say and do whatever they want.”
With the advent of social media and blogs came a new outlet for self-promotion; one where individuals could not only lay forth personal objectives, but connect with others who possessed mutual interests on a global scale, too. “The internet has the ability to do a massive group conversation at anytime,” says Quay. “It allows you to bring yourself to a global audience literally at your fingertips. You are the media; you personally. You have your social media accounts, you have a way of communicating your voice.”
It’s this very notion of “fashion to the people” as well as an overarching emphasis on the potency of youth culture that has garnered VFILES’ cult status over the years. A VFILES user is one that doesn’t fit in nor adhere to the traditional fashion world where seat placement, social status and waist size serve as tickets to the cool club. “Those kind of rules don’t intimidate them nor do they matter. And frankly, those rules really don’t matter anymore.” In the VFILES community, what defines a person’s so-called “cool” factor is their innate and unabashed ability to candidly express their interests and personal tastes; the freedom to proudly wave their freak flags and celebrate all things niche and esoteric sans censorship. “VFILES is an energy,” stresses Quay. “It’s a spirit made up of all of the positive and great things that you can do or be. And when you’re living in a world that’s very cynical, it can be very difficult.”
designers the opportunity to showcase their collections based on the popularity of their user profiles, giving a moment for the creatives of tomorrow to shine. “Our job is to really give that openness and ability to not just have fun and share fun things, which of course we do, but to be able to turn yourself into a brand and take yourself to market,” stresses Quay. “We’ve brought so many kids to a global marketplace and we do that in order to show the world what kind of crazy talent is on our platform so they’ll log in and take notice.”
“Our job is to really give that openness and ability to not just have fun and share fun things, which of course we do, but to be able to turn yourself into a brand and take yourself to market.”
This energy would soon be transferred into a brick-andmortar SoHo retail space that would become an early adopter of contemporary, avant-minded labels such as Shayne Oliver’s Hood By Air, Nasir Mazhar and Craig Green, while resurrecting a myriad of post-rave and early ’90s streetwear lines — something that would correlate the company with various internet pseudo-trends and youth subcultures (seapunk, normcore, healthgoth, etc.). But VFILES’ physical infrastructure not only serves as a fashion vendor; the space also houses the company’s production studio where many of its video series are conceived and produced. Tongue-in-cheek and generally unscripted, VFILES TV is a medium that offers both insight and entertainment to its colorful community in a fittingly tongue-incheek format, recalling Jean-Paul Gaultier’s zany ’90s news program Eurotrash, with a cheeky and outrageous brio.
As ringleaders of the fashion industry’s burgeoning new wave of game-changing talent, VFILES’ message isn’t necessarily one that’s easily digested. For the world-weary, fashion deaf or jaded veterans hung up on the old system, the company’s no-holds-barred approach to shaking up gender, genre, and authority norms may come across as overbearing or perhaps even absurd. But what shouldn’t be undermined is VFILES’ wholehearted devotion in supporting its community; a safe haven where young designers and fashion outcasts can feel appreciated and accepted, not ignored or ostracized. “The kids that are 24 and under, they’re like ‘get ready,’ because they don’t overthink, they just do it. They aren’t going to wait and they don’t have to go through any barriers for entry because the internet is free and they have friends around them for support. I think that is what the future is, and I just want to provide them with a tool for them to express themselves and be whoever they want to be.”
Taking its penchant for democracy and unorthodox aesthetics to the runway, VFILES have also been one of New York Fashion Week’s most revolutionary participants in recent times. Each season, the VFILES community offers fledgling
The Cult of Cottweiler Words Alec Leach Photography Cecilia Duarte Styling Naz & Kusi [ Tzarkusi] Model Julian Kimura
London label Cottweiler has fast established itself as one of the UK’s most exciting young talents. Six months after its stunning Spring/Summer 2016 presentation in London, we paid the brand’s founders a visit at their Dalston studio space to discover their unique points of inspiration and seemingly limitless curiosity.
Whether it’s luxury houses creating lavish, high-end sweatpants, fashionistas discovering a newfound love of sneakers, or millennials rediscovering the clothing they once wore as kids, sportswear has never been more en vogue than it is right now.
Six months after Cottweiler’s LCM presentation, I caught up with Matt and Ben at their East London studio. They, along with their small team, were in the midst of quality-controlling the brand’s soon-to-be-released Spring/Summer 2016 collection. Tracksuits, sweatpants and caps were littered all over the cramped space, piled up alongside samples for future collections and imagery from previous campaigns. “Cottweiler” is an amalgamation of Matt and Ben’s family names, and while they’ve only been selling their collections since 2012, they’ve been doing the brand together for nearly 10 years.
Taken purely at face value, Cottweiler could be considered to be a big part of that. After all, the label designs the kind of high-end, nouveau athletic gear that’s all the rage these days. It’s the sort of clothing that club kids love to party in, that the ’90s generation reminisces over, and parts of the gay scene revere as the ultimate symbol of masculinity. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll discover a peculiar vision of fashion — one that’s utterly fascinated with symbolism and youth subculture.
“We made a collection every season before we even launched the label,” Matt explains to me. “We’d shoot it, make a film, just kind of pass it around and use the campaign imagery on Tumblr. We’re interested in cults, we research them a lot.” (I later realized what a large understatement this was) “We like to make things ethereal; there’s always been a lot of symbolism involved in what we do.”
Cottweiler’s founders, Matthew Dainty and Ben Cottrell, are two softly-spoken English guys with a charming, wide-eyed curiosity that finds inspiration in everything from fetish groups to industrial manufacturing. Back in June last year, Matt and Ben unveiled their Spring/Summer 2016 collection at London Collections Men, the British capital’s dedicated menswear week. Eerie gongs and Hare Krishna chants echoed through a trio of converted squash courts, bathed in hazy lighting and set against a backdrop of commercial office blinds. Cottweiler’s troupe of boys perched themselves on leather poufs, each clad in the luxurious, Italian fabrics of the brand’s all-white tracksuits and clutching seemingly random objects: shells, megaphones, skipping ropes. It was as if each stood in preparation for some mystical, sportswear-equipped pilgrimage.
Indeed, one quick look over Cottweiler’s YouTube account reveals some pretty esoteric visuals — everything from boys removing waterlogged boots, to showering in the brand’s tracksuits and submerging themselves in swimming pools. Unsurprising, then, that Cottweiler’s niche references and commitment to striking imagery soon attracted a dedicated cult following online, particularly among the thriving community of sportswear fetishists. While, to most people, sneakers, sweats and tracksuits are practical garments that fit effortlessly into the modern day-to-day, to some the tracksuit is revered as the pinnacle of male sexuality.
The show was by far the most talked-about presentation of the week, and cemented Cottweiler as one of the UK’s most exciting young labels. Since then, London grime legend Skepta has donned the brand’s wares on several occasions — most notably in his riotous “Shutdown” video — while FKA twigs appeared in the video for her breakout single “Papi Pacify” with a bespoke reflective, tape-wrapped crop top designed by the brand.
“There’s this crossover between fashion and fetish within sportswear that we’ve always been really fascinated by,” Matt explains. “It’s about adoration for clothing, and masculinity plays a big part in it.”
The cult following that Cottweiler’s imagery attracted in the early days has clearly left its mark on the pair, who themselves have a seemingly endless fascination with obscure movements and subcultures. “We looked at tunnel-dwelling boys who live underground in the Ukraine” describes Ben, of their latest collection. “We looked at these groups of guys who wear waterproofs and go wading in rivers and film themselves doing it, and boys that like to shower with all of their clothes on,” Matt goes on. “That was the beginning of the collection’s color palette.”
“It’s the sort of thing you’d find in a new-build bathroom, something that’s been mass-produced.” Matt explains. “We took it out of its context and made it something that you almost worship in a way, and that was a comment on people worshipping consumerism and over-consumption… it’s about the way people sell you the idea of something really exotic and beautiful, but in reality it’s just wallpaper or a lamp.” Symbolism and niche subcultures aside, at the end of the day Cottweiler is here to make clothing. While Matt and Ben’s innate curiosity sees them scour dark corners of the internet to uncover obscure points of reference, they are, just like everyone else, especially inspired by what they wore in their youth. Sportscasual labels like Stone Island, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and Henry Lloyd captured their imaginations when they were young, partying and trying to get into clubs. Likewise Rockport’s XCS hiking boot, which might look like the sort of proto-normcore monstrosity that strict parents would force on unfortunate kids in their school years, but Matt assures me is in fact “a bit of a forgotten icon.”
He tells me that, for the brand’s forthcoming FW16 collection, the pair donned archive Cottweiler pieces and filmed themselves submerged in a body of water in Epping Forest, as if almost drowning yourself in a murky Essex lake was as natural as buying groceries. Yet this fascination with symbolism extends beyond dramatic acts such as these, branching out to include aspects far more mundane. For each collection, simple objects — everything from patio chairs and filing cabinets to sheaves of wheat — take on an almost totemic status. For SS16, the chosen symbol was a ceramic conch shell, which one of the models clutched as if it possessed some kind of mystic, otherworldly power.
Grandad-collared shirting and rugby jerseys play a frequent part in Cottweiler collections, alongside the brand’s staple tracksuits, while dry-fit caps are given Gucci-style horsebit detailing. Elsewhere, handy nylon waistpacks (“bumbags” to us Brits) are on hand to keep all your party essentials safe while you’re on the dancefloor for three days straight. In fact, given the amount of moisture-wicking, highly technical fabrics employed throughout Cottweiler’s designs, it’s hardly surprising that the boys consider the nightclub to be their clothing’s natural habitat. “We’re not climbing mountains or anything; we just want to make something that you’re not gonna sweat too much in so you can dance all night” Ben adds. The label’s Spring/Summer 2014 collection was even inspired by Eastern European woodland raves, and featured garments lined with mosquito mesh so you don’t get eaten alive while you’re stomping away to some pounding industrial techno out in a Slovakian forest. In fact, while so much of the menswear industry gravitates towards sneaker culture these days, the boys modeling Cottweiler’s Fall/Winter 2015 collection actually donned Respirex work safety boots. When I ask about possible future collaborations for the brand, Matt and Ben are much more excited at the prospect of working with an industrial chemical manufacturer than doing a Nike or adidas project like everyone else. There’s references to interior design, too. One pair of track pants had a drawstring trailing from a hidden pocket that looks like something you’d find on a set of Venetian blinds. “It’s from the curtains in your mum’s house” Ben tells me with a smirk. “She doesn’t know we took them, though.”
“We’re not climbing mountains or anything; we just want to make something that you’re not gonna sweat too much in so you can dance all night.” Speaking of fabrics, Cottweiler’s textile game is, to be quite honest, next level. The brand’s basics are made with doublefaced jersey for a more solid silhouette, and many pieces sport the sort of specially-developed Italian materials that you’d expect to find in the interior of a Ferrari or inside an Astronaut’s space suit. There’s a Spring/Summer 2016 shorts and blouson combo crafted from a bonded jersey-pearlized nylon fabric that feels like silk, looks gorgeous, and is totally waterproof. Then there’s a sheer nylon tracksuit that exposes almost all of the wearer’s body, but also creates a deep, layered effect when worn over other garments.
Cottweiler’s fascination with symbolism and bizarre group behavior might sound abstract, but really it’s a handy metaphor for how people consume culture in the 21st century. People look to symbols as a way of simultaneously feeling unique and part of something bigger — a sensation that’s becoming harder and harder to achieve these days. While, in the modern age, the whole world is at your (and everyone else’s) fingertips, culture seems to be becoming more homogeneous by the day. Whether it’s a ceramic shell or a T-shirt with a red box, symbols give us a sense of meaning and purpose — something that’s ours.
“You can take a lot of our pieces — especially the tracksuits — and see them as sportswear, but really the sort of things people wear in industry is two-piece clothing, too” Matt is keen to impress. “Really simple, really functional stuff. We draw a lot of reference from the industrial side of things.”
“There’s a uniformity that goes with being part of a group, which is reflective in our collections,” Matt sums up. “There’s aspiration associated with being part of something bigger.” Given the reaction their beautifully engineered clothing has received so far, we’d say that “something bigger” is only set to grow in seasons to come.
After Calm Comes the Storm
Photography Takahito Sasaki Styling Atip W Hair Takuya Morimoto using Bumble and Bumble Make-up Jennifer Mika using M.A.C Cosmetics Casting Director Sarah Bunter @ Buntercasting Model Louis @ Tomorrow Is Another DayÂ
SHIRT GARBSTORE, JACKET & TROUSERS MAHARISHI, SNEAKERS WHITE MOUNTAINEERING Ã— ADIDAS
HOODED JACKET TONSURE, COAT WHITE MOUNTAINEERING × ADIDAS, TROUSERS COTTWEILER, SNEAKERS WHITE MOUNTAINEERING × ADIDAS
COAT ELLEN PEDERSEN
SHIRT & TROUSERS WHITE MOUNTAINEERING × ADIDAS, COAT MACKINTOSH × HYKE, SNEAKERS MACKINTOSH
HOODED COAT & SHORTS TONSURE, SWEATSHIRT & LEGGINGS WHITE MOUNTAINEERING Ã— ADIDAS, OVERCOAT A.P.C., SNEAKERS MACKINTOSH
SHIRT & OVERCOAT QASIMI, SHORTS CMMN SWDN, LEGGINGS & SNEAKERS WHITE MOUNTAINEERING Ã— ADIDAS
HOODED TOP MAHARISHI, COAT ASGER JUEL LARSEN
The House of Blues Photography Iain Anderson Styling Jordan Schneider Creative Director Jason Dike Grooming Kota Suizu Photography Assistant Jacob McfaddonÂ Model Leo Topalov @ Supa Special Thanks GOODHOOD & HOSTEM
VEST UNIQLO, BLAZER & COAT CASELY-HAYFORD, TROUSERS SOULLAND, SCARF GEOFFREY B SMALL, RING TOM WOOD
VEST UNIQLO, COAT UNUSED, ROBE CASELY-HAYFORD, SHORTS LOU DALTON, RING TOM WOOD, SNEAKERS NIKE
T-SHIRT SOULLAND, TOP & TROUSERS DANIEL W FLETCHER, RING TOM WOOD, SHOES BASS
VEST UNIQLO, OUTER VEST MODELâ€™S OWN, TROUSERS RENEE BEDELL, RING TOM WOOD, SNEAKERS NIKE
VEST UNIQLO, SHIRT SOULLAND, SWEATER OUR LEGACY, ROBE NEW AND LINGWOOD, BOTTOMS UNUSED, RING TOM WOOD
VEST UNIQLO, HOODIE & COAT AGI & SAM, TROUSERS SIKI IM, RING TOM WOOD
VEST MODELâ€™S OWN, BLAZER RENEE BEDELL, SHORTS SOULLAND, RING TOM WOOD
TOP DANIEL W FLETCHER, SHIRT & TROUSERS LANVIN, SCARF RENEE BEDELL, RING TOM WOOD, SNEAKERS NIKE
SHIRT COPSON LONDON, JACKET ALEX MULLINS, RING TOM WOOD
The G.O.O.D. Journey — PUSHA T
Words Stephanie Smith-Strickland Photography Thomas Welch Styling Marcus Paul
Hair & Make-up Sheri Pinto Photography Assistants Bryan Luna & George Ocampo Styling Assistant Steve Sosa
SHIRT MAISON MARGIELA SUIT DRIES VAN NOTEN EARRINGS ARTISTâ€™S OWN
SHIRT, JACKET, PANTS & SCARF HAIDER ACKERMANN EARRINGS ARTISTâ€™S OWN
“I’m the neighborhood pusha / call me subwoofer ‘cause I pump base like that, Jack / on or off the track,” raps Pusha T — his measured, unvarnished delivery galvanized by an equally bare-bones Neptunes beat, one so accessible that even school kids could thwack out its rhythm on any hard surface restless knuckles could find purchase on. Though “Grindin’” wasn’t Clipse’s first commercial single it remains one of the duo’s most well-known. And Lord Willin’, the debut studio album that first introduced the world to the gritty, stripped-back sound that was Clipse, remains one their most critically-acclaimed projects to date. These days Pusha is president of the Kanye West-founded record label G.O.O.D. Music where he does the kind of pushing that has more to do with going to bat for potential signees than the “base pumping” double entendre that first put him, his brother No Malice, and the formerly un-championed state of Virginia on the hip-hop map. Thanks to an obsessive interest in internet culture and an excellent rapport with all of the label’s current artists, Pusha’s position at G.O.O.D. is much more than a vanity title. “I essentially oversee the creative output at G.O.O.D. and try to heighten it while keeping the fans engaged,” he says of the role. Indeed, it was actually Pusha’s dogged insistence that first brought Chief Keef to the attention of the label as a potential signee. And although the Chicago-born drill rapper didn’t end up a member of the G.O.O.D. house, the Kanye-featured remix of his smash single “Don’t Like” was born. “My relationship with Kanye has always been about what’s going on. Our studio sessions and everyday talks are more about what’s hot, what’s not, and just our perspective on where things in the industry are going. Musically, that’s something I think I’ve always brought to the label.” It’s also a trait he’s brought to his own body of work, though in a more abstract sense than today’s deluge of trending internet rappers, many of whom rise to stardom only to crash and burn before they ever see a studio album; but such can be the vicious, and sometimes beautiful, cycle of net fame. Pusha has simply never been the kind of artist to rely on the trend of the moment to buoy his songs to the top of the charts, or even the top of a Google search for that matter. He rather observes, culls, and with hard-edged pragmatism, transforms the waves of the moment into something that works for him and him alone. “I request unorthodox records,” he confesses as the conversation turns to his latest album, Darkest Before Dawn: The Prelude. Many of the producers featured are well-known names like Boi-1da, Timbaland, The-Dream and P. Diddy. As such, they’re perfectly capable of delivering radio-friendly beats guaranteed to be chart smashers. However, that wouldn’t be very Pusha T. “Every producer I worked with [on Darkest] I purposely requested their B-sides. So if Timb was doing a Jay Z record I wasn’t asking for ‘Big Pimpin’,’ I was asking for ‘Snoopy Track.’ And Puff of course has done every hit under the sun, but when we get in that vibe I want to hear ‘Downfall’ or ‘Who Shot Ya.’”
SHIRT & JACKET GUCCI EARRINGS ARTISTâ€™S OWN
This fascination with the unfriendly, the challenging, and sometimes the dark and unpleasant, is perhaps why years after the dissolution of Clipse, Pusha’s name and lyricism precede him; both as a member of a duo and a solo artist. And despite his visibility, he somehow maintains the contradiction of having never really aspired to being a radio-friendly rapper. He acknowledges he has put out and been involved in well-known projects such as Justin Timberlake’s Grammy-nominated single “Like I Love You,” which saw Clipse’s sonic rawness featured alongside funk and jazz-influenced melodies, but it’s still never been his end goal. Instead, offering a genuine and completely authentic narrative of the highs and lows of his personal life and career has been the most consistent part of Pusha’s approach to artistry. Coupled with his attraction to idiosyncratic production he’s created a unique space, that in many ways, only he can occupy. It is after all difficult to appropriate what you cannot duplicate.
“People don’t judge you in regards to what’s going on in rap, they judge by what you have to say.” “I don’t think the fundamentals of hip-hop will ever go out of style,” he says over an egg white and spinach omelette, garnished with side of chicken sausage. “But it’s still funny because I only know how to rap the way I rap, which in my opinion already gives me the win because a lot of guys don’t even know how to rap on the kind records I choose. It already puts me in a lane of being different, and I feel like when you’re known for lyricism people will tune in to hear you what you’re actually saying. People don’t judge you in regards to what’s going on in rap, they judge by what you have to say.” Even as Pusha watches the industry shift and change around him; sees trends rise, fall and sometimes rise again, he feels no resentment toward new directions, even if he does choose to walk instead of joining the bandwagon. While others fear change, Pusha’s true fear lies in being resistant to new ideas. “I look at some of my favorite rappers of all time and I realize a lot of them lasted about five years. These are, to me, the greats, and they peaked at like two or three albums. I feel like some of them had such a small run because they didn’t embrace new energy and new ideas. I can’t be like that; I never want to be that person.” He values balance, nuance, and a consistent shot of vitality in the form of new blood. Really, it’s about finding firm footing between appropriation and authenticity; it’s a difficult gray area, but to him, that’s where the sweet spot will always lie. “I translate the nuances of trends through production a lot. I’ll pick a beat from Mike WiLL Made-It and it’ll have all of the new sounds people are hearing but then it comes back to the G.O.O.D. house and there’s extra production that changes it and sophisticates it a little more. You have to understand you can take the nuances without diving into the wave. You can add them to your style and it will translate.” As small as the in-house tweaks may be, they open the door for the kind of authenticity that may not be of pressing importance industry-wide, but means the world to Pusha. “Another thing,” he says with a touch of a smile as he ponders the question of authenticity, “I don’t really judge music the way a lot of people think I do. I actually don’t have a real problem with where music is at. I’m just in a funny space because I go outside of what I know a lot. I’ve always felt like if you don’t like certain things maybe it’s because you don’t go outside enough.”
SHIRT MAISON MARGIELA SUIT DRIES VAN NOTEN BROOCH LANVIN EARRINGS ARTISTâ€™S OWN SHOES LANVIN
â€œHip-hop has the trendsette I did. From Ru adidas to cutti like Big Da trying to dre Slick
always been r for everything n-D.M.C. and ng my eyebrows ddy Kane to ss dapper like Rick.â€?
SHIRT UNIQLO SCARF JUNYA WATANABE EARRINGS ARTISTâ€™S OWN
“Sort of like this: When I was first introduced to the hyphy movement of the Bay Area I was home in Virginia watching BET, and I’d just shut off the TV or change the channel when a hyphy record came on. Then I came into the industry and San Francisco became huge for me. I’d go to the clubs there and see it in person, and I’m like these are the records I hated on TV but now I’m here in the midst of these people and they’re so passionate about it. Suddenly, I see the magic in it and have this newfound respect for it.” Seeing the magic of something new, real and raw doesn’t always garner the popular vote, though. Pusha shakes his head and laughs as he details how prior to Future’s rise to mainstream fame he’d put the Atlanta native on a track, and had hell to pay for it. “People were destroying me for it!,” he exclaims. “I was like this shit is fire and people shot at me so crazy but now I look at those same people and everybody is all Future’d out. They got their backpacks on and they’re doing whatever they’re doing and these are the hip-hop purists and critics.” In Pusha’s estimation it’s sometimes the purists and critics who can, at times, dig themselves an early grave. “If you really look at the greats, let’s say production-wise, I mean the true, true GOAT’s, these are all guys who are trained in the fundamentals but embraced new shit. Whether it’s a new, young producer who they have to curate and make a masterpiece with, or just a new style of doing things, they embrace it. So when you take away their expertise and separate it from new ideas the music just isn’t as good.” It’s an idea that stretches beyond music, too. In fashion, in life, in everything, Pusha sees a need for combining newness with an honest point of view. His adidas sneaker, for instance, which is rife with references to drug culture, in many ways also speak to a current trend. One that sees brands from all spectrums embracing, glamorizing and appropriating the aesthetics, and with it, the lifestyle of the streets. But for Pusha, it was never merely a trend. “Hip-hop has always been the trendsetter for everything I did. From Run-D.M.C. and adidas to cutting my eyebrows like Big Daddy Kane to trying to dress dapper like Slick Rick. Rappers and drug dealers were what I admired. I got everything I wanted to do from those two kinds of people. To my young black eyes growing up they had everything I wanted to see.” Today, the irony is that these formerly marginalized groups now have a narrative that is being increasingly monetized by brands, artists and popular culture as a whole. And while others cry foul, Pusha just searches for reality in a sea of replicas. “I’ve watched incredible sneaker brands knock off my shoe and it’s just not as fire. That’s where authenticity comes into play. I feel like brands like adidas recognize that honesty wins. I really like adidas because they care about things that aren’t popular. They care about the cool and the real, and sometimes when you’re first on the cool not everyone understands. When you care about the cool it’s usually more honest; it’s something pure, it’s usually something that’s in a raw state, and it’s not always pretty.” After a moment’s pause he continues, “I don’t really care about people adopting those raw stories. I can’t police them and I don’t want to. I’ve been in this game for a minute. I’ve had all of the hardships… Everything wrong that could happen in rap has probably happened to me, and nobody cares. Once you realize nobody cares you spend most of your time trying to perfect your craft and fight through obstacles so you can win. No matter what, the one thing that always prevails is honesty and realism. People can hear it, they can feel it, and they can sense it. My job as a creative is to present it (reality) creatively without relying on it completely. It’s that simple.”
Botany Bay Photography Rhys Thorpe Styling Atip W Grooming Patrick Forini using Bumble and Bumble Casting Director Sarah Bunter @ Buntercasting Digital Operator Gwenaelle Trannoy Photography Assistant Shane Ryan Model Darwin @ Storm Models
T-SHIRT COTTWEILER, JACKET CRAIG GREEN
JUMPSUIT CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN, SHIRT CRAIG GREEN, COAT CASELY-HAYFORD, BOOTS CAMPER TOGETHER 99% IS
T-SHIRT AND COAT MATTHEW MILLER, VEST LEE ROACH, TROUSERS ALEX MULLINS, BOOTS CAMPER TOGETHER 99% IS
SHIRT AGI & SAM, KNIT KATIE EARY, BIKER JACKET MATTHEW MILLER
SWEATSHIRT CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN, COAT MATTHEW MILLER, TROUSERS AGI & SAM
HOODED TOP CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN, JACKET COTTWEILER, TROUSERS ALEX MULLINS, BOOTS CAMPER TOGETHER 99% IS
SHIRT & KNIT CRAIG GREEN, COAT MATTHEW MILLER
SWEATSHIRT AND JACKET (TIED AROUND WAIST) CHRISTOPHER RAEBURN, JACKET LIAM HODGES, TROUSERS COTTWEILER, BOOTS CAMPER TOGETHER 99% IS
Permanent kolor Words Vincent Levy Photography & Styling Othello Grey Model Kevin Li Wardrobe kolor & adidas by kolor
As founder and designer of kolor, Junichi Abe has always favored a measured approach. His brand’s menswear line made its Paris runway debut for Fall/Winter ’12, followed by womenswear in a presentation format for Fall/Winter ’15, but the company was actually founded way back in 2004. Existing as something of a closely guarded secret among its loyal customer base, the Tokyo-based label was once notorious for turning down stockists. Though kolor is now carried by boutiques and department stores the world over, there’s something in Abe’s aesthetic that suggests he’d still favor niche understanding over widespread adulation. It’s just that this niche has gotten significantly bigger.
In 2016 the fashion industry seems to have accelerated from its usual state of flux into something of a spin cycle. Today, many brands seem forced to communicate ideas so fast that their defining features are beginning to run, becoming gradually lost in a homogenous, indefinite mix. On the one hand, pre-collections and diffusion lines have added a great deal of pressure to what was once a six-month calendar of creation, while on the other, social media’s insatiable appetite for new offerings has left designers with little sense of respite. Many labels now feel forced to offer up a constant drip feed of what was once their designers’ closely guarded creative thinking, just to keep their audience happy.
kolor’s signature look is a kind of easy urbanity that’s rooted in tailoring, with light inflections of sports-casualwear to boot. Whilst collections are occasionally imbued with more outlandish qualities — most commonly through shocks of bright color or bold stripes — their true beauty lies in quieter, longcontemplated details. After graduating from Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College, Abe cut his teeth working as a pattern cutter for Rei Kawakubo at COMME des GARÇONS, and subsequently Junya Watanabe (another CdG alumnus). To this day, Abe claims to be “most excited when actually creating or making details with pattern makers.” Compared to the work of his mentors, many of his designs could easily be said to fall short in their conceptual experimentation, but therein lies their genius. kolor reappropriates and re-mixes the details of traditional menswear essentials with a fluid and subtle hand, making abstracted and deeply complex constructions seem simple and well-balanced in an almost organic way. On paper, this hybridity could be deemed clumsy or whimsical. But, in Abe’s hands, a harmony is achieved that never loses sight of each item’s day-to-day wearability – a strong selling point in the wider context of luxury menswear.
This notion of “sharing” has had further reaching effects than perhaps anyone anticipated, building a hard-to-avoid state of hyper-awareness that’s permeating many designers’ own creative process. Conscious or otherwise, this postmodern pattern of closely referencing and reappropriating those ideas you see around you can be viewed as an exciting turn in sartorial history, or it can become an unimaginative curse. As such, those that manage to shut out such noise to some extent seem suddenly rare and especially appealing. Japanese label kolor is a prime example.
In terms of their immediate impact on the runway, kolor’s designs compete with the best of them, but the true beauty of these garments is only discernible in person. That might be by turning a jacket inside out and discovering the hidden, yet completely intentional, details of a lining, or by feeling the uniquely tactile qualities of a specially engineered fabric. Whilst Abe understands the many benefits of e-commerce, the importance of experiencing a garment firsthand is reflected in his own shopping habits: “I only buy sneakers or underwear online” he has been quoted in saying. “I feel anxious when I don’t touch.”
As well as avoiding making references to other designers, kolor’s founder and chief designer Junichi Abe goes one step further, doing away with inspirational reference points altogether. Instead, his collections are born of thoughts and emotions communicated to his team “using a lot of words and sometimes a material.” This abstract-sounding method requires an intimate level of understanding from the staff in his atelier, as confirmed by Abe, who once elusively explained to Style.com, “I am looking for my mind.” Beyond loose explanations of process, few are made privy to Abe’s seasonal inspirations. Even the most rabid Googling reveals little in the way of in-depth interviews with the man, let alone anything close to a backstage blow-by-blow commentary. Acting so aloof might seem out of touch in this day and age, but instead Abe maintains a polite level of distance that feels both honest and logical. Rather than shunning the media, his reticence is more an unspoken request for the kind of headspace that many contemporary designers lack, and which seems so integral to his painstakingly considered work.
With its custom-made fabrics, clothing by kolor caters to busy urban lives across all terrains — a consideration surely born of Abe’s native Tokyo, where working notoriously long hours tends to mean jobs and socializing run directly into each other without time for an outfit change. Even the most formal of kolor pieces — a suit jacket or shirt — tend to be featherlight and best worn with a thrown-on attitude. They lend themselves well to layering, and can often be screwed up into a bag and removed again later with no-one any the wiser. While so much urban dress seems preoccupied with an armored sense of protection, kolor offers an idea of comfort instead. That’s an attractive prospect for a generation of men that grew up in sneakers and sweats, and this lightly subversive attitude merely bends established dress codes instead of breaking them.
runway trends. In an unobtrusive palette of greys, dusky blues, navy and army surplus greens, last season’s Spring/Summer ’16 menswear show featured slouchy new admissions to suiting and carried a strong air of retro American workwear. Teamed with thick-soled open toe lace-ups that resembled a kind of Birkenstock/skate shoe crossbreed, the approach could have arguably been described as “West Coast.” Yet, drawing such conclusions from a kolor collection feels like a stretching of the truth; any zeitgeist riffing the designer does is light, and superseded by a singularity of vision that is more focused on reenforcing the label’s carefully developed existing repertoire. In reality, this means one can buy an item from the latest kolor collection, take it home, and somehow find it matches something already in their wardrobe from several seasons earlier. That kind of timeless congruence is almost unheard of among Abe’s contemporaries, and is part of what makes the label so special.
In line with this subtle outsider quality, kolor exhibits in Paris every season, but still appears to exist in its own universe. This is seen most clearly in its alignment (or lack of it) with other
What does place kolor distinctly at the heart of here and now, however, is the label’s recent concession to producing its own sportswear collaboration (now something of an industry convention). While Junichi Abe’s wife, Chitose Abe, took her sacai brand to Nike, he stuck on the other side of the divide and launched adidas by kolor, which has now spawned three successful collections without the need for any huge hype.
Climaheat and Climachill, along with Pure Boost ZG soles in the footwear. However, such highly technical aspects are never overstated. While the cuts are complex and dynamic, and certain color choices are futuristically bold, everything always steers clear of spaceman territory. Generally speaking, the collection is quintessentially kolor. Much like Yohji Yamamoto, who set a benchmark for these kind of partnerships over 10 years ago with the launch of Y-3, adidas by Kolor doesn’t alter or water down Abe’s ideas, but rather creates a logical new avenue in which they can co-exist alongside the mainline. Quietly confident and already imbued with a sense of staying power, it stands as a testament to the integrity of Abe’s own vision — a demonstration of his prowess as a designer’s designer, at a time in which comparable examples seem increasingly few and far between.
True to form, the collaboration contains much of the same attention to detail you’d find in any of Abe’s work. While many similar brand partnerships could be said to be simply aiming for a slice of the fickle “athleisure” market, adidas by kolor is genuinely part of the Three Stripes’ Performance range. Though you’ll no doubt want to wear certain items from the collection outside the gym, the shared commitment to purpose means these pieces more than meet the literal definition of active sportswear. The second drop for this season hit stores in March, and is heavily invested with patented adidas technologies like
UNCOVE 25 Years Noise â€” J UN TAKAHASHI UNDERCOVER
Words & Styling David Hellqvist Photography Vicky Grout & Kuok Wei Lee
Styling Assistant Benedict Browne Models Jeremy @ Nevs & Ramsay @ Tomorrow Is Another Day
R ING of
Music and fashion will forever be interlinked. The energy and attitude of punk rock, for example, have ignited many collections over the years, but few brands have based their entire aesthetic on this counterculture. Jun Takahashi’s UNDERCOVER, which last year celebrated its 25th anniversary, famously makes “noise not clothes” and his SS16 collection, “The Greatest,” is an homage to the brand’s archive and sartorial legacy. Fashion has always had a tendency to create myths: it helps with the ever-important image. Many designers play up their enigma factor and limit access to their universe; they’re sparse with interviews and often seem uninterested in opening up during interviews. Meanwhile, those who are too accessible can make it hard for themselves to achieve legendary status by losing a vital layer of secrecy. Of course, it’s a fine balance: customers want designers to be both mysterious and humble. And nowhere else but in Japan is that trait truly mastered. There’s a quiet modesty about most of its personalities, be it in fashion, sports, music or art. Can you think of a time when you heard COMME des GARÇONS’ Rei Kawakubo brag, or read an interview where Issey Miyake openly criticized a fellow designer? The word “beef” does exist in the Japanese vocabulary, but solely as a culinary reference. Though Japan doesn’t have a higher ratio of creative talent than any other country, they are arguably better than the rest of us at eating humble pie: they seem to take an unassuming and polite approach to both life and the people around them; it can be quite a cleansing and life-affirming experience for the rest of us. That, combined with a hardcore dedication to rebellious subcultures and the likes of Kawakubo and Yohji Yamamoto constantly pushing a progressively liberal design aesthetic, makes for a design roster unlike most other countries. Jun Takahashi is a point in case — and a very timely one at that. Surviving a quarter of a century is an achievement for any creative force, but in a world of neverending demands on collections, curation and collaborations, that’s a badge of honor. In addition to his men’s line, Takahashi also shows two womenswear collections in Paris each year and partners up with Nike on Gyakusou, his biannual collection of high-tech running gear. But Takahashi isn’t just prolific in his output, he’s also managed to maintain a loyal cult following over the years, fueled by his personal interest in counterculture and punk music. His success, according to Takahashi himself, comes from cultivating his initial ethos of integrity. “I have always been true to myself and believe in free creation,” he explains. When Takahashi set up UNDERCOVER in 1990, the world was a different place, as was the fashion. In early ’90s Japan, like the rest of the world, was a predominately analog place. The internet existed but it was a good decade away from resembling what it does today. Takahashi was part of a new movement, a new way of interacting with music, art and fashion.
Today, he probably won’t look back and describe it as a “thing,” but together with the likes of A Bathing Ape founder NIGO and cultural iconoclast Hiroshi Fujiwara of fragment design, the shy and famously tight-lipped Takahashi certainly helped usher in a new era of both streetwear and high-end fashion. In many ways, the “high-low” approach we hear so much about today began in Harajuku and Shibuya in the early 1990s with stores like NOWHERE and brands such as UNDERCOVER and, to a certain degree, A Bathing Ape. These designers borrowed from the streets while listening and learning from underground movements and repackaging their products as luxury fashion. “I was mixing various genres of clothing at the time,” Takahashi says now, looking back. “I think that kind of random remixing was something unique to that period of time.” It was that attitude that put UNDERCOVER on the map and, generally speaking, helped launch Japan internationally as a creative fashion hub.
“UNDERCOVER happened when I was a student. I wanted to create an environment where I can present my creation and my opinions.” While BAPE’s colorful clothing was flooding street corners in New York and London, Kawakubo’s twisted “beautiful chaos” and Yamamoto’s draping black silhouettes started dominating Parisian catwalks. Takahashi, like so many of his design peers, dislikes naming other designers as role models, but he seems to appreciate those who have maintained their integrity throughout — just like him. “There are many [brands I like], from young ones to veterans. But I am not interested in designers or brands if they don’t have the power to persevere. This point of view is rather objective and not due to the fact that I’m in the same industry,” he says. This is, of course, his prerogative. It’s safe to say, though, that Rei Kawakubo is a reference. Takahashi famously took inspiration from seeing a COMME des GARÇONS show after he enrolled at Tokyo’s Bunka Fashion College in 1988 without a clear idea of the aesthetic direction he should take. If he hadn’t started UNDERCOVER, Takahashi says he would have become a painter. It goes with his creative outlook, past and present. “UNDERCOVER happened when I was a student. I wanted to create an environment where I can present my creation and my opinions.” As so many things, the brand was a product of two crucial factors: time and place. “It was the era when clubbing and street culture were at the height of their popularity. Young people in their 20s were presenting things freely and sharing that with the older generation.” But it was also down to the attitude of society at the time. “In a good way, a vertically structured society was functioning and, compared to nowadays, many things were less stressful. If you were strong-minded with independent wishes, anyone could reach out to the world,” he reminisces. Perhaps UNDERCOVER needed to bloom in an analog world — would the brand really have blossomed if the internet was around at the time? Punk is a raw energy; it doesn’t feel very digital. In many cases, other brands and designers celebrating similar anniversaries have made it this far because they’ve developed their brands into multimillion-dollar commercial success stories. That’s not necessarily the case with UNDERCOVER. Not that the brand is doing poorly, but it’s not exactly a mainstream aesthetic. If anything, UNDERCOVER is a cult brand: it appeals to a certain type of consumer, one who’s not afraid of graphic slogans, has political opinions, and understands obscure rock and punk references. As such, Takahashi seems to be a fanboy like the rest of us. He used to play in a punk rock band called the Tokyo Sex Pistols, while his SS15 men’s collection featured Television’s Marquee Moon and Adventure album artwork in the form of prints. Back in 2009, Takahashi reworked graphic designer Peter Saville’s famous cover art for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures album into his FW09 “Earmuff Maniac” collection.
But Takahashi is also able to look outside the sphere of subcultural music for inspiration, as his SS10 collection proved. Having met legendary Braun designer Dieter Rams, who championed the idea of “less but better,” Takahashi presented a collection heavily influenced by industrial design at Pitti Uomo in Florence. Using technical fabrics, plus the odd orange flash and wire accessory, the collection kickstarted Takahashi’s obsession with functional clothing and led to his Gyakusou line, which launched later that year. Fast forward to 2015 when Takahashi launched a retrospective exhibition at a Tokyo gallery. “The UNDERCOVER Labyrinth” looked back at the last 25 years and traced the brand’s history through films, outfits, photographs, interactive installations and catwalk imagery. But the current Spring/Summer 2016 collection is, perhaps, a better and more fitting homage to the history of UNDERCOVER. If nothing else because while the exhibition is over, the clothes will live on as a sartorial tribute to the brand itself. “The Greatest,” as the SS16 collection is called, allowed Takahashi to investigate his own archives and handpick his personal favorites, slightly tweaking and updating them for 2016. Interestingly — not because it went with his retrospective theme but just because, why not — he also added in Star War references, bearing in mind that once the collection hit stores, J.J. Abrams’ much-hyped Star Wars: The Force Awakens would be old news. The next installment isn’t even due until late 2017. It all goes to show: no one can predict Jun Takahashi’s aesthetic whims and therein lies his genius. There seems to be no rhyme and reason to the brand other than utter creativity. When asked about the ultimate purpose of UNDERCOVER, Takahashi cryptically says: “Nobody knows!” And he recognizes that, over the last two and a half decades, the biggest challenge facing him has been the business aspect: how do you make money while maintaining integrity? “Yes, the balance between creation and business has been the most challenging. Consequently the most rewarding thing is when I produce something that is a success.” Maybe this is where Gyakusou fits in? As well as a line of undoubtedly stylish running gear, suitable for life off the track as well as on it, it’s a major collaboration with a global multibillion-dollar company. But Takahashi is keen to keep the two ventures separate: “They [UNDERCOVER and Gyakusou] are completely different. Running is more the process of letting out stress rather than getting inspired; to switch your mind off from work. At the same time, it’s healthy so it’s like killing two birds with one stone.” Takahashi is a dedicated runner, that’s how Gyakusou started initially, and even though no literal running inspiration goes into UNDERCOVER it’s clear that the exercise creates a creative balance in his life, one that feeds into UNDERCOVER one way or another.
The brand’s fundamental ethos is an interesting one. Just like Kawakubo refers to her clothes as “beautiful chaos,” Takahashi talks about his sartorial universe as “chaos and balance.” It seems the concept of “chaos” is important to Japanese designers. They think greatness comes from it: a wrong leads to a right. “We make noise, not clothes,” Takahashi explains. Of course, it’s not an explanation per se; it’s more a statement of intent. “We are a brand with many aspects. It is a place where dark fantasy stories, art, music and subculture elements merge. UNDERCOVER is a junction that connects mode [fashion] and street culture freely.” Appropriating the attitude and energy of the street to catwalk fashion, that’s his strength. Few designers do it with as much authentic honesty and artistic integrity as Jun Takahashi.
“We are a brand with many aspects. It is a place where dark fantasy stories, art, music and subculture elements merge.” So what drives UNDERCOVER forward? How does Takahashi stay inspired after all these years? “My five senses are stimulated by my own creation: silly conversations with my friends, art, music, movies. The happiest time is when I’m relaxing with my family.” Talking to Takahashi, there seems to be a never-ending desire to interact and learn from new generations going through the same yet very different things he did in late ’80s/early ’90s Tokyo. “I am often inspired by communicating and exchanging information with younger people or those from other countries. Since the ’90s I have been blessed with many opportunities to meet people from all over the world.” It’s been interesting to follow Takahashi in his choices of collaboration partners. In addition to his highly successful Nike line, UNDERCOVER has partnered up with brands like Supreme and Uniqlo in the past. Although all three seem vastly different and disconnected, the trio of brands make sense. Nike offers access to its specialist manufacturing machinery; Supreme delivers a new and young audience, much like the one UNDERCOVER maybe spoke to in its early years; Uniqlo tables a more affordable and accessible option, similar to H&M’s ongoing designer collaborations. The Supreme collection was interesting: there’s plenty of overlap between the brands as they’re heavily invested in music scenes, albeit different ones, and with an obvious affection for graphic slogans, such as “Anarchy is the key” in the case of Takahashi’s encounter with Supreme’s James Jebbia. Both brands’ audiences are notoriously difficult to please, but there seemed to be nothing but universal praise for the collection when it launched in March 2015. At its core, UNDERCOVER is a fanboy’s heart on display. You can easily trace the inspiration behind his clothes. They’re there to be enjoyed if you know them or discovered for the first time if they’re new to you. Curation is a tiresome word these days but in many ways that’s what Takahashi is, a curator. His clothes are cultural snapshots of a time and place. Now, 25 years since its inception, UNDERCOVER has gone full circle, and today the brand is a sartorial institution in itself, referenced and admired by others. It seems Jun Takahashi might be right: UNDERCOVER is not about clothes, it’s about letting that loud and beautiful noise soundtrack your life, day in day out.
A Love Letter to the City of Angels Words Alec Leach Photography Palm Angels
In a few short years, Palm Angels has evolved from a single image, into a photo book, and now a fully-fledged line of ready-to-wear clothing. We caught up with the brandâ€™s founder, Francesco Regazzi, to discuss the inspiration, philosophy and influences behind his skate-inspired luxury label.Â
Skate culture has been appropriated so many times in high fashion now that it’s beyond passé. Whether it’s luxury houses using quarter pipes as props (as in Dior Homme’s FW16 show in Paris), niche designers creating ridiculous and completely un-skateable decks (Rick Owens’s $15,000 solid granite “RICKBOARD,” anyone?), or designers straight up stealing skateboard artwork (Jeremy Scott’s FW13 Jim Phillips fiasco managed to offend pretty much everyone, not just skaters), it often seems there is no level of cultural theft the luxury world won’t sink to when it comes to the sport.
ski slopes that are Moncler’s heartland, though. During one of Regazzi’s many trips to Los Angeles, he started photographing Venice Beach’s skate rats as they cavorted around the strip’s skateparks on their boards. One particular image — of a skater captured in mid-air, surrounded by a halo of sunlight — would inspire Ragazzi to publish Palm Angels, a book of his photographs that included a foreword from Pharrell Williams, no less. The book was released in 2014, and Francesco’s brand of the same name is now in its second season. “The problem with Italy is that all the subcultures come late,” Francesco tells me over a crackly Skype connection. “They start in America, or somewhere else, and in Italy they’re small and don’t develop for years. It’s the same with skateboarding… you see people in the streets skating, but it’s not huge.”
In the past, glossy womenswear publications have declared skater style the height of fashion — Vogue recently praised legendary skate mag Thrasher’s hoodies and T-shirts, which have become the de-facto street style staple for off-duty models in recent seasons. In short, fashion seems almost pathologically obsessed with skateboarding’s devil-may-care attitude, and loves to use it as a prop to help make really expensive clothing seem a bit more edgy. Unsurprisingly, the skate community finds this situation more than a little frustrating.
That relative cultural vacuum seems to be what’s driving Palm Angels. Its collections are a homage to California’s freespirited skaters — particularly those from the culture’s glorious ’70s heyday and ’90s alt-renaissance — but seen through the eye of an observer, and replicated at high-end Italian standards. There’s no attempts at masquerading as a lifestyle brand for diehard skaters (after all, they’d see right through that). Rather, Francesco is using the culture and its values as a foundation for his vision of men’s clothing.
For Francesco Ragazzi, the brains behind Palm Angels, skate culture is more than just a throwaway motif to be used and discarded — it’s his muse and a constant source of inspiration. Regazzi grew up in Milan, but admits he always dreamed of America, and went on to study photography in New York before graduating in Fashion Communication. He then interned at Moncler, and 10 years on he’s still not left…
“I mix my background in Italy with American culture… it’s always an outsider’s perspective” he continues. “Palm Angels Spring/Summer 2016 is inspired by American culture, and the brand that inspired me the most in my childhood: Ralph Lauren.”
By day, Francesco is the luxury ski-wear label’s capable art director. His own project finds inspiration far beyond the moneyed
That means Ragazzi’s skate kids are outfitted in preppy American casualwear, with many pieces sporting his own riffs on Ralph motifs — like giant “USA” branding that’s embroidered onto the back of double-breasted blazers. The collection’s title, “United States of Angels,” is itself a nod to Ralph Lauren, who was never shy of plastering his patriotism over anything and everything. Palm Angels’ seersucker tailoring harks back to Ralph’s Polo label and the most aspirational of American pursuits, sailing. Meanwhile, checkerboard patterns, Hawaiian palm prints and slip-on sneakers (not to mention model Jake Lucas’s evocative flowing mane) are heartfelt tributes to skate culture’s ’70s golden age.
“There’s more to skateboarding than just what you see. It’s so authentic, it’s kind of [like] a religion. It’s a view of the world, it’s a hobby, it’s a sport, it’s more than just objects.”
Regazzi’s vision of the Cali skater’s wardrobe is nevertheless given some quintessentially Italian flashes of sprezzatura: gold studs and trims feature on many cut-and-sew pieces, while embroidered marijuana leaves offer a sly nod to the skater’s “favorite off-board pastime.” Elsewhere, T-shirt graphics place Renaissance artworks beside California’s iconic palm trees, for a more direct reference to the label’s colliding influences, while Polo’s much-loved Stars and Stripes are reworked in Regazzi’s own way, this time as a checkerboard pattern (another skate reference), with horizontal lines that hint at a park stair set. Finally, the metallic flourishes that run throughout the graphics, embellishments and embroidery come straight from the Palm Angels book, and were inspired by the golden light that drenches California at “The Magic Hour” — when the sun’s gaze is at its softest and most photogenic, just before dusk.
“Fashion is a bit superficial – you just look at style — but there’s so much more in the way skaters really live for it,” he affirmed. “There’s more to skateboarding than just what you see. It’s so authentic, it’s kind of [like] a religion. It’s a view of the world, it’s a hobby, it’s a sport, it’s more than just objects.” The hysterical, trend-obsessed world of fashion could certainly do with taking a few lessons from die-hard skateboarders, who live and die for their passion. Meanwhile, fickle trends and one-season fads force fashion to reinvent itself every six months, never sticking with anything long enough to let it define them.
“It’s a paradox” Francesco admits when asked if it’s a little ironic, producing luxury-priced skatewear. “I’m trying to start from that culture and elevate it, and proposing a new way of how skaters could look.” Given the high-low mashup that’s been tearing down the boundaries in fashion in the past few years, that contradiction really isn’t so troubling. Today’s youths have everything at their fingertips; there’s nothing stopping skaters from dipping their toes into avant-garde designer gear, or the high-brow fashion crowd from discovering the joys of shredded denim and carefree dressing.
“It was one picture I took that made me go back to Los Angeles over and over again. It was a vision in my mind” the Palm Angels press release poetically states. “Blonde hair floating in the air, rays of light that capture bodies fighting over gravity. For some religions, this is the portrayal of the angels. For me, it was a beginning.” Regazzi’s clothing and photography paints a similarly cinematic, theatrical picture of skate culture – one that forgets the broken bones, hours of practice, and poverty that most skaters are burdened with. It’s not so much appropriation as a wistful love letter to the rugged grace of California’s skate kids; it’s a vision of Venice Beach that’s imbued with the sort of naive romanticism that can only really come from an outsider looking in.
Of Art, Artifice & Amalgamation Ghostly International Words Jeff Carvalho Photography Thomas Welch
Question: Is it possible to create new music, fashion, or design without being inspired or borrowing? In this interview, Ghostly founder, Sam Valenti, helps us explore the current impact of “borrow culture,” and how the building blocks of old are helping to inspire a new creative class.
Ghostly, a self-described “record label and art company” is very considerate of these questions. While music is at the core of their mission, they have truly become a lifestyle brand through artist and design collaborations that help express their music beyond the borders of digital downloads and vinyl releases. And through it all, Valenti and the full Ghostly team remain inspired by what’s coming next.
“Symbols are more meaningful than things themselves.” – Jenny Holzer Innovation and development of modern music, particularly hip-hop and dance music has feet well-grounded in sample culture: one that borrows bars and sequences from recorded music in order to make something new. What is your viewpoint on borrowing samples or ideas, be it in music or fashion? Music is inherently a conversation between records. You and I were just talking about Jonzun Crew vs. Afrika Bambaataa and who first used a sample from Kraftwerk’s “Trans Europe Express” back in the early ’80s. I got excited in art history classes as a college kid looking at Manet and Toulouse-Lautrec and that era of Modernism and Impressionism because it was about blurring the lines and taking away representation to achieve something more profound. Whether you’re looking at hip-hop culture or art, the biggest innovation is that they’re using preexisting materials and concepts in evolving a language based on those ideas. With records like The Life of Pablo, we’re now exposed to the process of how things happen in real time. We see his productions borrow: An Arthur Russell sample creeps into “30 Hours” and that kicks off interest in Russell’s music — a wormhole. The culture we live, and the music being created, has only made that wormhole more accessible and more exciting, but at the same time, [producers] have to be a little more deft with their selections. It’s not just good enough to just swipe a loop. The J Dilla mentality of borrowing was to take something very basic, that everyone sampled, and to cut it a certain way to make it yours. We see this with fashion brands with what they’re appropriating. It’s not necessarily about doing it first. When you liberate yourself from the cult of originality, there’s actually more interesting conversations that come up, like the way you freak it, the way you tilt it. Everything we are interested in relies on the tilt, the flair. Style is a big part of it and I’m always interested in the way people use style and make things their own. In many ways, music is very democratic. A label like Ghostly can work with an emerging artist or a designer, and make a record or an object that works. In that process we can put out an idea into the world. Only with reusing and borrowing can you actually achieve that with any degree of efficiency. I think it’s a forever conversation.
“A sense of timing is the mark of a genius.” – Jenny Holzer Two parallel worlds were blooming in the ’80s and early ’90s, both which borrowed to create newness: You had hip-hop and dance music using samples, breaks and loops to make new music, and streetwear borrowing corporate logos and iconography, flipping them to make new graphics and new fashion. What’s interesting to me is in that sample music and fashion have repurposed ideas many times over. I wonder when those new constructs — the music and fashion — rise above the original works. Take The Life of Pablo, again. It borrows from an amazing pool of sounds. The album’s first track, “Ultralight Beam” opens with a Vine loop. There’s music critic Simon Reynolds school of thought: the more basic, the more simple the tools we use, the better the music. Like how The KLF presented a formula, the recipe, to identify the core components of sounds, and the most efficient ways to make them. This Kanye record feels like a loop record again, whereas Yeezus felt like synthesizers off the grid. Kanye, to me, has always been sort of a creative director. He understands amalgamation. His pedigree is being a producer and he understands how to fit pieces together into a whole. I’m a fan of Pop villains like Jeff Koons and Andy Warhol who take objects in front of them and beautify them through presentation. But, I also think there’s more subversive stuff going on now. In music, we’re almost eating ourselves with microtrends becoming amalgamated immediately. Music like chillwave/vaporwave did similar trend splitting, like electronic music did in the ’90s with house, techno and drum ’n’ bass. I think it’s healthy. It may be strange for consumers, but it’s good for culture because it splinters influence and destabilizes who controls the narrative. With music, I think we’re past the building block phase, the amino acids of all these genres: funk and soul loops. We have that down. There’s so much free music software out there to make loops and samples. The cost of entry is low for any musician or beat maker to produce their own sounds. A lot of the early Ghostly stuff, a lot of the best releases are built using simple, basic plug and play things used to a high degree of specificity. I do believe the best songs are often written in 15 minutes. You can labor shit to death, but if it’s an impulse or feeling, that’s where most of the music we love comes from — it’s impact-based. You can polish something within an inch of its life, but if the feeling isn’t there, it’s not there. That’s why I always saw electronic music as very humanistic when people thought it was originally cold and sterile. Now, it’s very personality-based and the narratives of the artists are just as important as the music. It’s not about the machines but what the artist is doing with the machines. I like where we’re at, it’s not just a matter of talent, will and grit to get to the feeling.
“You are a victim of the rules you live by.” – Jenny Holzer We’ve been talking here at Highsnobiety about the lack of context or legacy in today’s fashion and music. Some examples of that would be the use of old heavy metal graphics or iconography in fashion: do consumers understand where they came from? We interviewed people in the Supreme line waiting for Morrissey T-shirts and asked them to identify the lead singer of The Smiths. Some knew, many did not. How important is it for kids to understand the context of where this stuff comes from? I think it’s dangerous to punish anybody for not being raised with the same conditions that we were. Obviously we want everyone to be as much of a student about this stuff, but the reality is it’s fair game. Does it deepen the experience if you know who Morrissey is? Sure. The genius of it is that you can still feel the idea by the presentation. If it’s hitting on a visceral level and people are responding to it, I think it’s purely a luxury worrying if people care who Morrissey is. But you can’t reinvent Morrissey’s influence. In a way, Supreme and this project has kept the Morrissey narrative alive not by the music, but his politics. This is an interesting time where the underground goes against itself in a weird way. These are serious games now. This isn’t friends coming over and doing a photoshoot in the basement: it’s business. That shows where we’re at: everyone’s trying to grab at influences that people respond to, positively or negatively. I was more surprised that Morrissey wasn’t as perturbed by Terry Richardson as he was with White Castle. We’re at a time where we have the luxury of exploring. We can weigh these things out and have a conversation. We’re still consuming it, we’re still talking about it so in a way they got their value out of the campaign. It stirred up an energy around the whole conversation rather than just the shirts themselves. It seems like it’s no longer enough just to make something. Occasionally, we’ll throw stuff up on Ghostly’s Twitter that are random artifacts, and I know most of our audience is not going to be interested or know what the references are, but I’m doing it because I’m excited about it. If there’s somebody who gets it, cool.
“All things are delicately interconnected.” – Jenny Holzer Let’s talk Ghostly — the record label has diversified across many creative avenues through the years: music art, books, objects. Why did you start the label and how do you continue to evolve its function? Everybody has the ability to make a thing now: physical, digital, analog and they can put their best foot forward. My need is to propagate art and work that I think is exciting — that’s what moves me and gives me meaning. The label was the simplest way to combine my interests with a group of people who were also interested, without having to always ask for permission. The label was a way for me to affect the culture on a micro level and be able to work with people I really admire. The diversity thing was supposed to be something since the jump, it was part of our mission statement to be a record label with art, clothing, and a magazine. I never figured out editorial, but I love the dialogue that comes out of editorial. It was always supposed to be pretty broad, but it just took a long time to get one thing right. Now, The Ghostly Store is finding its voice and the product and collaborations are getting there. We’re earning trust.
Do Ghostly products become a gateway to the label’s music? I think of it more as coexisting. For instance, we sell beautiful notebooks, but I don’t think people get into our music because of them. I think it’s more of where it’s coming from. At Ghostly, we want to make things that are beautiful, functional and useful. Back to borrowing: we’re purely using existing styles both in music and product, and putting our twist on them; the modern condition. Art is an essential part to understanding ourselves and I’m interested in what fills that space. One of the more striking Ghostly objects came with Matthew Dear’s Black City release in 2010. A special totem was issued with the album. Does the totem help expand the experience of Dear’s music? Is it safe to say you’re taking music out of the confines of CDs, vinyl and digital, into sound represented by physical objects? Is that repurposing? I don’t ever want to get away from the medium of music. I love records. It’s a bit of a contradiction: a lot of the work we’re doing with Snarkitecture right now is kind of about that tension that is loving records to death. I think of that cartoon Animaniacs: remember the girl that wants to hug and squeeze every animal? I feel like what we’re doing with vinyl as a culture right now is almost murdering it because we love it so much. The plants are all backed up, it’s hard for labels like mine to get stuff done on time. There’s the ecological issue with vinyl that people are talking about, as well: It’s a petroleum product. Vinyl is really not the most ethical thing in the world and yet we love this stuff and we want it so bad. So I’m thinking, what does that mean? Does it mean we’re so starved for physicality in this world that we’re going back in time? Does it mean we’re rallying against this ephemeral culture? I don’t want to remove the medium from it. We want to give the music the respect that it deserves. We’re not going to be able to define or kill any one medium but we can challenge what it means to put music into the world. It doesn’t have to be press play, fast forward, rewind. It’s more about playing with the form that excites me, but at the end of the day our core products are still digital downloads, streams, vinyl and CDs. It’s weird that supply and demand is pushing against itself. It’s no longer about creativity. It’s about “can I get this through the channel?” The internet has proven to be the best, but maybe not the most romantic means. We have so many options now. Doing it is a given. It’s in the “what” and the methods you employ that defines a moment for me. That’s not a forever question, but that’s what it is for now.
“If you are an artist and you are honest, you are never good enough.” – Jenny Holzer
Cleaning in Progress Photography Mattias Bjorklund Styling Atip W Grooming Natsumi Ebiko using M.A.C Cosmetics & Bumble and Bumble Casting Director Sarah Bunter @ Buntercasting Model Raffaele @ Select Model Management
Via Pirelli 11
Photography Andrea Olivo @ Aura Photo Agency Styling Atip W Hair & Make-up Roberto Mambretti @ Aura Photo Agency using Chanel Casting Director Johanna Cordioli @ Aura Photo Agency Model Kasia @ MP Management
We Never Feel Guilty Photography Liu Song Styling Coke Ho Hair Cheng Feng Make-up Xin Miao Model Liu Jia Tong Special Thanks ANCHORET
From Moscow with Love Words Alec Leach Photography Sergey Kostromin & Natalia Kupriyanova
Thanks to the work of homegrown streetwear wunderkind Gosha Rubchinskiy, Moscow’s fashion scene has suddenly found itself the focus of worldwide attention. We paid the city a visit as part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Russia, and discovered a unique, fascinating city that’s quite unlike anywhere else - a place that has the potential to be one of the most exciting fashion locations in the world. Moscow is a strange place. Coming from the West, you tend to think that the city is pretty much the same as anywhere else in Europe — just a bit colder and with more fur coats. Spend a bit of time there, though, and you’ll soon realize Moscow is a city full of contradictions, a place quite unlike anywhere else in the world. The city’s center is breathtakingly beautiful — in a colossal, over-the-top kind of way — and its suburbs look like the Cold War finished last week. Muscovites will either stare daggers at you or ask you to drink vodka with them all night. There’s no in between. Moscow is at the same time normcore’s spiritual homeland and a haven for the sort of excessive luxury that you thought only existed in the lairs of old Bond villains. Things are even harder to get your head around when you remember that Russia has its own social media networks, subcultures and alphabet (which makes navigating the city’s subway pretty much impossible, by the way).
”There are people here who can afford pretty much anything,” KM20’s founder Olga Karput told me over a coconutinfused coffee from the store’s in-house cafe. “They’re getting more educated and free inside — they can afford Tom Ford, but they’re starting to buy designers like J.W.Anderson and Claire Barrow. It’s a natural evolution process that’s happening in Moscow now, and it’s really good to see.” Naturally, wealthy Muscovites make up the bulk of the city’s high fashion customers, and KM20’s clientele includes discerning celebrities and businessmen with refined tastes, all of whom are drawn to the store’s avant-garde labels. Much more exciting, though, are the many style-conscious, internet-savvy youths who come to KM20 for a taste of fashion via a magazine, T-shirt or cap — more on them later. Clothing-wise, high-end streetwear from the likes of Nasir Mazhar, Hood By Air and Kanye West’s YEEZY project (of which KM20 is Russia’s only stockist) sits alongside luxury menswear courtesy of Lemaire, Maison Margiela, Raf Simons and Umit Benan. Local labels Gosha Rubchinskiy (of course), Tigran Avestiyan and August Institute are represented, as is an equally broad selection of womenswear, kids’ clothing and magazines.
Since Gosha Rubchinskiy took over the world with his quintessentially Russian vision of streetwear, it seems the entire fashion industry is now suddenly interested in Moscow. While Gosha’s work has created a newfound buzz around the Russian capital, it’s just one perception of the city. I spent five days there in the latter half of 2015, and it didn’t take long to realize that there’s much more going on than grey tower blocks, wayward youths and post-Soviet fashion.
Of course, this is Russia, so high fashion is still very much a niche interest — spend five minutes on the streets surrounding KM20 and you’ll see countless Range Rovers parked outside Louboutin boutiques and Dolce & Gabbana flagships. The stereotypes of Moscow’s nouveau riche and their less-thansophisticated tastes are true, but things are changing fast. Modern Muscovites have access to more information than any previous generation of Russians, and they’re consuming global culture at the same speed and voracity as everyone else in the world.
Less a straightforward shop, more a hub for Moscow’s flourishing creative scene, KM20 (located on Kuznetsky Most 20 — hence the name) is at the front line of Russia’s fast-evolving cultural landscape. The concept store’s expertly curated buffet of designer fashion is accompanied by a cafe that specializes in locally sourced superfoods, with a spacious back area for launch parties, pingpong tournaments, and the occasional kids’ birthday, too. Imagine colette where everyone knows your name and you won’t be far off.
“The internet for sure has changed things, and so has traveling,” Olga continued. “Now we’ve got the first generation of people who could travel since they were kids. Before, our parents and grandparents never went outside of Russia. Now younger guys, they already speak English, they look at blogs, they use Instagram.” From my short stay in the city, it was plain to see that Moscow’s youth have the same interests as anyone else their age: they engage with culture from all over the world, communicate via social media and put a lot of thought into their style. But, in a country as isolated both geographically and politically as Russia, things are of course a little different.
“With the financial crisis, everyone got poorer — especially the youngsters.” Olga told me. “The youth’s style is a mix of whatever you can find in your dad’s wardrobe and whatever you can find in secondhand stores, mixed with Gosha Rubchinskiy, Tigran Avestiyan; designers that they’re ready to save money and invest in.” Clearly, the internet has had a huge impact on clued-up Russians’ attitudes and perspectives. “These guys don’t follow the older Russian trends,” she continued. “They don’t consider glossy magazines as a source of any inspiration, they don’t trust their opinion. They just look for their own things to get inspired by.”
“When things come to Russia, we make them our own. We use them in our own way,” Gosha Rubchinskiy affirmed when I interviewed him for this magazine’s 10th issue. KM20 hosted the launch party for Gosha’s Youth Hotel photo book during Moscow’s fashion week, and while the event was pretty much business as usual — flowing drinks, loud music, industry networking — its carefree, anything-goes vibe was miles away from what you’d normally find in London, Paris or New York.
While Moscow’s fashion scene is drawing more attention than ever, the city’s fluctuating economy means retailers face an extraordinarily tough battle just to stay in business. When the Russian ruble crashed in the latter half of 2014, the cost of imported goods doubled overnight, leaving stores with enormous bills to pay and their futures uncertain. Times are tough for retailers everywhere, but stores in Russia must face the same battles as their peers in the rest of the world — rising rents, a crowded market, online competition — and somehow deal with their country’s volatile currency and precarious economy.
“T he youth’s style is a mix of whatever you can find in your dad’s wardrobe and whatever you can find in secondhand stores, mixed with Gosha Rubchinskiy, Tigran Avestiyan; designers that they’re ready to save money and invest in.”
One victim of Russia’s economic rollercoaster was FOTT. Started by a group of style-conscious Spartak Moscow fans, the store specialized in terrace casual-flavored menswear, with gum-soled adidas sneakers, selvedge denim and heritage sportswear forming the core of its business. The retailer also produced a print publication to educate its customers and bring its goods to life. Within a few issues, FOTTPAPER had dressed local petrolheads in archive Stone Island and Prada pieces, went mountaineering to put The North Face’s outerwear to the test, and shot a spectacular editorial in a Russian desert. Much like KM20, FOTT’s curation and commitment made the store a truly world-class affair.
Thumping techno and eerie witch house replaced the tedious trap soundtrack that chokes fashion parties in the West, while those in attendance focused on actually enjoying themselves rather than just being seen by the right people. Gosha’s youthful associates, meanwhile, were dressed in a spontaneous mix of streetwear, vintage high fashion and obscure oddities found in thrift stores. Think patent leather trench coats, snakeskin trousers, baggy knits and Supreme caps. Seeing people care so little for brand prestige, trends or fads was a breath of fresh air.
I paid FOTT a visit when it was still open but at the time its racks were almost bare. Financial difficulties had left the retailer behind on payments and its future in jeopardy. “The situation is terrible. It’s not stable,” the shop’s founder Sergey Tanin told me grimly. The dire economic climate had obviously wreaked havoc on the store, which had been forced to move locations twice and shutter its Carhartt WIP partnership, before sadly closing its own doors a few months later.
unisex concept fashion that’s stocked in prestigious accounts worldwide, including Opening Ceremony, VFILES and 10 Corso Como. Avestiyan admits that it would be nearly impossible for him to keep his label going were he still based in London. In Russia, he essentially doubles his money as his international business is conducted in euros, pounds or dollars. “It’s an advantage to be here. It’s cheaper to produce, and when you’re exporting you get twice as much money because of the exchange rate.”
“The government really doesn’t care about small and mid-sized businesses,” Tanin continued. “They focus on big corporations who work closely with the government, and financing for us is really expensive. We have friends in the UK and financing for them costs maybe 2% or 4%. In Russia it’s hard to get financing with an interest rate of 20%.” Twenty percent. To make matters worse, VAT discounts for nonEU customers make European stores significantly cheaper than their Russian counterparts. Sergey told me how the vast majority of END. Clothing’s sales in Russia had come indirectly via FOTT. Russian-speaking customers had gone to the shop for education and inspiration, before buying from the UK at a lower price.
Avestiyan also finds the country’s relative isolation to be a plus, too. “It’s good to be outside of all the buzz, because you don’t get sucked into all the politics and who’s been at what party and whatever. I don’t get distracted by anything.” Just five seasons in, Tigran uses his collections to make witty, satirical comments on mainstream pop culture and materialism. His Spring/Summer 2016 collections tackles sexual commodification: erotically charged leopard print is, on closer inspection, actually text saying “NO!.” His forthcoming FW16 line, meanwhile, takes the premise that brands are more important than garments these days, and scatters appropriated labels all over the in and outside of pieces.
If things are appearing bleak for retailers, the economic situation has conversely made it highly advantageous for Russian-based brands and designers. “The fashion scene in Russia is moving. Despite the crisis and the tensions, the industry is booming,” Alexander Shumsky, president of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week: Russia told me. Now in its 31st season, Shumsky’s organization flies in editors, buyers and photographers from across the globe to attend shows and meet with many of the country’s new designers, while helping fledgling labels with pop-up showrooms and giving them access to production facilities. “For Russian designers, the currency situation is an advantage,” he continued. “Outsider imports doubled in price, but local designers with local production are getting an advantage — their price points are more attractive now.” Russia’s struggling economy and the rock-bottom price of the ruble means that brands doing business internationally can essentially double their money at home.
Moscow’s fashion scene exists in a fascinating, yet precarious limbo right now. The world is suddenly interested in what the Russian capital has to say, but its fragile economy and relative isolation stand in the way of the city becoming a fullfledged fashion hub — but maybe that’s a good thing. Whether you’re in Paris, London or New York, everything is pretty much the same: the music, the parties, the clothes, the internet slang. Moscow, on the other hand, is at the same time embracing and consuming global culture while resolutely doing things its own way. The city’s kids listen to grime from London, techno from Berlin and trap from the States, but they make their own distinctly Russian-flavored music too (Moscow rapper FACE even has a song dedicated to Gosha Rubchinskiy — look it up on YouTube). They wear Supreme and Stussy, but also clothes from their parents’ wardrobes and Soviet-era thrift stores. “I want to speak internationally, but with a Russian accent,” Gosha told me last year. While Rubchinskiy is just one piece of Moscow’s cultural puzzle, his words neatly sum up the spirit of the city. Its youths look to the rest of the world with open eyes and open minds, but are intent on doing things their own way. And in a world that is becoming more homogenous by the minute, that’s what makes Moscow such a fascinating place right now.
Case in point is Central Saint Martins graduate Tigran Avestiyan, who moved his studio from London to Moscow in 2013 and now runs his namesake label from a small atelier in a former lightbulb factory. “The spotlight is on Russia at the moment, everyone is interested in what’s happening here,” he told me. The Russian-Armenian designer produces
How to Sample Culture Poggy Words & Photography Thomas Welch
Motofumi Kogi, better known as “Poggy,” is the guy you’ve seen on every menswear blog but still wonder what he does. Do stylish industry insiders survive off of internet clout alone? Not many. For starters, Poggy is the director of one of Tokyo’s finer boutiques: UNITED ARROWS & SONS (the younger, more experimental child of the huge UNITED ARROWS empire). It's here that Mr. Kogi has garnered a reputation for combining seemingly opposite styles into one cohesive aesthetic. American Ivy combined with 1990s streetwear? Sure. NBA jerseys paired with gangster pinstripe suits? Definitely. It's by doing this that the globally recognized menswear buyer has carved his own space in a crowded scene of “look at me” characters, all while remaining surprisingly quiet in person. 221
If you’ve ever read the credits of a classic rap album (given the artist actually cleared the samples), you’ll find an index cataloging the bits and pieces constituting the album’s sound. It’s no coincidence that jazz loops, obscure sonic references and drum snippets all perform in symphony to create a full-bodied work. Poggy’s labors may not be an immediately recognizable study of hip-hop’s global impact but its inventive spirit has certainly deeply impacted him. The music tie-in is simple: it’s an art form that has informed his creative process when sampling cultural artifacts and references. This point of view coupled with an unmatched level of taste has created a character worth analysis. The menswear legend spent the afternoon in our New York office to talk about his pioneering past and the future of fashion as we know it.
What originally drew you into the world of fashion? Brands like NEIGHBORHOOD, A Bathing Ape and GOODENOUGH from Ura-Harajuku first introduced me to the culture. A friend from high school who was working at UNITED ARROWS told me that there was a sales assistant job available, so I decided to leave my hometown to go and work in Tokyo. Your first shop, “Liquor, Women & Tears,” was very ahead of its time, arguably too much so. Can you explain the original concept and inspiration? The original concept for “Liquor, Women & Tears” proposed mixtures of traditional and street styles — polishing leather shoes and sneakers were considered the same. I was always inspired by old school hip-hop artists and American music. We mixed brands like MCM, Fendi, Supreme, Ambush and Brunello Cucinelli. Last time we spoke you showed off a picture of Virgil and Don C circa 2006. Were these typical clients? I think they stopped by every time they were in Japan. We were very excited Don C came to the store even though he was not as famous as he is today. Kanye stopped by a couple of times too. My most memorable moment was him eating chicken salad at the display table at the store. It’s hard to think of a street style report where there’s not at least one Poggy cameo. Early in your career, was it ever a goal to get your face out there? Not at all, I was always thinking about the clothing and worked hard to establish my style. Have there been any negative side effects from every menswear nerd knowing your face? Not really at this point. When did you first begin experimenting with mixing fashion from different cultures and traditions? After the closing of Liquor, Women & Tears in 2009, I wanted to learn the backbone of UNITED ARROWS and specialized in men’s dress clothing. Following the traditional rules of wearing a suit is not my style so I started to mix traditional and street clothing. This is a natural look for me.
LIQUOR, WOMEN & TEARS
How do you characterize your personal style? Sartorial street style. Sometimes the earliest adopters don’t receive due credit for their ideas. Do you feel like you get acknowledged for contribution to menswear? I think the suit is one of the most important pieces in a man’s wardrobe but it’s not attractive to the younger generation in Japan. I understand there are some rules wearing it, but I’d like to make the introduction for them to enjoy wearing with one with a mix of street clothing. It might be a hard sell for everybody but I’m really happy that I’ve been able to inspire. Your “Poggy style” is quite recognizable. Do you feel the need to reinvent or expand on your signature look? I used to constantly seek new styles but now I’m fairly content. I like who I am and don’t try to change my ways. UNITED ARROWS has become an international name, yet it’s hard to come by here in America. Are there plans to expand the brand on a global scale? We have but I cannot do it by myself and will take more time to expand and establish the brand. Let’s talk fashion business. The internet and social media have spawned entirely new ways of conducting business. Brands are increasingly getting better at presenting, communicating and selling directly to its consumers. What role will retailers like UNITED ARROWS play in the future? I am definitely a supporter of social media and online shopping but bricks and mortar are equally important. We are presenting brands through our filter by buying, reviewing and displaying at the store. Good communication with our clients is very important. I think shopping is entertainment and every consumer should have fun and enjoy themselves. There are so many high quality Japanese brands that are not strong when it comes to social media and presentation. This is America’s strong suit so we have to learn by watching. A good example of a Japanese brand doing it right is sacai. They have a great balance of both quality and presentation and are highly acclaimed globally. This is where we must work to get. There is a lot of talk about the current fashion system being broken. Brands like Burberry are pioneering “see now, buy now” shows to please the instant gratification generation. Many labels are beginning to question the traditional buying and production schedule. What are your thoughts? I think there is no correct answer for this. The most important thing is customer satisfaction. Everything new happening is very good for the client and it’s exciting that brands and shops are trying their own unique way to make them happier. With the world at our fingertips, where do you look for inspiration and new brands to keep UNITED ARROWS & SONS innovative? Right now, I am getting inspiration from antique books, old movies and generally keeping my eyes open during everyday life. It is very important to always have hunger and to seek something new. I am introduced to so many interesting people by Instagram — this is such a fun era!
24 Hours in Lion City Words Tira Lee Photography Timothy Suen
They say the best things come in small packages and this statement especially rings true for Singapore. Tucked discreetly in between the Malay Peninsula of Southeast Asia and cosseted by the Indian Ocean and South China Sea, Singapore makes up for its lack of size with frenetic energy bouncing off skyscrapers stacked up against each other. A melting pot of cultures, you can’t help but notice a certain charm that makes the city so, well, Singaporean.
It might surprise you to know that they don’t have just one, but four official languages consisting of the Queen’s English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. Everyday comes a fresh wave of mixed pronouns and distant chatter that snowballs into a slang that locals affectionately refer to as Singlish, a dizzying mix of all their languages with the addition of several dialects.
If we had to get metaphorical about Singapore, we’ll say it’s a city with a friendly face and open arms, with culture riddled into her backbone and clipped British undertones served beneath her multiracial hodge- podge. As soon as dusk creeps up however, the scene switches and you’re surrounded by light pollution. A heady mix of shoegaze thumping between the sound of change being spilled and shot glasses clinking against each other. Once you think you’ve got the place figured out, it changes. Walk down the street and you’ll find yourself traveling across different continents in piecemeal — from the dulcet tones of a Chinese opera playing behind the counter of a dim sum eatery to jazz-infused muzak in one of the countless cafes. Some streets will take you to New York or an alley in London, while others will take you to a tranquil garden in Japan. But Singapore is Singapore and here’s how you can spend 24 hours in Lion City.
Singapore at first glance, seems to be a thicket of signs lit up by neon glow once the sun goes down. Navigating the city by foot, you’ll be well-versed in the art of wayfaring once your stay is up. With so much to offer, you’re bound to find something that suits your tastes perfectly. Being both a city and a country due to its small size, it’s a pleasant surprise to learn that Singapore has made startling progress in becoming one of Southeast Asia’s leading fashion capitals, joining Jakarta and Thailand in hosting its very own Fashion Week. Multi-label boutiques seem to be a favourite here, with buyers going far and wide to source the latest wares and returning with unique offerings for the country’s savviest sartorialists.
Potato Head Folk
Sometimes the endless shoves and sharp elbows digging into your ribs get a bit much and you find yourself seeking momentary reprieve from the bustle of the city. The Japanese Gardens are the perfect balance of zen and intrigue; a hidden adventure awaiting you around each corner. Take in the view of the arches, bridges and small ponds winking back at you with their secrets. For a truly peaceful experience, switch off your phone before stepping in. You’ll thank us later.
Here’s Singapore’s take on the popular Bali Potato Head Beach Club; a sprawling upscale beach club located in Seminyak that’s been known to host wild nights with a star-studded setlist including Mark Ronson and Fatboy Slim. While the Potato Head branch here isn’t located on a coast, the atmosphere is just as relaxing and complete with vibes so chill that they bleed into the fuzzy edges of your consciousness and before you know it, you’re well on your way to ordering another one of their delightful drinks. The interior is equal parts whimsical and put-together, which is the result of a collaboration with David Bromley, a renowned Australian artist highly favored for his work in acrylics. Each of the four stories holds its own charm and you’ll be surprised to see that the prices won’t break the bank.
Address 1 Chinese Garden Road, 619795
Address 36 Keong Saik Road, 089143 Website pttheadfolk.com
Limited Edt Chamber
Singapore Art Museum
Hailed as Singapore’s most exclusive sneaker boutique, Limited Edt’s run the gamut, from sneaker purists to rookie sneakerheads. With eight branches around the country, each of which stocks different offerings, you’ll be spoiled for choice when purchasing your next pair of fresh kicks. A fan favorite is their Vault branches; stores that have actual vaults built in to display archival rarities. You can enter on an appointment-only basis, so be sure to call ahead of time to book a viewing. Unfortunately, purchasing of the shoes isn’t possible so be sure to feast your eyes on the sweet kicks because this experience does not come often. The latest addition to their lineup is the Chamber. Like the aforementioned vault, the Chamber is on another level, showcasing extremely exclusive shoes, only this time, you can actually cop those babies. The entry is members-only, if you boast an extensive list of connections, now’s the time to put it to good use.
The Singapore Art Museum is home to the largest collection of contemporary Southeast Asian art in the world. Formerly a Catholic school, the 19th-century building is now a safe haven for the artistically inclined. The museum currently has over 7,000 artworks on hand and while they can’t fit all of them within the building’s walls at once, they do make sure to continually rotate the works on display. The exhibitions are well spaced out across several galleries and there’s always something new to see. The management has retained the original structure of the building, and you’ll find yourself walking through dark hallways illuminated by brightly colored floor tiles. Because of this, the museum doesn’t feel overbearing in the way other institutions do.
Address 2 Bayfront Avenue #B2-23, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 018972 Website limitededt.com
Address 71 Bras Basah Road, 189555 Website singart.com/singapore-museum
Salon by Surrender
Since its opening in 2004, Surrender has been located in Singapore’s iconic Raffles Hotel. Over the years, Surrender has established itself as a purveyor of artisanal brands adored by enthusiasts of both streetwear and high fashion. Labels housed here include contemporary Japanese brands like WTAPS, visvim, SOPHNET. and UNDERCOVER, as well as an alluring variety of Western labels including Thom Browne. You can also expect to find Nike’s most sought-after releases here as it’s the only store in Singapore with a Tier Zero account. In short, if you’re a street-fashion purist this is definitely worth a visit.
The truly dedicated faction of the street fashion crowd will find Salon by Surrender to be a mecca in between the garish luxury stores of Marina Bay Sands that scream bougie life. The storefront is gilded in black and gold, and wonderful things take place within its Victorian-inspired walls. Unlike their equally successful parent store Surrender (housed in Raffles Arcade), Salon by Surrender one ups its forerunner by stocking womenswear and accessories. Here you’ll find brands like Public School, OFFWHITE, Stampd LA and Buscemi.
Address 2 Bayfront Avenue #B2M-232, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, 018972 Website surrenderous.com
Ce La Vi
Formerly known as Ku De Ta, this lounge’s new name is a play on the French phrase c’est la vie, meaning “such is life.” Well, if life consists of schmoozing on a rooftop stocked with great cuisine, warm ambiance and endless drinks, then we’re sure not complaining. Bathed in the fading afterlight of the sun and soundtracked by tasteful music, Ce La Vi is best paired with good company.
This nightclub is an experience in itself for locals and travelers alike. It’s the result of four clubs rolled into one sprawling location, promising a glittering night of unadulterated fun and rash decisions. Zouk’s a longstanding favorite at this point, now 25 years into its existence. It even lives up to its reputation as the club that revolutionized the nightlife scene in Singapore, never failing to draw large crowds and international DJs. While partygoers naturally split into different areas to suit their tastes (Phuture’s for those who appreciate the pulsating beats of hip-hop and R&B; Velvet Underground for a more laid back atmosphere), Zouk hits home in a way that can only be compared to contained chaos.
Address 1 Bayfront Avenue, 018971 Website sg.celavi.com
Address 17 Jiak Kim Street, 169420 Website zoukclub.com
This is the ideal place for a meal after a wild night out. The remaining vestiges of your sticky hangover will fade away as you tuck into a hearty brunch prepared by chefs who’ve been in your position before. If you’re a picky eater, don’t fret as the selection is vast and the Lokal can suit almost any type of dietary need: celiacs and vegetarians alike.You can choose to sit at the counter set up in front of the kitchen to witness some culinary action or to the inviting main area supplied with comfy seats and cushions if you’re in a group.
After a speedy revamp, Lloyd’s Inn instantly became the go-to place for those who seek a short break. Its location is only a few minutes away from the busy Orchard Road shopping belt, which means you’ll be able to drop off your latest cops with ease. This boutique hotel prides itself on its minimalist aesthetic, and it’s clear to see why. Everything is designed and branded to match its slow-living beliefs and while it’s not quite a home away from home, the serenity of the environment instantly relaxes anyone that steps inside. Be sure to grab some food at one of the many restaurants that are scattered around the area before you hit the shops for a second round.
Address 136 Neil Road, 088865 Website thelokalsingapore.com
Address 2 Lloyd Road, 239091 Website lloydsinn.com
A Brief History of Ferrari, Ford, Imitation and Flattery Words Yoav Gilad Photography Evan Klein / Petersen Automotive Museum & RM Auctions
The famed Ferrari and Ford feud of the 1960s has become legend. The story goes that Enzo Ferrari was interested in selling his customer (road) car business (yet retain his racing team, the famed Scuderia), and negotiated with Henry Ford II, Henry Fordâ€™s grandson, to sell the business. While true, in hindsight it now seems plausible that Enzo planned this as a ruse to gain Fiatâ€™s interest in purchasing his company. But before Fordâ€™s resolve hardened and his mission became defeating il Commendatore in the sport Ferrari loved most, racing, simply as retribution for Ferrari reneging on the deal, the pair were on much friendlier terms.
In fact, Ferrari had great respect for both Ford, the company, and Ford, the person. So much in fact, that Enzo sent the Deuce (Henry Ford II) a brand-new 1952 Ferrari 212 Barchetta. It was the last Barchetta ever built and Ferrari was so eager to impress Ford that he swapped the 212’s smaller engine for a larger 2.7L V12. The 225, as the engine is known, would soon debut on Ferrari’s other road cars. Previously, it was only being used in their race cars. Ferrari also swapped the traditional black-wall tires for white-walls, appealing to American contemporary tastes.
Not only did Ford borrow Chevy’s idea, but they copied Ferrari’s execution. Considering the Thunderbird and Barchetta side-by-side, it’s easy to see the Italian’s influence on the original American personal luxury two-seater. It isn’t a perfect facsimile and Ford’s surfacing largely carried over from 1954, but when the Thunderbird debuted in 1955, its details were strikingly similar to the Barchetta’s. Take for instance the basic proportion of the Thunderbird’s front details: they’re a near copy, with the bumper overriders taking the place of the Barchetta’s parking lights. The twinnostril hood scoop was also borrowed and decorated more fully. The Ford’s grille, meanwhile, was exaggerated but the pattern mimicked the Barchetta’s egg crate design. It appears that the grille made such an impression on Ford’s designers that even a stylized version trickled down to their more common models.
The Deuce became chairman and CEO of his grandfather’s company in 1960 and as part of his tenure, he sought to transform Ford into an international brand under the slogan: “beat Chevy.” What made Henry Ford II different from his contemporary rivals was his jet-set lifestyle, taking vacations around the world, particularly in Europe, where he developed an affinity for European design and lifestyle.
One thing that isn’t true, however, is the claim that the T-bird’s overall proportion was an homage to the Barchetta. The relationship of the doors to the wheelbase simply doesn’t illustrate this and in any case, the basic sports car layout had been established long before either of these cars existed. And while the Ford Thunderbird benefitted from Ferrari’s gift, there had been a previous Ford concept known as the Vega (that was never put into production) that borrowed heavily from the British (particularly from Jaguar).
The Ferrari 212/225 Barchetta gifted by Enzo spoke to that exact nascent affinity. It featured coachwork by Touring of Milan, famous for their Superleggera (or “super-light”) bodies. The engine, –a barking, raucous V12 — had previously been limited to race cars and was truly one of a kind. In summary, Ford loved the car. Although Henry Ford II was progressive in many ways, he still demanded recognition for who he was and his position in the world. And this car spoke directly to that self-image. It was exclusive, powerful and handcrafted. Simply put, it was gorgeous. Ford may have driven it around Dearborn, Ford’s headquarters, for a bit, but he knew exactly where that Ferrari really belonged: on Ford’s assembly lines.
To Henry’s credit, the Vega wasn’t just killed because of costs and performance, but because it wasn’t suited to American tastes. Ford knew that the car couldn’t simply be elegant and speak to a finer lifestyle; it also had to be comfortable, quick and solid. It’s easy to find fault in hindsight and criticize or belittle Ford and his team’s effort and result. But one must remember that Chevy’s inspiration for the Corvette was virtually identical — they wanted a European sports car for the American market. Furthermore, everybody wants a piece of the best ideas and strategies, and if you can’t buy or license it — well, you can copy it — then as much as now. Ultimately, the Thunderbird was an astounding success and Henry II was the impetus behind it. He drew the right inspiration and appropriated it for a market that was ready.
It was dropped off in Ford’s styling studio where work was beginning on what would become the very first Ford Thunderbird in 1955. The Deuce’s wishes soon became reality, as he was not shy about replacing those underlings who didn’t share his vision. Additionally, while American car brands had distinct styling, they did appropriate trends, then as now, to keep pace with each other. The Thunderbird was intended to become Ford’s response to Chevrolet’s Corvette, another Euro-inspired sports car.
Post Malone Words Chris Danforth Photography Mat Abad Styling Stephanie Collinge Grooming Jordan De La Vega Producer Luis Cano
In 2015, Post Malone arrived on the scene in boastful fashion with the track “White Iverson.” Haling from Dallas, the enigmatic artist has so far seemed to elude categorization. Given the mixed bag that constitutes Texas’s hip-hop heritage — with names like Paul Wall, Bun B, and even Riff Raff — we caught up with Post to find out why he’s unlike any previous artist from the Lone Star State.
Post Malone — the ink not yet dry on the foreword to his career — is quick to rebuff the label “rapper,” but at times he seems to play the part. Sonically, stylistically, culturally, he isn’t overly concerned with defying or matching hip-hop truisms; on “Go Flex,” he spits “It’s never enough / Blunt after blunt” over a Mumford & Sons-style chord progression played on acoustic guitar. It all makes a bit more sense when he lists his influences — Metallica, 50 Cent and Johnny Cash among them — a cover of Bob Dylan’s 1962 single “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” is even floating around on YouTube, and in many ways Malone is the closest thing hip-hop has to the iconic folk artist. Just as reappropriation was a theme through Dylan’s career (many accused the American artist of being a rock ’n’ roll actor), during Post’s visit to New York radio program The Breakfast Club, Charlemagne the God wasted no time in posing the question: “What are you doing for #BlackLivesMatters?” But Malone doesn’t seem to be thinking twice at all, and it’s paying off for him. To be sure, no other artist has quite honed in on Malone’s signature mixture of melodic, R&B underpinnings with country and folk footnotes, and so describing his musical output as strictly hip-hop seems very half-baked, although much of his lyrical content seems tailored for hip-hop fans. Even Kanye West has been taking notice, enlisting the 20-year-old for “Fade” on The Life of Pablo. Malone has tapped into a compelling mixture, and certainly a localized sound, but it’s music that he makes for only himself.
With your album launching in August, what can you tell us about the rest of 2016? Hopefully I’ll be releasing a lot more music, more singles that incorporate a lot of different flavors, a little bit of folk, a little bit of rock, a little bit of everything. I want to experiment with the sound and see what I can come up with. Have you been working with Rick Rubin? I worked with Rick when I worked with ‘Ye. I’ve been to Rick’s house two times. It would be really cool to work with him more, but as of right now I’m still working with anybody that wants to work with me, and seeing where it goes. Will we be hearing any of your guitar playing on the album? Most definitely, a little bit of a folk element, I play guitar on the album. It’s a really cool sound, it’s funky and fresh and new. How do you see these influences — country, R&B, folk — creating a modern sound? Right now, I haven’t fully created the sound that I want to. I haven’t had the opportunity to incorporate guitar into a song yet. Whenever all of that comes into play, that will make my sound unique and different. It’s going to be a cool experiment, to see how people gravitate to it. But I’m always going to make music that I like. I’m always going to love folk and rock, so I’m always going to bring that kind of flavor. Who were some of your favorite artists growing up? I was really into rock, like Metallica and Megadeth. But also Ice T, N.W.A, Ice Cube, all that good stuff. I’m thankful that my dad put me onto music, and that he showed me a lot of music growing up. I was into everything. As I grew up, I got more into the folk vibe with Johnny Cash, Hank Sr., Charlie Feathers. I love every type of music. Whatever is on, I’ll rock with it. How do drugs and alcohol affect your creative process? Definitely alcohol, I love to drink, I love to get funky. That’s where it all comes from. You know, I’m a shy guy, so I’ll drink a bottle of champagne and get in the booth, then see where it goes from there. Get the layers down. Get the freestyle woo-wap, get the melodies. After that, I come back and write over it. That’s a big part of my process, because I’m a quiet, shy type of guy.
Live performances also? Most definitely, I can’t get on stage if I ain’t feeling funky. I’m just nervous. It helps me out, it helps me get lit with my fans. Do you see that changing in the future? Maybe. I might get tired of it. It’s tough waking up. You know what I mean? Talk about your philosophy when it comes to style. Do you follow fashion? Yeah. most definitely. I like Saint Laurent, Margiela and Acne Studios. That’s me right now. Ksubi jeans, Balmain jeans. I like what I like. You never know what it could be tomorrow. But I’ve also seen you wearing gear from Harley Davidson, or NBA jerseys. A lot of big ass T-shirts. I love the Americana of Harley Davidson, of denim. I think it’s a super cool look. Is the NBA sort of a theme in your music, and the way you dress? I love sports, I love the Dallas Cowboys. I love the Mavericks, I love New York, it’s the shittiest team in the NBA. I love Melo, I love Iman Shumpert, I know he plays for the Cavs now. I love the whole thing about balling. You gotta ball. You gotta stunt. Basketball and hip-hop are closely related. They listen to hip-hop at the games. They have all the swag, athletes and rappers. It’s all the same thing, they’re entertainers. They have personalities. Like LeBron wouldn’t be LeBron if he didn’t do the powder clap. It’s entertainment. How would you rate a grammy against underground success? Which is more important? Neither is more important. I think it’s more important that I’m making music that I enjoy. At the end of the day, I think my music is good enough to win a Grammy and keep an underground following. I think my music is good. What’s most important to me is that I’m making music that I enjoy listening to. Are you a rapper? No. Are you a sneakerhead? Yeah! Relatively, yeah. How has it been being a white artist on the urban, hip-hop radio circuit? It’s always going to be different being white, because there aren’t many white “hip-hop” artists. I came into the whole game with a bit of a handicap, I feel like the odds are stacked against me. Everyone wants to take you down and say this or that. They don’t know me though. I got braids because I like the way braids look. I got gold teeth because I like the way gold teeth look. It’s really just about what I like, I can’t let nobody tell me nothing, because they don’t know what’s going on with me. Coming into the game is a little difficult, but you have to stick with it and keep going. Stay strong and keep on rocking. I found one of your very early tweets, when you said “I gotta get my shit together.” Do you have your shit together? I don’t have my shit together, not even close. I’m just trying to figure out my life right now. Life is crazy. Everything happens so fast, but everything happens for a reason. That’s the way it is. I’m 20 years old, I don’t know anything. I’m figuring it out day by day, it’s going to take me a minute to get my shit together. You got a lighter?
I heard you refer to Young Thug saying “he does what he wants.” Would you say the same about yourself? Young Thug is a lot braver than me. I want to say that Young Thug is an incredible artist, and a very cool dude. I’m lucky to have been able to work with him. I think he has such a cool attitude when it comes to the way he goes about his music, and the way he goes about being himself. That’s a super cool thing. That is how music should be. Young Thug is an artist. He’s an individual. I think it’s the same way I am; you can’t be afraid to be yourself. Then the real music doesn’t come out. Any interesting anecdotes from being in the studio? Kanye is scary, he’s a scary person. If I’m recording vocals and I have the headphones on, and all the effects, and I think I sound cool. But to him outside of the booth, I just sound like I’m making weird noises. So that’s the scariest type of shit ever. Thug is cool too, he’s quiet, he gets in the booth and does what he does. I’ve worked with so many talented people: Ferg, Kanye, Makonnen, How have you been celebrating? A lot of jewellery, but I think that phase is almost over. I want a car and I want a house in LA. That might be the next thing. Ash is going to DJ on the weekends. Can we expect any clothing collaborations from you in the future? Hopefully me and 424 will be doing something. I don’t know what’s going on in the future, but we’re going to figure it out. Anything else? We’re gonna be very turned up and it’s gonna be very lit.
Ta - ku
Words Ian Hsieh Photography Ta-ku & Kayla Mathews
From music maker and photo taker, to filmmaker and clothing designer. Is there anything Ta-ku can’t do? We discover how the “29-going-on-48-year-old” started his multifaceted creative journey — and where he’s headed next. Regan Matthews is half asleep. It’s a late January morning, 9 am to be precise, and the high-pitched trill of our FaceTime call has woken him up. He takes it in his stride, answering affably. “I could pretend I’ve been up,” he laughs, “but I’m not gonna fake it.” For all his successes, he’s free from any hint of pretension, completely laidback and an easy, funny conversationalist. And to his credit, he’s chatting to us leisurely in the midst of precious downtime away from work — we’ve caught him on holiday with family in Japan. Nothing, it would seem, is too much trouble.
“It’s inevitable that you’re gonna take different pieces of work and let them move you to create,” he says. “Everything I’ve done has pretty much been appropriation — a respectful nod to people I look up to and to records that are my favourite.” He pauses. “But, it’s knowing how to create something that much more unique than the original idea that makes it your own. If you’re doing the exact same thing, then you’re straight up just a thief. Being original means being yourself — making sure your art represents you one hundred per cent.”
Growing up in Perth on the southwestern tip of Western Australia, Matthews — who also goes by the moniker Ta-ku — discovered his calling a little later on in life. Although he was raised in a household where music was appreciated, he didn’t have a conventional musical upbringing.
“Everything I’ve done has pretty much been appropriation — a respectful nod to people I look up to and to records that are my favourite.”
“I never knew how to play any instruments,” he says in his cool, measured voice. “I didn’t sing, and I wasn’t in a choir. I was just this dumb kid really.” With a little help from his cousin and peers, high school was where his deep love for hip-hop blossomed, and a couple of years after graduating, he started DJing. Naturally, learning to master the turntables leads to a meandering journey of musical discovery. And when the young Australian heard Slum Village’s jazz-inflected ‘Fall In Love’, produced by a certain J Dilla, a light bulb went PING.
Now working on music full time, the Red Bull Music Academy graduate has distilled his sound into something much more personal, an apotheosis of every single track he’s made. It’s inimitable. His latest two EPs — Songs To Break Up To and Songs To Make Up To — reveal a more introverted Ta-ku, one that’s become a producer juggling session musicians alongside his own beats. The records take love and its vast array of emotions as inspiration, all slowed down tempos and emotive melodies. “I’ve found the style of music that I’m most comfortable with, and that I really want to make,” he muses. “When people think of Ta-ku, that’s the kind of music I want them to think of.”
Over the years, the beatsmith has been both prolific and chameleonic. Working days as a corporate executive for a health insurance firm, he would go home and quell his thirst for music making in the night. He’s dropped over 10 beat tapes and EPs — each reflecting his myriad influences at any given time, each displaying that signature, raw drummery. Dusty, woozy hip-hop that paid tribute to Dilla and 9th Wonder; somnolent, poignant compositions in homage to Nujabes; intricate, synth-heavy electronics influenced by Flying Lotus and his Brainfeeder crew; incendiary trap that nodded to Hudson Mohawke’s and Lunice’s TNGHT project. “Oh dear,” he laughs as we discuss his genre-hopping back catalogue.
Tokyo. Summer, 2014. Matthews is larking about on his iPhone, taking pictures. Repeat Pattern, a fellow beatmaker and photographer, looks on in exasperation and begs him to buy a camera. “I was like, ‘Nah, I don’t need to buy a camera; I’ve got my iPhone,’” he jokes. “Back then I didn’t know anything about photography. But I was really curious about what he was taking; he’s really great with abstract photography, making shapes and forms and people into photos you never thought you could take.” He returns to Australia and buys a camera.
“Shooting video is naturally the next step. Not only because I love cinema, but because I feel like it’s the best way to incorporate music as well.” In the one-and-a-half years since that camera purchase, Matthews has proven pretty handy behind the lens, exhibiting flair and — like with his music — a typically unique style. His pictures are freeze-framed dreams — surreal, abstract constructs that favour unusually composed portraits and street shots. “It’s insane man,” he enthuses. “It’s been full throttle, all I do, with what feels like music on the side. It’s something I take very seriously, as much as I take music seriously. “Photography’s so personal, you just take photos of what you think is visually appealing,” he adds modestly. It’s gotten to the point where a large chunk of Ta-ku fans don’t even know he’s a musician — understandable given a burgeoning client roster that includes UNITED ARROWS imprint monkey time, I Love Ugly and, most recently, VSCO. Even so, he still sees himself as an enthusiast. “I have a lot to learn,” he says. “I feel like I need to work harder, work more, be more exposed and influenced by photography in general.”
Making inroads into film, he’s also worked as editor and director of photography on a couple of promos for monkey time and Asics, as well as stunning his legion of fans with arthouse-leaning Snapchat stories. His influences are clear: Spike Jonze, Sofia Coppola, Terrence Malick — auteurs renowned for capturing extraordinary beauty in the most ordinary of circumstances. “I’m a big fan of cinema,” enthuses the 29-year-old. “Shooting video is naturally the next step. Not only because I love cinema, but because I feel like it’s the best way to incorporate music as well, and that’s definitely where I’m heading with the new album. It’s not gonna be just a musical album, but a culmination of everything that I love to do. I’m still learning, but that’s something I really want to document, the learning process. Which is just as fascinating as the end product.”
And then there’s Team Cozy. What started off as a joke page on Instagram to celebrate all things comfy (“I say I don’t want to put out garbage and now we’re talking about a page I made about the most comfortable shoes!”), has become a creative agency of photographers, directors and graphic designers — all bound by a proclivity for photography. It’s now a clothing line, too, with its debut collection of performance-influenced sweats, hoods and outerwear dropping recently.
As to what he has planned for the coming year, there’s Create+Explore, a platform that champions photographic and musical collaboration through video. “I’m looking to take it to the next level, creating visuals for more than just a two-minute song,” he reveals. “It’s not about making coin, just creating products that we’re proud of and that will inspire other people. Most of all, I’m trying to find videographers that aren’t signed to a production house. People that have been grinding away behind the scenes and need that little step up.”
“It seems like a whole bunch of kids around the world love to take photos, and want to belong to a community they can identify with,” says the photographer. “So we made an apparel line, opening operations in LA last year. A lot of our collection down the line will be more photography-based, for shooters. If you’re living somewhere cold — or anywhere — these clothes will accommodate what a shooter needs.”
And of course, there’s the thing that detonated his creative journey in the first place. Now signed to Future Classic, he’s writing his debut album — although it’s still early days. “I don’t know what the direction of the album is, because I feel like I just want to take my time,” he says. “With how quickly I was putting out music before — and how quickly music is coming out now in general — I’m really, really adamant about taking my time. Making something different.” He laughs. “Don’t worry, I’m not going into rock or folk or anything. Concept is everything, so I’m still working it out.
“You need to create something that you’re happy with, that you’re proud of. And that’s a very unique place.”
“Taking your time and letting things happen organically is the best thing you can possibly do,” he adds thoughtfully. “You need to create something that you’re happy with, that you’re proud of. And that’s a very unique place.” Pause. “It’s from your heart.”
If this all feels like a trip, it’s because, well, it is. How does one man manage to excel at so many different creative endeavours? You could say it all boils down to his philosophy of doing what you love, and taking your time doing it. Matthews’ success is due to his idiosyncratic vision. And for him, this can be attributed, in part, to Perth. “There’s a saying: ‘Isolation incites creativity,’” he explains. “I agree with that, only because you’re away from a lot of the hype and competition. The isolation gives you time to realise what kind of artist you want to be without any distractions. To get to work.”
Words Paul Black
llustration Clara Lacy
NEVER LOST IN THE SEA OF FASHION You might say â€œmilitaryâ€? is fashion. It all began with the well-dressed military man. The French Renaissance took it next level, with twists and turns of glamour and eccentricity, while the men of Savile Row brought it back to the realms of the accessible. All the while, our beloved military industrial complex kept providing the world with fashion staples, borne out of practicality, modelled by fighting men with great physiques. 252
How did the MariniĂ¨re get from ship to shore? The short answer is Coco Chanel.
What started with tailored suits would, over time, broaden to encompass bombers, field jackets, all manner of camo, trench coats, khakis, aviators, service boots, and the infamous Marinière — perhaps the most overtly “fashionable” item of them all, brought to us by the French navy.
Jean Cocteau, Brigitte Bardot, and probably the most iconic of them all, Pablo Picasso. In the ’50s it was Marlon Brando in The Wild One, James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and Audrey Hepburn in Funny Face. Jean Seberg made it utterly hip and desirable in the 1960 film Breathless. Inspired by Seberg’s turn, Yves Saint Laurent took it to the next level, causing a great sensation when he introduced it into haute couture. And then there was Andy Warhol, cool and timeless, for both boys and girls.
The unmistakable blue and white striped ‘Breton’ (many French sailors were from Brittany) was introduced as part of the regulations of March 27, 1858 to the French Navy’s official uniform for seamen and quartermasters (French Army Corporals). The regulations stated that the “body shall have 21 white stripes, each twice as wide as the 20 or 21 navy blue stripes.” The genuine article, as faithfully produced to this day by Armor Lux, Saint James and Orcival, should have twenty 10 millimeter navy blue stripes front and back, spaced 20 millimeters apart. The sleeves should be three-quarter length and should be no longer than the over-jacket, and the collar must touch the neck.
Visibility exploded in the ’80s. If you Google the name John Paul Gaultier, most images are of him in a classic Marinière. It began with his Boy Toy collection of 1983. The Breton was the central element, and Gaultier himself took his bow at the end of the show in one. He didn’t stop there. The Marinière has defined his work and his own public image ever since. Gaultier opened the floodgates, making the Marinière an absolutely integral part of fashion. In the 2000s it was an important piece for KENZO, who added polka dots. Sonia Rykiel tried various different-colored stripes, but ultimately returned to blue and white. In 2010, Elite Models dressed their finalists in it. Prada, Kitsune, D&G, Kors and others got in on the act. Nike took inspiration from the Marinière for the French national football team’s away kit. In 2011 colette made it their theme, with a host of brands participating in its celebration, including Chanel, CDG, Hermès, Ladurée, Longchamp, Montblanc, Gaultier (of course), Ferragamo and Oscar de la Renta. Even to this day A.P.C. use it every season. Say no more.
Sailors believed the stripes made it easier to see men who had fallen to sea. Perhaps there’s something in this characteristic that has made it stand out on streets for millions of stylish men and women for over a hundred years. To this day the Marinière maintains uncanny visibility in the choppy, fickle sea of fashion. How did the Marinière get from ship to shore? The short answer is Coco Chanel. Chanel was the first to make “fashion” of the garment, when she fell in love with the Marinière during her seaside holidays during First World War. She created “Navy Style,” a shortened version of the garment, as a practical means to further promote the emancipation of the female figure. Chanel chief designer and creative director Karl Lagerfeld (since 1983, a remarkable man) has continued the Chanel tradition by regularly using the style in his ready-to-wear collections.
It all comes back to utility: the source of creation. The Marinière never dates, never goes out of style, and always looks hip when styled the right way. But you have to do it right. Fashion trends are for wimps. Style is the good fight — something we really can thank the military for.
Coco Chanel was only the beginning. In the 1940s the Marinière became associated with great names like John Wayne,
Words Eileen Sommerman
STURTEVANTâ€™SÂ EXERTIA Sturtevant was the first formal modern appropriationist in the art world, using the artwork of her peers to make her own. She made fantastic-looking copies of Warhol, Johns, Haring, Beuys, Stella and other mostly-male artists, but was insistent that these were repetitions and not copies: difference versus sameness. Seeing her work makes you wonder, and according to the artist that was precisely the point. 256
STURTEVANT. WARHOL BLACK MARILYN, 2004 SYNTHETIC POLYMER SILKSCREEN AND ACRYLIC ON CANVAS; 15 ¾ X 13 ¾ IN. (40 X 35 CM). RINGIER COLLECTION. COURTESY ANTHONY REYNOLDS GALLERY, LONDON. © STURTEVANT
I know exactly what I am doing. Of course she did and she would have to. Elaine Sturtevant chose the works of notable, but not-yet-super-famous, artists and made precise replicas of them. At times her remakes appeared just after the artists’ original works: she had great taste and thick skin.
you realize it’s not a Johns, you’re either jolted into immediately rejecting it, or the work stays with you like a bad buzz in your head. You have to start thinking, “What is going on here?” It was a technical feat since she had to master the mediums of the work she was remaking: paintings (after Warhol, Johns, Stella, Lichtenstein and Rosenquist, among others), sculpture (after Gober, Oldenburg, Beuys, González-Torres), performance (after Yvonne Rainer, Beuys and Muybridge). Her oeuvre is deliberate and mad: dogmatic and insane.
I always knew what I was doing, and I always knew it would work. So I could go through a lot of really bad stuff, and was like“it’s okay, it’ll work eventually.” That gave me a great deal of power in terms of maintaining the strength to continue working… I never felt abused. That was good, because it kept me very clean to work instead of being embedded in all this hostility and misinterpretation.
For the works to work, they must resemble the originals almost too closely, causing a kind of mental vertigo. Sturtevant started her repetitions in the context of Pop Art, and as a reaction to the seduction of surface she made claims to the under structure. By ostensibly borrowing the surface of notable artworks, she neutralized it, made it banal, neutered it. The surface was no longer important because it couldn’t be trusted; it was like a shadow of the work rather than the work itself. And, so slickly conceived, the appropriated surfaces aren’t easy to break through. She puts us in an awkward position. Aesthetic values are irrelevant because we stop looking at the work, rather we’re looking for the inspiration.
In 1967, she enraged the public and the artist with one of her most ambitious repetitions, The Store of Claes Oldenburg. A few years after Oldenburg’s project and only a few blocks away, Sturtevant made an elaborate reiteration of The Store, explicitly appropriating Oldenburg. She literally re-reproduced the objects that Oldenburg had reproduced — utility to inutility to futility. Marginally shifted in time and space, she took a risk that resulted in heavy consequences, including physical violence from confused people and resentment from the offended artist. It was an astonishing production with no precedent, and it’s a wonder if Sturtevant knew then what she was set to do for more than ten years.
It was totally quiet when I started. Nobody knew what I was or what I was doing. It was so great. It’s still true. You can know what Sturtevant is doing, and yet, not at all know what she is doing. The difference between her and other artists is that it’s hard to ‘see’ Sturtevant’s work, which foils the expectations of, and contract with visual art. And to engage with the work requires a leap of faith. Her practice of mimesis was an investigation into the thingness of her subjects.
I use the name Sturtevant because it’s a strong name. Elaine Sturtevant went simply by the name Sturtevant. Her sustained practice of repetition — of repeatedly reproducing artists’ work — was a double negative, something like ‘faking faking.’ And while she banged up against obvious taboos, she managed her program like a warrior.
This is to articulate visibilities: to make thought visible.
She wrestled with these facsimiles from 1964 until 1975. She apparently worked only from memory, making works that were nearly identical to the originals.
Her iterations can be seen as reifications, like the German artist Hanne Darboven, whose obscure practice of permutations was a dedicated existential exercise.
Technique is crucial. It has to look like a Johns flag so that when you see it you say, “Oh that’s a Johns flag,” even though there’s no force there to make it exactly like the Johns. Quite the opposite — the characteristic force is lacking. So when
…someone said to me, a million years ago: “Oh, so your work is full of humor?” And I said: “No, this work is deadly serious.” For me, it’s very profound work. It’s not funny.
I am not “reporting the current scene” I am not in the process of celebrating process I am not making copies I am not making imitations I am not interested in painting sculptures or objects I am not interested in being a “Great Artist” That’s real medieval thinking.
Sturtevant was a serious artist. Her practice of ‘copying’ can be read as reverence, teasing, or even precociousness, but her rigor confuses the reading. She would have known the original works very, very well, and whether she possessed them or she was possessed by them is not easy to say. So exacting was her technique, it’s as if she was speaking in tongues. She embodied the artist, giving her the vision and ‘spirit’ to finish the works. For example, among her extensive series of Warhols she made a black Marilyn, though Warhol himself never made one. It’s not a benign detail. In her appropriation of the work she was hijacking all she could, and at some point she must have felt she had mastered it: she crossed the line between them and her. Using Warhol’s idea, image and form, she was making a Sturtevant.
Sturtevant was knowing when it came to her work. Clear and obstinate about presentation, she didn’t work in a conventional way with curators. She claimed that within her oeuvre, individual works were speechless, instead it was about the total structure; there was a dialogue that happened between the works and that was also the work. It’s a semantic trip trying to describe what she did. A minefield. When Sturtevant speaks about it she’s coherent and opaque, like the work. She had a liquid language: it flowed but couldn’t be held. And so it is with the work.
…the dynamics of repetition, which has nothing to do with copy. Repetition is displacement; repetition is difference; repetition is pushing the limits of resemblance and limitation — it has some other factors or dynamics… but repetition has nothing to do with repeating.
Negative definition is a powerful valid philosophical position. Additionally, absolute clarity is a rigorous closure.
She audaciously replaced Duchamp in Man Ray’s photos, Duchamp with Shaving Lather and Adam and Eve. These works show Sturtevant acting the part, shamelessly. She’s lathered with suds that stiffen above the ears transforming her into the Greek god Mercury, just like Duchamp, staring out, framed like a bust, hands frozen mid gesture. Since Duchamp was himself an ironist, her repetitions would have been more like endorsements than copies. As for Sturtevant, she was going through her process of reenactment as usual, but with the implication of her own body making it less formal. In these works she puts herself on the surface, implicating herself in the process, assuming the role of subject. We finally see the artist. It may be that her appropriation is an expression of her will.
Ultimately you’re locked in the head. She worked in this way from 1964 until her virtual disappearance in 1975, only to reappear 10 years later in a group show at White Columns in New York. Sturtevant was characteristically evasive about what she was doing during those years. “I was playing tennis,” she often said. Sturtevant eventually turned to video. She was drawn to the fantastic and subversive, which stretched her from mimesis to the world of cybernetics. Due to cybernetics many people have a vast barren interior which means you have no mind working and pretty soon you have no unique experiences, your experiences will be everybody else’s experience.
In 1971, six years into her practice of repetitions, she outlined her thoughts in a letter to one of her dealers about what she was not doing.
Sturtevant knew that originality was only a passing phase.
The work cannot be treated in a material or non intellectual way I am not Anti-Art I am not saying anyone can do it I am not “poking fun at the artist”
Masthead Issue 12
Mat Abad, Iain Anderson,
Artmedia, Peter Chun,
Anthony Reynolds Gallery,
Peter Kadin, KM20, Harin Lee,
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Bryan Luna, George Ocampo,
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Kayla Mathews, Fabrizio Narcisi,
Andrea Olivo, Ben Potier,
Takahito Sasaki, Liu Song,
Timothy Suen, Ta-ku, Rhys Thorpe,
Thomas Welch, Drew Wheeler,
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Spring Summer 2016 â€˜The Methamorphosisâ€™ www.fillingpieces.com