Page 1

EU €10 / UK £10 / US $16

ISSUE 17

F / W 2018

KIM JONES 070 SHAKE / KIKO KOSTADINOV / CHINATOWN MARKET / MICHÈLE LAMY / GUIDI


42233 LINO RESINATO DOWN TC HOODED DOWN JACKET IN LINO RESINATO DOWN-TC, A LINEN CANVAS SOAKED IN A LIGHTWEIGHT POLYURETHANE RESIN. GARMENT DYED WITH SPECIAL DYE RECIPES, WITH THE ADDITION OF AN ANTI-DROP AGENT. THE RESIN PARTIALLY RETAINS THE COLOUR FOR A FINAL CHALKY/PASTEL EFFECT OF THE MATERIAL. THE GARMENT IS PADDED WITH THE FINEST DOWN, SPECIALLY TREATED TO WITHSTAND THE STRESS OF THE GARMENT DYEING PROCEDURE. ZIP FASTENED POCKETS EDGED IN NYLON TAPE. DETACHABLE FLEECE FINGERLESS GLOVES. ASYMMETRIC DOUBLE SLIDER ZIP ON NYLON TAPE.

43249 DAVID-TC WITH PRIMALOFT® INSULATION TECHNOLOGY HOODED JACKET IN DAVID-TC. STARTING WITH AN INITIAL STAR-SHAPED JAPANESE POLYESTER/POLYAMIDE SUBSTRATE, GARMENTS IN DAVID-TC ARE ASSEMBLED AND THEN SIMULTANEOUSLY DYED AND TREATED WITH AN ANTI-DROP AGENT. DURING GARMENT DYEING UNDER PRESSURE AT 130°C, THE HEAT RADICALLY TRANSFORMS THE STRUCTURE AND HAND OF THE MATERIAL. THE GARMENT IS PADDED WITH A PRIMALOFT® LAYER, AN EXCLUSIVE BLEND OF FIBRES WITH ULTRA-FINE DIAMETERS, WHICH PROVIDES THE GARMENT WITH OUTSTANDING INSULATION CAPACITY. DOUBLE SLIDER ZIP FASTENING ON NYLON TAPE. WWW.STONEISLAND.COM

WWW.STONEISLAND.COM


42233 LINO RESINATO DOWN TC HOODED DOWN JACKET IN LINO RESINATO DOWN-TC, A LINEN CANVAS SOAKED IN A LIGHTWEIGHT POLYURETHANE RESIN. GARMENT DYED WITH SPECIAL DYE RECIPES, WITH THE ADDITION OF AN ANTI-DROP AGENT. THE RESIN PARTIALLY RETAINS THE COLOUR FOR A FINAL CHALKY/PASTEL EFFECT OF THE MATERIAL. THE GARMENT IS PADDED WITH THE FINEST DOWN, SPECIALLY TREATED TO WITHSTAND THE STRESS OF THE GARMENT DYEING PROCEDURE. ZIP FASTENED POCKETS EDGED IN NYLON TAPE. DETACHABLE FLEECE FINGERLESS GLOVES. ASYMMETRIC DOUBLE SLIDER ZIP ON NYLON TAPE.

43249 DAVID-TC WITH PRIMALOFT® INSULATION TECHNOLOGY HOODED JACKET IN DAVID-TC. STARTING WITH AN INITIAL STAR-SHAPED JAPANESE POLYESTER/POLYAMIDE SUBSTRATE, GARMENTS IN DAVID-TC ARE ASSEMBLED AND THEN SIMULTANEOUSLY DYED AND TREATED WITH AN ANTI-DROP AGENT. DURING GARMENT DYEING UNDER PRESSURE AT 130°C, THE HEAT RADICALLY TRANSFORMS THE STRUCTURE AND HAND OF THE MATERIAL. THE GARMENT IS PADDED WITH A PRIMALOFT® LAYER, AN EXCLUSIVE BLEND OF FIBRES WITH ULTRA-FINE DIAMETERS, WHICH PROVIDES THE GARMENT WITH OUTSTANDING INSULATION CAPACITY. DOUBLE SLIDER ZIP FASTENING ON NYLON TAPE. WWW.STONEISLAND.COM

WWW.STONEISLAND.COM


GCDSWEAR.COM Styled by Anna Trevelyan


GCDSWEAR.COM Styled by Anna Trevelyan


©2018 Timex Group USA, Inc. TIMEX, INDIGLO and MK1 are trademarks of Timex Group USA, Inc. in the US and other countries.

THE MK1 COLLECTION Our first wrist watches were born from military necessity. Inspired by our original military-spec design, the MK1™ collection is beautiful in its simple utility. Available in anodized aluminum and stainless steel with three-hand or chronograph movement.

#TIMEX | timex.com


©2018 Timex Group USA, Inc. TIMEX, INDIGLO and MK1 are trademarks of Timex Group USA, Inc. in the US and other countries.

THE MK1 COLLECTION Our first wrist watches were born from military necessity. Inspired by our original military-spec design, the MK1™ collection is beautiful in its simple utility. Available in anodized aluminum and stainless steel with three-hand or chronograph movement.

#TIMEX | timex.com


FREE S H IPPING, BUY O N LINE & PIC K UP I N S TO RE, AND M ORE . VI S I T N ORDST ROM .C OM AN D O UR NYC M E N’S S TO RE AT 235 W 57T H S T.

FALL 2018

C A LE B E L IJA H WEARS R A F S IMO N S

DE E M SPE N C E R WEARS MA ISO N MA R GIE L A


FREE S H IPPING, BUY O N LINE & PIC K UP I N S TO RE, AND M ORE . VI S I T N ORDST ROM .C OM AN D O UR NYC M E N’S S TO RE AT 235 W 57T H S T.

FALL 2018

C A LE B E L IJA H WEARS R A F S IMO N S

DE E M SPE N C E R WEARS MA ISO N MA R GIE L A


PREFACE Today, it’s easy to lament how back-in-the-day niche things have become mainstream, or how “our” once-underground culture has gone global. Long-time collectors say sneaker culture is dead, lost to resellers, bots, and backdoor deals. Old heads agonize over how once-mighty hip-hop has devolved into “mumble” rap, devoid of the bars and lyrical play that once defined the genre. OGs of the clothing trade say “streetwear” has lost its edge, with many designers now rejecting the term full-stop, calling it out as meaningless. Obsolete. There’s no denying the fact that there’s some truth to these concerns. The things Highsnobiety has covered from day one are all way more popular than they ever were before. Which means, yes, certain aspects have been watered down and once-niche trends are now everywhere. It can be frustrating to see your favorite looks, sounds, and standards co-opted by those who could not have cared less a few short years ago — especially when their motives might feel less “pure,” more corporate. “Streetwear,” “street culture,” and “influencer” have become hollow buzzwords. The thing is, no matter what label you use to define this world — no matter who else is involved, how wide “the culture” spreads, or how they try to box or package us — vibrant underground scenes, inspiring creative movements, and rebellious young spirits will always exist. Even in a world of carefully curated social media accounts and (sometimes eerily) targeted digital marketing campaigns, there are still independent thinkers pushing through with authentic, exciting new work and thriving on their own terms. With this in mind, we chose the theme of “Alternative” for this issue of Highsnobiety. Radiantly embodying this rebel spirit is breakout music talent 070 Shake. Growing up a self-proclaimed “very big troublemaker,” 21-year-old New Jersey native Shake, born Danielle Balbuena, has risen quickly from relative obscurity to the verge of international stardom, in no small part due to the strength of her own forwardthinking belief in the raw power of music as a catalyst for positive change. After arguably stealing the show on both Kanye West’s ye and Pusha-T’s DAYTONA in the summer of 2018, the enigmatic Shake has positioned herself to become a crucial voice of her generation. And though she shirks labels, one can’t help but think of her as a true alternative star, a shining example of the blend of sound and attitude that defines today’s sonic landscape.

|

PETE WILLIAMS

In the world of designer fashion, Kim Jones is a rule-breaker. In his youth, Jones worked at London’s Gimme Five, where — among other duties — he unpacked boxes of Supreme. In the following years, he navigated and climbed the ranks of high fashion, never losing sight of his original ideals and holding true to his passion for ’90s youth culture, skateboarding, and sneakers (he owns hundreds of pairs of rare Nikes). In 2017, as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, Jones brought forth the unprecedented LV × Supreme collaboration, placing the storied NYC skate label on the Parisian runway, signalling to the capital“F” world of fashion, “We’re here.” In 2018, Jones continues this legacy as the artistic director of Dior Men’s. In this role, Jones has further redefined the capital-“L” world of luxury, bringing Brian “KAWS” Donnelly, Matthew M. Williams of 1019 ALYX 9SM , and Yoon Ahn of AMBUSH into the fold to contribute to Jones’ debut Dior collection. In doing so, Jones has cemented the collaborative community spirit of our scene in a very traditional world.

014

015

Exploring further corners of fashion and design, we go inside the extraordinary universe of the enigmatic Michèle Lamy, chat textiles with Amsterdam-based knitwear label BYBORRE, go in-depth on the philosophy and process of cult Italian shoemaker GUIDI, and speak with Mike Cherman of LA label Chinatown Market to learn how he’s re-examining the standards of streetwear with a smile. Heading further afield and seeking an alternative take on sneaker culture, we’ve gone deep into South Africa’s Cape Flats with local photographer Imraan Christian to document Cape Town’s distinct “bubblehead” scene of Nike Air Max enthusiasts, complete with an exclusive zine. Highsnobiety was founded on a passion for product and the community that grew from a like-minded obsession with design’s place in youth culture. In the early days, it was the independent minds who translated grand visions of a different world into covetable product, captivating our interest, initiating an everexpanding conversation, and spurring our own growth from humble sneaker blog to international brand and multi-faceted publisher. Our goal with this issue is to inspire you to do the same: follow your own path, build a community, and have fun along the way.

carhartt-wip.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


PREFACE Today, it’s easy to lament how back-in-the-day niche things have become mainstream, or how “our” once-underground culture has gone global. Long-time collectors say sneaker culture is dead, lost to resellers, bots, and backdoor deals. Old heads agonize over how once-mighty hip-hop has devolved into “mumble” rap, devoid of the bars and lyrical play that once defined the genre. OGs of the clothing trade say “streetwear” has lost its edge, with many designers now rejecting the term full-stop, calling it out as meaningless. Obsolete. There’s no denying the fact that there’s some truth to these concerns. The things Highsnobiety has covered from day one are all way more popular than they ever were before. Which means, yes, certain aspects have been watered down and once-niche trends are now everywhere. It can be frustrating to see your favorite looks, sounds, and standards co-opted by those who could not have cared less a few short years ago — especially when their motives might feel less “pure,” more corporate. “Streetwear,” “street culture,” and “influencer” have become hollow buzzwords. The thing is, no matter what label you use to define this world — no matter who else is involved, how wide “the culture” spreads, or how they try to box or package us — vibrant underground scenes, inspiring creative movements, and rebellious young spirits will always exist. Even in a world of carefully curated social media accounts and (sometimes eerily) targeted digital marketing campaigns, there are still independent thinkers pushing through with authentic, exciting new work and thriving on their own terms. With this in mind, we chose the theme of “Alternative” for this issue of Highsnobiety. Radiantly embodying this rebel spirit is breakout music talent 070 Shake. Growing up a self-proclaimed “very big troublemaker,” 21-year-old New Jersey native Shake, born Danielle Balbuena, has risen quickly from relative obscurity to the verge of international stardom, in no small part due to the strength of her own forwardthinking belief in the raw power of music as a catalyst for positive change. After arguably stealing the show on both Kanye West’s ye and Pusha-T’s DAYTONA in the summer of 2018, the enigmatic Shake has positioned herself to become a crucial voice of her generation. And though she shirks labels, one can’t help but think of her as a true alternative star, a shining example of the blend of sound and attitude that defines today’s sonic landscape.

|

PETE WILLIAMS

In the world of designer fashion, Kim Jones is a rule-breaker. In his youth, Jones worked at London’s Gimme Five, where — among other duties — he unpacked boxes of Supreme. In the following years, he navigated and climbed the ranks of high fashion, never losing sight of his original ideals and holding true to his passion for ’90s youth culture, skateboarding, and sneakers (he owns hundreds of pairs of rare Nikes). In 2017, as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, Jones brought forth the unprecedented LV × Supreme collaboration, placing the storied NYC skate label on the Parisian runway, signalling to the capital“F” world of fashion, “We’re here.” In 2018, Jones continues this legacy as the artistic director of Dior Men’s. In this role, Jones has further redefined the capital-“L” world of luxury, bringing Brian “KAWS” Donnelly, Matthew M. Williams of 1019 ALYX 9SM , and Yoon Ahn of AMBUSH into the fold to contribute to Jones’ debut Dior collection. In doing so, Jones has cemented the collaborative community spirit of our scene in a very traditional world.

014

015

Exploring further corners of fashion and design, we go inside the extraordinary universe of the enigmatic Michèle Lamy, chat textiles with Amsterdam-based knitwear label BYBORRE, go in-depth on the philosophy and process of cult Italian shoemaker GUIDI, and speak with Mike Cherman of LA label Chinatown Market to learn how he’s re-examining the standards of streetwear with a smile. Heading further afield and seeking an alternative take on sneaker culture, we’ve gone deep into South Africa’s Cape Flats with local photographer Imraan Christian to document Cape Town’s distinct “bubblehead” scene of Nike Air Max enthusiasts, complete with an exclusive zine. Highsnobiety was founded on a passion for product and the community that grew from a like-minded obsession with design’s place in youth culture. In the early days, it was the independent minds who translated grand visions of a different world into covetable product, captivating our interest, initiating an everexpanding conversation, and spurring our own growth from humble sneaker blog to international brand and multi-faceted publisher. Our goal with this issue is to inspire you to do the same: follow your own path, build a community, and have fun along the way.

carhartt-wip.com

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF


014 PREFACE

062 GUIDI

018 SELECTIONS

114 PYER MOSS

174 CAPE FLATS

124 POWER LAYERING

222 THE INTERNET 232 CHINATOWN MARKET

024 JÄGERMEISTER 026 PRADA

KIM JONES 076 JULIUS

188 070 SHAKE 134 MICHÈLE LAMY

242 DIO KURAZAWA 016

017

252 HYPE BUBBLE 202 THE BRIDGE

036 KIM JONES 096 SERGEANT

146 BYBORRE

106 FENDI

154 FACETASM 164 DOUBLET

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MILAN VUKMIROVIC

070 SHAKE

212 ONYX COLLECTIVE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY VITALI GELWICH

CONTENTS

CONTENTS

086 LUTZ HUELLE

052 KIKO KOSTADINOV

COVERS


014 PREFACE

062 GUIDI

018 SELECTIONS

114 PYER MOSS

174 CAPE FLATS

124 POWER LAYERING

222 THE INTERNET 232 CHINATOWN MARKET

024 JÄGERMEISTER 026 PRADA

KIM JONES 076 JULIUS

188 070 SHAKE 134 MICHÈLE LAMY

242 DIO KURAZAWA 016

017

252 HYPE BUBBLE 202 THE BRIDGE

036 KIM JONES 096 SERGEANT

146 BYBORRE

106 FENDI

154 FACETASM 164 DOUBLET

PHOTOGRAPHY BY MILAN VUKMIROVIC

070 SHAKE

212 ONYX COLLECTIVE

PHOTOGRAPHY BY VITALI GELWICH

CONTENTS

CONTENTS

086 LUTZ HUELLE

052 KIKO KOSTADINOV

COVERS


SELECTIONS

PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS WELCH

SELECTIONS

STYLING COREY STOKES

018

BALENCIAGA Track Sneakers

019

CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYCÂ Distressed Fireman Coat


SELECTIONS

PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS WELCH

SELECTIONS

STYLING COREY STOKES

018

BALENCIAGA Track Sneakers

019

CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYCÂ Distressed Fireman Coat


SELECTIONS

SELECTIONS

020

GUCCI New York Yankees Hats

021

FENDI Tartan Knit Belt Bag


SELECTIONS

SELECTIONS

020

GUCCI New York Yankees Hats

021

FENDI Tartan Knit Belt Bag


SELECTIONS

SELECTIONS

022

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Pilot’s Watch Chronograph

023

DIOR DiorInclusion Sunglasses


SELECTIONS

SELECTIONS

022

IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN Pilot’s Watch Chronograph

023

DIOR DiorInclusion Sunglasses


HIGHSNOBIETY

|

Vitali Gelwich is a Russian-born, Berlin-based photographer. Whether in highly stylized editorial shoots for international brands (Moncler; Dior; Calvin Klein), or in his portraits of those whose life is lived artistry (Helena Hauff for Crack Magazine; Oh Hyuk for Highsnobiety Magazine), in each there’s a warm grittiness that speaks to the reality of modern life and the beauty that comes through simply getting through it. Gelwich’s work is hard and dreamlike yet soft and real in the same breath.

JÄGERMEISTER

PHOTOGRAPHY VITALI GELWICH

SUPPORTED BY JÄGERMEISTER BERLIN:AFT3R D4RK

024

025

Berlin can give you this perspective. The oncedivided capital city is filled with huge gray, concrete 1950s housing projects that tower over beautiful 19th century apartments, all while glittering new structures are erected as new creative communities settle in the city from around the world. Berlin exists between its hedonistic weekends and its growing weekday responsibilities as the capital of Germany and the creative capital of Europe. “This is a big reason for why so many people come to Berlin,” explains Gelwich over the phone to me on a sweltering Berlin summer lunchtime. “Berlin is a very special place. It’s not only a city in Germany, it’s more or less its own little cosmos.” For his latest photography series, You’ll find me next to the right box, produced with the support of Jägermeister’s Berlin:AFT3R D4RK project, Gelwich chooses the people who find themselves— every weekend—inside Berlin’s most famous landmark to weekend hedonism, Berghain, in a sensitive portrait series that documents some of the characters that make up the city’s famous nightlife community.

YOU’LL FIND ME NEXT TO THE RIGHT BOX

Berlin:AFT3R D4RK is a new project from the German spirit company that goes back to the label’s home turf. With the aim of supporting upcoming Berlin-based artists, the project is helping document and celebrate the spirit and culture of the German capital. “Jägermeister approached me with the opportunity to create something that I really wanted to realize,” explains Gelwich. “I remembered I never had the opportunity to work on something I really wanted to have for Berlin — something that reflects this place, that’s my home city, and also that’s just my home.” “This series is supposed to show a little piece of Berlin here, now, and make this moment reachable for decades after,” he adds. “Everything goes together in this series: respect and acceptance and the Berlin vibe itself.” Visit hsnob.co/jagermeister-vitali for the full project.


HIGHSNOBIETY

|

Vitali Gelwich is a Russian-born, Berlin-based photographer. Whether in highly stylized editorial shoots for international brands (Moncler; Dior; Calvin Klein), or in his portraits of those whose life is lived artistry (Helena Hauff for Crack Magazine; Oh Hyuk for Highsnobiety Magazine), in each there’s a warm grittiness that speaks to the reality of modern life and the beauty that comes through simply getting through it. Gelwich’s work is hard and dreamlike yet soft and real in the same breath.

JÄGERMEISTER

PHOTOGRAPHY VITALI GELWICH

SUPPORTED BY JÄGERMEISTER BERLIN:AFT3R D4RK

024

025

Berlin can give you this perspective. The oncedivided capital city is filled with huge gray, concrete 1950s housing projects that tower over beautiful 19th century apartments, all while glittering new structures are erected as new creative communities settle in the city from around the world. Berlin exists between its hedonistic weekends and its growing weekday responsibilities as the capital of Germany and the creative capital of Europe. “This is a big reason for why so many people come to Berlin,” explains Gelwich over the phone to me on a sweltering Berlin summer lunchtime. “Berlin is a very special place. It’s not only a city in Germany, it’s more or less its own little cosmos.” For his latest photography series, You’ll find me next to the right box, produced with the support of Jägermeister’s Berlin:AFT3R D4RK project, Gelwich chooses the people who find themselves— every weekend—inside Berlin’s most famous landmark to weekend hedonism, Berghain, in a sensitive portrait series that documents some of the characters that make up the city’s famous nightlife community.

YOU’LL FIND ME NEXT TO THE RIGHT BOX

Berlin:AFT3R D4RK is a new project from the German spirit company that goes back to the label’s home turf. With the aim of supporting upcoming Berlin-based artists, the project is helping document and celebrate the spirit and culture of the German capital. “Jägermeister approached me with the opportunity to create something that I really wanted to realize,” explains Gelwich. “I remembered I never had the opportunity to work on something I really wanted to have for Berlin — something that reflects this place, that’s my home city, and also that’s just my home.” “This series is supposed to show a little piece of Berlin here, now, and make this moment reachable for decades after,” he adds. “Everything goes together in this series: respect and acceptance and the Berlin vibe itself.” Visit hsnob.co/jagermeister-vitali for the full project.


PRODUCER NICHOLAS WALTER MODEL TUHIR @ STORM MODEL MANAGEMENT

HAIR & MAKE-UP NAT VAN ZEE USING ABSOLUTION, JUICE BEAUTY & WAHL PRO

CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING

STYLING ATIP W

PHOTOGRAPHY ADRIAN MESKO

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P R A D A 026

Y 027


PRODUCER NICHOLAS WALTER MODEL TUHIR @ STORM MODEL MANAGEMENT

HAIR & MAKE-UP NAT VAN ZEE USING ABSOLUTION, JUICE BEAUTY & WAHL PRO

CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING

STYLING ATIP W

PHOTOGRAPHY ADRIAN MESKO

E

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P R A D A 026

Y 027


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032

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THE

KIM JONES

KIM JONES

EFFECT

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KIM JONES IS HERALDED AS ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST PRESCIENT DESIGNERS, HAVING MELDED THE WORLDS OF EMINENTLY CASUAL SPORTSWEAR WITH HIGH-END FASHION IN HIS TIME AT LOUIS VUITTON. NOW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT DIOR MEN’S, HIS RECENT APPOINTMENT DEMONSTRATES WHY IT MAY FINALLY BE TIME TO RETIRE THE TERM “STREETWEAR.” WORDS JIAN DELEON PHOTOGRAPHY SOPHIE CARRE, JACKIE NICKERSON, MORGAN O'DONOVAN & MILAN VUKMIROVIC ARCHIVE IMAGERY COURTESY OF DIOR

DIOR


THE

KIM JONES

KIM JONES

EFFECT

AT

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KIM JONES IS HERALDED AS ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST PRESCIENT DESIGNERS, HAVING MELDED THE WORLDS OF EMINENTLY CASUAL SPORTSWEAR WITH HIGH-END FASHION IN HIS TIME AT LOUIS VUITTON. NOW ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AT DIOR MEN’S, HIS RECENT APPOINTMENT DEMONSTRATES WHY IT MAY FINALLY BE TIME TO RETIRE THE TERM “STREETWEAR.” WORDS JIAN DELEON PHOTOGRAPHY SOPHIE CARRE, JACKIE NICKERSON, MORGAN O'DONOVAN & MILAN VUKMIROVIC ARCHIVE IMAGERY COURTESY OF DIOR

DIOR


Every great label lives in the shadow of its founder. At Dior’s most recent menswear show, presented in the barracks of Paris’ horseback cavalry, la Garde républicaine, that fact is writ large. Kim Jones, the newly minted menswear artistic director of the fashion house, commissioned artist Brian Donnelly — better known as KAWS — to lend his street art stylings to Dior for the season. One of KAWS’ contributions is a 10-meter tall floral statue of the house’s founder, Christian Dior. Comprising 70,000 flowers in vibrant pink, crisp white, and stark black, it is the artist’s rendition of Mr. Dior as filtered through KAWS’ “BFF” character, a furry, fourfingered, Muppet-esque figure with a button nose and Xs for pupils. In his hand, he holds a white perfume bottle in the shape of Mr. Dior’s dog, Bobby — a reference to a limited-edition Miss Dior perfume bottle from 1952. And here, in the shadow of Mr. Dior and his Bobby bottle, Jones is about to establish a new era at Dior Men’s. Born in London in 1979, Jones experienced a life of constant travel from an early age. His father was a hydrogeologist who brought the family along to far-flung locales such as Tanzania, Kenya, Ecuador, and the Amazon — with brief periods of respite in London in between. The designer still considers Africa his second home, and Jones recalls that it was in Botswana where he saw the first garment he ever loved: a T-shirt bearing the photo of a lion. At 14, he considered following in his father’s footsteps in zoology or conservation, but thanks to an adolescence spent obsessing over his sister’s treasure trove of fashion magazines, he switched toward something in the nebulous field where culture and creativity intersect. His collector’s instinct started to manifest back then, too, with the young Jones collecting vintage Levi’s pieces and getting exposed to London’s bustling subcultural scene, discovering designers such as Vivienne Westwood along the way. Today, Jones’ collection spans an impressive archive of ’80s London clubwear from designers and brands including Westwood, Rachel Auburn, Stephen Linard, and Modern Classics. In addition to pieces from Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Christopher Nemeth, he once confessed in a 2016 interview with Designboom that he owns more than 500 sneakers, many of which are Nike models such as the Air Huarache and Air Jordans. Jones and his friends had trouble finding clothing they liked, so took a DIY approach in the vein of the punk movement spearheaded by Malcolm McLaren and Westwood. He took these designs to Louise Wilson, the late head of fashion at prestigious art school Central Saint Martins, who offered him a place in the program. At the same time, Jones had been offered his first job in the industry by Michael Kopelman, an early member of the International Stüssy Tribe and founder of streetwear distributor Gimme Five. Jones’ earliest duties involved unpacking boxes of Supreme gear among others for distribution to some of London’s most prescient stores. One such place was The Hideout, an ahead-ofits-time boutique run by Kopelman and Fraser Cooke, who currently oversees Nike’s buzziest collaborations and is responsible for bringing the likes of UNDERCOVER’s Jun Takahashi and Jones himself under the Swoosh’s fashionforward umbrella.

038

039


Every great label lives in the shadow of its founder. At Dior’s most recent menswear show, presented in the barracks of Paris’ horseback cavalry, la Garde républicaine, that fact is writ large. Kim Jones, the newly minted menswear artistic director of the fashion house, commissioned artist Brian Donnelly — better known as KAWS — to lend his street art stylings to Dior for the season. One of KAWS’ contributions is a 10-meter tall floral statue of the house’s founder, Christian Dior. Comprising 70,000 flowers in vibrant pink, crisp white, and stark black, it is the artist’s rendition of Mr. Dior as filtered through KAWS’ “BFF” character, a furry, fourfingered, Muppet-esque figure with a button nose and Xs for pupils. In his hand, he holds a white perfume bottle in the shape of Mr. Dior’s dog, Bobby — a reference to a limited-edition Miss Dior perfume bottle from 1952. And here, in the shadow of Mr. Dior and his Bobby bottle, Jones is about to establish a new era at Dior Men’s. Born in London in 1979, Jones experienced a life of constant travel from an early age. His father was a hydrogeologist who brought the family along to far-flung locales such as Tanzania, Kenya, Ecuador, and the Amazon — with brief periods of respite in London in between. The designer still considers Africa his second home, and Jones recalls that it was in Botswana where he saw the first garment he ever loved: a T-shirt bearing the photo of a lion. At 14, he considered following in his father’s footsteps in zoology or conservation, but thanks to an adolescence spent obsessing over his sister’s treasure trove of fashion magazines, he switched toward something in the nebulous field where culture and creativity intersect. His collector’s instinct started to manifest back then, too, with the young Jones collecting vintage Levi’s pieces and getting exposed to London’s bustling subcultural scene, discovering designers such as Vivienne Westwood along the way. Today, Jones’ collection spans an impressive archive of ’80s London clubwear from designers and brands including Westwood, Rachel Auburn, Stephen Linard, and Modern Classics. In addition to pieces from Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Christopher Nemeth, he once confessed in a 2016 interview with Designboom that he owns more than 500 sneakers, many of which are Nike models such as the Air Huarache and Air Jordans. Jones and his friends had trouble finding clothing they liked, so took a DIY approach in the vein of the punk movement spearheaded by Malcolm McLaren and Westwood. He took these designs to Louise Wilson, the late head of fashion at prestigious art school Central Saint Martins, who offered him a place in the program. At the same time, Jones had been offered his first job in the industry by Michael Kopelman, an early member of the International Stüssy Tribe and founder of streetwear distributor Gimme Five. Jones’ earliest duties involved unpacking boxes of Supreme gear among others for distribution to some of London’s most prescient stores. One such place was The Hideout, an ahead-ofits-time boutique run by Kopelman and Fraser Cooke, who currently oversees Nike’s buzziest collaborations and is responsible for bringing the likes of UNDERCOVER’s Jun Takahashi and Jones himself under the Swoosh’s fashionforward umbrella.

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But before that, Jones was already generating buzz with his graduate collection in 2002. It caught the eye of designer John Galliano, who bought half of the collection. A year later, Jones made his debut at London Fashion Week, selling a prized Vivienne Westwood parachute shirt on eBay to fund the collection. Even then, Jones’ penchant for integrating sportswear and subculture into his clothes shone through, mining ’90s youth culture and rave festivals for inspiration. These influences were manifested in cropped Peruvian stripe bomber jackets, ombré-dyed denim, and collared bombers with a tribal print motif. His penchant for rip-and-repair garments resulted in bicolor trousers in contrasting pink pastel tones and deep purple hues, patchwork pants, and material-blocked dropped-crotch nylon track pants styled with Nike Terminator high-tops. He established codes that mixed what was happening in streetwear with runwayworthy garments, catching the eye of Uniqlo, Hugo Boss, Topshop, and Umbro. With the latter he designed a capsule collection for several seasons until 2007 and worked on a 2005 football jersey collaboration with Supreme. In 2008, he was appointed creative director of storied British tailoring house Dunhill, revitalizing the label’s menswear with a worldly, casual universe of clothes. Zippers replaced button closures, humble coach jackets were elevated with premium fabrics, and sportcoats were reinterpreted into garments resembling Japanese kimonos. Three years into his tenure, he departed for Louis Vuitton.

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His seven-year career at Vuitton took a house predominantly known for its status-symbol accessories and made it a formidable player in the menswear space. Jones’ peripatetic design codes aligned perfectly with a fashion house that already appealed to the jet set. He introduced a line of premium fleece pieces in Fall/Winter 2014 that melded Patagonia staples with high-end branded hardware. In Fall/Winter 2015, he revisited the work of one of his favorite designers, Christopher Nemeth, who moved from London to Tokyo in 1986 and died aged 51 in 2010, creating a line of covetable pieces utilizing Nemeth’s signature artistic prints. Jones revered the late Nemeth’s prescience in melding Savile Row with street-ready silhouettes — and it’s a torch he seems to have picked up. No collection signified that more than Fall/Winter 2017, which saw an unprecedented collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme. To some, it signified the death knell of streetwear, but for Jones, it was a natural progression for two labels that have come to represent two sides of the same coin — creating products that are coveted the world over, yet remain inaccessible to all but a select, extremely lucky few (and those with enough cash to fork over the exorbitant asking price).

“YOU WEAR CLOTHES IN THE STREET, SO EVERYTHING’S STREETWEAR. YOU CAN WEAR A COUTURE GOWN DOWN THE STREET AND THAT TURNS IT INTO STREETWEAR.” “I get so bored of that term ‘streetwear,’” says Jones. Right now he’s backstage at the Summer 2019 Dior Men’s show, walking through the collection and examining the final looks before they’re revealed to the world on the runway. “You wear clothes in the street, so everything’s streetwear. You can wear a couture gown down the street and that turns it into streetwear.” Indeed, perhaps the term “streetwear” is redundant. Jones brings up one of his favorite designers today, Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER, as an example. Takahashi’s acclaimed label often toes the line between punk-infused rip-and-repair garments and graphic-driven pieces with a subversive bent. Earlier in the week, Takahashi held his first-ever menswear fashion show, which Jones attended. The two are friends and share a mutual admiration.


But before that, Jones was already generating buzz with his graduate collection in 2002. It caught the eye of designer John Galliano, who bought half of the collection. A year later, Jones made his debut at London Fashion Week, selling a prized Vivienne Westwood parachute shirt on eBay to fund the collection. Even then, Jones’ penchant for integrating sportswear and subculture into his clothes shone through, mining ’90s youth culture and rave festivals for inspiration. These influences were manifested in cropped Peruvian stripe bomber jackets, ombré-dyed denim, and collared bombers with a tribal print motif. His penchant for rip-and-repair garments resulted in bicolor trousers in contrasting pink pastel tones and deep purple hues, patchwork pants, and material-blocked dropped-crotch nylon track pants styled with Nike Terminator high-tops. He established codes that mixed what was happening in streetwear with runwayworthy garments, catching the eye of Uniqlo, Hugo Boss, Topshop, and Umbro. With the latter he designed a capsule collection for several seasons until 2007 and worked on a 2005 football jersey collaboration with Supreme. In 2008, he was appointed creative director of storied British tailoring house Dunhill, revitalizing the label’s menswear with a worldly, casual universe of clothes. Zippers replaced button closures, humble coach jackets were elevated with premium fabrics, and sportcoats were reinterpreted into garments resembling Japanese kimonos. Three years into his tenure, he departed for Louis Vuitton.

040

041

His seven-year career at Vuitton took a house predominantly known for its status-symbol accessories and made it a formidable player in the menswear space. Jones’ peripatetic design codes aligned perfectly with a fashion house that already appealed to the jet set. He introduced a line of premium fleece pieces in Fall/Winter 2014 that melded Patagonia staples with high-end branded hardware. In Fall/Winter 2015, he revisited the work of one of his favorite designers, Christopher Nemeth, who moved from London to Tokyo in 1986 and died aged 51 in 2010, creating a line of covetable pieces utilizing Nemeth’s signature artistic prints. Jones revered the late Nemeth’s prescience in melding Savile Row with street-ready silhouettes — and it’s a torch he seems to have picked up. No collection signified that more than Fall/Winter 2017, which saw an unprecedented collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme. To some, it signified the death knell of streetwear, but for Jones, it was a natural progression for two labels that have come to represent two sides of the same coin — creating products that are coveted the world over, yet remain inaccessible to all but a select, extremely lucky few (and those with enough cash to fork over the exorbitant asking price).

“YOU WEAR CLOTHES IN THE STREET, SO EVERYTHING’S STREETWEAR. YOU CAN WEAR A COUTURE GOWN DOWN THE STREET AND THAT TURNS IT INTO STREETWEAR.” “I get so bored of that term ‘streetwear,’” says Jones. Right now he’s backstage at the Summer 2019 Dior Men’s show, walking through the collection and examining the final looks before they’re revealed to the world on the runway. “You wear clothes in the street, so everything’s streetwear. You can wear a couture gown down the street and that turns it into streetwear.” Indeed, perhaps the term “streetwear” is redundant. Jones brings up one of his favorite designers today, Jun Takahashi of UNDERCOVER, as an example. Takahashi’s acclaimed label often toes the line between punk-infused rip-and-repair garments and graphic-driven pieces with a subversive bent. Earlier in the week, Takahashi held his first-ever menswear fashion show, which Jones attended. The two are friends and share a mutual admiration.


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“His work is fashion. I think it’s wrong to put that in the bracket of ‘streetwear’ — it’s just good design,” says Jones. “It’s 2018. You’ve got to be realistic about what people wear.” Jones’ realistic approach to the commercial side of Dior’s menswear balances out with a new universe he’s establishing in this first season. First off, he’s renamed the label from “Dior Homme” to the simpler “Dior Men’s.” Dior Homme’s previous designers, Hedi Slimane and Kris Van Assche, left a legacy of predominantly noirish clothes with a dark, somewhat gothic edge. Jones has rewritten the rules with his first collection, equal parts inspired by Mr. Dior’s love of nature and flora and a desire to blend the worlds of Dior’s womenswear and menswear. “Each house I work with, I use different codes and DNA,” he says. “Dior is a tailoring brand, essentially, and we want to be very chic.” Of course, to Jones, "tailoring" means much more than traditional suiting. Plenty of the pieces in his debut collection utilize precious materials and techniques to give classic sportswear garments like bomber jackets, topcoats, and T-shirts a decidedly more artisanal (and slightly femme) look and feel. The Dior Homme logo has been replaced with an older design, a sleeker all-caps “DIOR” that also appears on its womenswear, further cementing the connection between Jones’ line and the women’s collections designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri. “There’s something utilitarian about Dior,” he says. “It’s a little bit romantic I guess, but in a very sporty way.” Jones takes an archival suit silhouette pairing a double-breasted jacket and voluminous trousers and renders them in a muted pink, referencing Mr. Dior’s childhood home, and another in a bright yellow. This color, and other garments with gold flecks on them, are a sly nod to French poet Jean Cocteau, who once described Christian Dior as an “agile genius of our times whose magical name contains ‘dieu’ and ‘or,’” the word “dieu” meaning “god” and “or” meaning “gold.” One of the recurring motifs is the toile de jouy pattern designed by Victor Grandpierre in 1947 for the original Dior boutique, repurposed as embroidery and jacquard on shorts, sheer tops, and a technical organza used as a layer on a bomber jacket emblazoned with embroidered bees of KAWS’ design. It’s one of the artist’s many reinterpretations of the house’s codes in the collection, and like most of Jones’ collection, will demand a significant price. Jones is a designer who makes fashion with a capital “F” and Dior is a house that specializes in luxury with a capital “L.” Both words mean something different than they did two years ago. In an era of waning dress codes and upscale casual clothing, a product’s price tag is tied more to its provenance, earned through years of making consistently good product — or to its hype, where the rabid demand far outweighs the scarce supply. Fashion and luxury are malleable terms that can be applied as much to a covetable sneaker (of which there are many in Dior’s latest collection) as to a denim trucker jacket embroidered with KAWS for Dior bees.

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“THERE’S SOMETHING UTILITARIAN ABOUT DIOR... IT’S A LITTLE BIT ROMANTIC I GUESS, BUT IN A VERY SPORTY WAY.”


“His work is fashion. I think it’s wrong to put that in the bracket of ‘streetwear’ — it’s just good design,” says Jones. “It’s 2018. You’ve got to be realistic about what people wear.” Jones’ realistic approach to the commercial side of Dior’s menswear balances out with a new universe he’s establishing in this first season. First off, he’s renamed the label from “Dior Homme” to the simpler “Dior Men’s.” Dior Homme’s previous designers, Hedi Slimane and Kris Van Assche, left a legacy of predominantly noirish clothes with a dark, somewhat gothic edge. Jones has rewritten the rules with his first collection, equal parts inspired by Mr. Dior’s love of nature and flora and a desire to blend the worlds of Dior’s womenswear and menswear. “Each house I work with, I use different codes and DNA,” he says. “Dior is a tailoring brand, essentially, and we want to be very chic.” Of course, to Jones, "tailoring" means much more than traditional suiting. Plenty of the pieces in his debut collection utilize precious materials and techniques to give classic sportswear garments like bomber jackets, topcoats, and T-shirts a decidedly more artisanal (and slightly femme) look and feel. The Dior Homme logo has been replaced with an older design, a sleeker all-caps “DIOR” that also appears on its womenswear, further cementing the connection between Jones’ line and the women’s collections designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri. “There’s something utilitarian about Dior,” he says. “It’s a little bit romantic I guess, but in a very sporty way.” Jones takes an archival suit silhouette pairing a double-breasted jacket and voluminous trousers and renders them in a muted pink, referencing Mr. Dior’s childhood home, and another in a bright yellow. This color, and other garments with gold flecks on them, are a sly nod to French poet Jean Cocteau, who once described Christian Dior as an “agile genius of our times whose magical name contains ‘dieu’ and ‘or,’” the word “dieu” meaning “god” and “or” meaning “gold.” One of the recurring motifs is the toile de jouy pattern designed by Victor Grandpierre in 1947 for the original Dior boutique, repurposed as embroidery and jacquard on shorts, sheer tops, and a technical organza used as a layer on a bomber jacket emblazoned with embroidered bees of KAWS’ design. It’s one of the artist’s many reinterpretations of the house’s codes in the collection, and like most of Jones’ collection, will demand a significant price. Jones is a designer who makes fashion with a capital “F” and Dior is a house that specializes in luxury with a capital “L.” Both words mean something different than they did two years ago. In an era of waning dress codes and upscale casual clothing, a product’s price tag is tied more to its provenance, earned through years of making consistently good product — or to its hype, where the rabid demand far outweighs the scarce supply. Fashion and luxury are malleable terms that can be applied as much to a covetable sneaker (of which there are many in Dior’s latest collection) as to a denim trucker jacket embroidered with KAWS for Dior bees.

044

045

“THERE’S SOMETHING UTILITARIAN ABOUT DIOR... IT’S A LITTLE BIT ROMANTIC I GUESS, BUT IN A VERY SPORTY WAY.”


“Today, via the internet and Instagram, people adhere to brands, not only by products, but also by the values of ​​ culture and know-how,” Dior chief executive Pietro Beccari told French newspaper Le Figaro in June. “They want to hear beautiful stories. The Dior house has a lot to tell.” It’s appropriate that Jones is at the forefront of LVMH’s golden goose — The New York Times reported in 2017 that Dior holds 41 percent of the share capital and 56.8 percent of the voting rights within the conglomerate. Beccari, like Jones, is a realist about the way people dress today. It’s possible to make sportswear as desirable and elegant as an expensive, one-of-a-kind couture creation, and if you can make the right emotional connection with a potential client, they’ll gladly pay the asking price. What Jones brings to the table is an ability to meld the impulsive part of the lizard brain, the part that covets new products, with the elevated execution of a designer who knows how to rework the existing codes of a fashion house. If streetwear is a movement built largely on placing high fashion in a different, more accessible context, Jones is able to take that energy to an esteemed house like Dior without having to compromise on quality or worry about things like price points. It has also afforded him the opportunity to bring some friends along the way. Streetwear, after all, was a bustling community of like-minded creatives before it was an industry. “You want to work with people you like,” says Jones. “I got Matthew Williams to design the buckles for me because I really love his brand. I’ve got Yoon [Ahn] working with me also, and I commissioned KAWS to design the bee.”

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KAWS and Jones have been on each other’s radar for quite some time, and both also work with Nike on sought-after collaborations. The two had been in touch prior to Jones’ appointment at Dior, and when it came to Jones’ debut show, he couldn’t think of a better person to help make a statement. “I’ve always wanted to work with KAWS,” says Jones. “I think it’s nice that he’s the first person I’d work with at Dior because I love his work. For me, for the generation that’s coming up now, he’s the most important artist in the world.” Before KAWS built the statue for the show (and a smaller rendition that lives in Dior’s showroom), the artist was commissioned to design plush “BFF” toys decked out in Dior Baby clothing, a sub-line KAWS didn’t even know existed. On Jones’ Instagram in the days leading up to the show, he posted a plethora of celebrities, including A$AP Rocky, Kate Moss, and even Louis Vuitton’s new men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, posing with the two stuffed toys. KAWS admits he was initially hesitant to move forward with the sculpture, as art world timelines are much more forgiving than those in fashion, and was impressed that Dior could pull together such a massive undertaking in a matter of months. In addition to the Dior bee motif, KAWS also remade the Dior logo in his own style, and a variety of his works show up again in the accessories collection, spearheaded by designer Yoon Ahn of cult Japanese jewelry label AMBUSH. Ahn’s approach to the accessories line is complementary to the cavalcade of colors in Jones’ collection. KAWS’ bee and Mr. Dior BFF reappear as studded pendants and high-end keychains. Chunky, iridescent letters refashioned into rings spell out “DIOR,” and there are even plush keychains depicting Mr. Dior’s dog Bobby tie-dyed in psychedelic colors. Tying into Jones’ desire to bring more elements of womenswear into the collection, this is the first season that Dior’s best-selling saddle bag has been recontextualized into the men’s offering, appearing as soft leather side bags, pouches, backpacks, and other elegant luggage pieces.


“Today, via the internet and Instagram, people adhere to brands, not only by products, but also by the values of ​​ culture and know-how,” Dior chief executive Pietro Beccari told French newspaper Le Figaro in June. “They want to hear beautiful stories. The Dior house has a lot to tell.” It’s appropriate that Jones is at the forefront of LVMH’s golden goose — The New York Times reported in 2017 that Dior holds 41 percent of the share capital and 56.8 percent of the voting rights within the conglomerate. Beccari, like Jones, is a realist about the way people dress today. It’s possible to make sportswear as desirable and elegant as an expensive, one-of-a-kind couture creation, and if you can make the right emotional connection with a potential client, they’ll gladly pay the asking price. What Jones brings to the table is an ability to meld the impulsive part of the lizard brain, the part that covets new products, with the elevated execution of a designer who knows how to rework the existing codes of a fashion house. If streetwear is a movement built largely on placing high fashion in a different, more accessible context, Jones is able to take that energy to an esteemed house like Dior without having to compromise on quality or worry about things like price points. It has also afforded him the opportunity to bring some friends along the way. Streetwear, after all, was a bustling community of like-minded creatives before it was an industry. “You want to work with people you like,” says Jones. “I got Matthew Williams to design the buckles for me because I really love his brand. I’ve got Yoon [Ahn] working with me also, and I commissioned KAWS to design the bee.”

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KAWS and Jones have been on each other’s radar for quite some time, and both also work with Nike on sought-after collaborations. The two had been in touch prior to Jones’ appointment at Dior, and when it came to Jones’ debut show, he couldn’t think of a better person to help make a statement. “I’ve always wanted to work with KAWS,” says Jones. “I think it’s nice that he’s the first person I’d work with at Dior because I love his work. For me, for the generation that’s coming up now, he’s the most important artist in the world.” Before KAWS built the statue for the show (and a smaller rendition that lives in Dior’s showroom), the artist was commissioned to design plush “BFF” toys decked out in Dior Baby clothing, a sub-line KAWS didn’t even know existed. On Jones’ Instagram in the days leading up to the show, he posted a plethora of celebrities, including A$AP Rocky, Kate Moss, and even Louis Vuitton’s new men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh, posing with the two stuffed toys. KAWS admits he was initially hesitant to move forward with the sculpture, as art world timelines are much more forgiving than those in fashion, and was impressed that Dior could pull together such a massive undertaking in a matter of months. In addition to the Dior bee motif, KAWS also remade the Dior logo in his own style, and a variety of his works show up again in the accessories collection, spearheaded by designer Yoon Ahn of cult Japanese jewelry label AMBUSH. Ahn’s approach to the accessories line is complementary to the cavalcade of colors in Jones’ collection. KAWS’ bee and Mr. Dior BFF reappear as studded pendants and high-end keychains. Chunky, iridescent letters refashioned into rings spell out “DIOR,” and there are even plush keychains depicting Mr. Dior’s dog Bobby tie-dyed in psychedelic colors. Tying into Jones’ desire to bring more elements of womenswear into the collection, this is the first season that Dior’s best-selling saddle bag has been recontextualized into the men’s offering, appearing as soft leather side bags, pouches, backpacks, and other elegant luggage pieces.


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“YOU WANT TO WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU LIKE... I GOT MATTHEW WILLIAMS TO DESIGN THE BUCKLES FOR ME BECAUSE I REALLY LOVE HIS BRAND. I’VE GOT YOON [AHN] WORKING WITH ME ALSO, AND I COMMISSIONED KAWS TO DESIGN THE BEE.”


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“YOU WANT TO WORK WITH PEOPLE YOU LIKE... I GOT MATTHEW WILLIAMS TO DESIGN THE BUCKLES FOR ME BECAUSE I REALLY LOVE HIS BRAND. I’VE GOT YOON [AHN] WORKING WITH ME ALSO, AND I COMMISSIONED KAWS TO DESIGN THE BEE.”


Notably, many of the new bags, belts, and even baseball caps feature custom buckles designed by Matthew Williams of 1019 ALYX 9SM, a nascent label known for its Rollercoaster belts inspired by chunky, tactical quick-release COBRA buckles. “Kim and I had been friends a long time, and he was somebody that really mentored me and motivated me to start my own brand,” says Williams. After Williams’ first season, he gifted Jones one of his backpacks featuring 1019 ALYX 9SM’s custom buckles, and Jones loved it. For Dior, Williams has designed several buckles that meld the utilitarian appeal of the originals with the elevated branding of Dior. In one instance, he turns Christian Dior’s “C” and “D” initials into an interlocking buckle. It features on a baseball cap that London grime artist Skepta wore to the show. “He gave me, like, two months to make these buckles, and I just pulled it together for him,” Williams says. Jones might define streetwear merely as clothes people wear on the street, but his approach to Dior Men’s has much more in common with the mindset of the culture’s progenitors. He’s designing clothing for people with a specific mindset, and he’s tapped some of his high-profile creative friends to fashion covetable products they might not have been able to create on their own. “The visibility of a lot of the people that started off more modestly in streetwear has changed,” says KAWS. “The world has definitely noticed and things just keep growing. But what’s unique about a company like Dior is the craftsmanship. I was blown away at the speed at which things can be made and the integrity put into them. That’s not common.” The shift in consumer desire and what cultivates a passion for product is not lost on Jones. He’s fully aware of the dichotomy of balancing a consistent vision for a brand with creating new commercial hits season after season. That’s why introducing the saddle bag for men alongside several new sneaker silhouettes is telling. After all, more and more men (and women) have been sporting fanny packs and waist bags from streetwear brands and luxury labels alike.

“IT’S MORE THAN MENSWEAR... PEOPLE WANT TO BUY CLOTHES THAT THEY CAN WEAR ALL THE TIME.” Sneakers have become a status symbol for men and women, so it’s not far-fetched to think Jones sees a future in which a Dior purse gets a second life as a must-have men’s accessory, especially when it has a Williams-designed buckle. “It” brands and “it” products ebb and flow season after season, but pieces like that have the potential to become longtime grails. “It’s more than menswear,” as Jones puts it. “People want to buy clothes that they can wear all the time.”

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Notably, many of the new bags, belts, and even baseball caps feature custom buckles designed by Matthew Williams of 1019 ALYX 9SM, a nascent label known for its Rollercoaster belts inspired by chunky, tactical quick-release COBRA buckles. “Kim and I had been friends a long time, and he was somebody that really mentored me and motivated me to start my own brand,” says Williams. After Williams’ first season, he gifted Jones one of his backpacks featuring 1019 ALYX 9SM’s custom buckles, and Jones loved it. For Dior, Williams has designed several buckles that meld the utilitarian appeal of the originals with the elevated branding of Dior. In one instance, he turns Christian Dior’s “C” and “D” initials into an interlocking buckle. It features on a baseball cap that London grime artist Skepta wore to the show. “He gave me, like, two months to make these buckles, and I just pulled it together for him,” Williams says. Jones might define streetwear merely as clothes people wear on the street, but his approach to Dior Men’s has much more in common with the mindset of the culture’s progenitors. He’s designing clothing for people with a specific mindset, and he’s tapped some of his high-profile creative friends to fashion covetable products they might not have been able to create on their own. “The visibility of a lot of the people that started off more modestly in streetwear has changed,” says KAWS. “The world has definitely noticed and things just keep growing. But what’s unique about a company like Dior is the craftsmanship. I was blown away at the speed at which things can be made and the integrity put into them. That’s not common.” The shift in consumer desire and what cultivates a passion for product is not lost on Jones. He’s fully aware of the dichotomy of balancing a consistent vision for a brand with creating new commercial hits season after season. That’s why introducing the saddle bag for men alongside several new sneaker silhouettes is telling. After all, more and more men (and women) have been sporting fanny packs and waist bags from streetwear brands and luxury labels alike.

“IT’S MORE THAN MENSWEAR... PEOPLE WANT TO BUY CLOTHES THAT THEY CAN WEAR ALL THE TIME.” Sneakers have become a status symbol for men and women, so it’s not far-fetched to think Jones sees a future in which a Dior purse gets a second life as a must-have men’s accessory, especially when it has a Williams-designed buckle. “It” brands and “it” products ebb and flow season after season, but pieces like that have the potential to become longtime grails. “It’s more than menswear,” as Jones puts it. “People want to buy clothes that they can wear all the time.”

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PHOTOGRAPHY DOMINIK SCHULTE & AHMED CHREDIY

SATELLITE IMAGERY GOOGLE EARTH

STYLING NINA HOLLENSTEINER

MODELS CHRISTOPHER & FIONA @ THE NEW AGENCY

HAIR & MAKE-UP SUTIDA VESTEWIG 

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PHOTOGRAPHY DOMINIK SCHULTE & AHMED CHREDIY

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STYLING NINA HOLLENSTEINER

MODELS CHRISTOPHER & FIONA @ THE NEW AGENCY

HAIR & MAKE-UP SUTIDA VESTEWIG 

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THE PHILOSOPHY AND THE PROCESS : HOW GUIDI MAKES ITS SHOES 062

WORDS EUGENE RABKIN PHOTOGRAPHY EDWARD CHIU SPECIAL THANKS ANCHORET

Italian shoemaker GUIDI melds centuries of artisanal tradition with a modern-minded approach and aesthetic. That’s why the footwear company has become a go-to for the fashion world’s extremely well-heeled cognoscenti season after season.

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THE PHILOSOPHY AND THE PROCESS : HOW GUIDI MAKES ITS SHOES 062

WORDS EUGENE RABKIN PHOTOGRAPHY EDWARD CHIU SPECIAL THANKS ANCHORET

Italian shoemaker GUIDI melds centuries of artisanal tradition with a modern-minded approach and aesthetic. That’s why the footwear company has become a go-to for the fashion world’s extremely well-heeled cognoscenti season after season.

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“I liked the shoes, but they looked too new, like something people would wear to church on Sunday,” says Righi Amante during our conversation at the GUIDI offices in Pescia. We’re sitting in a room in which the painstakingly restored medieval frescos on the ceiling are lit by ultra-modern Flos lighting. A sign commemorating a 1531 visit by the Pope leaves no doubt as to the history of the place. It all seems a little surreal yet somehow fitting.

“I LIKED THE SHOES, BUT THEY LOOKED TOO NEW, LIKE SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD WEAR TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY.” — RIGHI AMANTE

Pescia, Italy is a small, picturesque town tucked away amid the rolling, sunburned Tuscan hills, with their neat tomato gardens and cypress trees that look like benevolent sentinels. It brings to mind a rustic idyll that any tourist might dream up: family-owned restaurants in old stucco buildings serving mind-blowing pasta, medieval walled towns, small farms littering the countryside — a seductively simple alternative to frenetic city life. Tuscany certainly does have all that, but it’s also home to some of the best artisans in fashion today and especially famous for its leather-working expertise. One of the companies to have thrived here in Pescia is GUIDI, a leather tannery that has been making its own shoes since 2004. In the years since the company introduced its washed, softlooking footwear and accessories, GUIDI has become a staple for fashion’s avant-garde. Go to any independent boutique catering to those customers who wouldn’t be caught dead in a department store, whether it’s Atelier in New York, L’Eclaireur in Paris, or Anchoret in Beijing, and you’re bound to find GUIDI among its selection.

The company’s full name is GUIDI 1896 S.r.l. The “1896” represents the year it started tanning leather. Today, it’s still a family business, run by Ruggero GUIDI, whom everyone refers to simply as “Mr. GUIDI.” The tannery has supplied leather to fashion houses such as Prada, Maison Margiela, and Rick Owens, and has always thrived in its leather-making capacity. But Mr. GUIDI also made a hobby of collecting old worker’s shoes and hiking boots. He was fascinated by the historical aspect of the shoemaking process, the craftsmanship it required, its handmade nature. At some point he had the idea to recreate the shoes, to give them new life and a new home. He began his experiments around 2003, showing them to Alessia Righi Amante, who at the time had just quit working for the cult label Carpe Diem, one of GUIDI’s clients, and was running a small showroom in Paris. Mr. GUIDI, who was into making the shoes but not really into selling them, asked Righi Amante to help him out.

Back when Righi Amante worked for the brand, Carpe Diem was all about distressing, washing, burying, and doing whatever else to its garments to make them look worn-in. Righi Amante advised Mr. GUIDI to follow the same strategy, and he decided to experiment with dyeing the shoes in the tanning drums. The shoes came out wonderfully distressed, although damaged in places. Nevertheless, the discerning buyers at luxury boutiques such as Maxfield and L’Eclaireur loved the way they looked and insisted on stocking them. That gave Righi Amante another idea: to dye the shoes

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in the drums instead of just washing them. By then, Mr. GUIDI had asked her to come onboard to take care of sales full-time. By 2007, Righi Amante was presenting GUIDI at a dedicated showroom in Paris. The secret sauce of the GUIDI aesthetic is a method known as “object-dyeing.” It makes the shoes look and feel soft, and it renders the entire shoe the same color. This is subtle but important. Look at most shoes carefully and you’ll see a color mismatch between the upper and the sole. This is because the upper and the soles are usually made at different facilities before the shoe is put together, and the leather is already dyed. By contrast, at the assembly stage, all GUIDI shoes are either the natural brown of oil-tanned leather or the lighter, offwhite tone of vegetable-tanned leather. Each pair is dyed after assembly as a fully formed object — hence the term “object-dyeing.” This process allows the company to work on an unprecedented array of colors without losing its aesthetic signature.


“I liked the shoes, but they looked too new, like something people would wear to church on Sunday,” says Righi Amante during our conversation at the GUIDI offices in Pescia. We’re sitting in a room in which the painstakingly restored medieval frescos on the ceiling are lit by ultra-modern Flos lighting. A sign commemorating a 1531 visit by the Pope leaves no doubt as to the history of the place. It all seems a little surreal yet somehow fitting.

“I LIKED THE SHOES, BUT THEY LOOKED TOO NEW, LIKE SOMETHING PEOPLE WOULD WEAR TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY.” — RIGHI AMANTE

Pescia, Italy is a small, picturesque town tucked away amid the rolling, sunburned Tuscan hills, with their neat tomato gardens and cypress trees that look like benevolent sentinels. It brings to mind a rustic idyll that any tourist might dream up: family-owned restaurants in old stucco buildings serving mind-blowing pasta, medieval walled towns, small farms littering the countryside — a seductively simple alternative to frenetic city life. Tuscany certainly does have all that, but it’s also home to some of the best artisans in fashion today and especially famous for its leather-working expertise. One of the companies to have thrived here in Pescia is GUIDI, a leather tannery that has been making its own shoes since 2004. In the years since the company introduced its washed, softlooking footwear and accessories, GUIDI has become a staple for fashion’s avant-garde. Go to any independent boutique catering to those customers who wouldn’t be caught dead in a department store, whether it’s Atelier in New York, L’Eclaireur in Paris, or Anchoret in Beijing, and you’re bound to find GUIDI among its selection.

The company’s full name is GUIDI 1896 S.r.l. The “1896” represents the year it started tanning leather. Today, it’s still a family business, run by Ruggero GUIDI, whom everyone refers to simply as “Mr. GUIDI.” The tannery has supplied leather to fashion houses such as Prada, Maison Margiela, and Rick Owens, and has always thrived in its leather-making capacity. But Mr. GUIDI also made a hobby of collecting old worker’s shoes and hiking boots. He was fascinated by the historical aspect of the shoemaking process, the craftsmanship it required, its handmade nature. At some point he had the idea to recreate the shoes, to give them new life and a new home. He began his experiments around 2003, showing them to Alessia Righi Amante, who at the time had just quit working for the cult label Carpe Diem, one of GUIDI’s clients, and was running a small showroom in Paris. Mr. GUIDI, who was into making the shoes but not really into selling them, asked Righi Amante to help him out.

Back when Righi Amante worked for the brand, Carpe Diem was all about distressing, washing, burying, and doing whatever else to its garments to make them look worn-in. Righi Amante advised Mr. GUIDI to follow the same strategy, and he decided to experiment with dyeing the shoes in the tanning drums. The shoes came out wonderfully distressed, although damaged in places. Nevertheless, the discerning buyers at luxury boutiques such as Maxfield and L’Eclaireur loved the way they looked and insisted on stocking them. That gave Righi Amante another idea: to dye the shoes

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in the drums instead of just washing them. By then, Mr. GUIDI had asked her to come onboard to take care of sales full-time. By 2007, Righi Amante was presenting GUIDI at a dedicated showroom in Paris. The secret sauce of the GUIDI aesthetic is a method known as “object-dyeing.” It makes the shoes look and feel soft, and it renders the entire shoe the same color. This is subtle but important. Look at most shoes carefully and you’ll see a color mismatch between the upper and the sole. This is because the upper and the soles are usually made at different facilities before the shoe is put together, and the leather is already dyed. By contrast, at the assembly stage, all GUIDI shoes are either the natural brown of oil-tanned leather or the lighter, offwhite tone of vegetable-tanned leather. Each pair is dyed after assembly as a fully formed object — hence the term “object-dyeing.” This process allows the company to work on an unprecedented array of colors without losing its aesthetic signature.


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Besides dyeing, GUIDI’s main trade secret, like with every shoemaker, is its lasts — the molds that give each shoe model its particular shape. The GUIDI shoemaking process is hyperlocal. Each pair of footwear starts out at the company’s main facility, where the raw hides go through the tanning process in vast spinning drums. The hides are then moved to a footwear factory a 10-minute drive away, where they’re turned into shoes. After that, the assembled footwear is returned to the tannery to be dyed. GUIDI doesn’t own its footwear-making factory but is its only client. The factory is owned by Paolo Rugiati, and like many Italian businesses, it’s been in his family for several generations. His father and Mr. GUIDI’s father were friends. Before GUIDI, his company made hiking and mountaineering boots.

“These kinds of traditional, regular shoes are hard to make in Italy now because of competition from places like China and Vietnam,” Rugiati says. “All the low- and medium-level factories in Italy have closed and we’ve lost many jobs. So now we concentrate on making high-end products.” In his early 50s, Rugiati is fit and unassumingly dressed. He prefers fishing to fashion, and when asked if he thinks GUIDI shoes look strange, he laughs affirmatively. On the floor of his two-room factory, Rugiati performs the most intricate step in the shoemaking process, cutting the shoe uppers by hand.

“CUTTING IS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE PROCESS... YOU REALLY HAVE TO KNOW HOW EACH TYPE OF LEATHER BEHAVES.” — RUGIATI

“Cutting is my favorite part of the process,” says Rugiati, who started learning the shoemaking process from his father when he was 15 years old. “You really have to know how each type of leather behaves.”

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I watch as he places a tanned horse skin on a cutting table, puts the paper pattern on top of it, and with several assured motions, cuts out the entire one-piece upper with a special knife. It takes him about 30 seconds. He uses the rest of the skin to cut the lining. After that, the components pass through about a dozen pairs of hands, each artisan participating in several steps, some working entirely by hand and others machine-assisted. I watch as they hammer, sand, mold, glue, and stitch, their hands defined by years of shoemaking work, the two-dimensional piece of leather slowly becoming a three-dimensional boot. The process of constructing a pair of GUIDI’s PL2 front-zip boot takes about two hours. GUIDI uses a Goodyear welt, a method by which the shoe upper is joined to the sole via an additional strip of material (the welt) using heatactivated glue and industrial-strength stitching.

A cavity between the insole and outsole is filled with cork, with the net effect being a waterproof sole. When properly cared for, the shoes can last for decades, and the process of stitching the sole to the welt rather than directly into the upper makes Goodyear-welted soles easier to replace. Another subtle but important detail that gives a GUIDI shoe its particular look is the stacked leather heel, one of only a few components GUIDI outsources to a specialist. The heel is made of thick pieces of leather stacked together and then glued and nailed through. To cut corners, many shoemakers have done away with this traditional process, or use plastic or pressed leather scraps instead of real leather — think IKEA making furniture out of plywood rather than real wood. Once the boots are assembled, the last step is to carefully sand down the raw outer edges of the sole and strip away any glue spots. Now they’re ready to go back to the tannery.


Besides dyeing, GUIDI’s main trade secret, like with every shoemaker, is its lasts — the molds that give each shoe model its particular shape. The GUIDI shoemaking process is hyperlocal. Each pair of footwear starts out at the company’s main facility, where the raw hides go through the tanning process in vast spinning drums. The hides are then moved to a footwear factory a 10-minute drive away, where they’re turned into shoes. After that, the assembled footwear is returned to the tannery to be dyed. GUIDI doesn’t own its footwear-making factory but is its only client. The factory is owned by Paolo Rugiati, and like many Italian businesses, it’s been in his family for several generations. His father and Mr. GUIDI’s father were friends. Before GUIDI, his company made hiking and mountaineering boots.

“These kinds of traditional, regular shoes are hard to make in Italy now because of competition from places like China and Vietnam,” Rugiati says. “All the low- and medium-level factories in Italy have closed and we’ve lost many jobs. So now we concentrate on making high-end products.” In his early 50s, Rugiati is fit and unassumingly dressed. He prefers fishing to fashion, and when asked if he thinks GUIDI shoes look strange, he laughs affirmatively. On the floor of his two-room factory, Rugiati performs the most intricate step in the shoemaking process, cutting the shoe uppers by hand.

“CUTTING IS MY FAVORITE PART OF THE PROCESS... YOU REALLY HAVE TO KNOW HOW EACH TYPE OF LEATHER BEHAVES.” — RUGIATI

“Cutting is my favorite part of the process,” says Rugiati, who started learning the shoemaking process from his father when he was 15 years old. “You really have to know how each type of leather behaves.”

068

069

I watch as he places a tanned horse skin on a cutting table, puts the paper pattern on top of it, and with several assured motions, cuts out the entire one-piece upper with a special knife. It takes him about 30 seconds. He uses the rest of the skin to cut the lining. After that, the components pass through about a dozen pairs of hands, each artisan participating in several steps, some working entirely by hand and others machine-assisted. I watch as they hammer, sand, mold, glue, and stitch, their hands defined by years of shoemaking work, the two-dimensional piece of leather slowly becoming a three-dimensional boot. The process of constructing a pair of GUIDI’s PL2 front-zip boot takes about two hours. GUIDI uses a Goodyear welt, a method by which the shoe upper is joined to the sole via an additional strip of material (the welt) using heatactivated glue and industrial-strength stitching.

A cavity between the insole and outsole is filled with cork, with the net effect being a waterproof sole. When properly cared for, the shoes can last for decades, and the process of stitching the sole to the welt rather than directly into the upper makes Goodyear-welted soles easier to replace. Another subtle but important detail that gives a GUIDI shoe its particular look is the stacked leather heel, one of only a few components GUIDI outsources to a specialist. The heel is made of thick pieces of leather stacked together and then glued and nailed through. To cut corners, many shoemakers have done away with this traditional process, or use plastic or pressed leather scraps instead of real leather — think IKEA making furniture out of plywood rather than real wood. Once the boots are assembled, the last step is to carefully sand down the raw outer edges of the sole and strip away any glue spots. Now they’re ready to go back to the tannery.


“I’m glad people are buying our shoes, but I hope they buy them for the right reasons,” says Righi Amante, who is concerned about the average customer treating GUIDI merely as another fashion product to be consumed and discarded according to trends. “We want them to know about the artisanal process, about the craftsmanship.” In its first years as a shoemaker, most of GUIDI’s market for footwear was men, who gravitated to its understated, lived-in style. Today, however, the demographics have flipped. Around 80 percent of GUIDI customers are now women, which helps to answer one question I had for Righi Amante: Why is GUIDI in no rush to make sneakers when sneakers comprise the lion’s share of the men’s footwear market? “It’s not a statement,” Righi Amante answers. “It’s just that we’re adamant about keeping the artisanal way of production, so we haven’t found a way to make sneakers the way we want. A collaboration of some sort would make more sense.”

070

GUIDI is something of an accidental unicorn among artisanal brands. Shoemaking started out as a passion project, but it now surpasses the tannery part of the business. And while the rise of streetwear has many such brands on the defensive, GUIDI is doing extremely well. It’s one of the few companies that has stayed true to its aesthetic principles, refusing to bow to trends. A significant part of GUIDI’s growth is due to its popularity in China. It’s difficult to explain quite why GUIDI rather than some other artisanal brand has achieved cult status among Chinese consumers. “At some point, several years ago, Chinese movie stars and musicians started wearing GUIDI, as they were becoming more conscious of the fashion avant-garde,” says Lu Han, owner of Atelier New York, which currently stocks 1,500 pairs of GUIDI footwear. “Before, Chinese celebrities were into your usual Chanel and Dior, but now they’re becoming more discerning, and their fans are following their lead.” Han points out other factors that have contributed to GUIDI’s popularity, such as

071

all the colors, tests them, and comes up with new ones. Only one color can be applied at a time. I watch as Mr. Giacomo fills the drum with water, pours in the premixed dye, and lets the drum spin for a while. One by one, he drops in 25 pairs of PL2s. The dyeing process takes approximately 40 minutes. If the dye doesn’t take correctly, the boots go back for another 40-minute session. The process — the color-mixing in particular — is a mix of art and science. “Black is the hardest color to get right,” Mr. Giacomo says. “And different leather types take the dye differently.” As the boots are dyed, that crisp, newleather smell you get when you open a box of GUIDI shoes permeates the air. Stacks upon stacks of raw hides and tanned skins fill the vast floor. In another drum, crocodile leather is being tanned.

The freshly constructed shoes are now back at the tannery. The tannery itself is a large one-story building. All the shoes are dyed in a machine that looks like a huge, strippedout washing machine whose drum has been rotated 90 degrees. The dyeing is done by a single operator, Mr. Giacomo, who also mixes

the brand’s use of horse leather — a novelty to Chinese customers — the unconventional look of its shoes, and the shoes’ relative comfort. Pita Cheng, owner of Hong Kong boutique INK, concurs: “We were the first to carry GUIDI in China in 2010 and our first order was just nine pairs of men’s shoes. But around 2013, more and more female customers started asking for it, including famous Chinese tastemakers.” INK has ordered 2,500 pairs of GUIDI footwear for Fall/Winter 2018 to satisfy in-store demand. GUIDI’s relative scarcity has spawned a healthy resale business in China and an entire industry of fake products. Each pair of authentic GUIDI shoes now comes with a QR code that confirms the product’s origins via authentication platform Certilogo. But success is both welcome and a worry for the brand.

“I’M GLAD PEOPLE ARE BUYING OUR SHOES, BUT I HOPE THEY BUY THEM FOR THE RIGHT REASONS... WE WANT THEM TO KNOW ABOUT THE ARTISANAL PROCESS, ABOUT THE CRAFTSMANSHIP.” — RIGHI AMANTE


“I’m glad people are buying our shoes, but I hope they buy them for the right reasons,” says Righi Amante, who is concerned about the average customer treating GUIDI merely as another fashion product to be consumed and discarded according to trends. “We want them to know about the artisanal process, about the craftsmanship.” In its first years as a shoemaker, most of GUIDI’s market for footwear was men, who gravitated to its understated, lived-in style. Today, however, the demographics have flipped. Around 80 percent of GUIDI customers are now women, which helps to answer one question I had for Righi Amante: Why is GUIDI in no rush to make sneakers when sneakers comprise the lion’s share of the men’s footwear market? “It’s not a statement,” Righi Amante answers. “It’s just that we’re adamant about keeping the artisanal way of production, so we haven’t found a way to make sneakers the way we want. A collaboration of some sort would make more sense.”

070

GUIDI is something of an accidental unicorn among artisanal brands. Shoemaking started out as a passion project, but it now surpasses the tannery part of the business. And while the rise of streetwear has many such brands on the defensive, GUIDI is doing extremely well. It’s one of the few companies that has stayed true to its aesthetic principles, refusing to bow to trends. A significant part of GUIDI’s growth is due to its popularity in China. It’s difficult to explain quite why GUIDI rather than some other artisanal brand has achieved cult status among Chinese consumers. “At some point, several years ago, Chinese movie stars and musicians started wearing GUIDI, as they were becoming more conscious of the fashion avant-garde,” says Lu Han, owner of Atelier New York, which currently stocks 1,500 pairs of GUIDI footwear. “Before, Chinese celebrities were into your usual Chanel and Dior, but now they’re becoming more discerning, and their fans are following their lead.” Han points out other factors that have contributed to GUIDI’s popularity, such as

071

all the colors, tests them, and comes up with new ones. Only one color can be applied at a time. I watch as Mr. Giacomo fills the drum with water, pours in the premixed dye, and lets the drum spin for a while. One by one, he drops in 25 pairs of PL2s. The dyeing process takes approximately 40 minutes. If the dye doesn’t take correctly, the boots go back for another 40-minute session. The process — the color-mixing in particular — is a mix of art and science. “Black is the hardest color to get right,” Mr. Giacomo says. “And different leather types take the dye differently.” As the boots are dyed, that crisp, newleather smell you get when you open a box of GUIDI shoes permeates the air. Stacks upon stacks of raw hides and tanned skins fill the vast floor. In another drum, crocodile leather is being tanned.

The freshly constructed shoes are now back at the tannery. The tannery itself is a large one-story building. All the shoes are dyed in a machine that looks like a huge, strippedout washing machine whose drum has been rotated 90 degrees. The dyeing is done by a single operator, Mr. Giacomo, who also mixes

the brand’s use of horse leather — a novelty to Chinese customers — the unconventional look of its shoes, and the shoes’ relative comfort. Pita Cheng, owner of Hong Kong boutique INK, concurs: “We were the first to carry GUIDI in China in 2010 and our first order was just nine pairs of men’s shoes. But around 2013, more and more female customers started asking for it, including famous Chinese tastemakers.” INK has ordered 2,500 pairs of GUIDI footwear for Fall/Winter 2018 to satisfy in-store demand. GUIDI’s relative scarcity has spawned a healthy resale business in China and an entire industry of fake products. Each pair of authentic GUIDI shoes now comes with a QR code that confirms the product’s origins via authentication platform Certilogo. But success is both welcome and a worry for the brand.

“I’M GLAD PEOPLE ARE BUYING OUR SHOES, BUT I HOPE THEY BUY THEM FOR THE RIGHT REASONS... WE WANT THEM TO KNOW ABOUT THE ARTISANAL PROCESS, ABOUT THE CRAFTSMANSHIP.” — RIGHI AMANTE


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“Usually, crocodile is tanned only with chrome, which makes it shiny,” says GUIDI communications manager Michele La Verde. “I think we’re the only company that tans crocodile leather with a mix of tan and chrome, giving the leather a matte effect.” After the shoes are dyed, they go to an adjacent building for drying, quality control, packing, and shipping. When I enter, hundreds of pairs of shoes are drying — black, white, dark red, and a stunning hue that’s either grayish blue or bluish gray. Several workers are busy stuffing the shoes with paper before hanging them to dry. On average, it takes a week for a shoe to air-dry. They’re then moved to another station for examination and packing according to store orders. Besides overseeing sales, Righi Amante is charged with developing the creative side of the brand. GUIDI eschews traditional marketing. Its Instagram account is @guidi_community, where other people’s GUIDI pictures are reposted, emphasizing the customers’ connection to the brand rather than tailoring its marketing message through self-styled imagery. Through its “Art for Art’s Sake” program, GUIDI has also supported a number of young artists. At the time of my visit, Righi Amante is in the middle of preparing the new installation for GUIDI’s Paris showroom, taking me to a metalworking shop to see its progress. Her idea is to make a small “bamboo” grove made from blackened steel. Pieces of footwear from GUIDI’s extensive archive are to be impaled on each stem. A month and a half later, Righi Amante’s vision comes to fruition at GUIDI’s showroom in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, a healthy distance away from Le Marais, where most fashion showrooms are. A former carton-making facility, the building is tucked away on a small street, across from the imposing Church of Saint Joseph des Nations. In the approximately eight years since I first visited the showroom, I’ve seen it grow from a small corner location on Rue de Thorigny to what is now a huge L-shaped room plus courtyard, with catered lunches served in a dedicated kitchen. The steel bamboo grove greets me as I walk in, impressive in its metallic glory. Inside, rows of shoes and boots in different colors are placed on metal shelves sheathed in GUIDI leather. There are also dozens of styles of bags, from fanny packs to large weekenders,

and leather, silver, and black diamond jewelry, a new development. The place is bustling with appointments for buyers from around the world. After years of experimentation with dyeing, GUIDI leather has moved away from traditional black. There is now a GUIDI rainbow of sorts, with the brand seeking to develop a new color for every season. Sometimes GUIDI surprises store owners with a limited edition, such as the recent metallic olive camouflage PL1 boot. The boot is limited to 300 pairs, each painted by hand, which is the only way to achieve the desired camouflage effect. GUIDI is old-school in that it doesn’t operate its own stores, not even online. The brand subscribes to the traditional wholesale model, preferring to build lasting relationships with carefully selected boutiques around the world, of which there are now 130. GUIDI’s dedication to these traditional business and manufacturing processes hardly seems like a viable recipe for success in the modern era. And yet, GUIDI doesn’t just endure — it flourishes. Mr. GUIDI and his team have made traditional manufacturing modern, carving out a niche for people who care about how things are made. GUIDI consumers understand the aesthetic premise and underlying quality each shoe represents. A GUIDI shoe is made using the best available materials and techniques, but it’s not a dressy shoe a banker wears to the office, or a lawyer to a wedding. Nor is it the rustic kind of boot that appeals to wouldbe cowboys or vintage workwear enthusiasts. Rather, it occupies a context of its own making, inviting the wearer to add their own signature to the shoes through further wear. Despite their high price point, GUIDI shoes don’t scream luxury — quite the opposite; they present an understatement bordering on disdain. And that’s exactly their appeal.

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“Usually, crocodile is tanned only with chrome, which makes it shiny,” says GUIDI communications manager Michele La Verde. “I think we’re the only company that tans crocodile leather with a mix of tan and chrome, giving the leather a matte effect.” After the shoes are dyed, they go to an adjacent building for drying, quality control, packing, and shipping. When I enter, hundreds of pairs of shoes are drying — black, white, dark red, and a stunning hue that’s either grayish blue or bluish gray. Several workers are busy stuffing the shoes with paper before hanging them to dry. On average, it takes a week for a shoe to air-dry. They’re then moved to another station for examination and packing according to store orders. Besides overseeing sales, Righi Amante is charged with developing the creative side of the brand. GUIDI eschews traditional marketing. Its Instagram account is @guidi_community, where other people’s GUIDI pictures are reposted, emphasizing the customers’ connection to the brand rather than tailoring its marketing message through self-styled imagery. Through its “Art for Art’s Sake” program, GUIDI has also supported a number of young artists. At the time of my visit, Righi Amante is in the middle of preparing the new installation for GUIDI’s Paris showroom, taking me to a metalworking shop to see its progress. Her idea is to make a small “bamboo” grove made from blackened steel. Pieces of footwear from GUIDI’s extensive archive are to be impaled on each stem. A month and a half later, Righi Amante’s vision comes to fruition at GUIDI’s showroom in Paris’ 11th arrondissement, a healthy distance away from Le Marais, where most fashion showrooms are. A former carton-making facility, the building is tucked away on a small street, across from the imposing Church of Saint Joseph des Nations. In the approximately eight years since I first visited the showroom, I’ve seen it grow from a small corner location on Rue de Thorigny to what is now a huge L-shaped room plus courtyard, with catered lunches served in a dedicated kitchen. The steel bamboo grove greets me as I walk in, impressive in its metallic glory. Inside, rows of shoes and boots in different colors are placed on metal shelves sheathed in GUIDI leather. There are also dozens of styles of bags, from fanny packs to large weekenders,

and leather, silver, and black diamond jewelry, a new development. The place is bustling with appointments for buyers from around the world. After years of experimentation with dyeing, GUIDI leather has moved away from traditional black. There is now a GUIDI rainbow of sorts, with the brand seeking to develop a new color for every season. Sometimes GUIDI surprises store owners with a limited edition, such as the recent metallic olive camouflage PL1 boot. The boot is limited to 300 pairs, each painted by hand, which is the only way to achieve the desired camouflage effect. GUIDI is old-school in that it doesn’t operate its own stores, not even online. The brand subscribes to the traditional wholesale model, preferring to build lasting relationships with carefully selected boutiques around the world, of which there are now 130. GUIDI’s dedication to these traditional business and manufacturing processes hardly seems like a viable recipe for success in the modern era. And yet, GUIDI doesn’t just endure — it flourishes. Mr. GUIDI and his team have made traditional manufacturing modern, carving out a niche for people who care about how things are made. GUIDI consumers understand the aesthetic premise and underlying quality each shoe represents. A GUIDI shoe is made using the best available materials and techniques, but it’s not a dressy shoe a banker wears to the office, or a lawyer to a wedding. Nor is it the rustic kind of boot that appeals to wouldbe cowboys or vintage workwear enthusiasts. Rather, it occupies a context of its own making, inviting the wearer to add their own signature to the shoes through further wear. Despite their high price point, GUIDI shoes don’t scream luxury — quite the opposite; they present an understatement bordering on disdain. And that’s exactly their appeal.

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PHOTOGRAPHY CG WATKINS

HAIR & MAKE-UP MICHELLE RAINER

STYLING ERIK RAYNAL

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT HALLDORA MAGNUSDOTTIR 

MODEL RINGO @ TIAD

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PHOTOGRAPHY CG WATKINS

HAIR & MAKE-UP MICHELLE RAINER

STYLING ERIK RAYNAL

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT HALLDORA MAGNUSDOTTIR 

MODEL RINGO @ TIAD

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LUTZ HUELLE < > WROTE : > HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE CLOTHES

There is a rush, a fever, that has become overwhelming in the fashion industry. A desperation to make an impact — however and wherever possible. Irony and double-double-bluffs would appear to be the agreed-upon language. From designers and stylists to editors and punters, everyone seems to be in on it. So many designers, so many shows, so many fashion weeks. It is a time of extremes, a time of “more!” In the early ’00s, fashion was asleep — naive, cocooned, and unaware of its potential. This was the era of Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander, and Helmut Lang, the staunch visionaries who created wearable universes one collection at a time. Looks and garments were designed with intent, a concise vocabulary that became integral to the ongoing conversation season after season. This is the era in which Lutz Huelle began to hone his craft. A time when we looked to designers to answer the big questions, and when we looked to the runway to see a more ideal vision of society, not the latest meme-ready piece to be plastered all over Instagram feeds. Huelle’s work is a reminder that we can and should expect more from designers.

WORDS & FASHION MICHELE RAFFERTY PHOTOGRAPHY CLARE SHILLAND HAIR HIROSHI MATSUSHITA MODEL MARIA LOKS @ NEXT LONDON SPECIAL THANKS ANDREW BUNNEY

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Are we now moving so fast that something important is being left behind? Are we forgetting to remember what fashion can be? In a world of ever-faster fashion calendars and collections bearing labels such as “pre-Spring,” “Resort,” and “Cruise,” Lutz Huelle sits somewhere between anomaly and anachronism. Huelle studied at Central Saint Martins in London in the ’90s, graduating in 1995. From there, he went to Paris to begin work at Maison Martin Margiela, as it was then known, where he spent three years working closely with the Belgian designer. “It was so much about reality,” Huelle recalls. “He was one of the first people at the time who dressed people who I could understand, who I could identify with.”

The German-born designer’s introspective approach to clothing manifests in a practice described as “decontextualization,” in which the structure, volume, and identity of classic wardrobe pieces are transformed. Design consultant Michele Rafferty discusses how today’s fashion landscape makes him more relevant than ever via an email conversation with the designer and acclaimed Italian fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento.

In 2000, he founded his eponymous label with partner David Ballu, a feat of passion and conviction. He has experienced the highs and lows, won awards, and the inevitable bruises and scars picked up over the years give him a unique and captivating voice. Twice winner of the ANDAM Fashion Award, France’s biggest, in 2000 and 2002, and the 2004 Ackermann Prêt à Porter Prize at GWAND fashion festival in Lucerne, Switzerland, Huelle has created an approach often described as “decontextualization.”

There is a mix of masculinity and femininity that gives real modernity to his collections: Prince of Wales check on a swing dress, masculine Alpha Industries bombers, and generic denim jackets — spliced open and reworked with panels of wool, metallic padding, or brocade. Such pieces have become the fashion insider’s “must-have” trophy. The intrinsic masculinity of the pieces isn’t diluted. It is, all at once, brutal and fine. These same jackets over the next season are worked into coats with shearling, dresses, and knits. Tulip sleeves and skirts have the same duality — they could be read as the most couture of shapes, dictating a retro “Madame” collection, but in Huelle’s hands they are just beautiful silhouettes. Printed slogans on jersey reminiscent of Katharine Hamnett are more clever bootleg than a grasp at streetwear. He has grown his loyal clientele, maintaining relationships with the people wearing his clothes and gaining a real understanding of who he is dressing. This is something that is easily overlooked amid the current panic for newness. Huelle has come of age. Quietly and purposefully, he has created a look that is recognizably his own. Maybe something in the attitude, atmosphere, and the casting in his shows is akin to the Margiela aesthetic. Ironically, he showed his Fall/Winter 2018 collection in Paris just before his former boss opened a retrospective at the Palais Galliera in the same city. He visited the exhibition for a walk down memory lane, but remains firmly entrenched in the pursuit of his own design legacy. More important than anything else is how clearly, calmly, and assuredly Huelle treads his own path. Whereas others take stylistic cues and decorative ideas, Huelle has the spirit. The connection to Margiela is genuine, having spent his formative design years there. Huelle talks of slowing down, taking his time to rework and refine some of those now-distinctive “Lutz looks.” He’s keeping the conversation going while taking care not to leave behind unexplored ideas. He takes responsibility for a woman’s experience when wearing his clothes. This level of commitment and his own nature — a bundle of delighted and delightful energy — make Huelle, Huelle's work, impossible not to love. In the spring of 2018 I discuss with Italian fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento and designer Lutz Huelle, via email, Lutz's work, current fashion, ideas and philosophies.


LUTZ HUELLE < > WROTE : > HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE CLOTHES

There is a rush, a fever, that has become overwhelming in the fashion industry. A desperation to make an impact — however and wherever possible. Irony and double-double-bluffs would appear to be the agreed-upon language. From designers and stylists to editors and punters, everyone seems to be in on it. So many designers, so many shows, so many fashion weeks. It is a time of extremes, a time of “more!” In the early ’00s, fashion was asleep — naive, cocooned, and unaware of its potential. This was the era of Maison Martin Margiela, Jil Sander, and Helmut Lang, the staunch visionaries who created wearable universes one collection at a time. Looks and garments were designed with intent, a concise vocabulary that became integral to the ongoing conversation season after season. This is the era in which Lutz Huelle began to hone his craft. A time when we looked to designers to answer the big questions, and when we looked to the runway to see a more ideal vision of society, not the latest meme-ready piece to be plastered all over Instagram feeds. Huelle’s work is a reminder that we can and should expect more from designers.

WORDS & FASHION MICHELE RAFFERTY PHOTOGRAPHY CLARE SHILLAND HAIR HIROSHI MATSUSHITA MODEL MARIA LOKS @ NEXT LONDON SPECIAL THANKS ANDREW BUNNEY

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Are we now moving so fast that something important is being left behind? Are we forgetting to remember what fashion can be? In a world of ever-faster fashion calendars and collections bearing labels such as “pre-Spring,” “Resort,” and “Cruise,” Lutz Huelle sits somewhere between anomaly and anachronism. Huelle studied at Central Saint Martins in London in the ’90s, graduating in 1995. From there, he went to Paris to begin work at Maison Martin Margiela, as it was then known, where he spent three years working closely with the Belgian designer. “It was so much about reality,” Huelle recalls. “He was one of the first people at the time who dressed people who I could understand, who I could identify with.”

The German-born designer’s introspective approach to clothing manifests in a practice described as “decontextualization,” in which the structure, volume, and identity of classic wardrobe pieces are transformed. Design consultant Michele Rafferty discusses how today’s fashion landscape makes him more relevant than ever via an email conversation with the designer and acclaimed Italian fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento.

In 2000, he founded his eponymous label with partner David Ballu, a feat of passion and conviction. He has experienced the highs and lows, won awards, and the inevitable bruises and scars picked up over the years give him a unique and captivating voice. Twice winner of the ANDAM Fashion Award, France’s biggest, in 2000 and 2002, and the 2004 Ackermann Prêt à Porter Prize at GWAND fashion festival in Lucerne, Switzerland, Huelle has created an approach often described as “decontextualization.”

There is a mix of masculinity and femininity that gives real modernity to his collections: Prince of Wales check on a swing dress, masculine Alpha Industries bombers, and generic denim jackets — spliced open and reworked with panels of wool, metallic padding, or brocade. Such pieces have become the fashion insider’s “must-have” trophy. The intrinsic masculinity of the pieces isn’t diluted. It is, all at once, brutal and fine. These same jackets over the next season are worked into coats with shearling, dresses, and knits. Tulip sleeves and skirts have the same duality — they could be read as the most couture of shapes, dictating a retro “Madame” collection, but in Huelle’s hands they are just beautiful silhouettes. Printed slogans on jersey reminiscent of Katharine Hamnett are more clever bootleg than a grasp at streetwear. He has grown his loyal clientele, maintaining relationships with the people wearing his clothes and gaining a real understanding of who he is dressing. This is something that is easily overlooked amid the current panic for newness. Huelle has come of age. Quietly and purposefully, he has created a look that is recognizably his own. Maybe something in the attitude, atmosphere, and the casting in his shows is akin to the Margiela aesthetic. Ironically, he showed his Fall/Winter 2018 collection in Paris just before his former boss opened a retrospective at the Palais Galliera in the same city. He visited the exhibition for a walk down memory lane, but remains firmly entrenched in the pursuit of his own design legacy. More important than anything else is how clearly, calmly, and assuredly Huelle treads his own path. Whereas others take stylistic cues and decorative ideas, Huelle has the spirit. The connection to Margiela is genuine, having spent his formative design years there. Huelle talks of slowing down, taking his time to rework and refine some of those now-distinctive “Lutz looks.” He’s keeping the conversation going while taking care not to leave behind unexplored ideas. He takes responsibility for a woman’s experience when wearing his clothes. This level of commitment and his own nature — a bundle of delighted and delightful energy — make Huelle, Huelle's work, impossible not to love. In the spring of 2018 I discuss with Italian fashion journalist Angelo Flaccavento and designer Lutz Huelle, via email, Lutz's work, current fashion, ideas and philosophies.


> Il giorno 30 apr 2018, alle ore 21:08, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > ha scritto: > • > Hello both.. xx • > What I’ve been wanting to ask you both about, what I’ve been thinking about a lot, is irony in fashion culture right now.. > Of course, it has existed before, but it seems to be so prevalent, so powerful at present, in high fashion and in street fashion. > Moschino was and is full of irony and some would say that Margiela was ironic, but it never struck me as that – more that he wanted to change the way we look at things, finding beauty on the inside of a dress, etc. • > Can irony be beautiful and valuable? Exciting? > • >  RSVP.. • >  M xx

> On 1 May 2018 at 11:54, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: Hello M and L, and happy first of May. I find it deliciously ironic that you, M, are bringing up the topic of irony in fashion culture right now, because I think that this is a quality that the system right now lacks. Irony for me implies an element of witty derision that is at odds with the brutality of pillaging and shameless appropriation that is going on. I am an advocate for irony, though, as a helpful reminder of not taking things to seriously while catering some thought in a funny way. The kind of irony carried by a brand like Moschino I find quite old-school. What could be a possible form of new irony, for you? Best a

> On 1 May 2018, at 18:16, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > wrote: Hello Michele and Angelo, hope you’re both well! Irony for me is great when it is a witty comment on the state of the world around us, when it makes you see things in a different light, and when it reminds me that sometimes things are less serious and important than we think. It’s also a great way to say things that matter in a light and humorous way. Less interesting for me is when irony is simply a means to not engage emotionally – to mock everything and anything is so much easier and far less risky… that cold, detached form of irony is sometimes difficult to take for me. I’m always incredibly touched by openness, naivety and people who are not scared to be open emotionally. What I crave more than anything at the moment is a sense of lightness, of joy, of beauty and invention, the opposite of cynicism. happy May 1st! Lutz x

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> Il giorno 30 apr 2018, alle ore 21:08, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > ha scritto: > • > Hello both.. xx • > What I’ve been wanting to ask you both about, what I’ve been thinking about a lot, is irony in fashion culture right now.. > Of course, it has existed before, but it seems to be so prevalent, so powerful at present, in high fashion and in street fashion. > Moschino was and is full of irony and some would say that Margiela was ironic, but it never struck me as that – more that he wanted to change the way we look at things, finding beauty on the inside of a dress, etc. • > Can irony be beautiful and valuable? Exciting? > • >  RSVP.. • >  M xx

> On 1 May 2018 at 11:54, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: Hello M and L, and happy first of May. I find it deliciously ironic that you, M, are bringing up the topic of irony in fashion culture right now, because I think that this is a quality that the system right now lacks. Irony for me implies an element of witty derision that is at odds with the brutality of pillaging and shameless appropriation that is going on. I am an advocate for irony, though, as a helpful reminder of not taking things to seriously while catering some thought in a funny way. The kind of irony carried by a brand like Moschino I find quite old-school. What could be a possible form of new irony, for you? Best a

> On 1 May 2018, at 18:16, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > wrote: Hello Michele and Angelo, hope you’re both well! Irony for me is great when it is a witty comment on the state of the world around us, when it makes you see things in a different light, and when it reminds me that sometimes things are less serious and important than we think. It’s also a great way to say things that matter in a light and humorous way. Less interesting for me is when irony is simply a means to not engage emotionally – to mock everything and anything is so much easier and far less risky… that cold, detached form of irony is sometimes difficult to take for me. I’m always incredibly touched by openness, naivety and people who are not scared to be open emotionally. What I crave more than anything at the moment is a sense of lightness, of joy, of beauty and invention, the opposite of cynicism. happy May 1st! Lutz x

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Il giorno 04 mag 2018, alle ore 23:31, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > ha scritto: Yes.. ! It can be beautiful and funny.. but in fashion it gets old fast (it also doesn’t age well). It’s of the moment – we are awash with it right now, different levels; some we appreciate, some we most certainly don’t.. a lot we have seen before. Maybe new modern irony isn’t needed, just a refreshing dip into, as you say L, joy, lightness and openness: ‘invincible truth’! What I’m struck by in your work L is this ongoing conversation with your audience or client – so we believe and trust because we are going somewhere with you..I want to watch things grow and move into different areas. I don’t want it all to change so quickly! I’m not searching for constant newness.. is that odd or a bit impossible in our line of work? An anomaly? M

On 5 May 2018, at 11:28, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote:

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I have the same feeling M: I cannot stand the way we are constantly forced to like something new, which in fact is never new at all. Most likely, a tweak on the familiar, with some new patch or graphics splashed on. The fashion mentality in this sense is deadly: what was the pinnacle of desire last week is deemed disposable the week after, just because a new shipment dropped in the shop. I feel drawn to those creators who move slowly but steadily, evolving organically from one season to the next. Lutz is certainly one. Anyway, I think there is something oddly therapeutic in constant change, too. It feels like regeneration. It pushes our fear of death a bit further away. Am I getting too philosophical? a

On 5 May 2018 at 12:34, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > wrote: Hah! Today it’s very sunny in london.. I’m going to think about it! Xxx hhhhhhhhM! Sent from my iPhone


Il giorno 04 mag 2018, alle ore 23:31, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > ha scritto: Yes.. ! It can be beautiful and funny.. but in fashion it gets old fast (it also doesn’t age well). It’s of the moment – we are awash with it right now, different levels; some we appreciate, some we most certainly don’t.. a lot we have seen before. Maybe new modern irony isn’t needed, just a refreshing dip into, as you say L, joy, lightness and openness: ‘invincible truth’! What I’m struck by in your work L is this ongoing conversation with your audience or client – so we believe and trust because we are going somewhere with you..I want to watch things grow and move into different areas. I don’t want it all to change so quickly! I’m not searching for constant newness.. is that odd or a bit impossible in our line of work? An anomaly? M

On 5 May 2018, at 11:28, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote:

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I have the same feeling M: I cannot stand the way we are constantly forced to like something new, which in fact is never new at all. Most likely, a tweak on the familiar, with some new patch or graphics splashed on. The fashion mentality in this sense is deadly: what was the pinnacle of desire last week is deemed disposable the week after, just because a new shipment dropped in the shop. I feel drawn to those creators who move slowly but steadily, evolving organically from one season to the next. Lutz is certainly one. Anyway, I think there is something oddly therapeutic in constant change, too. It feels like regeneration. It pushes our fear of death a bit further away. Am I getting too philosophical? a

On 5 May 2018 at 12:34, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > wrote: Hah! Today it’s very sunny in london.. I’m going to think about it! Xxx hhhhhhhhM! Sent from my iPhone


On 5 May 2018, at 14:17, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > wrote:

On 10 May 2018 at 19:05, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: This question is really challenging M, as not even a crystal ball would be of real help.

I absolutely agree with both of you about the constant need for change in fashion – personally I wear the same things forever… once I’ve found something I feel good in, I want to wear it all the time, and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about clothes – they have the power to make you feel good about yourself, no matter if you bought them yesterday or ten years ago.

Everything moves at lightning speed, and what seems good today is already old tomorrow. I think fashion communication is being affected by the overload of images from digital culture. Because of this, images that last are more and more difficult to find. Meanwhile, fashion keeps being consumed mostly at image level: we crave designer stuff on digital media, then maybe buy at the high street. This faux consumerism is polluting.

At the same time, I have had to force myself to slow down, not try to reinvent the wheel every six months, as my mind just wants to surge forward constantly. There’s something euphoric about constant change, too, and it’s something I love about fashion, that nothing is ever set in stone, that there’s always another possibility, a new angle, a different way of seeing things. It’s an idea I find incredibly comforting. The thought that everything’s been done in fashion is to me utterly ridiculous, each new day means a new way of seeing things, and as long as we evolve, fashion will too.

I think the fashion show as a live experience is unbeatable, thus it will last. Printed magazines would need to work not as a documentation of existing fashion trends, but almost as curatorial incubators, making their own fashion imagery, manipulating reality to their own advantage. Most magazines today look the same, from mainstream to niche. Fashion houses, instead, should find new ways to communicate, maybe avoiding images altogether, forcing people to imagine. Wouldn’t it wonderfully fresh? Instead of seeing everything, you see nothing and dream.

I suppose it’s about finding the right balance… which is not easy hehe Anyway, it’s sunny in Paris, too, and it makes me so happy! I’ll be sitting on a terrace sipping a margarita later and just the mere thought makes me smile :-)

On 16 May 2018, at 13:40, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > wrote: Hello both of you,

Have lovely weekend everybody xx

It’s taken me a while to respond to this. It’s very complex and, Angelo, your response was perfect. 092

Il giorno 09 mag 2018, alle ore 22:24, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > ha scritto: Ok, so speaking of surging forward and evolving.. Can you both tell me where you think fashion communication is headed (i.e. fashion shows, fashion weeks, advertising)? How will things reshuffle? I want to hear some bizarre ideas for how it could look in the next twenty years.. XX

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For me it always comes back to what’s real and true and what isn’t. I agree that there is a complete overkill of images, and most of them do not say anything new, not only visually but also from the point of view of having a clear opinion or vision. Sometimes I feel that has to do with constantly taking other already-existing images as inspiration instead of trying to invent something new, of putting a feeling about how the world is today, what it feels like to be us now into an image. (Does that make sense?) I’m always craving things that make me react in a positive way, that show how our lives are today or how they can be tomorrow, something that makes sense beyond just being another image. I absolutely agree with Angelo that shows are still unbeatable because they are a unique moment in time that brings people together and lets them experience something together, which is still the most emotional experience. It’s an atmosphere that makes you look at things in a certain way, and that experience will never be possible on a telephone or computer. What I really love about today is that social media, with all its negative aspects, has brought fashion into real life in a way that it has not been for a long time. For me, Instagram is like the first issues of I-D, what they did – ‘straight-ups’ of people in the street, asking them what their looks are. The responses were always a mix of designer, high street, vintage or homemade, and every look was unique. This to me was the height of style, and the most exciting fashion imagery, because it was directly talking to me and I’m wondering if that might not be the best approach today – trying to look for a specific way of presenting fashion instead of always wanting to cater for 9 out of 10 people. I always think that the only way to make any sense today AND to be successful is to have a clear point of view, and to present this in the most personal, courageous and undiluted way possible. Hope that makes sense… what do you think? Big hug from Paris xx


On 5 May 2018, at 14:17, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > wrote:

On 10 May 2018 at 19:05, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: This question is really challenging M, as not even a crystal ball would be of real help.

I absolutely agree with both of you about the constant need for change in fashion – personally I wear the same things forever… once I’ve found something I feel good in, I want to wear it all the time, and I think that’s one of the wonderful things about clothes – they have the power to make you feel good about yourself, no matter if you bought them yesterday or ten years ago.

Everything moves at lightning speed, and what seems good today is already old tomorrow. I think fashion communication is being affected by the overload of images from digital culture. Because of this, images that last are more and more difficult to find. Meanwhile, fashion keeps being consumed mostly at image level: we crave designer stuff on digital media, then maybe buy at the high street. This faux consumerism is polluting.

At the same time, I have had to force myself to slow down, not try to reinvent the wheel every six months, as my mind just wants to surge forward constantly. There’s something euphoric about constant change, too, and it’s something I love about fashion, that nothing is ever set in stone, that there’s always another possibility, a new angle, a different way of seeing things. It’s an idea I find incredibly comforting. The thought that everything’s been done in fashion is to me utterly ridiculous, each new day means a new way of seeing things, and as long as we evolve, fashion will too.

I think the fashion show as a live experience is unbeatable, thus it will last. Printed magazines would need to work not as a documentation of existing fashion trends, but almost as curatorial incubators, making their own fashion imagery, manipulating reality to their own advantage. Most magazines today look the same, from mainstream to niche. Fashion houses, instead, should find new ways to communicate, maybe avoiding images altogether, forcing people to imagine. Wouldn’t it wonderfully fresh? Instead of seeing everything, you see nothing and dream.

I suppose it’s about finding the right balance… which is not easy hehe Anyway, it’s sunny in Paris, too, and it makes me so happy! I’ll be sitting on a terrace sipping a margarita later and just the mere thought makes me smile :-)

On 16 May 2018, at 13:40, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > wrote: Hello both of you,

Have lovely weekend everybody xx

It’s taken me a while to respond to this. It’s very complex and, Angelo, your response was perfect. 092

Il giorno 09 mag 2018, alle ore 22:24, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > ha scritto: Ok, so speaking of surging forward and evolving.. Can you both tell me where you think fashion communication is headed (i.e. fashion shows, fashion weeks, advertising)? How will things reshuffle? I want to hear some bizarre ideas for how it could look in the next twenty years.. XX

093

For me it always comes back to what’s real and true and what isn’t. I agree that there is a complete overkill of images, and most of them do not say anything new, not only visually but also from the point of view of having a clear opinion or vision. Sometimes I feel that has to do with constantly taking other already-existing images as inspiration instead of trying to invent something new, of putting a feeling about how the world is today, what it feels like to be us now into an image. (Does that make sense?) I’m always craving things that make me react in a positive way, that show how our lives are today or how they can be tomorrow, something that makes sense beyond just being another image. I absolutely agree with Angelo that shows are still unbeatable because they are a unique moment in time that brings people together and lets them experience something together, which is still the most emotional experience. It’s an atmosphere that makes you look at things in a certain way, and that experience will never be possible on a telephone or computer. What I really love about today is that social media, with all its negative aspects, has brought fashion into real life in a way that it has not been for a long time. For me, Instagram is like the first issues of I-D, what they did – ‘straight-ups’ of people in the street, asking them what their looks are. The responses were always a mix of designer, high street, vintage or homemade, and every look was unique. This to me was the height of style, and the most exciting fashion imagery, because it was directly talking to me and I’m wondering if that might not be the best approach today – trying to look for a specific way of presenting fashion instead of always wanting to cater for 9 out of 10 people. I always think that the only way to make any sense today AND to be successful is to have a clear point of view, and to present this in the most personal, courageous and undiluted way possible. Hope that makes sense… what do you think? Big hug from Paris xx


On 16 May 2018, at 16:29, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > wrote:

2018-05-16 17:21 GMT+02:00 lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com >: thank you so much Angelo!

Yes! I also have fond memories of it although the collection had its flaws… I always have the image of Alex with those big earrings made with real roses in my head, one of my favourite things from that period, and looking at this image still makes me happy.

I love what you both say and I also think one can never imagine what a show is really like from images – you need all the feeling.. music, lighting atmosphere.. all are untranslatable. I’m on the way back from Milan now.. More later. Best love, M Sent from my iPhone

2018-05-16 18:56 GMT+02:00 michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > wrote: McQueen shows at the beginning of my working life – particularly the show with Ann Peebles’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain’’.. really something, especially now to look back on, something so nice about not knowing it’s an important moment at the time..

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Love from Linate Airport – I know you will both remember this.. Mx Sent from my iPhone On 16 May 2018 at 17:44, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: On 16 May 2018, at 19:14, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote:

that is an all-time fave!

ah ah, I was there yesterday 2018-05-16 17:21 GMT+02:00 lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com >: Il giorno 16 mag 2018, alle ore 17:06, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > ha scritto:

For me it was McQueen ‘The Birds’ at Bagley’s Warehouse. There was just such incredible energy. It’s the one show that I’ve never forgotten.

exactly! some shows you’ll never forget, they stay with you, even if you’re not ‘there’ initially x

… even the fact that we all have these unforgettable fashion moments, only a show can do this!

On 16 May 2018 at 17:12, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: Exactly Lutz. Like, your show under the arches at the Bourse was quite a moment for me.


On 16 May 2018, at 16:29, michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > wrote:

2018-05-16 17:21 GMT+02:00 lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com >: thank you so much Angelo!

Yes! I also have fond memories of it although the collection had its flaws… I always have the image of Alex with those big earrings made with real roses in my head, one of my favourite things from that period, and looking at this image still makes me happy.

I love what you both say and I also think one can never imagine what a show is really like from images – you need all the feeling.. music, lighting atmosphere.. all are untranslatable. I’m on the way back from Milan now.. More later. Best love, M Sent from my iPhone

2018-05-16 18:56 GMT+02:00 michele rafferty < michele_milesr@yahoo.com > wrote: McQueen shows at the beginning of my working life – particularly the show with Ann Peebles’s “I Can’t Stand the Rain’’.. really something, especially now to look back on, something so nice about not knowing it’s an important moment at the time..

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Love from Linate Airport – I know you will both remember this.. Mx Sent from my iPhone On 16 May 2018 at 17:44, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: On 16 May 2018, at 19:14, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote:

that is an all-time fave!

ah ah, I was there yesterday 2018-05-16 17:21 GMT+02:00 lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com >: Il giorno 16 mag 2018, alle ore 17:06, lutz huelle < luzzz333@gmail.com > ha scritto:

For me it was McQueen ‘The Birds’ at Bagley’s Warehouse. There was just such incredible energy. It’s the one show that I’ve never forgotten.

exactly! some shows you’ll never forget, they stay with you, even if you’re not ‘there’ initially x

… even the fact that we all have these unforgettable fashion moments, only a show can do this!

On 16 May 2018 at 17:12, angelo flaccavento < angelo.flaccavento@gmail.com > wrote: Exactly Lutz. Like, your show under the arches at the Bourse was quite a moment for me.


SERGEANT

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PHOTOGRAPHY TAKANORI OKUWAKI

GROOMING TAKAO HAYASHI

STYLING KUSI KUBI

MODELS MAKITO UCHIDA & RIKI SHIRASAKA

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SPECIAL THANKS LIBAN ALI & LUDOVIC ENGRAND  

Shirt JW ANDERSON / Coat YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Pants JULIEN DAVID


SERGEANT

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PHOTOGRAPHY TAKANORI OKUWAKI

GROOMING TAKAO HAYASHI

STYLING KUSI KUBI

MODELS MAKITO UCHIDA & RIKI SHIRASAKA

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SPECIAL THANKS LIBAN ALI & LUDOVIC ENGRAND  

Shirt JW ANDERSON / Coat YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Pants JULIEN DAVID


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T-Shirt JULIA SEEMANN / Jacket VINTAGE / Pants YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Sneakers NIKE

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Shirt JW ANDERSON / Jumper RAF SIMONS


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T-Shirt JULIA SEEMANN / Jacket VINTAGE / Pants YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Sneakers NIKE

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Shirt JW ANDERSON / Jumper RAF SIMONS


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T-Shirt CARHARTT / Blazer DRIES VAN NOTEN / Pants JW ANDERSON / Sneakers COMMES DES GARÃ&#x2021;ON

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T-Shirt CARHARTT / Blazer DRIES VAN NOTEN / Pants JW ANDERSON / Sneakers COMMES DES GARÃ&#x2021;ON

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Shirt JIL SANDER / Jumper SUB-AGE / Pants YOHJI YAMAMOTO

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Blazer YOHJI YAMAMOTO


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Shirt JIL SANDER / Jumper SUB-AGE / Pants YOHJI YAMAMOTO

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Turtleneck JOSEPH / Blazer VINTAGE / Pants GMBH

Hoodie ALEXANDER MCQUEEN / Coat TILMAN / Pants VINTAGE


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Turtleneck JOSEPH / Blazer VINTAGE / Pants GMBH

Hoodie ALEXANDER MCQUEEN / Coat TILMAN / Pants VINTAGE


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PHOTOGRAPHY NICK THOMPSON

HAIR EMIL ZED @ STELLA CREATIVE ARTISTS USING LEONOR GREYL

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT AARON MINTO

STYLING ATIP W

MAKE-UP MARY-JANE GOTIDOC USING CLINIQUE MAKEUP AND SKIN CARE

STYLING ASSISTANT SOPHIE CASHA

D.O.P. JACK REYNOLDS

CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING

MODELS RAPHAEL @ IMG LONDON & LIIS @ THE SQUAD MANAGEMENT

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PHOTOGRAPHY NICK THOMPSON

HAIR EMIL ZED @ STELLA CREATIVE ARTISTS USING LEONOR GREYL

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT AARON MINTO

STYLING ATIP W

MAKE-UP MARY-JANE GOTIDOC USING CLINIQUE MAKEUP AND SKIN CARE

STYLING ASSISTANT SOPHIE CASHA

D.O.P. JACK REYNOLDS

CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING

MODELS RAPHAEL @ IMG LONDON & LIIS @ THE SQUAD MANAGEMENT

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WORDS JIAN DELEON PHOTOGRAPHY MICAIAH CARTER STYLING COREY STOKES HAIR NIGELLA MILLER MAKE-UP ALANA WRIGHT USING MAC COSMETICS PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT TAYLOR DORRELL MODELS EBONEE DAVIS @ THE LIONS, TOPE ADESINA @ MAJOR MODELS, BACHIR KARAMOKO & MOUHAMED MBENGUE @ RED NYC

Five years after founding Pyer Moss, designer Kerby Jean-Raymond is finally getting started. Overcoming a lengthy legal battle and a personal struggle with depression — both things that have informed his clothes — the label founder’s penchant for advocacy and attitude is informing the brand’s best iteration yet.


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WORDS JIAN DELEON PHOTOGRAPHY MICAIAH CARTER STYLING COREY STOKES HAIR NIGELLA MILLER MAKE-UP ALANA WRIGHT USING MAC COSMETICS PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT TAYLOR DORRELL MODELS EBONEE DAVIS @ THE LIONS, TOPE ADESINA @ MAJOR MODELS, BACHIR KARAMOKO & MOUHAMED MBENGUE @ RED NYC

Five years after founding Pyer Moss, designer Kerby Jean-Raymond is finally getting started. Overcoming a lengthy legal battle and a personal struggle with depression — both things that have informed his clothes — the label founder’s penchant for advocacy and attitude is informing the brand’s best iteration yet.


“MY PURPOSE IN CREATING THESE COLLECTIONS RIGHT NOW IS TO ESSENTIALLY WRITE US BACK INTO THE STORY... WHAT DOES MUNDANE BLACK LIFE LOOK LIKE? THAT IS THE CRUX OF THIS COLLECTION, WE WANT TO SHOW BLACK FAMILIES AND SHIT LIKE THAT.”

In 1936, New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green published The Negro Motorist Green Book. During the time of segregation and Jim Crow laws discriminating against people of color, the guide became an essential tool for helping black travelers navigate their way around the United States safely. It was full of black-friendly lodgings and even warnings about areas that were particularly dangerous for African-Americans.

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When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, much of the information in the tome became obsolete, but it remains an important remnant of a particularly grim era in American race relations — a time that’s become all the more relevant given today’s sociopolitical climate. And that’s why it serves as one of the inspirations for Kerby Jean-Raymond’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection for Pyer Moss. The other inspiration is the work of artist Derrick Adams, whose oeuvre largely defines this season’s color palette. There’s also a selection of portraits depicting vignettes of black family life, harkening back to Pyer Moss’ Fall/Winter 2018 collection, titled “American Also.” That collection took Western silhouettes and the American flag to tell a story about black cowboys, the original people who helped tame the Wild West. “My purpose in creating these collections right now is to essentially write us back into the story,” says Jean-Raymond. His fall collection is the first step toward using clothing to unearth hidden stories about black culture’s overlooked effect on Americana. For SS19, the focus shifts from pioneers to black love and idyllic family experiences. “What does mundane black life look like? That is the crux of this collection, we want to show black families and shit like that.” The family theme is one that certainly hits home with the designer. The brand is named after Jean-Raymond’s mother, who changed her last name from “Moss” to “Pierre” when she moved to the US from Haiti. She passed away when Jean-Raymond was seven but helped inspire a love of materials in him. And although the designer’s relationship with his father Jean-Claude hasn’t always been on the best of terms, they’ve recently begun working on strengthening their bond. This inspired Pyer Moss’ Spring/ Summer 2017 collection, “Stories of My Father,” presented on the rooftop of The New Museum in New York City. Jean-Claude sat in the front row.

Kerby Jean-Raymond’s path to success, like most creatives, has been a path more tortuous than straightforward. He started designing at 14 years old, landing an apprenticeship with womenswear designer Kay Unger during his sophomore year of high school. Unger had him working on her eponymous line of eveningwear, which led to gigs at Marchesa — Georgina Chapman’s extravagant gown label that has now fallen out of favor after being caught up in the scandals surrounding Chapman’s ex-husband Harvey Weinstein — and more commercial brands such as Theory. Pyer Moss was founded in 2013, and first popped up on everyone’s radar when Jean-Raymond gave stylist Mel Ottenberg a camouflage-patterned leather biker jacket that ended up on the back of Rihanna. Pyer Moss arose during a particularly exciting time in New York menswear. Jean-Raymond’s contemporaries Patrik Ervell, Tim Coppens, and Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne were championing their own unique mix of cozy sportswear and classic, tailored garments. It was the beginning of athleisure and streetwear dominating the fashion industry in a palpable way. There was also a new crop of black designers including Grace Wales Bonner, Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air, and Virgil Abloh on the come-up, and a predominantly white fashion media industry that often pitted them against each other. At least, that’s how Jean-Raymond saw it. “In the beginning, I was very adamant about hiding who I was and staying away from that racial conversation,” he says. “I was scared that I was going to be pigeonholed, but then they pigeonholed me anyway.” Jean-Raymond made more waves in 2014 when he screenprinted one of Pyer Moss’ oversized viscose T-shirts with the names of black men killed by police. It was never meant to be for sale, but he eventually produced a run of 1,000 “They Have Names” shirts, collaborating with the ACLU to give all the proceeds from sales to the organization. By 2015, Jean-Raymond decided that if he was going to be seen as a “black designer,” he would take the platform of Pyer Moss and really have it reflect the modern black experience.


“MY PURPOSE IN CREATING THESE COLLECTIONS RIGHT NOW IS TO ESSENTIALLY WRITE US BACK INTO THE STORY... WHAT DOES MUNDANE BLACK LIFE LOOK LIKE? THAT IS THE CRUX OF THIS COLLECTION, WE WANT TO SHOW BLACK FAMILIES AND SHIT LIKE THAT.”

In 1936, New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green published The Negro Motorist Green Book. During the time of segregation and Jim Crow laws discriminating against people of color, the guide became an essential tool for helping black travelers navigate their way around the United States safely. It was full of black-friendly lodgings and even warnings about areas that were particularly dangerous for African-Americans.

116

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When the Civil Rights Act passed in 1964, much of the information in the tome became obsolete, but it remains an important remnant of a particularly grim era in American race relations — a time that’s become all the more relevant given today’s sociopolitical climate. And that’s why it serves as one of the inspirations for Kerby Jean-Raymond’s Spring/Summer 2019 collection for Pyer Moss. The other inspiration is the work of artist Derrick Adams, whose oeuvre largely defines this season’s color palette. There’s also a selection of portraits depicting vignettes of black family life, harkening back to Pyer Moss’ Fall/Winter 2018 collection, titled “American Also.” That collection took Western silhouettes and the American flag to tell a story about black cowboys, the original people who helped tame the Wild West. “My purpose in creating these collections right now is to essentially write us back into the story,” says Jean-Raymond. His fall collection is the first step toward using clothing to unearth hidden stories about black culture’s overlooked effect on Americana. For SS19, the focus shifts from pioneers to black love and idyllic family experiences. “What does mundane black life look like? That is the crux of this collection, we want to show black families and shit like that.” The family theme is one that certainly hits home with the designer. The brand is named after Jean-Raymond’s mother, who changed her last name from “Moss” to “Pierre” when she moved to the US from Haiti. She passed away when Jean-Raymond was seven but helped inspire a love of materials in him. And although the designer’s relationship with his father Jean-Claude hasn’t always been on the best of terms, they’ve recently begun working on strengthening their bond. This inspired Pyer Moss’ Spring/ Summer 2017 collection, “Stories of My Father,” presented on the rooftop of The New Museum in New York City. Jean-Claude sat in the front row.

Kerby Jean-Raymond’s path to success, like most creatives, has been a path more tortuous than straightforward. He started designing at 14 years old, landing an apprenticeship with womenswear designer Kay Unger during his sophomore year of high school. Unger had him working on her eponymous line of eveningwear, which led to gigs at Marchesa — Georgina Chapman’s extravagant gown label that has now fallen out of favor after being caught up in the scandals surrounding Chapman’s ex-husband Harvey Weinstein — and more commercial brands such as Theory. Pyer Moss was founded in 2013, and first popped up on everyone’s radar when Jean-Raymond gave stylist Mel Ottenberg a camouflage-patterned leather biker jacket that ended up on the back of Rihanna. Pyer Moss arose during a particularly exciting time in New York menswear. Jean-Raymond’s contemporaries Patrik Ervell, Tim Coppens, and Public School designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne were championing their own unique mix of cozy sportswear and classic, tailored garments. It was the beginning of athleisure and streetwear dominating the fashion industry in a palpable way. There was also a new crop of black designers including Grace Wales Bonner, Shayne Oliver of Hood By Air, and Virgil Abloh on the come-up, and a predominantly white fashion media industry that often pitted them against each other. At least, that’s how Jean-Raymond saw it. “In the beginning, I was very adamant about hiding who I was and staying away from that racial conversation,” he says. “I was scared that I was going to be pigeonholed, but then they pigeonholed me anyway.” Jean-Raymond made more waves in 2014 when he screenprinted one of Pyer Moss’ oversized viscose T-shirts with the names of black men killed by police. It was never meant to be for sale, but he eventually produced a run of 1,000 “They Have Names” shirts, collaborating with the ACLU to give all the proceeds from sales to the organization. By 2015, Jean-Raymond decided that if he was going to be seen as a “black designer,” he would take the platform of Pyer Moss and really have it reflect the modern black experience.


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His Spring/Summer 2016 show was based around the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and originally, he didn’t even want to show any clothes. Rather, he and some friends had worked on a 12-minute short film depicting the current state of race relations in the United States. It featured interviews with loved ones and family members of black people who were victims of police aggression, including Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant; Nicole Paultre Bell, wife of Sean Bell; and Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner. Interspersed in the film were cellphone videos and footage from police body cameras depicting different instances of police brutality. Despite his initial hesitation, the collection made its way down the runway. Titled “Ota, Meet Saartjie,” the name refers to Ota Benga, a Congolese man who was put on display in the Bronx Zoo in 1906, and Saartjie Baartman, who was similarly displayed in a cage in 1800s Europe. Reaction was divided, with many praising the bold statement and others expressing derision. Jean-Raymond even received death threats. But it staked his claim as a designer willing to put his business on the line for his beliefs, and that came with a very real cost. Some of his stockists dropped the label in the wake of the show, and Jean-Raymond found himself in the midst of two battles: a legal battle between him and his business partners for ownership of the company, and an emotional battle with depression. Both struggles informed his collections that year. Fall/Winter 2016’s “Double Bind” collection was inspired by a psychiatric term about the duality of life and was praised for calling attention to mental health issues, a problem black men often don’t address. It was also styled by Erykah Badu, an advocate for mental health awareness. Indeed, advocacy and fostering a sense of community remain important to the brand’s DNA. Jean-Raymond’s #BlackLivesMatter show put the designer on the radar of DeRay Mckesson, one of the movement’s most visible leaders. Mckesson formed a relationship with Jean-Raymond and sat front row at Pyer Moss’ Spring/Summer 2017 show, “Bernie vs. Bernie,” which was inspired by the theme of greed and capitalism, juxtaposing politician Bernie Sanders and white-collar criminal Bernie Madoff, whom Jean-Raymond sees as the two extremes of capitalism. Ironically, it was Jean-Raymond’s cheapest show to date, as his prior fashion show was expensive and his ongoing legal battle with his former partners was taking its toll on his finances.

“I had no money, I was being sued — all my accounts were in the negative,” he admits. “I probably had, like, debt of 85 Gs at that point.” He took a season off to figure out his legal and financial situation, forgoing a fashion show last September in favor of creating a piece for the “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Jean-Raymond’s contribution was the Pierre Cardin-inspired conceptual Aquos suit, a dystopian garment made with climate change in mind. Then came a windfall: a two-year contract with Reebok. That money helped him finalize the buyout of his brand, and gave Jean-Raymond the opportunity for a fresh start. Now, Jean-Raymond has his company back and a recurring sportswear line that includes several sneaker collaborations. He calls this iteration of the label “Pyer Moss 2.0,” and he’s treating it as a clean slate. As far as Jean-Raymond is concerned, Pyer Moss’ new beginning started with his Fall/Winter 2018 collection, and he’s focusing on establishing the new design codes of the label and growing from there. He dubbed his first Reebok capsule simply “Collection 1,” and debuted “Collection 2” at New York Fashion Week in September. “The biggest thing that I’ve learned from Collection 1 to Collection 2 was learning how to edit and keep a silhouette going,” he says. “The mark of a really strong brand is having a strong silhouette that is easily identifiable. That’s what Rick Owens has. If you saw somebody wearing some Zara shit, but the sleeves were cut off and the silhouette was long, you would be like, ‘Oh, you stole that from Rick,’ because he’s established that silhouette.”

“THE MARK OF A REALLY STRONG BRAND IS HAVING A STRONG SILHOUETTE THAT IS EASILY IDENTIFIABLE." 120

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His Spring/Summer 2016 show was based around the #BlackLivesMatter movement, and originally, he didn’t even want to show any clothes. Rather, he and some friends had worked on a 12-minute short film depicting the current state of race relations in the United States. It featured interviews with loved ones and family members of black people who were victims of police aggression, including Wanda Johnson, mother of Oscar Grant; Nicole Paultre Bell, wife of Sean Bell; and Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner. Interspersed in the film were cellphone videos and footage from police body cameras depicting different instances of police brutality. Despite his initial hesitation, the collection made its way down the runway. Titled “Ota, Meet Saartjie,” the name refers to Ota Benga, a Congolese man who was put on display in the Bronx Zoo in 1906, and Saartjie Baartman, who was similarly displayed in a cage in 1800s Europe. Reaction was divided, with many praising the bold statement and others expressing derision. Jean-Raymond even received death threats. But it staked his claim as a designer willing to put his business on the line for his beliefs, and that came with a very real cost. Some of his stockists dropped the label in the wake of the show, and Jean-Raymond found himself in the midst of two battles: a legal battle between him and his business partners for ownership of the company, and an emotional battle with depression. Both struggles informed his collections that year. Fall/Winter 2016’s “Double Bind” collection was inspired by a psychiatric term about the duality of life and was praised for calling attention to mental health issues, a problem black men often don’t address. It was also styled by Erykah Badu, an advocate for mental health awareness. Indeed, advocacy and fostering a sense of community remain important to the brand’s DNA. Jean-Raymond’s #BlackLivesMatter show put the designer on the radar of DeRay Mckesson, one of the movement’s most visible leaders. Mckesson formed a relationship with Jean-Raymond and sat front row at Pyer Moss’ Spring/Summer 2017 show, “Bernie vs. Bernie,” which was inspired by the theme of greed and capitalism, juxtaposing politician Bernie Sanders and white-collar criminal Bernie Madoff, whom Jean-Raymond sees as the two extremes of capitalism. Ironically, it was Jean-Raymond’s cheapest show to date, as his prior fashion show was expensive and his ongoing legal battle with his former partners was taking its toll on his finances.

“I had no money, I was being sued — all my accounts were in the negative,” he admits. “I probably had, like, debt of 85 Gs at that point.” He took a season off to figure out his legal and financial situation, forgoing a fashion show last September in favor of creating a piece for the “Items: Is Fashion Modern?” exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. Jean-Raymond’s contribution was the Pierre Cardin-inspired conceptual Aquos suit, a dystopian garment made with climate change in mind. Then came a windfall: a two-year contract with Reebok. That money helped him finalize the buyout of his brand, and gave Jean-Raymond the opportunity for a fresh start. Now, Jean-Raymond has his company back and a recurring sportswear line that includes several sneaker collaborations. He calls this iteration of the label “Pyer Moss 2.0,” and he’s treating it as a clean slate. As far as Jean-Raymond is concerned, Pyer Moss’ new beginning started with his Fall/Winter 2018 collection, and he’s focusing on establishing the new design codes of the label and growing from there. He dubbed his first Reebok capsule simply “Collection 1,” and debuted “Collection 2” at New York Fashion Week in September. “The biggest thing that I’ve learned from Collection 1 to Collection 2 was learning how to edit and keep a silhouette going,” he says. “The mark of a really strong brand is having a strong silhouette that is easily identifiable. That’s what Rick Owens has. If you saw somebody wearing some Zara shit, but the sleeves were cut off and the silhouette was long, you would be like, ‘Oh, you stole that from Rick,’ because he’s established that silhouette.”

“THE MARK OF A REALLY STRONG BRAND IS HAVING A STRONG SILHOUETTE THAT IS EASILY IDENTIFIABLE." 120

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The new Pyer Moss consists of key pieces like cropped trucker jackets made from contrast-colored leather, voluminous outerwear with a unisex appeal, loose-fitting high-waisted trousers, and relaxed suits with contrast stitching. It provides a good contrast to Jean-Raymond’s offerings for Reebok, which consist of soft gold tracksuits, slim sweats and track pants with enlarged Reebok logos, and of course, new sneakers.

If there was an overarching theme to Pyer Moss 2.0, it’s family and friends. His Reebok sneakers have the saying “You’re my friends” printed on the upper. Jean-Raymond has even tapped one of his friends, former YEEZY designer and current Versace footwear designer Salehe Bembury, to help out with Pyer Moss’ in-house sneaker offerings. He welcomes feedback on his clothes and really wants to hear from the people who wear them.

The first to come out was the Reebok DMX Fusion 1 “Experiment,” based on an archival design. Internet commenters were quick to draw comparisons between it and the YEEZY 500, both similarly chunky shoes with a tactical asymmetric appeal, accusations Jean-Raymond is quick to brush off. “When people online are like, ‘This looks like a Desert Rat ripoff,’ the only thing I can say is, ‘Fuck you,’” he says. “You didn’t bother to do your homework, so why do I have to sit here and do it for you?”

He’s also started setting the collection up at a showroom during Paris Fashion Week, which is opening up doors for the label internationally. It’s also where the most energy is for menswear right now, so it’s a way for him to insert himself in the conversation. Jean-Raymond is keenly aware that his fashion shows are a press exercise, and plans to keep showing at the September New York Fashion Week instead of the menswearoriented iteration a few months prior. If his end goal is coverage and visibility for his label, it makes the most sense for him to show integrated men’s and women’s collections at a time when most of the fashion media is paying attention.

Another thing Jean-Raymond has learned — and something that will form the backbone of his business moving forward — is the importance of knowing who your brand’s audience is and speaking directly to them. When he first started the label, landing wholesale accounts at retailers such as Barneys, MR PORTER, and SSENSE was integral to building a strong fashion business. But after his experience of losing multiple accounts, he now wants to focus on cultivating a sense of community and culture around the brand in the hope of attracting repeat customers organically. It’s sage advice that all independent labels can learn from. 122

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“All you really need is about 1,000 customers that repeatedly buy your shit,” he says. “You’re talking about millions of people in this world. You can get 1,000. You can get 2,000. You can get 10,000. If you look at it like that, there’s room for everybody.”

“I HAVE VERY UNCONVENTIONAL IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS BECAUSE I TEND TO NOT LISTEN TO SMART ADVICE.”

“I have very unconventional ideas about how to run a business because I tend to not listen to smart advice,” he says. “But I think Pyer Moss’ story is unconventional, and our success is really unconventional. So it’s very important that I make my own outlandish decisions — because I have to live with them.”


The new Pyer Moss consists of key pieces like cropped trucker jackets made from contrast-colored leather, voluminous outerwear with a unisex appeal, loose-fitting high-waisted trousers, and relaxed suits with contrast stitching. It provides a good contrast to Jean-Raymond’s offerings for Reebok, which consist of soft gold tracksuits, slim sweats and track pants with enlarged Reebok logos, and of course, new sneakers.

If there was an overarching theme to Pyer Moss 2.0, it’s family and friends. His Reebok sneakers have the saying “You’re my friends” printed on the upper. Jean-Raymond has even tapped one of his friends, former YEEZY designer and current Versace footwear designer Salehe Bembury, to help out with Pyer Moss’ in-house sneaker offerings. He welcomes feedback on his clothes and really wants to hear from the people who wear them.

The first to come out was the Reebok DMX Fusion 1 “Experiment,” based on an archival design. Internet commenters were quick to draw comparisons between it and the YEEZY 500, both similarly chunky shoes with a tactical asymmetric appeal, accusations Jean-Raymond is quick to brush off. “When people online are like, ‘This looks like a Desert Rat ripoff,’ the only thing I can say is, ‘Fuck you,’” he says. “You didn’t bother to do your homework, so why do I have to sit here and do it for you?”

He’s also started setting the collection up at a showroom during Paris Fashion Week, which is opening up doors for the label internationally. It’s also where the most energy is for menswear right now, so it’s a way for him to insert himself in the conversation. Jean-Raymond is keenly aware that his fashion shows are a press exercise, and plans to keep showing at the September New York Fashion Week instead of the menswearoriented iteration a few months prior. If his end goal is coverage and visibility for his label, it makes the most sense for him to show integrated men’s and women’s collections at a time when most of the fashion media is paying attention.

Another thing Jean-Raymond has learned — and something that will form the backbone of his business moving forward — is the importance of knowing who your brand’s audience is and speaking directly to them. When he first started the label, landing wholesale accounts at retailers such as Barneys, MR PORTER, and SSENSE was integral to building a strong fashion business. But after his experience of losing multiple accounts, he now wants to focus on cultivating a sense of community and culture around the brand in the hope of attracting repeat customers organically. It’s sage advice that all independent labels can learn from. 122

123

“All you really need is about 1,000 customers that repeatedly buy your shit,” he says. “You’re talking about millions of people in this world. You can get 1,000. You can get 2,000. You can get 10,000. If you look at it like that, there’s room for everybody.”

“I HAVE VERY UNCONVENTIONAL IDEAS ABOUT HOW TO RUN A BUSINESS BECAUSE I TEND TO NOT LISTEN TO SMART ADVICE.”

“I have very unconventional ideas about how to run a business because I tend to not listen to smart advice,” he says. “But I think Pyer Moss’ story is unconventional, and our success is really unconventional. So it’s very important that I make my own outlandish decisions — because I have to live with them.”


HAIR YUHI KIM @ BRIDGE ARTISTS USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE MAKE-UP TORU SAKANISHI @ JOE MANAGEMENT USING MAC COSMETICS

PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS SCHOONOVER STYLING JENNY HAAPALA

STYLING ASSISTANTS MITCHELL BURGES II & OLIVIA JAKUBIK

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS AUTUMN SCHOONOVER & IAN BUCHANAN

POWER

Shirt, Sweater & Puffer MARCO DE VINCENZO / Puffer IENKI IENKI / Pants K-WAY / Pants & Shoes FILLING PIECES / Belt Bag GCDS 124 125

All CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC

MODEL AWENG CHUOL @ STATE MANAGEMENT


HAIR YUHI KIM @ BRIDGE ARTISTS USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE MAKE-UP TORU SAKANISHI @ JOE MANAGEMENT USING MAC COSMETICS

PHOTOGRAPHY CHRIS SCHOONOVER STYLING JENNY HAAPALA

STYLING ASSISTANTS MITCHELL BURGES II & OLIVIA JAKUBIK

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS AUTUMN SCHOONOVER & IAN BUCHANAN

POWER

Shirt, Sweater & Puffer MARCO DE VINCENZO / Puffer IENKI IENKI / Pants K-WAY / Pants & Shoes FILLING PIECES / Belt Bag GCDS 124 125

All CALVIN KLEIN 205W39NYC

MODEL AWENG CHUOL @ STATE MANAGEMENT


Cape MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Pants DRIES VAN NOTEN / Sandals MARNI / Socks & Hat GCDS

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Coat HUNTER


Cape MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Pants DRIES VAN NOTEN / Sandals MARNI / Socks & Hat GCDS

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Coat HUNTER


Coat MAISON MARGIELA / Coat MARNI / Coat IENKI IENKI / Sweater KAPPA / Pants & Socks GCDS / Sneakers DUSTY / Scarf HOOD DANDY BY KATIUSCIA

Shirt, Turtleneck, Blazer & Pants ACNE STUDIOS / Coat CREATURES OF COMFORT / Shoes MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Scarf 3.1 PHILLIP LIM

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Coat MAISON MARGIELA / Coat MARNI / Coat IENKI IENKI / Sweater KAPPA / Pants & Socks GCDS / Sneakers DUSTY / Scarf HOOD DANDY BY KATIUSCIA

Shirt, Turtleneck, Blazer & Pants ACNE STUDIOS / Coat CREATURES OF COMFORT / Shoes MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Scarf 3.1 PHILLIP LIM

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Turtleneck & Blazer MAISON MARGIELA / Coat TIBI / Puffer MAJE / Pants HERON PRESTON

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Sweater, Coat & Pants SACAI


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Turtleneck & Blazer MAISON MARGIELA / Coat TIBI / Puffer MAJE / Pants HERON PRESTON

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Sweater, Coat & Pants SACAI


Puffer IENKI IENKI / Cape & Leggings OFF-WHITE

Sweater FENDI / Pants KATIUSCIA / Shoes FENDI / Scarf REEBOK BY PYER MOSS

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Puffer IENKI IENKI / Cape & Leggings OFF-WHITE

Sweater FENDI / Pants KATIUSCIA / Shoes FENDI / Scarf REEBOK BY PYER MOSS

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INSIDE THE

EXTRAORDINARY

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135

WORDS EUGENE RABKIN PHOTOGRAPHY JULIEN BOUDET

UNIVERSE OF MICHÈLE LAMY

She’s an enigmatic polymath whose charisma attracts a legion of fans and celebrity friends, a one-of-a-kind cultural figure with an inner circle that ranges from A$AP Rocky to Gareth Pugh. Eugene Rabkin peels back the layers to find out what makes Michèle Lamy tick.


INSIDE THE

EXTRAORDINARY

134

135

WORDS EUGENE RABKIN PHOTOGRAPHY JULIEN BOUDET

UNIVERSE OF MICHÈLE LAMY

She’s an enigmatic polymath whose charisma attracts a legion of fans and celebrity friends, a one-of-a-kind cultural figure with an inner circle that ranges from A$AP Rocky to Gareth Pugh. Eugene Rabkin peels back the layers to find out what makes Michèle Lamy tick.


At the same time, Lamy ran Les Deux Cafes, a sprawling, vine-covered restaurant that was frequented by the Hollywood elite. In the evenings, Lamy would sing to them in a raspy voice. In the mid ’90s, Owens gradually started selling clothes under his own name. Naturally, Lamy was the first woman he dressed. Les Deux Cafes patrons took notice, commenting on her clothes, and the name of Rick Owens spread. He began dressing celebrities such as Courtney Love and struck up an exclusive deal with Maxfield, the best designer store in Los Angeles. In 2002 he did his first show in New York under the auspices of Vogue’s Anna Wintour. Shortly thereafter, he found an Italian investor and received an invitation to design for French fur house Revillon, married Lamy, and they moved to Paris. The rest, as they say, is history.

People who don’t know Michèle Lamy usually refer to her as “witchy.” Sure, with her henna-covered hands and bejeweled fingers, piercingly brilliant eyes set amid the lines on her dark face, there is something witchy in her appearance. But more bewitching is her enigmatic personality. Most people walk, yet Lamy seems to glide. Her voice is raspy and her French accent is overwhelming, despite having lived in Los Angeles from 1979 to 2003. She’s a frustrating interviewee, her train of thought often derailing and disappearing off on tangents into storytelling mode. Or she speaks in grand pronouncements: “Rappers are the poets of today.” Or she looks at you like you’ve fallen from the moon when she thinks you’re asking something stupidly obvious. In response to a question about whether she follows politics, she replies with a subject-ending “Who doesn’t?” As in, “How can you not?” At the same time, Lamy is wonderfully friendly and open-minded. Kids come up to her shaking with anxious veneration, only to be embraced in an instant. And she has a wicked sense of humor. If you’ve ever met Lamy, been mesmerized by her, and yet don’t know quite what to make of her, don’t worry; it’s a normal reaction. Perhaps you know she’s the wife of designer Rick Owens, although “wife” is a weird term when describing their symbiotic relationship. Lamy is a creative tour de force in her own right. She designs the furniture that bears the Owens’ name, ranging from matte black plywood daybeds, brutalist marble chairs, and steel frame benches with cushions covered in textured camel hair. She also designs jewelry with Loree Rodkin, makes music with her band LAVASCAR, and has appeared in FKA twigs and Black Asteroid music videos. Lamy was born into a family with a background in the industry. Her grandfather made accessories for one of France’s most famous couturiers, Paul Poiret. Lamy studied law, and after law school she practiced for five years before moving to Los Angeles. There, she started her own line of clothes and accessories, for which she also had a shop and a small factory. One day she hired a young man by the name of Rick Owens to be its patternmaker. Lamy quickly realized that in Owens she had a real talent on her hands. His ambition was to start his own line, and so Lamy’s clothes-making enterprise slowly morphed into that of Owens.

For two years, Lamy hosted an art project called Bargenale, turning a literal barge into an installation that melded music, food, and art during the Venice Biennale. She made a habit of effortlessly pulling people into her orbit, such as rapper A$AP Rocky and the Ghetto Gastro crew — both were participants at Bargenale, with the latter providing BBQ for attendees. Lamy’s cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural appeal is why she’s the definition of a contemporary cultural polymath — not exactly an “artist” in the traditional sense, but a mind that is creatively omnivorous. You can’t quite place her, and so all of Lamy’s work has been gathered into something she’s called Lamyland, a creative universe that is uniquely her own. 136

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At the same time, Lamy ran Les Deux Cafes, a sprawling, vine-covered restaurant that was frequented by the Hollywood elite. In the evenings, Lamy would sing to them in a raspy voice. In the mid ’90s, Owens gradually started selling clothes under his own name. Naturally, Lamy was the first woman he dressed. Les Deux Cafes patrons took notice, commenting on her clothes, and the name of Rick Owens spread. He began dressing celebrities such as Courtney Love and struck up an exclusive deal with Maxfield, the best designer store in Los Angeles. In 2002 he did his first show in New York under the auspices of Vogue’s Anna Wintour. Shortly thereafter, he found an Italian investor and received an invitation to design for French fur house Revillon, married Lamy, and they moved to Paris. The rest, as they say, is history.

People who don’t know Michèle Lamy usually refer to her as “witchy.” Sure, with her henna-covered hands and bejeweled fingers, piercingly brilliant eyes set amid the lines on her dark face, there is something witchy in her appearance. But more bewitching is her enigmatic personality. Most people walk, yet Lamy seems to glide. Her voice is raspy and her French accent is overwhelming, despite having lived in Los Angeles from 1979 to 2003. She’s a frustrating interviewee, her train of thought often derailing and disappearing off on tangents into storytelling mode. Or she speaks in grand pronouncements: “Rappers are the poets of today.” Or she looks at you like you’ve fallen from the moon when she thinks you’re asking something stupidly obvious. In response to a question about whether she follows politics, she replies with a subject-ending “Who doesn’t?” As in, “How can you not?” At the same time, Lamy is wonderfully friendly and open-minded. Kids come up to her shaking with anxious veneration, only to be embraced in an instant. And she has a wicked sense of humor. If you’ve ever met Lamy, been mesmerized by her, and yet don’t know quite what to make of her, don’t worry; it’s a normal reaction. Perhaps you know she’s the wife of designer Rick Owens, although “wife” is a weird term when describing their symbiotic relationship. Lamy is a creative tour de force in her own right. She designs the furniture that bears the Owens’ name, ranging from matte black plywood daybeds, brutalist marble chairs, and steel frame benches with cushions covered in textured camel hair. She also designs jewelry with Loree Rodkin, makes music with her band LAVASCAR, and has appeared in FKA twigs and Black Asteroid music videos. Lamy was born into a family with a background in the industry. Her grandfather made accessories for one of France’s most famous couturiers, Paul Poiret. Lamy studied law, and after law school she practiced for five years before moving to Los Angeles. There, she started her own line of clothes and accessories, for which she also had a shop and a small factory. One day she hired a young man by the name of Rick Owens to be its patternmaker. Lamy quickly realized that in Owens she had a real talent on her hands. His ambition was to start his own line, and so Lamy’s clothes-making enterprise slowly morphed into that of Owens.

For two years, Lamy hosted an art project called Bargenale, turning a literal barge into an installation that melded music, food, and art during the Venice Biennale. She made a habit of effortlessly pulling people into her orbit, such as rapper A$AP Rocky and the Ghetto Gastro crew — both were participants at Bargenale, with the latter providing BBQ for attendees. Lamy’s cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural appeal is why she’s the definition of a contemporary cultural polymath — not exactly an “artist” in the traditional sense, but a mind that is creatively omnivorous. You can’t quite place her, and so all of Lamy’s work has been gathered into something she’s called Lamyland, a creative universe that is uniquely her own. 136

137


If you were born in one place, lived for a long time in another, and do not fit neatly into the conventions of society, you have the option to create a world of your own. You choose to define yourself not by your nationality, race, or religion, but by a set of cultural and aesthetic values. That’s where art in its many forms — be it music, poetry, or fashion — comes in. You find like-minded people regardless of color, sexual orientation, or place of birth. You create your own tribe. And that’s how you get Lamyland. I meet Lamy in Paris before the Rick Owens men’s show in June. It’s a hot and brilliantly sunny day, perfect for the show, which is taking place in the courtyard of the art deco Palais de Tokyo. She’s wearing a sculpted Rick Owens dress and boots with elongated toes. On her head is a cap with an upturned visor and a GoPro camera. 138

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“I am recording my day for Visionaire,” Lamy informs me. “You will be famous.” We walk around the backstage area, trailed by Janet, who handles Lamy’s PR, and by Giovanni, her right hand on the furniture-making side. Lamy’s energy levels are enviable. She doesn’t seem to stop for a second, checking in on the makeup team, looking at the models, walking out to inspect the runway, and making remarks to Owens, who lovingly refers to her as “hun.” At one point, Scarlett Rouge — Lamy’s daughter from a previous marriage — shows up, and Lamy sets us up to take a walk on the runway as she records on the GoPro. The show’s rehearsal begins and Lamy points out the first model, commenting, “That’s the rapper Tommy Cash. He’s brilliant.” Lamy has her own seating section at each Rick Owens show, where her tribe is seated. She asks to rearrange some seats, causing a PR agent to break out in a nervous sweat. Show attendees are due to arrive within minutes. “But those are reserved for the American Vogue!” the agent says, exasperated. “I don’t care,” Lamy replies flatly.


If you were born in one place, lived for a long time in another, and do not fit neatly into the conventions of society, you have the option to create a world of your own. You choose to define yourself not by your nationality, race, or religion, but by a set of cultural and aesthetic values. That’s where art in its many forms — be it music, poetry, or fashion — comes in. You find like-minded people regardless of color, sexual orientation, or place of birth. You create your own tribe. And that’s how you get Lamyland. I meet Lamy in Paris before the Rick Owens men’s show in June. It’s a hot and brilliantly sunny day, perfect for the show, which is taking place in the courtyard of the art deco Palais de Tokyo. She’s wearing a sculpted Rick Owens dress and boots with elongated toes. On her head is a cap with an upturned visor and a GoPro camera. 138

139

“I am recording my day for Visionaire,” Lamy informs me. “You will be famous.” We walk around the backstage area, trailed by Janet, who handles Lamy’s PR, and by Giovanni, her right hand on the furniture-making side. Lamy’s energy levels are enviable. She doesn’t seem to stop for a second, checking in on the makeup team, looking at the models, walking out to inspect the runway, and making remarks to Owens, who lovingly refers to her as “hun.” At one point, Scarlett Rouge — Lamy’s daughter from a previous marriage — shows up, and Lamy sets us up to take a walk on the runway as she records on the GoPro. The show’s rehearsal begins and Lamy points out the first model, commenting, “That’s the rapper Tommy Cash. He’s brilliant.” Lamy has her own seating section at each Rick Owens show, where her tribe is seated. She asks to rearrange some seats, causing a PR agent to break out in a nervous sweat. Show attendees are due to arrive within minutes. “But those are reserved for the American Vogue!” the agent says, exasperated. “I don’t care,” Lamy replies flatly.


After a little back and forth, it’s all chalked up to a misunderstanding, and the PR agent, who for a minute looked like he’d swallowed an apple whole, heaves a sigh of relief.

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The guests arrive, pay their respects, and start taking pictures. A$AP Rocky shows up clad in a denim suit with an all-over print advertising his latest album, TESTING. It’s a bit of guerilla marketing to advertise his Paris Fashion Week pop-up that’s selling the same merch. On his feet are an unreleased pair of chunky black Under Armour sneakers of his own design, which have been likened to the Osiris D3, a similarly bulky skate shoe that had its heyday at the turn of the century. Lamy and Rocky hug and chat for a minute. Ghetto Gastro co-founder Jon Gray turns up as well, wearing a black Rick Owens uniform of drop-crotch shorts, a tank, and DRKSHDW sneakers that resemble Converse Chuck Taylors on a steady diet of steroids. Within about half an hour, everyone has settled and the show begins.

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“I DON’T CARE.”

The last thing you would expect Lamy to be is a proficient boxer. She’s been an avid practitioner since her days in Los Angeles. Although Lamy prefers contactless boxing because she hates violence. This contradiction is typical Lamy, but to her there’s no contradiction at all. What she loves about boxing is being acutely present in the moment, with all of her senses heightened, the world taking on a sense of immediacy, of here-and-nowness. “It’s like dancing,” she says. “There is the ring and the music.” Lamy trains in different parts of the world. One of her favorite places is the OVERTHROW gym on Bleecker Street in New York. She once roped me, a decidedly non-boxing type, into a photo shoot there. Among the motley crew of characters from the gym, there was also Lester Walker from Ghetto Gastro. I left after the photographer urged all the men to take off their shirts. Walker stayed.


After a little back and forth, it’s all chalked up to a misunderstanding, and the PR agent, who for a minute looked like he’d swallowed an apple whole, heaves a sigh of relief.

140

The guests arrive, pay their respects, and start taking pictures. A$AP Rocky shows up clad in a denim suit with an all-over print advertising his latest album, TESTING. It’s a bit of guerilla marketing to advertise his Paris Fashion Week pop-up that’s selling the same merch. On his feet are an unreleased pair of chunky black Under Armour sneakers of his own design, which have been likened to the Osiris D3, a similarly bulky skate shoe that had its heyday at the turn of the century. Lamy and Rocky hug and chat for a minute. Ghetto Gastro co-founder Jon Gray turns up as well, wearing a black Rick Owens uniform of drop-crotch shorts, a tank, and DRKSHDW sneakers that resemble Converse Chuck Taylors on a steady diet of steroids. Within about half an hour, everyone has settled and the show begins.

141

“I DON’T CARE.”

The last thing you would expect Lamy to be is a proficient boxer. She’s been an avid practitioner since her days in Los Angeles. Although Lamy prefers contactless boxing because she hates violence. This contradiction is typical Lamy, but to her there’s no contradiction at all. What she loves about boxing is being acutely present in the moment, with all of her senses heightened, the world taking on a sense of immediacy, of here-and-nowness. “It’s like dancing,” she says. “There is the ring and the music.” Lamy trains in different parts of the world. One of her favorite places is the OVERTHROW gym on Bleecker Street in New York. She once roped me, a decidedly non-boxing type, into a photo shoot there. Among the motley crew of characters from the gym, there was also Lester Walker from Ghetto Gastro. I left after the photographer urged all the men to take off their shirts. Walker stayed.


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Earlier this year, Lamy got to manifest her love for boxing in an entirely unconventional way, when Selfridges invited her to set up a temporary space that reflects her universe: Lamyland. Lamy chose boxing as the theme for Lamyland, installing a boxing ring inside the store and getting designers from Gareth Pugh to Supreme to create exclusive boxing products. The Selfridges idea was to make a themed pop-up shop, but Lamy wound up recreating a fully functioning boxing gym, complete with classes one could take on the spot. “What are you fighting for?” was the installation’s slogan. When I asked Lamy what she’s fighting for, she says, without the slightest hint of bombast, “To save the world — no big deal.” The brands involved in Lamyland product collaborations ranged from Everlast to Versace. Grit and glamor were smashed together into some unclassifiable mix, and that’s exactly the type of stuff Lamy likes. “I think all these categories of classification are wrong and not contemporary anymore,” she proffers, referring to the traditional hierarchies that separate, say, art from food, or opera from hip-hop.

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Our surroundings seem to underscore the point. After the Rick Owens show, we sit in the lush garden of a fancy Japanese restaurant in a posh hotel in the richest part of Paris. Imagine four goths surrounded by a bunch of suits and Hermès bags and you get the picture. It feels strange to me, but Lamy seems right at home. “I like this restaurant because many gangsters like to eat here,” she comments. Then, taking note of the uncharacteristic number of fuddy-duddy suits around us, she adds: “Maybe not today.” It’s a rare occurrence to see someone create their own universe, but Owens and Lamy have done just that. Their style is unmistakable — a mix of brute rawness and elegance, nomadism and goth, a kind of creative destruction that is the envy of the fashion industry and beyond. The two complement each other, despite leading lives that are often quite separate due to the demands of their schedules. Just three days after the men’s show, Lamy was already bound for London to record a new album with LAVASCAR. She would then be going back to France to check on a big furniture delivery for a private client and take meetings with an art fair seeking to recreate Lamyland in a different incarnation from the Selfridges pop-up. And from there, who knows? One thing’s certain, though: it will be unmistakably Michèle Lamy.

“IT’S LIKE DANCING... THERE IS THE RING AND THE MUSIC.”

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Earlier this year, Lamy got to manifest her love for boxing in an entirely unconventional way, when Selfridges invited her to set up a temporary space that reflects her universe: Lamyland. Lamy chose boxing as the theme for Lamyland, installing a boxing ring inside the store and getting designers from Gareth Pugh to Supreme to create exclusive boxing products. The Selfridges idea was to make a themed pop-up shop, but Lamy wound up recreating a fully functioning boxing gym, complete with classes one could take on the spot. “What are you fighting for?” was the installation’s slogan. When I asked Lamy what she’s fighting for, she says, without the slightest hint of bombast, “To save the world — no big deal.” The brands involved in Lamyland product collaborations ranged from Everlast to Versace. Grit and glamor were smashed together into some unclassifiable mix, and that’s exactly the type of stuff Lamy likes. “I think all these categories of classification are wrong and not contemporary anymore,” she proffers, referring to the traditional hierarchies that separate, say, art from food, or opera from hip-hop.

144

Our surroundings seem to underscore the point. After the Rick Owens show, we sit in the lush garden of a fancy Japanese restaurant in a posh hotel in the richest part of Paris. Imagine four goths surrounded by a bunch of suits and Hermès bags and you get the picture. It feels strange to me, but Lamy seems right at home. “I like this restaurant because many gangsters like to eat here,” she comments. Then, taking note of the uncharacteristic number of fuddy-duddy suits around us, she adds: “Maybe not today.” It’s a rare occurrence to see someone create their own universe, but Owens and Lamy have done just that. Their style is unmistakable — a mix of brute rawness and elegance, nomadism and goth, a kind of creative destruction that is the envy of the fashion industry and beyond. The two complement each other, despite leading lives that are often quite separate due to the demands of their schedules. Just three days after the men’s show, Lamy was already bound for London to record a new album with LAVASCAR. She would then be going back to France to check on a big furniture delivery for a private client and take meetings with an art fair seeking to recreate Lamyland in a different incarnation from the Selfridges pop-up. And from there, who knows? One thing’s certain, though: it will be unmistakably Michèle Lamy.

“IT’S LIKE DANCING... THERE IS THE RING AND THE MUSIC.”

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BYBORRE 146

WORDS NICK SCHONBERGER PHOTOGRAPHY MAEVE STAM

Experimental Amsterdam brand BYBORRE specializes in forward-thinking knitwear. Founder Borre Akkersdijk pays particular attention to textiles and how they affect clothing construction and consumer comfort. Innovation is an oft-abused term in a fashion industry where manufacturing and logistics processes have remained largely unchanged for years, but by starting at the base material level, BYBORRE is doing something truly exceptional.

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BYBORRE 146

WORDS NICK SCHONBERGER PHOTOGRAPHY MAEVE STAM

Experimental Amsterdam brand BYBORRE specializes in forward-thinking knitwear. Founder Borre Akkersdijk pays particular attention to textiles and how they affect clothing construction and consumer comfort. Innovation is an oft-abused term in a fashion industry where manufacturing and logistics processes have remained largely unchanged for years, but by starting at the base material level, BYBORRE is doing something truly exceptional.

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“The definitive decision to focus on textiles came when I started university,” he says. “It was clear to me at this point that I wanted to be part of the the fashion and textile world, but instead of attending a focused fashion school, I decided to learn about materials and techniques from an overarching design perspective. Everything you create starts with material and function, and that’s where I wanted to focus my studies.” Akkersdijk’s studies were buttressed by an internship in Paris with Dutch trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort (who later hired him as a freelancer), and after three years in Eindhoven, Akkersdijk left for New York to finish his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology. There he learned pattern-making and fashion illustration. He gained confidence in construction and draping — fundamentals of fashion design — and brought his various skills together with the founding of BYBORRE in 2010.

If knitting still conjures visions of grannies seated on wingback chairs, slippered toes propped on a footrest and warmed by embers of a fire, you are living squarely in the past. Over the last decade, knitting has been transformed in the public imagination. While the process has, at root, been around for centuries (some estimate the technology to be roughly 8,000 years old), this decade it entered a new three-dimensional era. The convergence of automated machines, which arrived in the ’60s and ’70s, and fresh digital applications have brought knitting’s potential well beyond socks and caps into the realm of footwear and beyond. Gone are the grandmas and in their stead are a series of technical wizards. An analogy: if knitting were a song, the best practitioners are now those equally skilled at writing a ditty, tuning the instrument, and having the confidence to improvise on a whim. And among the most innovative is Amsterdam-based BYBORRE. The studio is one of a handful of firms working to discover new knitting possibilities. Starting with yarn development, BYBORRE blends digital methods and handcraft in a virtuosic interaction with circular knit machines. This gives the company’s output an undeniably future-forward aesthetic, whether for its eponymous line or in collaboration with brands such as The Arrivals, Nike, Outlier, and wings+horns. Borre Akkersdijk, the studio’s 33-year-old founder, was born in the Dutch town of Nijmegen on the German border. Raised by his mother and grandparents, young Akkersdijk was intrigued by textiles — particularly buttons and zippers — and was encouraged by his uncle to pursue an education in the arts. He attended the renowned Design Academy Eindhoven in his home country, where he learned about the influence materials have on design.

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Since then, Akkersdijk and his team have developed not only a series of “crazy materials,” they have also formulated foundational fits and manufacturing techniques, making the studio one of the most recognizable, cutting-edge textile houses in the world. Here, Akkersdijk describes the potential of textiles, his proprietary processes (including BYBORRE’s 8-Bit material), and working with fabric industry titan GORE-TEX.


“The definitive decision to focus on textiles came when I started university,” he says. “It was clear to me at this point that I wanted to be part of the the fashion and textile world, but instead of attending a focused fashion school, I decided to learn about materials and techniques from an overarching design perspective. Everything you create starts with material and function, and that’s where I wanted to focus my studies.” Akkersdijk’s studies were buttressed by an internship in Paris with Dutch trend forecaster Lidewij Edelkoort (who later hired him as a freelancer), and after three years in Eindhoven, Akkersdijk left for New York to finish his studies at the Fashion Institute of Technology. There he learned pattern-making and fashion illustration. He gained confidence in construction and draping — fundamentals of fashion design — and brought his various skills together with the founding of BYBORRE in 2010.

If knitting still conjures visions of grannies seated on wingback chairs, slippered toes propped on a footrest and warmed by embers of a fire, you are living squarely in the past. Over the last decade, knitting has been transformed in the public imagination. While the process has, at root, been around for centuries (some estimate the technology to be roughly 8,000 years old), this decade it entered a new three-dimensional era. The convergence of automated machines, which arrived in the ’60s and ’70s, and fresh digital applications have brought knitting’s potential well beyond socks and caps into the realm of footwear and beyond. Gone are the grandmas and in their stead are a series of technical wizards. An analogy: if knitting were a song, the best practitioners are now those equally skilled at writing a ditty, tuning the instrument, and having the confidence to improvise on a whim. And among the most innovative is Amsterdam-based BYBORRE. The studio is one of a handful of firms working to discover new knitting possibilities. Starting with yarn development, BYBORRE blends digital methods and handcraft in a virtuosic interaction with circular knit machines. This gives the company’s output an undeniably future-forward aesthetic, whether for its eponymous line or in collaboration with brands such as The Arrivals, Nike, Outlier, and wings+horns. Borre Akkersdijk, the studio’s 33-year-old founder, was born in the Dutch town of Nijmegen on the German border. Raised by his mother and grandparents, young Akkersdijk was intrigued by textiles — particularly buttons and zippers — and was encouraged by his uncle to pursue an education in the arts. He attended the renowned Design Academy Eindhoven in his home country, where he learned about the influence materials have on design.

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Since then, Akkersdijk and his team have developed not only a series of “crazy materials,” they have also formulated foundational fits and manufacturing techniques, making the studio one of the most recognizable, cutting-edge textile houses in the world. Here, Akkersdijk describes the potential of textiles, his proprietary processes (including BYBORRE’s 8-Bit material), and working with fabric industry titan GORE-TEX.


What’s the biggest misconception about textiles? This is something I could go on about all day. When you think about the world around you and your personal connection to textiles, it doesn’t take long to realize that textiles are one of the most used and beloved materials in the world. We use it to clothe, protect, accentuate, sit and lay on, and to decorate with. A textile’s potential lies in the value and function it gives to a product. When used for clothing, textiles give function to the garment by keeping you dry, warm, fast, cool, etc. We use textiles in so many different capacities that the textiles themselves disappear and form the objects and garments that they’re used for. Because of this, people can lose their understanding of where a textile comes from or what it costs to make. The importance of the brand can overtake the materials, and users become detached and less interested in where their clothing comes from. This can unfortunately lead to textiles being made quickly and cheaply at a price to the environment and the people that make them. The value of a textile lies in its story. The way that it’s made, where the fibers originate from, the people that produce, design, wash, and ship it, and the care that is taken into making a sustainable material. The foundation of what we do at BYBORRE is the attention to detail in each part of the process when creating one of our textiles, starting with the yarn to the end product, and continuing on to the dialogue we have with people and what they wear. How has perception of textile innovation changed or remained the same since you began? I think that with performance wear gaining more mainstream popularity, textile innovation has become more prevalent and important. From the moment I started, what I did was always linked to innovation, from the way I approached working with industrial machines to how I was pushing the status quo of how to wear textiles and how they should feel against the body. This story was picked up early on by the tech industry, much more so than the fashion industry. The tech world is excited about the potential of the human body as the next interface, but through projects we’ve done together, they also realize how difficult this is. When working within the fashion industry, textile innovation is seen as an opportunity to tell the story of a garment, starting from the yarn, to showcase the potential for creating a better product. What have been the major innovations in the field since you began? There have been multiple influential shifts in several of my fields of interest since I began. The first that comes to mind is the growth and influence that social media has had on the creative industry in general. It has become a big part of getting your work out into the world, so the quality of images and stories can often become more important than the end product. Another major shift has been fashion’s turn to functional wear. Sportswear and outdoor gear have become fully mainstream,

instead of just being used for their intended purpose. Aesthetics are no longer the only important selling point in the clothes we buy. We, as users, now expect that our clothing does something for us, too. One of the more impactful changes for BYBORRE was the shift from knit being old-fashioned and destined for some musty attic to a modern, innovative material. A major driver here was the footwear industry, which is enormous and saw the potential in knits, leading the whole industry through this shift in thinking. For BYBORRE, as a leading textile and specifically a knit studio, we’re very excited about this positive shift. Describe what 8-Bit means. What is the process and how does it work in comparison with other materials? The name 8-Bit comes from the eight yarn feeders of our in-house circular knit machine, which we use to make our 8-Bit jersey terry fabric. Every feeder knits a single dot, a pixel if you will, within the textile. Having full control over the whole process means we can engineer what every individual pixel on our material looks like, along with deciding what yarns to use on either side of the fabric depending on the yarn’s properties. In a way, we’re highlighting all the different parts of the process, from the machine to the different yarns and how they all come together in a fabric. With complete control over every component of the fabric, it becomes a platform we can adapt exactly to the specifications of how we need it to perform for each use case. How do you define your Fundamentals? What inspired the silhouettes and patterns you use? The BYBORRE Fundamentals are what we at the studio see as the “ideal form” of typical styles within most wardrobes. We know that everyone basically has their own version of a T-shirt, sweater, hoodie, pants, and shorts, and so our Fundamentals are our way of saying, “This is what the BYBORRE T-shirt looks like. This is what the BYBORRE crewneck looks like,” and so on. The majority of the initial shapes and linework seen throughout the Fundamental silhouettes come from a project we did with the Dutch national gymnastics team. I observed how the gymnasts moved, which lead to strategically placing seams and panels for flexibility and comfort. We wanted maximum mobility without making the pieces look overly athletic. In a way, our Fundamentals serve as both a restriction and a challenge for us to design. Having these silhouettes that stay consistent season after season, the design steps back and gives the materials the spotlight. Every “Edition,” which is what our seasons are called, is divided into two parts: Fundamentals, which are unchanged each season aside from gradual improvements; and the Experimentals, which are garments where we use Fundamentals silhouettes as a blueprint to explore where our research takes them.

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What’s the biggest misconception about textiles? This is something I could go on about all day. When you think about the world around you and your personal connection to textiles, it doesn’t take long to realize that textiles are one of the most used and beloved materials in the world. We use it to clothe, protect, accentuate, sit and lay on, and to decorate with. A textile’s potential lies in the value and function it gives to a product. When used for clothing, textiles give function to the garment by keeping you dry, warm, fast, cool, etc. We use textiles in so many different capacities that the textiles themselves disappear and form the objects and garments that they’re used for. Because of this, people can lose their understanding of where a textile comes from or what it costs to make. The importance of the brand can overtake the materials, and users become detached and less interested in where their clothing comes from. This can unfortunately lead to textiles being made quickly and cheaply at a price to the environment and the people that make them. The value of a textile lies in its story. The way that it’s made, where the fibers originate from, the people that produce, design, wash, and ship it, and the care that is taken into making a sustainable material. The foundation of what we do at BYBORRE is the attention to detail in each part of the process when creating one of our textiles, starting with the yarn to the end product, and continuing on to the dialogue we have with people and what they wear. How has perception of textile innovation changed or remained the same since you began? I think that with performance wear gaining more mainstream popularity, textile innovation has become more prevalent and important. From the moment I started, what I did was always linked to innovation, from the way I approached working with industrial machines to how I was pushing the status quo of how to wear textiles and how they should feel against the body. This story was picked up early on by the tech industry, much more so than the fashion industry. The tech world is excited about the potential of the human body as the next interface, but through projects we’ve done together, they also realize how difficult this is. When working within the fashion industry, textile innovation is seen as an opportunity to tell the story of a garment, starting from the yarn, to showcase the potential for creating a better product. What have been the major innovations in the field since you began? There have been multiple influential shifts in several of my fields of interest since I began. The first that comes to mind is the growth and influence that social media has had on the creative industry in general. It has become a big part of getting your work out into the world, so the quality of images and stories can often become more important than the end product. Another major shift has been fashion’s turn to functional wear. Sportswear and outdoor gear have become fully mainstream,

instead of just being used for their intended purpose. Aesthetics are no longer the only important selling point in the clothes we buy. We, as users, now expect that our clothing does something for us, too. One of the more impactful changes for BYBORRE was the shift from knit being old-fashioned and destined for some musty attic to a modern, innovative material. A major driver here was the footwear industry, which is enormous and saw the potential in knits, leading the whole industry through this shift in thinking. For BYBORRE, as a leading textile and specifically a knit studio, we’re very excited about this positive shift. Describe what 8-Bit means. What is the process and how does it work in comparison with other materials? The name 8-Bit comes from the eight yarn feeders of our in-house circular knit machine, which we use to make our 8-Bit jersey terry fabric. Every feeder knits a single dot, a pixel if you will, within the textile. Having full control over the whole process means we can engineer what every individual pixel on our material looks like, along with deciding what yarns to use on either side of the fabric depending on the yarn’s properties. In a way, we’re highlighting all the different parts of the process, from the machine to the different yarns and how they all come together in a fabric. With complete control over every component of the fabric, it becomes a platform we can adapt exactly to the specifications of how we need it to perform for each use case. How do you define your Fundamentals? What inspired the silhouettes and patterns you use? The BYBORRE Fundamentals are what we at the studio see as the “ideal form” of typical styles within most wardrobes. We know that everyone basically has their own version of a T-shirt, sweater, hoodie, pants, and shorts, and so our Fundamentals are our way of saying, “This is what the BYBORRE T-shirt looks like. This is what the BYBORRE crewneck looks like,” and so on. The majority of the initial shapes and linework seen throughout the Fundamental silhouettes come from a project we did with the Dutch national gymnastics team. I observed how the gymnasts moved, which lead to strategically placing seams and panels for flexibility and comfort. We wanted maximum mobility without making the pieces look overly athletic. In a way, our Fundamentals serve as both a restriction and a challenge for us to design. Having these silhouettes that stay consistent season after season, the design steps back and gives the materials the spotlight. Every “Edition,” which is what our seasons are called, is divided into two parts: Fundamentals, which are unchanged each season aside from gradual improvements; and the Experimentals, which are garments where we use Fundamentals silhouettes as a blueprint to explore where our research takes them.

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The latest collection sees you working with GORETEX. What does that mean to you?

Where does it allow you to go that you haven’t been able to go before?

For BYBORRE as a label, it’s a very interesting dialogue that starts with understanding the end consumer and the unique properties of both materials. We feel we have a similar approach as material brands but are at vastly different stages along the journey. In that sense, we also recognize that this partnership is an amazing collaboration and encouragement that we’re doing the right thing.

As a studio we are focused on knit innovations, so working with the GORE-TEX INFINIUM materials has opened the doors to working with GORE-TEX’s amazing catalogue of comfort and protective woven materials. To combine the different properties of their materials and ours, a whole new world of potential has opened up in terms of functionality and aesthetics.

For many people, GORE-TEX is simply a membrane, but the company is always innovating. How does its newest stuff work with your newest stuff? I think it’s very interesting you put it this way, because for a lot of people there is the recognition of the name linked to quality and GORE-TEX’s ‘Guaranteed to Keep You Dry.’ What we wanted to focus on instead was playing freely with their materials in combination with ours. This was possible for the first time due to the recent introduction of their INFINIUM line. We can use all aspects and properties of GORE-TEX INFINIUM materials without the constraints of having to make sure the garments are fully waterproof.

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GORE-TEX’s ‘Guaranteed to Keep You Dry’ goods were made for keeping the wearer protected while doing things like scaling the face of a mountain, because being soaking wet under those conditions can mean life or death. However, we also know that at BYBORRE we don’t design for those circumstances. Our focus is the urban user who may get caught in a rain shower when cycling around the city but is heading to a friend’s house and wants to be comfortable when they arrive. The key to our pieces should be to keep you comfortable. GORE-TEX INFINIUM has allowed us to combine the best of our garments with the targeted use of GORE-TEX fabrics to provide relevant levels of weatherproofing where most needed. What function does GORE-TEX provide in the collection? It’s all about comfort, in some areas through weatherproofing, and in other parts through the characteristics of the materials, like the four-way stretch, which is a main function of the GORE materials found in a couple of our Hybrid pieces. It’s about letting the materials do what they do best. What we’ve done is to identify which areas would benefit most from the characteristics of each material. A good example is the HS1 hooded scarf, which is one of BYBORRE’s signature scarves, with a panel of GORE-TEX INFINIUM material applied to it in such a way that, when worn under a jacket, this panel sits behind the front closure of your jacket and gives another layer of wind protection. It, of course, then also has a lightweight hood, which is packed in its own pocket at the back of the neck and provides the level of water and wind protection we’ve come to expect from a GORE-TEX piece.

I think that we too were able to inspire the people at GORE-TEX on how their materials could be combined with knits in a way that they probably never could have imagined. What this partnership has already proven is that it’s possible to combine materials from radically different sides of the spectrum in a way that not only makes sense, but also looks nice. We’ve only just begun.


The latest collection sees you working with GORETEX. What does that mean to you?

Where does it allow you to go that you haven’t been able to go before?

For BYBORRE as a label, it’s a very interesting dialogue that starts with understanding the end consumer and the unique properties of both materials. We feel we have a similar approach as material brands but are at vastly different stages along the journey. In that sense, we also recognize that this partnership is an amazing collaboration and encouragement that we’re doing the right thing.

As a studio we are focused on knit innovations, so working with the GORE-TEX INFINIUM materials has opened the doors to working with GORE-TEX’s amazing catalogue of comfort and protective woven materials. To combine the different properties of their materials and ours, a whole new world of potential has opened up in terms of functionality and aesthetics.

For many people, GORE-TEX is simply a membrane, but the company is always innovating. How does its newest stuff work with your newest stuff? I think it’s very interesting you put it this way, because for a lot of people there is the recognition of the name linked to quality and GORE-TEX’s ‘Guaranteed to Keep You Dry.’ What we wanted to focus on instead was playing freely with their materials in combination with ours. This was possible for the first time due to the recent introduction of their INFINIUM line. We can use all aspects and properties of GORE-TEX INFINIUM materials without the constraints of having to make sure the garments are fully waterproof.

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GORE-TEX’s ‘Guaranteed to Keep You Dry’ goods were made for keeping the wearer protected while doing things like scaling the face of a mountain, because being soaking wet under those conditions can mean life or death. However, we also know that at BYBORRE we don’t design for those circumstances. Our focus is the urban user who may get caught in a rain shower when cycling around the city but is heading to a friend’s house and wants to be comfortable when they arrive. The key to our pieces should be to keep you comfortable. GORE-TEX INFINIUM has allowed us to combine the best of our garments with the targeted use of GORE-TEX fabrics to provide relevant levels of weatherproofing where most needed. What function does GORE-TEX provide in the collection? It’s all about comfort, in some areas through weatherproofing, and in other parts through the characteristics of the materials, like the four-way stretch, which is a main function of the GORE materials found in a couple of our Hybrid pieces. It’s about letting the materials do what they do best. What we’ve done is to identify which areas would benefit most from the characteristics of each material. A good example is the HS1 hooded scarf, which is one of BYBORRE’s signature scarves, with a panel of GORE-TEX INFINIUM material applied to it in such a way that, when worn under a jacket, this panel sits behind the front closure of your jacket and gives another layer of wind protection. It, of course, then also has a lightweight hood, which is packed in its own pocket at the back of the neck and provides the level of water and wind protection we’ve come to expect from a GORE-TEX piece.

I think that we too were able to inspire the people at GORE-TEX on how their materials could be combined with knits in a way that they probably never could have imagined. What this partnership has already proven is that it’s possible to combine materials from radically different sides of the spectrum in a way that not only makes sense, but also looks nice. We’ve only just begun.


ABOVE

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CLOUDS

FACETASM 154

PHOTOGRAPHY ALEX DE MORA STYLING ATIP W CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT BLUE LAYBOURNE MODEL XU MEEN @ IMG MODELS


ABOVE

THE

CLOUDS

FACETASM 154

PHOTOGRAPHY ALEX DE MORA STYLING ATIP W CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT BLUE LAYBOURNE MODEL XU MEEN @ IMG MODELS


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PHOTOGRAPHY WILL GOODAN ART DIRECTION & FASHION HARRIS ELLIOTT HAIR KOICHI NISHIMURA MODELS TAKUMI & CHIKA SPECIAL THANKS LOW RIDERS - TAKAHIRO, MASA & TAKASHI PRODUCTION OBRUZA


DOUBLET

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PHOTOGRAPHY WILL GOODAN ART DIRECTION & FASHION HARRIS ELLIOTT HAIR KOICHI NISHIMURA MODELS TAKUMI & CHIKA SPECIAL THANKS LOW RIDERS - TAKAHIRO, MASA & TAKASHI PRODUCTION OBRUZA


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MEET THE

OF CAPE TOWN

WORDS NABEEL ALLIE DIRECTOR & PHOTOGRAPHY IMRAAN CHRISTIAN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER KLAUDIA PODSIADLO PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT WASEEM NOORDIEN CAST XOMA, YAYA JEFF, SAAID “KING AITJIE”, QUEEN B, CALHOUN MATTHEWS, JUSTIN RONNE, RAIES AUGUST, JUSTIN PICK, ROLO ROZAY & YOUNGSTA CPT

The Cape Flats is one of South Africa’s poorest areas, home to a majority of the country’s multiethnic so-called “coloured” population, people who were products of colonialism and victims of apartheid. But now there’s a movement of sneakerheads who find hope in collecting ’90s Nike sneakers with big, bubbled soles.

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MEET THE

OF CAPE TOWN

WORDS NABEEL ALLIE DIRECTOR & PHOTOGRAPHY IMRAAN CHRISTIAN EXECUTIVE PRODUCER KLAUDIA PODSIADLO PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANT WASEEM NOORDIEN CAST XOMA, YAYA JEFF, SAAID “KING AITJIE”, QUEEN B, CALHOUN MATTHEWS, JUSTIN RONNE, RAIES AUGUST, JUSTIN PICK, ROLO ROZAY & YOUNGSTA CPT

The Cape Flats is one of South Africa’s poorest areas, home to a majority of the country’s multiethnic so-called “coloured” population, people who were products of colonialism and victims of apartheid. But now there’s a movement of sneakerheads who find hope in collecting ’90s Nike sneakers with big, bubbled soles.

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“WE GOT CAR CULTURE, WE GOT TAXIS, WE GOT FOKKEN DRESS AND FASHION SENSE.” — ROZAY

Today, the word “colored” grates on the ears, but it’s a much more loaded term in the context of South African race relations than in most places. Here, the word “coloured” (as spelled locally) has its origins in the colonial era, and the country’s apartheid government used it as a catch-all classification for mixed-race peoples as part of a policy of maintaining racial division and a system of predominantly European white supremacy. The pejorative label grouped millions of mixed-race people into something loosely defined by the powers that be and without any unifying self-definition. South Africa’s “coloured” population has its roots everywhere from native Khoisan, Xhosa, and Zulu peoples to Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, India, and Malaysia, as well as Dutch Afrikaner settlers and nomadic Trekboers.

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A racial minority in South Africa, coloured people are the biggest racial demographic in Cape Town. During apartheid, coloured people were forcibly removed from urban areas around the peninsula and placed in the Cape Flats, a vast area with massive poverty, encompassing several townships and ghettos. The Cape Flats was a creation designed to encourage the demise of a people whose identities were disparate and as such simply “other,” but a distinct cultural identity emerged instead. For decades, coloured people in the Cape Flats have been promoting a culture that has now caught on globally. And it starts with Nike’s Air Max technology, which debuted in 1979 and revolutionized the sneaker industry in 1987 with the release of the Air Max 1, Tinker Hatfield’s classic silhouette with its midsole window proudly housing the iconic Air bubble. The status of OG Air Max kicks as grails for the sneakerhead community worldwide is nothing new, but “bubbles,” as they’re called locally, are a much bigger deal in Cape Town. In South Africa, “takkies” — local slang for sneakers — were status symbols worn by people fortunate enough to have plenty of disposable income. Similar to the American ghetto, more often than not these people were drug dealers and gangsters who turned athletic footwear into walkable signifiers of personal wealth. What the gangsters wore influenced what others wore, setting trends for young men aspiring to dress better and define themselves in a world that looked down on them. The growth today of groups such as Unwanted Kicks and events like Sneaker Exchange show how the self-styled uniform of the area’s coloured people has now spread beyond the Flats. “We got car culture, we got taxis, we got fokken dress and fashion sense,” says Rolo Rozay, sneakerhead legend and founder of Cape Town sneaker boutique Sneaker Cartel. “Bubble culture is big in the south: Wynberg, Grassy Park. The bubbles just had you.” The bubbles here are kicks such as the Air More Uptempo (made famous by Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen), Air Griffey Max 1 (the signature sneaker of MLB icon Ken Griffey Jr.), and various iterations of Jordan and Air Max designs replete with visible Air bubbles on the sole. These ’90s kicks are held in high regard everywhere in the Flats, from the corners of Klipfontein Road to the wayfarer alleyways of Wynberg.


“WE GOT CAR CULTURE, WE GOT TAXIS, WE GOT FOKKEN DRESS AND FASHION SENSE.” — ROZAY

Today, the word “colored” grates on the ears, but it’s a much more loaded term in the context of South African race relations than in most places. Here, the word “coloured” (as spelled locally) has its origins in the colonial era, and the country’s apartheid government used it as a catch-all classification for mixed-race peoples as part of a policy of maintaining racial division and a system of predominantly European white supremacy. The pejorative label grouped millions of mixed-race people into something loosely defined by the powers that be and without any unifying self-definition. South Africa’s “coloured” population has its roots everywhere from native Khoisan, Xhosa, and Zulu peoples to Great Britain, Ireland, Germany, India, and Malaysia, as well as Dutch Afrikaner settlers and nomadic Trekboers.

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A racial minority in South Africa, coloured people are the biggest racial demographic in Cape Town. During apartheid, coloured people were forcibly removed from urban areas around the peninsula and placed in the Cape Flats, a vast area with massive poverty, encompassing several townships and ghettos. The Cape Flats was a creation designed to encourage the demise of a people whose identities were disparate and as such simply “other,” but a distinct cultural identity emerged instead. For decades, coloured people in the Cape Flats have been promoting a culture that has now caught on globally. And it starts with Nike’s Air Max technology, which debuted in 1979 and revolutionized the sneaker industry in 1987 with the release of the Air Max 1, Tinker Hatfield’s classic silhouette with its midsole window proudly housing the iconic Air bubble. The status of OG Air Max kicks as grails for the sneakerhead community worldwide is nothing new, but “bubbles,” as they’re called locally, are a much bigger deal in Cape Town. In South Africa, “takkies” — local slang for sneakers — were status symbols worn by people fortunate enough to have plenty of disposable income. Similar to the American ghetto, more often than not these people were drug dealers and gangsters who turned athletic footwear into walkable signifiers of personal wealth. What the gangsters wore influenced what others wore, setting trends for young men aspiring to dress better and define themselves in a world that looked down on them. The growth today of groups such as Unwanted Kicks and events like Sneaker Exchange show how the self-styled uniform of the area’s coloured people has now spread beyond the Flats. “We got car culture, we got taxis, we got fokken dress and fashion sense,” says Rolo Rozay, sneakerhead legend and founder of Cape Town sneaker boutique Sneaker Cartel. “Bubble culture is big in the south: Wynberg, Grassy Park. The bubbles just had you.” The bubbles here are kicks such as the Air More Uptempo (made famous by Chicago Bulls legend Scottie Pippen), Air Griffey Max 1 (the signature sneaker of MLB icon Ken Griffey Jr.), and various iterations of Jordan and Air Max designs replete with visible Air bubbles on the sole. These ’90s kicks are held in high regard everywhere in the Flats, from the corners of Klipfontein Road to the wayfarer alleyways of Wynberg.


According to Justin Ronne, who runs the Bubble Koppe website and Instagram community (the name means “bubbleheads” in Afrikaans), the preference for the Air More Uptempo in particular dates back to the ’90s, when the shoe first debuted on court. The sneaker got global recognition when Pippen’s navy and white “Olympic” colorway hit the hardwood at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. “These days obviously we collect and it’s not anything unusual,” says Ronne. “But what about those cats who’ve been collecting for 25 to 30 years? I mean, they were doing it before even Nike knew what was going on.” Ronne says Cape Town’s earliest sneakerheads, eager to get their hands on the kicks, hustled pairs across the Atlantic into Cape Town’s southern slums. Even before the internet and social media made it easy to discover the newest kicks, demand among the bubbleheads of yore was fervent — and that unwavering desire for those covetable translucent soles still burns in the community today. “Bubbles are a phenom,” says Rozay. “Now you have kids wanting the shoes their uncles may have passed on. They saw photos of shoes that’s not available anywhere, but they want that shoe.” Rozay calls Cape Town’s sneaker scene a “culture of transcendence.” One that exists partly as a lived experience and partly as a hopeful gift from generation to generation. Although it’s well documented that certain types of Air bubble soles are prone to deterioration, crumbling over time (as evidenced in Ronne’s @bubblekoppe posts) — particularly in arid climates such as Cape Town’s — that doesn’t stop Rozay and other bubbleheads from accruing new pairs to keep their shoe game fresh. And with Nike’s recent retros of covetable models, there are now even more kicks to stock up on. One of the most prominent figures in the scene is Riyadh Roberts, better known as YoungstaCPT, one of Cape Town’s most prominent and prolific hip-hop artists. This year marks the release of his 30th mixtape, To Be Continued, soon to be followed by his debut album 3T. His videos for recent songs “Yasis” and “Wes-Kaap” have been watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube (big numbers for a localized scene). According to the rapper, Cape Flats bubble-rockers use the shoes to uplift themselves both literally and figuratively, the Air cushioning elevating every step, a reminder that they too deserve to look fly.

“BUBBLES ARE A PHENOM.” — ROZAY


According to Justin Ronne, who runs the Bubble Koppe website and Instagram community (the name means “bubbleheads” in Afrikaans), the preference for the Air More Uptempo in particular dates back to the ’90s, when the shoe first debuted on court. The sneaker got global recognition when Pippen’s navy and white “Olympic” colorway hit the hardwood at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia. “These days obviously we collect and it’s not anything unusual,” says Ronne. “But what about those cats who’ve been collecting for 25 to 30 years? I mean, they were doing it before even Nike knew what was going on.” Ronne says Cape Town’s earliest sneakerheads, eager to get their hands on the kicks, hustled pairs across the Atlantic into Cape Town’s southern slums. Even before the internet and social media made it easy to discover the newest kicks, demand among the bubbleheads of yore was fervent — and that unwavering desire for those covetable translucent soles still burns in the community today. “Bubbles are a phenom,” says Rozay. “Now you have kids wanting the shoes their uncles may have passed on. They saw photos of shoes that’s not available anywhere, but they want that shoe.” Rozay calls Cape Town’s sneaker scene a “culture of transcendence.” One that exists partly as a lived experience and partly as a hopeful gift from generation to generation. Although it’s well documented that certain types of Air bubble soles are prone to deterioration, crumbling over time (as evidenced in Ronne’s @bubblekoppe posts) — particularly in arid climates such as Cape Town’s — that doesn’t stop Rozay and other bubbleheads from accruing new pairs to keep their shoe game fresh. And with Nike’s recent retros of covetable models, there are now even more kicks to stock up on. One of the most prominent figures in the scene is Riyadh Roberts, better known as YoungstaCPT, one of Cape Town’s most prominent and prolific hip-hop artists. This year marks the release of his 30th mixtape, To Be Continued, soon to be followed by his debut album 3T. His videos for recent songs “Yasis” and “Wes-Kaap” have been watched hundreds of thousands of times on YouTube (big numbers for a localized scene). According to the rapper, Cape Flats bubble-rockers use the shoes to uplift themselves both literally and figuratively, the Air cushioning elevating every step, a reminder that they too deserve to look fly.

“BUBBLES ARE A PHENOM.” — ROZAY


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AND YET WE COME OUT OF THE KAK [AFRIKAANS FOR ‘SHIT’] LOOKING BETTER THAN THOSE THAT HAVE MONEY, THAN THOSE WHO ARE THE ELITE.” — YOUNGSTA

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“We’ve always been put down. We’ve always been sidelined. We’ve always been forgotten. And yet we come out of the kak [Afrikaans for ‘shit’] looking better than those that have money, than those who are the elite,” Youngsta says. “We naturally want to excel, and bubbles make us feel like we up there somewhere in the clouds.” YoungstaCPT features prominently on the Unwanted Kicks Instagram account, a digital community and online sneaker store that started with just five pairs and now sells more than 50 a month. Unwanted Kicks co-founder Yaya Jeff understands that the products he moves aren’t mere sneakers, they’re wearable gateways to a better public image. That’s why plenty of his customers prioritize copping a pair over other things in their lives. “In the Cape Town coloured communities, people don’t earn much, they live off the minimum,” Jeff says. “But when it comes to street swag, clothing, and especially footwear, they would have less to eat but they will be wearing the most expensive kicks. They put their all into it.” The spirit of this indomitable swagger is what visual artist Imraan Christian captures in his work. His photographs became one of the most striking documentations of the 2015 “Fees Must Fall” protests led by South African students in response to increased university tuition fees. That exposure led to commercial work with sportswear giants Nike and adidas, which he used as an opportunity to provide exposure for the local community, illustrating how people operate, survive, and thrive. In 2017, Christian worked with adidas on a campaign to support the revival of the ’90s EQT line. He selected South African models born in the ’90s, a generation known as the “born frees,” having come into the world post-apartheid, turning the campaign into a layered examination of what it means to be born free. His work highlights the dichotomy of coloured people as front-runners in style and sneaker culture but also among the country’s poorest and most neglected demographics. It’s why he doubled as an adidas-backed mentor, offering aspiring creatives in the community the help they needed.

“BUT WHEN IT COMES TO STREET SWAG, CLOTHING, AND ESPECIALLY FOOTWEAR, THEY WOULD HAVE LESS TO EAT BUT THEY WILL BE WEARING THE MOST EXPENSIVE KICKS. THEY PUT THEIR ALL INTO IT.” — JEFF


“We’ve always been put down. We’ve always been sidelined. We’ve always been forgotten. And yet we come out of the kak [Afrikaans for ‘shit’] looking better than those that have money, than those who are the elite,” Youngsta says. “We naturally want to excel, and bubbles make us feel like we up there somewhere in the clouds.” YoungstaCPT features prominently on the Unwanted Kicks Instagram account, a digital community and online sneaker store that started with just five pairs and now sells more than 50 a month. Unwanted Kicks co-founder Yaya Jeff understands that the products he moves aren’t mere sneakers, they’re wearable gateways to a better public image. That’s why plenty of his customers prioritize copping a pair over other things in their lives. “In the Cape Town coloured communities, people don’t earn much, they live off the minimum,” Jeff says. “But when it comes to street swag, clothing, and especially footwear, they would have less to eat but they will be wearing the most expensive kicks. They put their all into it.” The spirit of this indomitable swagger is what visual artist Imraan Christian captures in his work. His photographs became one of the most striking documentations of the 2015 “Fees Must Fall” protests led by South African students in response to increased university tuition fees. That exposure led to commercial work with sportswear giants Nike and adidas, which he used as an opportunity to provide exposure for the local community, illustrating how people operate, survive, and thrive. In 2017, Christian worked with adidas on a campaign to support the revival of the ’90s EQT line. He selected South African models born in the ’90s, a generation known as the “born frees,” having come into the world post-apartheid, turning the campaign into a layered examination of what it means to be born free. His work highlights the dichotomy of coloured people as front-runners in style and sneaker culture but also among the country’s poorest and most neglected demographics. It’s why he doubled as an adidas-backed mentor, offering aspiring creatives in the community the help they needed.

“BUT WHEN IT COMES TO STREET SWAG, CLOTHING, AND ESPECIALLY FOOTWEAR, THEY WOULD HAVE LESS TO EAT BUT THEY WILL BE WEARING THE MOST EXPENSIVE KICKS. THEY PUT THEIR ALL INTO IT.” — JEFF


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That same year, Christian cemented his role as a leader among local youth, establishing a partnership with Nike and Highsnobiety to highlight Cape Town’s urban golf culture and the born frees claiming new ownership of a sport that would have historically all but excluded them from participation. Founded in 2013 by Zaid Osman and Tebogo Mogola, Sneaker Exchange bills itself as Africa’s largest sneaker trading event, drawing nearly 3,000 attendees to gatherings in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. According to Osman, Cape Town was the ideal choice to host the first ever Sneaker Exchange five years ago because its culture of seeking out the best and rarest kicks makes it a hotbed of super-engaged collectors who are almost always on the hunt. Like similar sneaker events around the globe, Sneaker Exchange is part exhibition, part enthusiast convention, and part trading floor. It’s where attendees come to show off their massive collections, outdo each other with the kicks on their feet, and flip limited-edition sneakers at inflated prices. It might not be the first of its kind, but it shows how far South Africa’s sneaker scene has progressed, attracting old and new generations of sneakerheads, its attendance rate growing every year. And as the sneaker business continues to grow, the Cape Flats bubbleheads remain effervescent in their shared passion. Poverty, unemployment, and gang activity continue to blight the area, but the men and women who comprise this diverse scene of collectors are forging a positive shared identity. Their love of takkies isn’t just a survival mechanism, it’s a hopeful movement built on transcending their circumstances and celebrating a love of life. Yaya Jeff of Unwanted Kicks lives by a phrase taken from South African slang: “We dala what we must.” Loosely translated, it means something along the lines of “Do what you feel is best,” or, “Do what makes you happy.” According to Jeff, that’s how those in the Flats move forward in life, step by bubbled step.

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“WE DALA WHAT WE MUST.” — JEFF


That same year, Christian cemented his role as a leader among local youth, establishing a partnership with Nike and Highsnobiety to highlight Cape Town’s urban golf culture and the born frees claiming new ownership of a sport that would have historically all but excluded them from participation. Founded in 2013 by Zaid Osman and Tebogo Mogola, Sneaker Exchange bills itself as Africa’s largest sneaker trading event, drawing nearly 3,000 attendees to gatherings in Durban, Cape Town, and Johannesburg. According to Osman, Cape Town was the ideal choice to host the first ever Sneaker Exchange five years ago because its culture of seeking out the best and rarest kicks makes it a hotbed of super-engaged collectors who are almost always on the hunt. Like similar sneaker events around the globe, Sneaker Exchange is part exhibition, part enthusiast convention, and part trading floor. It’s where attendees come to show off their massive collections, outdo each other with the kicks on their feet, and flip limited-edition sneakers at inflated prices. It might not be the first of its kind, but it shows how far South Africa’s sneaker scene has progressed, attracting old and new generations of sneakerheads, its attendance rate growing every year. And as the sneaker business continues to grow, the Cape Flats bubbleheads remain effervescent in their shared passion. Poverty, unemployment, and gang activity continue to blight the area, but the men and women who comprise this diverse scene of collectors are forging a positive shared identity. Their love of takkies isn’t just a survival mechanism, it’s a hopeful movement built on transcending their circumstances and celebrating a love of life. Yaya Jeff of Unwanted Kicks lives by a phrase taken from South African slang: “We dala what we must.” Loosely translated, it means something along the lines of “Do what you feel is best,” or, “Do what makes you happy.” According to Jeff, that’s how those in the Flats move forward in life, step by bubbled step.

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“WE DALA WHAT WE MUST.” — JEFF


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THE UNDISPUTED BREAKOUT TALENT OF 2018, 070 SHAKE HAS MADE SHOW-STOPPING APPEARANCES ON PUSHA-T’S DAYTONA AND KANYE WEST’S YE, CATAPULTING HER TO STARDOM. SHE’S ONE OF THE MOST CAPTIVATING, ENIGMATIC FIGURES IN HIP-HOP TODAY, DRIVEN ON BY RAW TALENT AND A FORWARDTHINKING APPROACH THAT MARKS HER AS A TRUE INNOVATOR AND A CRUCIAL VOICE OF HER GENERATION. WORDS JAKE BOYER

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER KLAUDIA PODSIADLO

PHOTOGRAPHY VITALI GELWICH

HAIR & MAKE-UP BERENICE AMMANN USING CHARLOTTE TILBURY @ FAKEPR BERLIN

STYLING ATIP W

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS ELI ZAZA MOYSIOPOULOU & LUKAS WENNINGER


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THE UNDISPUTED BREAKOUT TALENT OF 2018, 070 SHAKE HAS MADE SHOW-STOPPING APPEARANCES ON PUSHA-T’S DAYTONA AND KANYE WEST’S YE, CATAPULTING HER TO STARDOM. SHE’S ONE OF THE MOST CAPTIVATING, ENIGMATIC FIGURES IN HIP-HOP TODAY, DRIVEN ON BY RAW TALENT AND A FORWARDTHINKING APPROACH THAT MARKS HER AS A TRUE INNOVATOR AND A CRUCIAL VOICE OF HER GENERATION. WORDS JAKE BOYER

EXECUTIVE PRODUCER KLAUDIA PODSIADLO

PHOTOGRAPHY VITALI GELWICH

HAIR & MAKE-UP BERENICE AMMANN USING CHARLOTTE TILBURY @ FAKEPR BERLIN

STYLING ATIP W

PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS ELI ZAZA MOYSIOPOULOU & LUKAS WENNINGER


When 070 Shake mournfully intones, “Tell me who sings to you like me,” on the second track of her debut EP Glitter, it’s unclear whether this is a question or command. Either way, the proper response would be “no one.” She wields a voice that is strikingly unique — a husky, velvety contralto that flits between angelic frailty and monstrous bellowing, often within the confines of a single verse. At times it is downright primordial, a wail that transcends this mortal coil; at others it’s an intimate whisper, the hushed confession of a secret lover. This dichotomy permeates her work, and it’s no small wonder that such a wondrous gift has carried her from the hip-hop fringe to G.O.O.D. Music-signee and sudden superstar in just a few short years.

"I DON’T WANT TO SIGN TO ANYONE BUT KANYE WEST. TWO WEEKS LATER, G.O.O.D. MUSIC CALLED ME.” I’m regaled with the tale of her signing to Kanye West’s imprint at a dinner party, where she is serving as the guest of honor. “I had labels chasing me and making offers for weeks,” she tells the guest next to her, although by now the entire table has tuned in, rapt with attention. “I said, ‘I don’t want to sign to anyone but Kanye West. Two weeks later, G.O.O.D. Music called me” — a dramatic ending that, rightfully, earns murmurs of awe. It’s a story Shake elaborates on when we chat on the phone a few weeks later. She stands by the claim that two-to-three weeks after feeling she would only sign to West’s label, the call came through. Not that she has any great belief in divine intervention, but she remains in awe of her self-fulfilling prophecy.

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“Not to be one of those people — like the fake woke people that smoke a joint and say, ‘Do you believe in aliens?’ — but I believe that we all have a timeline already there for us, and it’s just about walking into it,” she says. “If you stay in the right state of mind, if you keep working on yourself, the more likely you are to succeed.” There’s an earnestness and sincerity about Shake that allows her to share such sentiments without sounding like one of those people. She’s a deeply spiritual person, and although her lingo occasionally veers into new age hokum territory, which we share a laugh over, her beliefs are rooted not in “spreading vibes” but the very real, tangible power of self-actualization, of which she serves as a shining example. It enables her to tell that same guest at the dinner party, “I don’t believe in goals, I don’t set boundaries,” and act as a living testament to an ideal that would seem, well, shaky from the mouth of anyone else. Shake was born Danielle Balbuena and raised in North Bergen, New Jersey, a township on the Hudson River that overlooks the Manhattan skyline. “I love Jersey, it’s what I’m used to,” she says, speaking to me from her hometown. Reflections on her childhood produce memories of being outside at all times with a close-knit group of friends. And writing, lots of writing. “Journals, stories, poems, all of it,” she recalls. Even her earliest musical associations are based more on the written word than melody. She has fond memories of showing her friends the lyrics in her notebook, and them reading them aloud to each other.

Shirt PALM ANGELS / Trousers MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Shoes BUFFALO LONDON


When 070 Shake mournfully intones, “Tell me who sings to you like me,” on the second track of her debut EP Glitter, it’s unclear whether this is a question or command. Either way, the proper response would be “no one.” She wields a voice that is strikingly unique — a husky, velvety contralto that flits between angelic frailty and monstrous bellowing, often within the confines of a single verse. At times it is downright primordial, a wail that transcends this mortal coil; at others it’s an intimate whisper, the hushed confession of a secret lover. This dichotomy permeates her work, and it’s no small wonder that such a wondrous gift has carried her from the hip-hop fringe to G.O.O.D. Music-signee and sudden superstar in just a few short years.

"I DON’T WANT TO SIGN TO ANYONE BUT KANYE WEST. TWO WEEKS LATER, G.O.O.D. MUSIC CALLED ME.” I’m regaled with the tale of her signing to Kanye West’s imprint at a dinner party, where she is serving as the guest of honor. “I had labels chasing me and making offers for weeks,” she tells the guest next to her, although by now the entire table has tuned in, rapt with attention. “I said, ‘I don’t want to sign to anyone but Kanye West. Two weeks later, G.O.O.D. Music called me” — a dramatic ending that, rightfully, earns murmurs of awe. It’s a story Shake elaborates on when we chat on the phone a few weeks later. She stands by the claim that two-to-three weeks after feeling she would only sign to West’s label, the call came through. Not that she has any great belief in divine intervention, but she remains in awe of her self-fulfilling prophecy.

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“Not to be one of those people — like the fake woke people that smoke a joint and say, ‘Do you believe in aliens?’ — but I believe that we all have a timeline already there for us, and it’s just about walking into it,” she says. “If you stay in the right state of mind, if you keep working on yourself, the more likely you are to succeed.” There’s an earnestness and sincerity about Shake that allows her to share such sentiments without sounding like one of those people. She’s a deeply spiritual person, and although her lingo occasionally veers into new age hokum territory, which we share a laugh over, her beliefs are rooted not in “spreading vibes” but the very real, tangible power of self-actualization, of which she serves as a shining example. It enables her to tell that same guest at the dinner party, “I don’t believe in goals, I don’t set boundaries,” and act as a living testament to an ideal that would seem, well, shaky from the mouth of anyone else. Shake was born Danielle Balbuena and raised in North Bergen, New Jersey, a township on the Hudson River that overlooks the Manhattan skyline. “I love Jersey, it’s what I’m used to,” she says, speaking to me from her hometown. Reflections on her childhood produce memories of being outside at all times with a close-knit group of friends. And writing, lots of writing. “Journals, stories, poems, all of it,” she recalls. Even her earliest musical associations are based more on the written word than melody. She has fond memories of showing her friends the lyrics in her notebook, and them reading them aloud to each other.

Shirt PALM ANGELS / Trousers MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Shoes BUFFALO LONDON


Writing proved to be a lifeline during her school years, which she unabashedly hated. “I was a very big troublemaker,” she says with a chuckle. Her principal once told her that no one had gotten suspended as much as her. She couldn’t stay still throughout most of her classes, and even had a doctor’s note that essentially gave her carte blanche to come and go as she pleased. The only class that she could bear to sit through was English, where she was able to write stories and hone her craft. In spite of the challenges, high school inevitably served as a crucial entry point for Shake’s foray into music. She’d pass time between classes beatboxing in the hallways with friends, and asked her mom to buy her a keyboard so she could practice her budding piano skills. That led her to experiment with beatmaking. While the majority of her school classes bored her, she had no problem diving into her extracurriculars. She looked up how to make beats and began putting music behind the myriad of lyrics she’d already written. “It sounded pretty good to me,” she recalls. “So I was like, ‘This could really be a thing.’” Right out of the gate post-graduation, Shake delved into music full-time. It didn’t take long for her to accrue the host of collaborators who would unify as the “070” collective. Her cousin came up with the moniker, which references the first few digits of their New Jersey zip code. The nickname “Shake” came from the days when she played basketball.

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“Me and my friend, we were on a team and we’d call each other ‘Shake’ and ‘Weave,’” she explains. “I was Shake because I used to shake peoples’ ankles on the court.” The 070 team came from disparate circles of friends in Jersey and Brooklyn, but Shake likens their joining to stars in a constellation. It began with two of her friends, Ralphy and Hack, and then they’d recruit people they linked up with and brought to the studio. This free-form approach to creating music led to plenty of wild moments with real repercussions.

Top CRAIG GREEN / Utility Vest MATTHEW MILLER / Track Pants MONCLER GENIUS '1952'

“We were just fucking everything up,” she admits. “One time, we woke up from a party and the whole floor was destroyed, all the tiles gone. It was just bad. And then we got kicked out of that space.” Clearly they found enough time in one studio or another, with the collective unveiling the compilation tape The 070 Project: Chapter 1 in 2016. According to Shake, they didn’t even know they were making the tape until she was putting together some of the songs. Upon getting the tracks in order, she recalls thinking to herself, “Oh, this shit’s pretty fire.”


Writing proved to be a lifeline during her school years, which she unabashedly hated. “I was a very big troublemaker,” she says with a chuckle. Her principal once told her that no one had gotten suspended as much as her. She couldn’t stay still throughout most of her classes, and even had a doctor’s note that essentially gave her carte blanche to come and go as she pleased. The only class that she could bear to sit through was English, where she was able to write stories and hone her craft. In spite of the challenges, high school inevitably served as a crucial entry point for Shake’s foray into music. She’d pass time between classes beatboxing in the hallways with friends, and asked her mom to buy her a keyboard so she could practice her budding piano skills. That led her to experiment with beatmaking. While the majority of her school classes bored her, she had no problem diving into her extracurriculars. She looked up how to make beats and began putting music behind the myriad of lyrics she’d already written. “It sounded pretty good to me,” she recalls. “So I was like, ‘This could really be a thing.’” Right out of the gate post-graduation, Shake delved into music full-time. It didn’t take long for her to accrue the host of collaborators who would unify as the “070” collective. Her cousin came up with the moniker, which references the first few digits of their New Jersey zip code. The nickname “Shake” came from the days when she played basketball.

“I WAS SHAKE BECAUSE I USED TO SHAKE PEOPLES’ ANKLES ON THE COURT.” 192

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“Me and my friend, we were on a team and we’d call each other ‘Shake’ and ‘Weave,’” she explains. “I was Shake because I used to shake peoples’ ankles on the court.” The 070 team came from disparate circles of friends in Jersey and Brooklyn, but Shake likens their joining to stars in a constellation. It began with two of her friends, Ralphy and Hack, and then they’d recruit people they linked up with and brought to the studio. This free-form approach to creating music led to plenty of wild moments with real repercussions.

Top CRAIG GREEN / Utility Vest MATTHEW MILLER / Track Pants MONCLER GENIUS '1952'

“We were just fucking everything up,” she admits. “One time, we woke up from a party and the whole floor was destroyed, all the tiles gone. It was just bad. And then we got kicked out of that space.” Clearly they found enough time in one studio or another, with the collective unveiling the compilation tape The 070 Project: Chapter 1 in 2016. According to Shake, they didn’t even know they were making the tape until she was putting together some of the songs. Upon getting the tracks in order, she recalls thinking to herself, “Oh, this shit’s pretty fire.”


But even before its release, Shake was moving up in the world. A clear standout from the group, she started receiving attention from major labels around this time, culminating in that fateful call from G.O.O.D. Music. It was a steep but rewarding learning curve. “It was the first time I experienced cooperating in a different way,” Shake says, comparing her early days with G.O.O.D. to participating in a relay race. “Helping out with someone else’s stuff taught me a lot about how to work on my own stuff, and how it’s cool to use different people’s opinions and ideas to form a masterpiece from that.” These are, of course, the very same qualities that are associated with her mentor and the founder of her label, Kanye West. Shake takes a few moments to ponder a response when I ask what she thinks West sees in her, before answering purposefully, “Everything he’s done, how he does it, and how he’s perfected his craft — it’s a level I want to be on. And I think he believes that I’m able to get there. I don’t think he’s the type of person to work with people he doesn’t believe in. If you’re working with Kanye West, you know that you have something special.” It took next to no time for the world at large to reach the same conclusion during the Kanye-orchestrated, blockbuster rollout of G.O.O.D. Music albums over summer 2018. The first of these, Pusha-T’s well-honed DAYTONA, featured Shake’s haunting, scene-stealing hook on the track “Santeria,” delivered entirely in Spanish. The buzz her appearance generated increased a hundredfold exactly seven days later with the release of West’s eighth studio full-length, ye. While ye wasn’t nearly as well-received (critically) as the Pusha record, Shake received near-universal praise for her guest spot on album highlight “Ghost Town,” delivering a vocal performance that begins as an airy refrain and evolves into the record’s volcanic climax.

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“It was awesome,” Shake says, reflecting on the now mythic process of recording the albums at a ranch in rural Wyoming. “We were so high up on the mountains that it kind of felt like heaven. We were really close to the sky and everything was so far below us. It was euphoric.” As idyllic as their surroundings were, she was still subject to the lastminute flurry that marked each of these releases. Her vocal for “Santeria” was recorded in under an hour the night before it was unveiled to the world, while she wasn’t even aware of her inclusion on ye until hearing it for the first time at its launch party. While gratitude for her elevated circumstances appears to pour from every fiber of her being, Shake has her sights set firmly toward the future. When I ask about the Glitter EP, released just a few months ago, she is immediately dismissive. “I don’t even want to talk about Glitter because I’m so over it,” she says easily but firmly. “I’m on a whole different level musically and I don’t even listen to it. I’ve grown so much in such a short time, and the quality of the music I want to make has to be 20 times bigger than that.”

Jacket AMBUSH / Bodysuit ARIES ARISE / Track Pants MONCLER GENIUS 'PALM ANGELS' / Shoes BUFFALO LONDON


But even before its release, Shake was moving up in the world. A clear standout from the group, she started receiving attention from major labels around this time, culminating in that fateful call from G.O.O.D. Music. It was a steep but rewarding learning curve. “It was the first time I experienced cooperating in a different way,” Shake says, comparing her early days with G.O.O.D. to participating in a relay race. “Helping out with someone else’s stuff taught me a lot about how to work on my own stuff, and how it’s cool to use different people’s opinions and ideas to form a masterpiece from that.” These are, of course, the very same qualities that are associated with her mentor and the founder of her label, Kanye West. Shake takes a few moments to ponder a response when I ask what she thinks West sees in her, before answering purposefully, “Everything he’s done, how he does it, and how he’s perfected his craft — it’s a level I want to be on. And I think he believes that I’m able to get there. I don’t think he’s the type of person to work with people he doesn’t believe in. If you’re working with Kanye West, you know that you have something special.” It took next to no time for the world at large to reach the same conclusion during the Kanye-orchestrated, blockbuster rollout of G.O.O.D. Music albums over summer 2018. The first of these, Pusha-T’s well-honed DAYTONA, featured Shake’s haunting, scene-stealing hook on the track “Santeria,” delivered entirely in Spanish. The buzz her appearance generated increased a hundredfold exactly seven days later with the release of West’s eighth studio full-length, ye. While ye wasn’t nearly as well-received (critically) as the Pusha record, Shake received near-universal praise for her guest spot on album highlight “Ghost Town,” delivering a vocal performance that begins as an airy refrain and evolves into the record’s volcanic climax.

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“It was awesome,” Shake says, reflecting on the now mythic process of recording the albums at a ranch in rural Wyoming. “We were so high up on the mountains that it kind of felt like heaven. We were really close to the sky and everything was so far below us. It was euphoric.” As idyllic as their surroundings were, she was still subject to the lastminute flurry that marked each of these releases. Her vocal for “Santeria” was recorded in under an hour the night before it was unveiled to the world, while she wasn’t even aware of her inclusion on ye until hearing it for the first time at its launch party. While gratitude for her elevated circumstances appears to pour from every fiber of her being, Shake has her sights set firmly toward the future. When I ask about the Glitter EP, released just a few months ago, she is immediately dismissive. “I don’t even want to talk about Glitter because I’m so over it,” she says easily but firmly. “I’m on a whole different level musically and I don’t even listen to it. I’ve grown so much in such a short time, and the quality of the music I want to make has to be 20 times bigger than that.”

Jacket AMBUSH / Bodysuit ARIES ARISE / Track Pants MONCLER GENIUS 'PALM ANGELS' / Shoes BUFFALO LONDON


Jumper AMBUSH / Trousers MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Shoes BUFFALO LONDON

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Jumper AMBUSH / Trousers MONCLER GENIUS '1952' / Shoes BUFFALO LONDON

“WE WERE SO HIGH UP ON THE MOUNTAINS THAT IT KIND OF FELT LIKE HEAVEN. WE WERE REALLY CLOSE TO THE SKY AND EVERYTHING WAS SO FAR BELOW US. IT WAS EUPHORIC.” 196

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She agrees with my suggestion that she’s a perfectionist, a trait that should serve her well as she tinkers with her forthcoming debut full-length, tentatively titled Yellow Girl. Our dinner party concludes with a jostling cab ride to an afterparty, during which Shake insists she plugs in her phone, much to the driver’s vexation. It’s there, as we literally knock knees while speeding through the empty streets of Berlin, that she plays a set of demos fresh from the studio at full blast. Even if they end up on the cutting room floor rather than on her first album, they demonstrably show a sonic maturation, a refinement clearly indebted to her hands-on, once-in-a-lifetime experience working with the industry’s best, and that’s not just because some of the demos feature vocals from West. Shake sings along to every word and bobs her head to each thrumming beat, embodying an infectious enjoyment of her art that feels not prideful but instead filled with a true joie de vivre. A first glance at Shake belies this sense of unbridled energy. She moves with an almost ethereal sense of slowness, as if passing through a field of gravity greater than Earth’s own. It certainly doesn’t seem like the pace of someone who recently turned 21-years-old, a birthday she celebrated before the G.O.O.D. Music album rollout had finished. Not even when hearing her revel in her newfound ability to head “to the liquor store, slam my ID on the desk, and tell ’em to give me my shit” — let alone the wild stories of the early 070 days — can I successfully tie that image to the graceful figure before me.

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It’s only through music that her dynamism suddenly appears, casting a palpable radiance in the back of the cab hitherto unseen. Until now, it had only existed in relation to her art; it can be heard clearly on her songs and is aired frequently during her magnetic live performances. Playing to a crowd — letting loose and connecting directly with others — is one of the joys of her work. “It’s like playing catch with a ball of energy,” Shake tells me. “It’s definitely an ecstasy, like a drug in a way. It’s very important to both parties.” Energy, in and of itself without a specific motive, is perhaps the one artistic throughline in her work. Energy coiled or energy expended, its presence courses through much of her music, and yet it’s tinged with a distinct air of darkness and melancholy. This is evident even on an aesthetic level, and seemingly confirmed by details as varied as her preference for Morrissey of The Smiths over any rapper and lyrical references to hard drug use as a teenager.

Top GCDS / Trousers MONCLER GENIUS '1952'


She agrees with my suggestion that she’s a perfectionist, a trait that should serve her well as she tinkers with her forthcoming debut full-length, tentatively titled Yellow Girl. Our dinner party concludes with a jostling cab ride to an afterparty, during which Shake insists she plugs in her phone, much to the driver’s vexation. It’s there, as we literally knock knees while speeding through the empty streets of Berlin, that she plays a set of demos fresh from the studio at full blast. Even if they end up on the cutting room floor rather than on her first album, they demonstrably show a sonic maturation, a refinement clearly indebted to her hands-on, once-in-a-lifetime experience working with the industry’s best, and that’s not just because some of the demos feature vocals from West. Shake sings along to every word and bobs her head to each thrumming beat, embodying an infectious enjoyment of her art that feels not prideful but instead filled with a true joie de vivre. A first glance at Shake belies this sense of unbridled energy. She moves with an almost ethereal sense of slowness, as if passing through a field of gravity greater than Earth’s own. It certainly doesn’t seem like the pace of someone who recently turned 21-years-old, a birthday she celebrated before the G.O.O.D. Music album rollout had finished. Not even when hearing her revel in her newfound ability to head “to the liquor store, slam my ID on the desk, and tell ’em to give me my shit” — let alone the wild stories of the early 070 days — can I successfully tie that image to the graceful figure before me.

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It’s only through music that her dynamism suddenly appears, casting a palpable radiance in the back of the cab hitherto unseen. Until now, it had only existed in relation to her art; it can be heard clearly on her songs and is aired frequently during her magnetic live performances. Playing to a crowd — letting loose and connecting directly with others — is one of the joys of her work. “It’s like playing catch with a ball of energy,” Shake tells me. “It’s definitely an ecstasy, like a drug in a way. It’s very important to both parties.” Energy, in and of itself without a specific motive, is perhaps the one artistic throughline in her work. Energy coiled or energy expended, its presence courses through much of her music, and yet it’s tinged with a distinct air of darkness and melancholy. This is evident even on an aesthetic level, and seemingly confirmed by details as varied as her preference for Morrissey of The Smiths over any rapper and lyrical references to hard drug use as a teenager.

Top GCDS / Trousers MONCLER GENIUS '1952'


It’s also an unmistakable attribute in her music that any reference to an object of desire or romantic partner comes with feminine pronouns. This is no secret. “Yeah, I like females,” she tells me rather bluntly, but our exploration of the topic delves into a raw, emotional current that is channelled in her art, whether it’s a conscious decision or not. While her preferences have been evident from the get-go, Shake makes an explicit point of rejecting labels.

“I DON’T CALL MYSELF ANYTHING... I DON’T CALL MYSELF QUEER — I AM WHAT I AM AND I LIKE WHAT I LIKE. THE MORE NORMAL YOU MAKE IT, THE MORE NORMAL IT BECOMES. THAT’S WHAT I’M FIGHTING FOR." “I don’t call myself anything,” she says. “I don’t call myself queer — I am what I am and I like what I like. The more normal you make it, the more normal it becomes. That’s what I’m fighting for. I don’t want it to be this whole separated community. The less words you use to represent something, the more everything becomes one. It makes it easier to love one another.”

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Earlier in our conversation, Shake mentions her closeness with her mother, who has supported her musical pursuits from the beginning. While respecting Shake’s decision to avoid adopting a specific identity, I broach the subject of how her preference was accepted growing up. She admits it’s something she’d had to hide most of her life, and it was initially hard for her mother to come to terms with. “At the time she didn’t understand, which is not her fault, but it’s the way she was raised,” Shake says, taking time to organize each thought. “The world that she was living in, that’s all she knew, so I kind of had to help her understand. It took a lot of time, but I can’t be mad at her. Nobody ever tried to open her mind about it.” “If you want people to understand you, you gotta help them understand. You give people a chance to learn something new and they’re not so bad.” I’m again struck by the pureness of Shake’s idealism. She is unbelievably young, but these thoughts don’t ring with carefree naivety. Much like her bravura voice, they are rich with wisdom well beyond her years, and heavy with worldliness without the sense of resignation that so often accompanies it. I can only attribute it to a mode of thinking shared by her mentor, one that is relentlessly, if not impenetrably, forwardthinking. Although it’s another label she shirks, one can’t help but think of Shake as an alternative hip-hop star, the hybridized future of the hodgepodge that constitutes today’s pop music. Shake tells me she makes music “to inspire people, to change people for the better.” In her mind, the idea that one would make art without that intention is “pointless.” Music is far from an escape in her capable hands. It’s a catalyst. It’s a pursuit of radical empathy, of exuding understanding and letting it latch on to others, drawing us to a place where — as she belts out so beautifully in her star-making “Ghost Town” cameo — “nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free.”

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It’s also an unmistakable attribute in her music that any reference to an object of desire or romantic partner comes with feminine pronouns. This is no secret. “Yeah, I like females,” she tells me rather bluntly, but our exploration of the topic delves into a raw, emotional current that is channelled in her art, whether it’s a conscious decision or not. While her preferences have been evident from the get-go, Shake makes an explicit point of rejecting labels.

“I DON’T CALL MYSELF ANYTHING... I DON’T CALL MYSELF QUEER — I AM WHAT I AM AND I LIKE WHAT I LIKE. THE MORE NORMAL YOU MAKE IT, THE MORE NORMAL IT BECOMES. THAT’S WHAT I’M FIGHTING FOR." “I don’t call myself anything,” she says. “I don’t call myself queer — I am what I am and I like what I like. The more normal you make it, the more normal it becomes. That’s what I’m fighting for. I don’t want it to be this whole separated community. The less words you use to represent something, the more everything becomes one. It makes it easier to love one another.”

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Earlier in our conversation, Shake mentions her closeness with her mother, who has supported her musical pursuits from the beginning. While respecting Shake’s decision to avoid adopting a specific identity, I broach the subject of how her preference was accepted growing up. She admits it’s something she’d had to hide most of her life, and it was initially hard for her mother to come to terms with. “At the time she didn’t understand, which is not her fault, but it’s the way she was raised,” Shake says, taking time to organize each thought. “The world that she was living in, that’s all she knew, so I kind of had to help her understand. It took a lot of time, but I can’t be mad at her. Nobody ever tried to open her mind about it.” “If you want people to understand you, you gotta help them understand. You give people a chance to learn something new and they’re not so bad.” I’m again struck by the pureness of Shake’s idealism. She is unbelievably young, but these thoughts don’t ring with carefree naivety. Much like her bravura voice, they are rich with wisdom well beyond her years, and heavy with worldliness without the sense of resignation that so often accompanies it. I can only attribute it to a mode of thinking shared by her mentor, one that is relentlessly, if not impenetrably, forwardthinking. Although it’s another label she shirks, one can’t help but think of Shake as an alternative hip-hop star, the hybridized future of the hodgepodge that constitutes today’s pop music. Shake tells me she makes music “to inspire people, to change people for the better.” In her mind, the idea that one would make art without that intention is “pointless.” Music is far from an escape in her capable hands. It’s a catalyst. It’s a pursuit of radical empathy, of exuding understanding and letting it latch on to others, drawing us to a place where — as she belts out so beautifully in her star-making “Ghost Town” cameo — “nothing hurts anymore, I feel kinda free.”

Jumper AMBUSH


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PHOTOGRAPHY SYLVAIN HOMO STYLING ATIP W CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING GROOMING ADAM GARLAND USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE MODEL THOM WELLS @ NEVS MODELS


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PHOTOGRAPHY SYLVAIN HOMO STYLING ATIP W CASTING DIRECTOR SARAH BUNTER @ BUNTERCASTING GROOMING ADAM GARLAND USING BUMBLE AND BUMBLE MODEL THOM WELLS @ NEVS MODELS


T-Shirt & Trousers DAMIR DOMA / Coat YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Neck Warmer SACAI

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Jumper & Trousers HERMÃ&#x2C6;S / Jacket & Hat DAMIR DOMA / Boots SACAI

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T-Shirt & Trousers DAMIR DOMA / Coat YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Neck Warmer SACAI

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Shirt & Hat DAMIR DOMA / Jacket, Shorts & Boots SACAI


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Hat & T-Shirt DAMIR DOMA / Coat & Culottes YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Boots SACAI

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Hat & T-Shirt DAMIR DOMA / Coat & Culottes YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Boots SACAI

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Culottes YOHJI YAMAMOTO / Boots SACAI


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ONYX COLLECTIVE WORDS SYDNEY GORE

BRANDS FEATURED COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS, KENZO, PEELS, NEEDLES,

PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS WELCH

PAUL ANDREW, RETROSUPERFUTURE, MARNI, BODE, ILLESTEVA, ISSEY MIYAKE,

STYLING COREY STOKES

RAEN, ACNE STUDIOS & DRIES VAN NOTEN

In their home city, Onyx Collective have become the talk of the town. Whether performing as a six-piece in a parking garage in Harlem or infiltrating a SoHo art gallery for a Virgil Abloh and Lucien Smith exhibition, the jazz band know exactly how to set the mood for young, rowdy crowds itching to jettison some angst. The group’s rising talent hasn’t gone unnoticed, either, with figures such as Aaron “A-ron” Bondaroff and Kamasi Washington in their corner. Onyx are taking back the city that raised them and turning it into a place where creatives can thrive on their own terms.


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ONYX COLLECTIVE WORDS SYDNEY GORE

BRANDS FEATURED COMME DES GARÇONS HOMME PLUS, KENZO, PEELS, NEEDLES,

PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS WELCH

PAUL ANDREW, RETROSUPERFUTURE, MARNI, BODE, ILLESTEVA, ISSEY MIYAKE,

STYLING COREY STOKES

RAEN, ACNE STUDIOS & DRIES VAN NOTEN

In their home city, Onyx Collective have become the talk of the town. Whether performing as a six-piece in a parking garage in Harlem or infiltrating a SoHo art gallery for a Virgil Abloh and Lucien Smith exhibition, the jazz band know exactly how to set the mood for young, rowdy crowds itching to jettison some angst. The group’s rising talent hasn’t gone unnoticed, either, with figures such as Aaron “A-ron” Bondaroff and Kamasi Washington in their corner. Onyx are taking back the city that raised them and turning it into a place where creatives can thrive on their own terms.


The tale of Onyx Collective is really more a love story about New York set during the modern jazz revival. As natives born and bred in the city’s boroughs, Onyx members have had their own distinct experiences within that story. For founding member Isaiah Barr, there were several stages of development, but music was at the core of what shaped his character and made him appreciate his Brooklyn roots.

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The saxophonist meets me on a humid afternoon in July at the collective’s main headquarters, The Shed. The inviting community space is run out of photographer Adam Zhu’s apartment complex in Chinatown and serves as a focal point for various group activities, including meetings, sessions, and parties. Collages, sketches, and framed photographs of jazz icons such as Duke Ellington and John Coltrane decorate the walls of the practice space on the graffitied rooftop, with a clutter of instruments, vinyl, artwork, and street signs also vying for space. Delving deeper into the local DIY community has expanded Barr’s perception of the world outside, with the group paving their own lane in a carefully curated scene that fosters deep connections within intimate settings. Onyx Collective coexist in a musical world orbited by the likes of Wiki, Princess Nokia, Devonté “Dev” Hynes, and Nick Hakim. “We have to bring our A-game to the table and be the best New York representation of whatever it is that we’re doing,” Barr says while gliding his fingers across the keyboard in front of him. “We have to strive for excellence, and that’s something that I think is a New York thing. It’s not perfection, it’s just being yourself and knowing the reason why we’re here.” Onyx Collective are the ultimate billboard for New York. Their name is taken from a building in the East Village that was home to the band’s first ever practice space (also nodding to legendary jazz hideout Onyx Club), and all of the songs included on the three Lower East Suite albums make specific references to the city, operating as a Downtown-dedicated soundtrack that will stand the test of time. In Barr’s own words, their records are “an abstract piece of concrete material that is inside our heads,” adding that the trilogy is a testament to the band “establishing our roots of who we naturally are, not who we’re trying to be or what we’re trying to manifest because of where we’re from.”


The tale of Onyx Collective is really more a love story about New York set during the modern jazz revival. As natives born and bred in the city’s boroughs, Onyx members have had their own distinct experiences within that story. For founding member Isaiah Barr, there were several stages of development, but music was at the core of what shaped his character and made him appreciate his Brooklyn roots.

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The saxophonist meets me on a humid afternoon in July at the collective’s main headquarters, The Shed. The inviting community space is run out of photographer Adam Zhu’s apartment complex in Chinatown and serves as a focal point for various group activities, including meetings, sessions, and parties. Collages, sketches, and framed photographs of jazz icons such as Duke Ellington and John Coltrane decorate the walls of the practice space on the graffitied rooftop, with a clutter of instruments, vinyl, artwork, and street signs also vying for space. Delving deeper into the local DIY community has expanded Barr’s perception of the world outside, with the group paving their own lane in a carefully curated scene that fosters deep connections within intimate settings. Onyx Collective coexist in a musical world orbited by the likes of Wiki, Princess Nokia, Devonté “Dev” Hynes, and Nick Hakim. “We have to bring our A-game to the table and be the best New York representation of whatever it is that we’re doing,” Barr says while gliding his fingers across the keyboard in front of him. “We have to strive for excellence, and that’s something that I think is a New York thing. It’s not perfection, it’s just being yourself and knowing the reason why we’re here.” Onyx Collective are the ultimate billboard for New York. Their name is taken from a building in the East Village that was home to the band’s first ever practice space (also nodding to legendary jazz hideout Onyx Club), and all of the songs included on the three Lower East Suite albums make specific references to the city, operating as a Downtown-dedicated soundtrack that will stand the test of time. In Barr’s own words, their records are “an abstract piece of concrete material that is inside our heads,” adding that the trilogy is a testament to the band “establishing our roots of who we naturally are, not who we’re trying to be or what we’re trying to manifest because of where we’re from.”


“THEY’RE ALL ROOTED IN REAL-LIFE SHIT THAT HAPPENS IN NEW YORK EVERY DAY, AND REAL FRIENDS THAT WE’RE LUCKY TO KNOW, THAT IT’S GREATER THAN THE MUSIC AND THAT IT’S SOMETHING OF A SURVIVAL." — BARR

Onyx members hail from four of New York’s five boroughs: guitarist Jack Gulielmetti claims Manhattan, drummer Austin Williamson grew up in Queens, Barr and vocalist Julian Soto are from Brooklyn, and keyboardist Josh Benitez represents the Bronx. Since 2014, Onyx have been laying the foundation of a movement that is growing larger than the group could ever have imagined. Although most of the members knew each other from music programs in high school, the group formed organically through jam sessions held during Barr’s weekly radio show on Know Wave, the Bondaroff-co-founded radio station in the East Village. Whereas debut album 2nd Avenue Rundown served as a formal introduction to the group, Onyx Collective’s latest material is designed like a film score recorded to tape in specific environments. Barr explains that their next project will be a fivetrack EP that’s an “all-encompassing art, music, multimedia presentation.” That mindset stems from thinking architecturally and allowing projects to “expand into realms that are not very common.” “They’re all rooted in real-life shit that happens in New York every day, and real friends that we’re lucky to know, that it’s greater than the music and that it’s something of a survival,” Barr says. “It’s something that’s about community, striving to be the best, and not to put yourself or let anyone put you in a box. I think that’s where we stand in the whole equation, especially coming out of New York and knowing New York so well.” Even during the early stages, when Onyx Collective first formed, their shared vision was to “develop a community to play shows” among their peers. The overall goal has always been to cultivate a safe, creative place where people from different backgrounds and social standings can come together and have fun. Barr views the band as a “functioning organization of artists and creative people” that refuse to be boxed in, from their music and art to apparel and aesthetics. Their philosophy is to run things in a way that comes naturally to them, the way they wish the world also moved.

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“THEY’RE ALL ROOTED IN REAL-LIFE SHIT THAT HAPPENS IN NEW YORK EVERY DAY, AND REAL FRIENDS THAT WE’RE LUCKY TO KNOW, THAT IT’S GREATER THAN THE MUSIC AND THAT IT’S SOMETHING OF A SURVIVAL." — BARR

Onyx members hail from four of New York’s five boroughs: guitarist Jack Gulielmetti claims Manhattan, drummer Austin Williamson grew up in Queens, Barr and vocalist Julian Soto are from Brooklyn, and keyboardist Josh Benitez represents the Bronx. Since 2014, Onyx have been laying the foundation of a movement that is growing larger than the group could ever have imagined. Although most of the members knew each other from music programs in high school, the group formed organically through jam sessions held during Barr’s weekly radio show on Know Wave, the Bondaroff-co-founded radio station in the East Village. Whereas debut album 2nd Avenue Rundown served as a formal introduction to the group, Onyx Collective’s latest material is designed like a film score recorded to tape in specific environments. Barr explains that their next project will be a fivetrack EP that’s an “all-encompassing art, music, multimedia presentation.” That mindset stems from thinking architecturally and allowing projects to “expand into realms that are not very common.” “They’re all rooted in real-life shit that happens in New York every day, and real friends that we’re lucky to know, that it’s greater than the music and that it’s something of a survival,” Barr says. “It’s something that’s about community, striving to be the best, and not to put yourself or let anyone put you in a box. I think that’s where we stand in the whole equation, especially coming out of New York and knowing New York so well.” Even during the early stages, when Onyx Collective first formed, their shared vision was to “develop a community to play shows” among their peers. The overall goal has always been to cultivate a safe, creative place where people from different backgrounds and social standings can come together and have fun. Barr views the band as a “functioning organization of artists and creative people” that refuse to be boxed in, from their music and art to apparel and aesthetics. Their philosophy is to run things in a way that comes naturally to them, the way they wish the world also moved.

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“STRIVING TO TAP INTO A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS ALLOWS YOU TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND CREATE UNITY, AND CREATE UNDERSTANDING, AND CREATE BRIDGES ACROSS THE BORDERS." — BARR

“The vision now is just to support one another, to make projects with one another, to continue to branch out on stuff we’ve done, and then completely shock people and surprise them with music that is very original and unique to our style, but that’s coming out of a different style,” Barr explains. “We like to change and just leave things for the moment that they were done, and then keep going.”

Thundercat, BADBADNOTGOOD, Standing on the Corner, Kadhja Bonet, and Yussef Kamaal. “I don’t know if we saw it coming that there even was gonna be this revival or scene of things. That’s something that’s out of our control in a million ways,” Barr explains. “It’s a universe moving in a certain way and hopefully we can use our skills and knowledge, create a new wave, and push to a new thing. Finding a way to do that is constantly the focus — to push past expectations and take risks.”

Barr prides himself on having been immersed in a diverse community of “skateboard kids, film kids, drag queens, acting [and] comedy kids, and rappers” from a young age. For Onyx Collective, everything is about “breaking down the kind of institutionalized things that are the norms,” which Barr considers the “natural essence” of New York art. He describes the city as a “hotbed for culture” and wants to create meaningful content “filled with people’s enthusiasm and their life stories.” After the limited release of 2nd Avenue Rundown through Know Wave and Supreme in 2016, the group launched a sleek debut lookbook of jazz-inspired merch in May 2017 featuring Bondaroff, skater Sage Elsesser, and stylist Mellany Sanchez. In May this year, Onyx’s cult status reached new heights when they were invited to perform at the opening of Virgil Abloh and Lucien Smith’s “FRIENDS” exhibition. Barr considers Smith an old friend, and the Empty Gallery collaboration was a chance for all parties to come together and create “a vibe for the community.” Reflecting on the experience, Barr says, “It’s an honor to work with Virgil and it’s definitely something we look forward to doing more of.” In true Abloh fashion, he even made a limited-edition OFF-WHITE T-shirt for the event featuring one of Smith’s oil-on-linen works, an iPhoneinspired image of his girlfriend Marlene Zwirner. The artwork for the cover of Onyx Collective’s latest album runs in the same vein, featuring an original painting by Julian Schnabel.

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In terms of what sets Onyx Collective apart from the rest — not that they’re going out of their way to be an oppositional force — Barr credits the group’s openness and adaptability. “There’s an ever-growing amount of seats at the table and everyone has a say,” he says. “Everyone has a role and their roles can change, too. There’s no fixed positions and that leads to things being completely in the unknown and being very mysterious.” Barr describes the band’s collaborative process as openended and unbound to a specific method or plan. Free-flowing improvisation between him and drummer Williamson is a common occurrence at Onyx live shows. Barr compares the group’s approach to a polygamous relationship, emphasizing the liberation of “having a really solid rapport with whoever,” but “not forgetting about people and the vibe.” He continues, “Striving to tap into a lot of different things allows you to be able to understand and create unity, and create understanding, and create bridges across the borders. It allows you to do the best you can in that moment and really, really embrace that freedom.”

“We are a lifestyle brand that ties together so many worlds of influence,” explains Barr, referring to Onyx’s exploits outside music. “As a brand, we are representing New York streetwear as well as art and design concepts. We try to tie music, art, and fashion all together.”

The ideal vibe Barr wants to create at shows is a moment of clarity, a temporary universe that seizes everyone — band and audience alike — and compels them to focus on music in its purest form. In a world of careful social media curation and meticulously planned marketing campaigns targeted at specific demographics, Onyx Collective’s ephemeral approach to music feels important, pure escapism.

Not that Onyx Collective are planning to start their own clothing line anytime soon. Like the group’s free-form approach to music, the clothes ebb and flow based on how the collective feels. Fashion allows them to express a different side of their creativity. Regarding the music, Barr could never have predicted how prominent a role Onyx Collective would play in the current jazz revival alongside experimental acts such as Kamasi Washington,

And while the future of jazz remains unknown, Onyx Collective are in full control of their environment. After all, if they can make it in New York, they can succeed anywhere. As Barr says, “We’re gonna be turning heads, making a lot of surprises, and proving points just with the same order of operations that we’ve always done: putting out music [and] putting out content and art that is unique.”


“STRIVING TO TAP INTO A LOT OF DIFFERENT THINGS ALLOWS YOU TO BE ABLE TO UNDERSTAND AND CREATE UNITY, AND CREATE UNDERSTANDING, AND CREATE BRIDGES ACROSS THE BORDERS." — BARR

“The vision now is just to support one another, to make projects with one another, to continue to branch out on stuff we’ve done, and then completely shock people and surprise them with music that is very original and unique to our style, but that’s coming out of a different style,” Barr explains. “We like to change and just leave things for the moment that they were done, and then keep going.”

Thundercat, BADBADNOTGOOD, Standing on the Corner, Kadhja Bonet, and Yussef Kamaal. “I don’t know if we saw it coming that there even was gonna be this revival or scene of things. That’s something that’s out of our control in a million ways,” Barr explains. “It’s a universe moving in a certain way and hopefully we can use our skills and knowledge, create a new wave, and push to a new thing. Finding a way to do that is constantly the focus — to push past expectations and take risks.”

Barr prides himself on having been immersed in a diverse community of “skateboard kids, film kids, drag queens, acting [and] comedy kids, and rappers” from a young age. For Onyx Collective, everything is about “breaking down the kind of institutionalized things that are the norms,” which Barr considers the “natural essence” of New York art. He describes the city as a “hotbed for culture” and wants to create meaningful content “filled with people’s enthusiasm and their life stories.” After the limited release of 2nd Avenue Rundown through Know Wave and Supreme in 2016, the group launched a sleek debut lookbook of jazz-inspired merch in May 2017 featuring Bondaroff, skater Sage Elsesser, and stylist Mellany Sanchez. In May this year, Onyx’s cult status reached new heights when they were invited to perform at the opening of Virgil Abloh and Lucien Smith’s “FRIENDS” exhibition. Barr considers Smith an old friend, and the Empty Gallery collaboration was a chance for all parties to come together and create “a vibe for the community.” Reflecting on the experience, Barr says, “It’s an honor to work with Virgil and it’s definitely something we look forward to doing more of.” In true Abloh fashion, he even made a limited-edition OFF-WHITE T-shirt for the event featuring one of Smith’s oil-on-linen works, an iPhoneinspired image of his girlfriend Marlene Zwirner. The artwork for the cover of Onyx Collective’s latest album runs in the same vein, featuring an original painting by Julian Schnabel.

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In terms of what sets Onyx Collective apart from the rest — not that they’re going out of their way to be an oppositional force — Barr credits the group’s openness and adaptability. “There’s an ever-growing amount of seats at the table and everyone has a say,” he says. “Everyone has a role and their roles can change, too. There’s no fixed positions and that leads to things being completely in the unknown and being very mysterious.” Barr describes the band’s collaborative process as openended and unbound to a specific method or plan. Free-flowing improvisation between him and drummer Williamson is a common occurrence at Onyx live shows. Barr compares the group’s approach to a polygamous relationship, emphasizing the liberation of “having a really solid rapport with whoever,” but “not forgetting about people and the vibe.” He continues, “Striving to tap into a lot of different things allows you to be able to understand and create unity, and create understanding, and create bridges across the borders. It allows you to do the best you can in that moment and really, really embrace that freedom.”

“We are a lifestyle brand that ties together so many worlds of influence,” explains Barr, referring to Onyx’s exploits outside music. “As a brand, we are representing New York streetwear as well as art and design concepts. We try to tie music, art, and fashion all together.”

The ideal vibe Barr wants to create at shows is a moment of clarity, a temporary universe that seizes everyone — band and audience alike — and compels them to focus on music in its purest form. In a world of careful social media curation and meticulously planned marketing campaigns targeted at specific demographics, Onyx Collective’s ephemeral approach to music feels important, pure escapism.

Not that Onyx Collective are planning to start their own clothing line anytime soon. Like the group’s free-form approach to music, the clothes ebb and flow based on how the collective feels. Fashion allows them to express a different side of their creativity. Regarding the music, Barr could never have predicted how prominent a role Onyx Collective would play in the current jazz revival alongside experimental acts such as Kamasi Washington,

And while the future of jazz remains unknown, Onyx Collective are in full control of their environment. After all, if they can make it in New York, they can succeed anywhere. As Barr says, “We’re gonna be turning heads, making a lot of surprises, and proving points just with the same order of operations that we’ve always done: putting out music [and] putting out content and art that is unique.”


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How does a band follow up a Grammy-nominated album? If they’re The Internet, it’s by pursuing solo projects and coming back feeling more interconnected than ever before. From Ego Death to Hive Mind, the five friends trace a journey that has led them to their best work yet, both as individual artists and as a band with an almost telepathic dynamic.

MAKE-UP SUTIDA VESTEWIG

PHOTOGRAPHY JULIEN TELL

WORDS BIANCA GIULIONE

THE INTERNET: HOW FIVE ENLIGHTENED EGOS FORMED A ‘HIVE MIND’

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How does a band follow up a Grammy-nominated album? If they’re The Internet, it’s by pursuing solo projects and coming back feeling more interconnected than ever before. From Ego Death to Hive Mind, the five friends trace a journey that has led them to their best work yet, both as individual artists and as a band with an almost telepathic dynamic.

MAKE-UP SUTIDA VESTEWIG

PHOTOGRAPHY JULIEN TELL

WORDS BIANCA GIULIONE

THE INTERNET: HOW FIVE ENLIGHTENED EGOS FORMED A ‘HIVE MIND’

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Nearly every in-depth artist profile starts out with a mise en scène of the situation. The location of a meeting between artist and journalist, what the subject is wearing, their overall demeanor, whether they’re late or right on time, what they order to eat or drink — it’s all meticulously documented and shared with the reader from the get-go. A profile on The Internet, however, isn’t so straightforward. First off, we’re backstage at a festival in Germany — Melt Festival, to be exact — and we have to squeeze in a photoshoot with all five members of the band while the interview is going down. A techno music kick drum relentlessly booms in the background, and members of various artists’ teams and festival crew alike are constantly passing through the supposedly private outdoor space. Based on what you can gather about The Internet from, well, the internet, Syd, Matt Martians, Patrick Paige II, Steve Lacy, and Christopher Smith are equal parts insanely talented, distinct, cool, and humble. The fact that our conversation opens with guitarist, co-producer, and vocalist Lacy freestyling as other members of the band drum on the table seems par for the course. Lacy is riffing on the fact that frontperson and co-founder Syd is away from the rest of the group getting her makeup done before their photoshoot. “If I could get my face beat, it would be a one-ten BPM,” he chides. How does one even attempt to ask the requisite bandgearing-up-to-release-a-new-album questions during something like this? It’s a week before The Internet are set to drop their fourth studio album Hive Mind, the follow-up to 2015’s Grammy-nominated Ego Death. In the interim, all five members have released their own excellent solo projects, before coming back together for the new record, much to the confusion of music journalists who had assumed the band broke up. 224

225

“Black people and black musicians, we can never come back together and apart. It’s like we’re not allowed to have dynamics,” says producer and co-founder Martians. “We’re best friends, but each of us has our own friend group and our own stories that everybody else doesn’t see. It’s like that in every band. You always have to have the air vents open for people to express themselves, solo-wise.” Open air vents proves to be an apt metaphor the more time you spend with The Internet. Over the course of an hour, vibrations and ideas float in and out — for some reason, insects are a recurring theme — and memorable meals are discussed in vivid detail. During their performance later that day, the band carve out slices of their setlist to perform some solo tracks, such as Martians’ “Diamonds in da Ruff” from his The Drum Chord Theory album. The five friends could not be the people they are, couldn’t make the music they have over the past seven or so years, with any vents closed. The group started work on Hive Mind about a year and a half after Ego Death, and there was an underlying struggle with each member trying to push themselves in new musical directions. There was a lot of pressure to formulate a collective sound, so the solo albums allowed The Internet to explore their individual sonic identities, with each member returning to the figurative “hive mind” with something new. “We all had sounds we didn’t even know we needed to get out,” explains Martians. “That’s the beauty of solo albums. They took a little bit of that weight off.” From Syd’s stripped-back R&B on Fin to Paige’s soul-baring solo debut Letters of Irrelevance, by allowing ample time to explore their own inner worlds and the outer sounds that might reflect them, each member was able to bring even more of themselves back to The Internet — from their expanded influences to the lessons learned from individual experimentation.


Nearly every in-depth artist profile starts out with a mise en scène of the situation. The location of a meeting between artist and journalist, what the subject is wearing, their overall demeanor, whether they’re late or right on time, what they order to eat or drink — it’s all meticulously documented and shared with the reader from the get-go. A profile on The Internet, however, isn’t so straightforward. First off, we’re backstage at a festival in Germany — Melt Festival, to be exact — and we have to squeeze in a photoshoot with all five members of the band while the interview is going down. A techno music kick drum relentlessly booms in the background, and members of various artists’ teams and festival crew alike are constantly passing through the supposedly private outdoor space. Based on what you can gather about The Internet from, well, the internet, Syd, Matt Martians, Patrick Paige II, Steve Lacy, and Christopher Smith are equal parts insanely talented, distinct, cool, and humble. The fact that our conversation opens with guitarist, co-producer, and vocalist Lacy freestyling as other members of the band drum on the table seems par for the course. Lacy is riffing on the fact that frontperson and co-founder Syd is away from the rest of the group getting her makeup done before their photoshoot. “If I could get my face beat, it would be a one-ten BPM,” he chides. How does one even attempt to ask the requisite bandgearing-up-to-release-a-new-album questions during something like this? It’s a week before The Internet are set to drop their fourth studio album Hive Mind, the follow-up to 2015’s Grammy-nominated Ego Death. In the interim, all five members have released their own excellent solo projects, before coming back together for the new record, much to the confusion of music journalists who had assumed the band broke up. 224

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“Black people and black musicians, we can never come back together and apart. It’s like we’re not allowed to have dynamics,” says producer and co-founder Martians. “We’re best friends, but each of us has our own friend group and our own stories that everybody else doesn’t see. It’s like that in every band. You always have to have the air vents open for people to express themselves, solo-wise.” Open air vents proves to be an apt metaphor the more time you spend with The Internet. Over the course of an hour, vibrations and ideas float in and out — for some reason, insects are a recurring theme — and memorable meals are discussed in vivid detail. During their performance later that day, the band carve out slices of their setlist to perform some solo tracks, such as Martians’ “Diamonds in da Ruff” from his The Drum Chord Theory album. The five friends could not be the people they are, couldn’t make the music they have over the past seven or so years, with any vents closed. The group started work on Hive Mind about a year and a half after Ego Death, and there was an underlying struggle with each member trying to push themselves in new musical directions. There was a lot of pressure to formulate a collective sound, so the solo albums allowed The Internet to explore their individual sonic identities, with each member returning to the figurative “hive mind” with something new. “We all had sounds we didn’t even know we needed to get out,” explains Martians. “That’s the beauty of solo albums. They took a little bit of that weight off.” From Syd’s stripped-back R&B on Fin to Paige’s soul-baring solo debut Letters of Irrelevance, by allowing ample time to explore their own inner worlds and the outer sounds that might reflect them, each member was able to bring even more of themselves back to The Internet — from their expanded influences to the lessons learned from individual experimentation.


The group’s oneness is apparent on Hive Mind opener “Come Together.” With psychedelic synchronicity, it sets a precedent for the rest of the album — a microcosm of where they’re at as a group and how far they’ve come. You can sense how grounded and focused they must have been while writing and recording the song, how rooted it is in foundational African-American music like gospel, soul, and R&B, while at the same time existing in an otherworldly state that can only be inhabited by The Internet. Unlike on previous projects, the band didn’t call upon guests to contribute this time around, save LA’s Moonchild, who played horns on certain tracks. Meanwhile, the band unanimously agree that a mellotron was the album’s MVP. It’s clear on Hive Mind that the five friends have gained enough confidence to put out music that is self-assured but not obvious, pop-adjacent but not pandering.

“WE ALL HAD SOUNDS WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WE NEEDED TO GET OUT.” — MARTIANS

Although Martians and Syd caught a glimpse of fame through their status as two founding members of Odd Future, forming The Internet felt like starting from scratch. Post-OFWGKTA, Syd went from DJing in front of thousands of people to performing in smaller venues to an audience of 50.

After catching a glimpse of their dynamic for an hour and hearing them describe it, it’s clear The Internet are truly operating on some sort of rare, telepathic tip. Whereas Ego Death suggested letting go of one’s sense of self-importance (Martians says he was researching psychedelics at the time and the two words stuck with him), Hive Mind is all about a group of egos, bodies, and minds joining forces on a subconscious level. “I saw these girls in Marvel comic books that are group psychics and I thought it was cool. It reminded me of us when I saw them,” says Martians, referring to the Stepford Cuckoos from the X-Men universe. “We all wear the same shit sometimes without planning it at all. I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re like a hive mind.’ It sounded cool.” The Internet definitely locked into their hive mind for their latest collection of songs. The new record is as focused as anything they’ve done, thanks in part to the experience and exposure they picked up from Ego Death and the addition of Lacy to the band, locking in both their lineup and their sound.

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The group’s oneness is apparent on Hive Mind opener “Come Together.” With psychedelic synchronicity, it sets a precedent for the rest of the album — a microcosm of where they’re at as a group and how far they’ve come. You can sense how grounded and focused they must have been while writing and recording the song, how rooted it is in foundational African-American music like gospel, soul, and R&B, while at the same time existing in an otherworldly state that can only be inhabited by The Internet. Unlike on previous projects, the band didn’t call upon guests to contribute this time around, save LA’s Moonchild, who played horns on certain tracks. Meanwhile, the band unanimously agree that a mellotron was the album’s MVP. It’s clear on Hive Mind that the five friends have gained enough confidence to put out music that is self-assured but not obvious, pop-adjacent but not pandering.

“WE ALL HAD SOUNDS WE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WE NEEDED TO GET OUT.” — MARTIANS

Although Martians and Syd caught a glimpse of fame through their status as two founding members of Odd Future, forming The Internet felt like starting from scratch. Post-OFWGKTA, Syd went from DJing in front of thousands of people to performing in smaller venues to an audience of 50.

After catching a glimpse of their dynamic for an hour and hearing them describe it, it’s clear The Internet are truly operating on some sort of rare, telepathic tip. Whereas Ego Death suggested letting go of one’s sense of self-importance (Martians says he was researching psychedelics at the time and the two words stuck with him), Hive Mind is all about a group of egos, bodies, and minds joining forces on a subconscious level. “I saw these girls in Marvel comic books that are group psychics and I thought it was cool. It reminded me of us when I saw them,” says Martians, referring to the Stepford Cuckoos from the X-Men universe. “We all wear the same shit sometimes without planning it at all. I was like, ‘Yeah, we’re like a hive mind.’ It sounded cool.” The Internet definitely locked into their hive mind for their latest collection of songs. The new record is as focused as anything they’ve done, thanks in part to the experience and exposure they picked up from Ego Death and the addition of Lacy to the band, locking in both their lineup and their sound.

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“You’ve got to develop your own sound and your own following,” says Martians. “I think that humbled us quite a bit.” The Internet went from those crowds of 50 to a Grammy nomination in just half a decade. But unfortunately, with accolades often comes the pressure to deliver the goods once more, to match or even outdo what you’ve already done. Luckily, The Internet aren’t the kind of band to be phased by the noise that surrounds them. “We don’t ever have pressure,” Martians muses. “It’s weird, I feel like people want us to be a certain type of band that we never wanted to be. We just like making consistent music and having stuff to perform.” “And having fun while doing so,” adds Lacy. From their debut album Purple Naked Ladies, masterminded mostly by Syd and Martians, to Hive Mind, the group has expanded its universe masterfully into a cluster of sounds ranging from neo-soul and experimental jazz to funk, indie rock, and R&B. And that’s mostly been possible because of the band’s insistence on doing things their way, and on taking their time, despite how quickly fans and record labels might want a project to drop. “People consume things, because of social media, at an unhealthy rate, and they want to be fed again very fast,” says Martians. “Quality takes time. It takes composition and story. We have to live a little to have something to talk about.”


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“You’ve got to develop your own sound and your own following,” says Martians. “I think that humbled us quite a bit.” The Internet went from those crowds of 50 to a Grammy nomination in just half a decade. But unfortunately, with accolades often comes the pressure to deliver the goods once more, to match or even outdo what you’ve already done. Luckily, The Internet aren’t the kind of band to be phased by the noise that surrounds them. “We don’t ever have pressure,” Martians muses. “It’s weird, I feel like people want us to be a certain type of band that we never wanted to be. We just like making consistent music and having stuff to perform.” “And having fun while doing so,” adds Lacy. From their debut album Purple Naked Ladies, masterminded mostly by Syd and Martians, to Hive Mind, the group has expanded its universe masterfully into a cluster of sounds ranging from neo-soul and experimental jazz to funk, indie rock, and R&B. And that’s mostly been possible because of the band’s insistence on doing things their way, and on taking their time, despite how quickly fans and record labels might want a project to drop. “People consume things, because of social media, at an unhealthy rate, and they want to be fed again very fast,” says Martians. “Quality takes time. It takes composition and story. We have to live a little to have something to talk about.”


“WE JUST STOP. WE DON’T REALLY FORCE THE MUSIC-MAKING.” — SYD In taking time off to experience things and explore who they are as individuals in life and as artists, Syd, Matt, Steve, Chris, and Pat strengthened their group dynamic, refining their music like never before. The recording of Hive Mind mostly took place in and around Los Angeles, where most of The Internet grew up, while a few of the album’s songs — “Hold On,” “Wanna Be,” and “Beat Goes On” — came together surprisingly quickly in Australia after a two-month drought in which the band couldn’t come up with anything new. When asked how they deal with creative blocks, Syd replies in her distinctive, impossibly chill voice, “We just stop. We don’t really force the music-making.” “Beat Goes On” immediately comes to mind for both Martians and Lacy when prompted to talk about some of the more intense life experiences that had affected Hive Mind’s songwriting. “That was one we definitely felt deeply for,” says Lacy. Both members were dealing with issues with their respective lovers while on the road, and at a certain point, the song just started to flow. “The beat goes on, we’re gonna play music, our heartbeat is still gonna go. In many ways the beat still goes on,” Lacy continues, echoing the existential freedom of a weirdly wonderful song that unexpectedly launches into a trip-hop excursion midway through. For Paige, bassist and songwriter, the rap outro of “It Gets Better (With Time)” is a confessional, cathartic moment. He lays bare his past struggles with alcohol and the more solid, sober ground he stands on now. 230

“My verse on there, that was definitely some shit for me,” Paige says. “I am in a better place in life because it was dark for a minute, but it’s better now. I’m still not perfect, nobody’s ever gonna be perfect, but I definitely feel better.” Paige and Lacy have an ongoing in-joke that the band is an ever-changing cast of family members. And Syd is proud of how the group’s strong personal bond has been exemplified by their new collection of songs. You can catch a glimpse of the hive mind in action in the album’s visual accompaniments. Each promo video for the album manages to convey a lightness of being, both as individuals and as the organism known as The Internet. Whether they’re embracing the breeze in the back of a pickup truck traveling along a forest highway in the “La Di Da” video or sitting on the couch watching a movie with their lovers in “Come Over,” there’s a rarified air of peaceful cohesion. Lacy compares his pride in what The Internet has accomplished on Hive Mind to an unexpected discovery while shopping. “A good album is a treasure you find in a thrift store,” he explains. “I’ll go record shopping and buy maybe 20, 30 CDs, and out of all of those, there might be like two songs you like on there. But to find a whole album is like, ‘Holy shit, I’m gonna wear this jacket for a long time.’” The group is unanimous in the view that they want to be remembered for consistently putting out good music. “A group that did it their way,” adds drummer Smith. Although all of their releases have been marked by experimentation and a desire to push boundaries of genre and what it means to be black musicians in the 21st century, Hive Mind is an assurance that The Internet has entered into timeless territory. Or, as Martians puts it: “Diamonds are forever — we go as far as we want to.”

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“WE JUST STOP. WE DON’T REALLY FORCE THE MUSIC-MAKING.” — SYD In taking time off to experience things and explore who they are as individuals in life and as artists, Syd, Matt, Steve, Chris, and Pat strengthened their group dynamic, refining their music like never before. The recording of Hive Mind mostly took place in and around Los Angeles, where most of The Internet grew up, while a few of the album’s songs — “Hold On,” “Wanna Be,” and “Beat Goes On” — came together surprisingly quickly in Australia after a two-month drought in which the band couldn’t come up with anything new. When asked how they deal with creative blocks, Syd replies in her distinctive, impossibly chill voice, “We just stop. We don’t really force the music-making.” “Beat Goes On” immediately comes to mind for both Martians and Lacy when prompted to talk about some of the more intense life experiences that had affected Hive Mind’s songwriting. “That was one we definitely felt deeply for,” says Lacy. Both members were dealing with issues with their respective lovers while on the road, and at a certain point, the song just started to flow. “The beat goes on, we’re gonna play music, our heartbeat is still gonna go. In many ways the beat still goes on,” Lacy continues, echoing the existential freedom of a weirdly wonderful song that unexpectedly launches into a trip-hop excursion midway through. For Paige, bassist and songwriter, the rap outro of “It Gets Better (With Time)” is a confessional, cathartic moment. He lays bare his past struggles with alcohol and the more solid, sober ground he stands on now. 230

“My verse on there, that was definitely some shit for me,” Paige says. “I am in a better place in life because it was dark for a minute, but it’s better now. I’m still not perfect, nobody’s ever gonna be perfect, but I definitely feel better.” Paige and Lacy have an ongoing in-joke that the band is an ever-changing cast of family members. And Syd is proud of how the group’s strong personal bond has been exemplified by their new collection of songs. You can catch a glimpse of the hive mind in action in the album’s visual accompaniments. Each promo video for the album manages to convey a lightness of being, both as individuals and as the organism known as The Internet. Whether they’re embracing the breeze in the back of a pickup truck traveling along a forest highway in the “La Di Da” video or sitting on the couch watching a movie with their lovers in “Come Over,” there’s a rarified air of peaceful cohesion. Lacy compares his pride in what The Internet has accomplished on Hive Mind to an unexpected discovery while shopping. “A good album is a treasure you find in a thrift store,” he explains. “I’ll go record shopping and buy maybe 20, 30 CDs, and out of all of those, there might be like two songs you like on there. But to find a whole album is like, ‘Holy shit, I’m gonna wear this jacket for a long time.’” The group is unanimous in the view that they want to be remembered for consistently putting out good music. “A group that did it their way,” adds drummer Smith. Although all of their releases have been marked by experimentation and a desire to push boundaries of genre and what it means to be black musicians in the 21st century, Hive Mind is an assurance that The Internet has entered into timeless territory. Or, as Martians puts it: “Diamonds are forever — we go as far as we want to.”

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CHINATOWN MARKET

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WORDS ALEC BANKS PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS WELCH

At 27 years old, Chinatown Market’s Mike Cherman is already a veteran of streetwear culture. He worked at key San Diego retailers such as UNIV and 5&A Dime, at NewYork’s Prohibit, and eventually parlayed a guerrilla postering campaign he masterminded from his Parsons School of Design print lab into a job with Jeff Staple. He has as many detractors as supporters, but his critics can’t do anything to wipe the smile off his face — or his brand’s.


CHINATOWN MARKET

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WORDS ALEC BANKS PHOTOGRAPHY THOMAS WELCH

At 27 years old, Chinatown Market’s Mike Cherman is already a veteran of streetwear culture. He worked at key San Diego retailers such as UNIV and 5&A Dime, at NewYork’s Prohibit, and eventually parlayed a guerrilla postering campaign he masterminded from his Parsons School of Design print lab into a job with Jeff Staple. He has as many detractors as supporters, but his critics can’t do anything to wipe the smile off his face — or his brand’s.


Six Ounce Studio in Los Angeles is situated in a graffiti-covered parcel of real estate that is flanked by the 10 Freeway to the north and the non-existent Los Angeles River to the east. Inside is the base of operations for upstart fashion label Chinatown Market. Straight away you know you’re in the right place — the brand’s moniker has been printed numerous times below a loading dock with a $6,000 printing gun that looks similar to a phaser from Star Trek. Alongside is a similar visual marking for Prada. It’s the perfect representation of what Chinatown Market is doing. It’s fast, easy to produce, tongue-in-cheek, and unafraid of the power and litigiousness of major labels. Inside, workers diligently package numerous boxes ready to be shipped. Along an outer wall is an inventory of merchandise. Most is emblazoned with the brand’s smiley face logo, part of a licensing deal with SmileyWorld, the London-based company that first registered rights to the ubiquitous yellow-faced symbol decades ago. SmileyWorld once even forced the brand to stop production on certain early items after Chinatown’s smile was deemed “wrong.” Brand founder Mike Cherman sits behind a desk overlooking two graphic designers. You get the sense that he’s not looking over their shoulder, but that there’s a part of him that misses focusing solely on the creative side of the business rather than the laborious details of running the thing. As he fires off emails, I’m drawn to the bookshelf. I’ve learned that what people keep close by is often a good representation of what they think they need around them to be creative. On the shelf is Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles, Top Graphics, Figure Drawing, The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour, American Trademark Designs, and The Anarchist Cookbook among others.

Cherman is referring to his time working on ICNY, a brand born of necessity that added reflective materials to American Apparel T-shirts and Uniqlo socks to prevent cyclists from falling victim to reckless motorists. Although the brand was a success, collaborating with PUMA and being stocked by colette and Urban Outfitters, Cherman’s inability to flex his creative muscles via a multitude of projects ultimately led him to leaving ICNY altogether. “I found that to be one of the most limiting things I’d ever dealt with,” he says. When Cherman is finally swayed into taking a break for half an hour, it’s quite telling that he starts by talking about his admiration for his staff rather than his own accomplishments. At 27 years old, he is already well seasoned in fashion thanks to stints working as an assistant designer at Nike Bowery Stadium in New York, freelance designer at KITH, and as the founder and creative director of his own brand, ICNY. But the “one-man show” attitude that once served him so well has now transitioned into a mentorship role at the head of a team. “I like to kind of call us The Lost Boys of streetwear,” Cherman says. “I want [my staff] to go through the same trajectory that I did, so they can understand not only how to make a product, but also how to ship it, how to warehouse it, how to do all these things, and empower them to have the chance to fail a little bit so they can learn and get better.” Although the two aforementioned graphic designers are tasked with creating many of the items adorning the inventory shelf, Cherman encourages everyone — from the marketing department to those packing boxes — to pitch new ideas. He understands that many on his staff have future aspirations to be brand owners themselves. This doesn’t worry him at all. Rather, it’s a point of pride that he hasn’t surrounded himself with pawns he can sacrifice for his own financial gain. “I say it to all these kids: ‘I don’t think that you should work here forever,’” he says. “When I started my first brand, I got an investor, I got a non-compete, and I could only work on that brand.”

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Blessings are said to come in the form of disguises. If this is to be believed, Chinatown Market’s smiley face logo puts a happy spin on the dark period from which Cherman emerged. Leaving New York behind, he ventured to Los Angeles to embark on something completely different. Whereas many creatives fall in love with the skate and surf culture embedded in various facets of Southern California life, Cherman instead opted to be guided by something from his childhood: New York City’s Canal Street, the one-time bootleg capital of the world. “My dad worked in the fashion district,” he says. “We’d go down to Canal Street to go eat and shop. As a kid it’s just so eye-opening. Whether it was going to buy a journal to write in, the swimming frogs, or [buying] a fake Rolex.”

Canal Street might be at the core of Chinatown Market’s DNA, but Cherman is quick to point out that Los Angeles afforded him something the Big Apple never could: ample real estate and affordable rent. “Doing what we do out here would not be possible in New York,” he admits. “I literally could not have this office. I literally couldn’t have this many people working with me, none of it.” The seeds for what would become Chinatown Market began with the idea for a single product, a collaboration between himself and photographer Alex Bortz. Both were amused by the thought of screen-printing the phrase “Fuck you, you fucking fuck” on a T-shirt. It’s an NYC tourist tee that recalls the eye-opening experiences of his youth, but Cherman also says it sums up his own creative attitude. Cherman was and probably always will be “Mikey Merchandise” at heart — a nickname he earned in high school after producing some DIY T-shirts — so he designed the text and printed out a run. He had a booth at ComplexCon, where he figured he could at least recoup his investment if the reception was tepid. Chinatown Market wasn’t an overnight success, but there was enough of a positive response in the industry that folks suggested he sell in places like Dover Street Market.


Six Ounce Studio in Los Angeles is situated in a graffiti-covered parcel of real estate that is flanked by the 10 Freeway to the north and the non-existent Los Angeles River to the east. Inside is the base of operations for upstart fashion label Chinatown Market. Straight away you know you’re in the right place — the brand’s moniker has been printed numerous times below a loading dock with a $6,000 printing gun that looks similar to a phaser from Star Trek. Alongside is a similar visual marking for Prada. It’s the perfect representation of what Chinatown Market is doing. It’s fast, easy to produce, tongue-in-cheek, and unafraid of the power and litigiousness of major labels. Inside, workers diligently package numerous boxes ready to be shipped. Along an outer wall is an inventory of merchandise. Most is emblazoned with the brand’s smiley face logo, part of a licensing deal with SmileyWorld, the London-based company that first registered rights to the ubiquitous yellow-faced symbol decades ago. SmileyWorld once even forced the brand to stop production on certain early items after Chinatown’s smile was deemed “wrong.” Brand founder Mike Cherman sits behind a desk overlooking two graphic designers. You get the sense that he’s not looking over their shoulder, but that there’s a part of him that misses focusing solely on the creative side of the business rather than the laborious details of running the thing. As he fires off emails, I’m drawn to the bookshelf. I’ve learned that what people keep close by is often a good representation of what they think they need around them to be creative. On the shelf is Slash: A Punk Magazine From Los Angeles, Top Graphics, Figure Drawing, The Best of Punch Cartoons in Colour, American Trademark Designs, and The Anarchist Cookbook among others.

Cherman is referring to his time working on ICNY, a brand born of necessity that added reflective materials to American Apparel T-shirts and Uniqlo socks to prevent cyclists from falling victim to reckless motorists. Although the brand was a success, collaborating with PUMA and being stocked by colette and Urban Outfitters, Cherman’s inability to flex his creative muscles via a multitude of projects ultimately led him to leaving ICNY altogether. “I found that to be one of the most limiting things I’d ever dealt with,” he says. When Cherman is finally swayed into taking a break for half an hour, it’s quite telling that he starts by talking about his admiration for his staff rather than his own accomplishments. At 27 years old, he is already well seasoned in fashion thanks to stints working as an assistant designer at Nike Bowery Stadium in New York, freelance designer at KITH, and as the founder and creative director of his own brand, ICNY. But the “one-man show” attitude that once served him so well has now transitioned into a mentorship role at the head of a team. “I like to kind of call us The Lost Boys of streetwear,” Cherman says. “I want [my staff] to go through the same trajectory that I did, so they can understand not only how to make a product, but also how to ship it, how to warehouse it, how to do all these things, and empower them to have the chance to fail a little bit so they can learn and get better.” Although the two aforementioned graphic designers are tasked with creating many of the items adorning the inventory shelf, Cherman encourages everyone — from the marketing department to those packing boxes — to pitch new ideas. He understands that many on his staff have future aspirations to be brand owners themselves. This doesn’t worry him at all. Rather, it’s a point of pride that he hasn’t surrounded himself with pawns he can sacrifice for his own financial gain. “I say it to all these kids: ‘I don’t think that you should work here forever,’” he says. “When I started my first brand, I got an investor, I got a non-compete, and I could only work on that brand.”

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Blessings are said to come in the form of disguises. If this is to be believed, Chinatown Market’s smiley face logo puts a happy spin on the dark period from which Cherman emerged. Leaving New York behind, he ventured to Los Angeles to embark on something completely different. Whereas many creatives fall in love with the skate and surf culture embedded in various facets of Southern California life, Cherman instead opted to be guided by something from his childhood: New York City’s Canal Street, the one-time bootleg capital of the world. “My dad worked in the fashion district,” he says. “We’d go down to Canal Street to go eat and shop. As a kid it’s just so eye-opening. Whether it was going to buy a journal to write in, the swimming frogs, or [buying] a fake Rolex.”

Canal Street might be at the core of Chinatown Market’s DNA, but Cherman is quick to point out that Los Angeles afforded him something the Big Apple never could: ample real estate and affordable rent. “Doing what we do out here would not be possible in New York,” he admits. “I literally could not have this office. I literally couldn’t have this many people working with me, none of it.” The seeds for what would become Chinatown Market began with the idea for a single product, a collaboration between himself and photographer Alex Bortz. Both were amused by the thought of screen-printing the phrase “Fuck you, you fucking fuck” on a T-shirt. It’s an NYC tourist tee that recalls the eye-opening experiences of his youth, but Cherman also says it sums up his own creative attitude. Cherman was and probably always will be “Mikey Merchandise” at heart — a nickname he earned in high school after producing some DIY T-shirts — so he designed the text and printed out a run. He had a booth at ComplexCon, where he figured he could at least recoup his investment if the reception was tepid. Chinatown Market wasn’t an overnight success, but there was enough of a positive response in the industry that folks suggested he sell in places like Dover Street Market.


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“I WANT [MY STAFF] TO GO THROUGH THE SAME TRAJECTORY THAT I DID, SO THEY CAN UNDERSTAND NOT ONLY HOW TO MAKE A PRODUCT, BUT ALSO HOW TO SHIP IT, HOW TO WAREHOUSE IT, HOW TO DO ALL THESE THINGS, AND EMPOWER THEM TO HAVE THE CHANCE TO FAIL A LITTLE BIT SO THEY CAN LEARN AND GET BETTER.”

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He didn’t want Chinatown Market to be a retread of ICNY, though, aiming to grab the attention of boutiques around the world. This time, Cherman was adamant about putting his business ahead of his ego. This meant forging a key partnership with Urban Outfitters, which happened to be confirming a new T-shirt order just as I stepped into Cherman’s office. The decision earned him more critics, who interpreted it as a shortterm financial play that could hurt a nascent streetwear brand’s credibility — especially in an industry where cool is the ultimate currency. But Cherman stands firm on his choice. “I’m here to run a business,” he says. “You can try to knock retailers like Urban Outfitters, but people who do that don’t acknowledge what they’ve done for the industry. Places like Urban Outfitters actually sell great clothing and they support great brands. Right now you could go buy all the great Champion Reverse Weave from them and they’re partly responsible for bringing back Champion.” Cherman has a point. Urban Outfitters and other retailers such as PacSun and Zumiez have been financially beneficial for the brands who call them stockists, even if they might be considered detrimental in the sense that brands are often perceived as sellouts as soon as their products become widely available. Right now, you can find Stüssy, PLEASURES, Baker Skateboards, and BOW3RY at Urban Outfitters. But of course you’d never find BAPE or Supreme on its shelves. Certainly the streetwear brands stocked there haven’t lost credibility and still remain independent. But they also consistently make good product, and unlike the Supremes and BAPES of the world, many lack their own flagship stores around the globe. Maybe the stores that stock a brand aren’t as important as what customers think of the clothes themselves. After all, consumers are the ones who decide if a label has jumped the shark.

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He didn’t want Chinatown Market to be a retread of ICNY, though, aiming to grab the attention of boutiques around the world. This time, Cherman was adamant about putting his business ahead of his ego. This meant forging a key partnership with Urban Outfitters, which happened to be confirming a new T-shirt order just as I stepped into Cherman’s office. The decision earned him more critics, who interpreted it as a shortterm financial play that could hurt a nascent streetwear brand’s credibility — especially in an industry where cool is the ultimate currency. But Cherman stands firm on his choice. “I’m here to run a business,” he says. “You can try to knock retailers like Urban Outfitters, but people who do that don’t acknowledge what they’ve done for the industry. Places like Urban Outfitters actually sell great clothing and they support great brands. Right now you could go buy all the great Champion Reverse Weave from them and they’re partly responsible for bringing back Champion.” Cherman has a point. Urban Outfitters and other retailers such as PacSun and Zumiez have been financially beneficial for the brands who call them stockists, even if they might be considered detrimental in the sense that brands are often perceived as sellouts as soon as their products become widely available. Right now, you can find Stüssy, PLEASURES, Baker Skateboards, and BOW3RY at Urban Outfitters. But of course you’d never find BAPE or Supreme on its shelves. Certainly the streetwear brands stocked there haven’t lost credibility and still remain independent. But they also consistently make good product, and unlike the Supremes and BAPES of the world, many lack their own flagship stores around the globe. Maybe the stores that stock a brand aren’t as important as what customers think of the clothes themselves. After all, consumers are the ones who decide if a label has jumped the shark.

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"WE’RE HERE TO GIVE HOMAGE TO THESE LARGE CORPORATE MONSTERS THAT ESSENTIALLY ARE LUXURY BRANDS AND PULL THAT DOWN TO GROUND LEVEL.”

“I just find that in streetwear, the idea of exclusivity and the idea of stuff that you can’t get your hands on was half of the novelty of it,” Cherman reasons. Bootleg products are the antithesis of exclusive. The very goal is to produce something that mirrors established ideas and designs, albeit with a twist so as not to be labeled counterfeit. And the process is built on speed. “The whole idea that we have is that no idea should have to leave here to get executed,” Cherman explains. “We should be able to come up with an idea by 7 a.m., it should be online by noon, be able to be finished by production by 7 p.m., and shipping by the morning. That’s the entire business that we want to run.”

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This efficient approach was a hallmark of Chinatown Market’s early — albeit controversial — successes. When Frank Ocean released his album Blonde in 2016, Cherman noticed a song called “Nikes.” He quickly mocked up a design with the singer’s name above and below Nike’s iconic Swoosh. Overnight, swooshfrankocean.com generated $40,000 in sales before the singer’s representatives sent a cease-and-desist and Cherman was forced to refund all the money. “It was really an eye-opener for me,” he says. “I was like, ‘This is how I can approach design.’ It can be reactionary. It can be stuff that’s out there in the sphere. I can put it together, put it onto a shirt, market it, and we can sell it immediately.” This year, Cherman turned a Kanye West tweet — in which the rapper insinuated that Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy had designed a neck tattoo to honor West’s son, Saint — into a T-shirt using the same free downloadable font, Art Dystopia, used in the design West had shared. As there were no grounds for legal recourse, Chinatown Market had gamed the system by working with the speed and topical relevance of meme culture. “We already had it all online before anyone had talked about it,” Cherman says. Months later, when West launched his album ye at a listening party in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Cherman took notice of the merch being documented on social media, especially the black dad cap with “KANYE WEST / ALBUM LISTENING / MAY 31 2018 / JACKSON HOLE” emblazoned on the front. He made his own version and put it up for sale, beating West’s official merchandising company Bravado to the punch. Although Bravado made West’s ye merch available online shortly after the listening party, it didn’t make the hat one of the items people could purchase.

Perhaps the brand’s most noticeable success to date was its take on Converse’s Chuck Taylor high-top silhouette, customized with a Nike Swoosh screen-printed on the upper. Although the design was never sold to the general public — and made without Converse’s official consent — it still graced LeBron James’ feet prior to game two of the 2018 NBA Finals. “Those are the moments where it validates all the hard work,” says Cherman. While the legality of some of Chinatown Market’s early products is debatable, Cherman gets particularly fired up when he references other brands that think he is pilfering their ideas. Whereas the old model dictates that brands be several seasons ahead, Chinatown Market is free to explore ideas whenever it wants. “I don’t copy streetwear brands,” he states adamantly. “I’m not looking at people next to me. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to give homage to these large corporate monsters that essentially are luxury brands and pull that down to ground level.” As we’re finishing up, I’m reminded of a quote from Ethan Hawke’s character in Training Day. When riffing about his attempts to understand the motivations of people on the streets, he quips, “You gotta control your smiles and cries, because that’s all you have and nobody can take that away from you.” Cherman has seen relationships falter, had a brand taken away from him, and been accused of thievery. And yet, the smiley faces adorning everything from a pop-up tent to a table tennis paddle in his office suggest he’s literally taken ownership of his emotions. And in this moment, he’s about nothing more than getting Chinatown Market to the next level — on his own terms. “A lot of people have approached this business about investing and about getting involved,” he admits. “But I’m gonna try my best to run this thing as far as I can go without having to do that. It’s not gonna be easy, but that’s part of building a business. If I wanted it to be easy, I would go pick another profession.”


"WE’RE HERE TO GIVE HOMAGE TO THESE LARGE CORPORATE MONSTERS THAT ESSENTIALLY ARE LUXURY BRANDS AND PULL THAT DOWN TO GROUND LEVEL.”

“I just find that in streetwear, the idea of exclusivity and the idea of stuff that you can’t get your hands on was half of the novelty of it,” Cherman reasons. Bootleg products are the antithesis of exclusive. The very goal is to produce something that mirrors established ideas and designs, albeit with a twist so as not to be labeled counterfeit. And the process is built on speed. “The whole idea that we have is that no idea should have to leave here to get executed,” Cherman explains. “We should be able to come up with an idea by 7 a.m., it should be online by noon, be able to be finished by production by 7 p.m., and shipping by the morning. That’s the entire business that we want to run.”

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This efficient approach was a hallmark of Chinatown Market’s early — albeit controversial — successes. When Frank Ocean released his album Blonde in 2016, Cherman noticed a song called “Nikes.” He quickly mocked up a design with the singer’s name above and below Nike’s iconic Swoosh. Overnight, swooshfrankocean.com generated $40,000 in sales before the singer’s representatives sent a cease-and-desist and Cherman was forced to refund all the money. “It was really an eye-opener for me,” he says. “I was like, ‘This is how I can approach design.’ It can be reactionary. It can be stuff that’s out there in the sphere. I can put it together, put it onto a shirt, market it, and we can sell it immediately.” This year, Cherman turned a Kanye West tweet — in which the rapper insinuated that Russian designer Gosha Rubchinskiy had designed a neck tattoo to honor West’s son, Saint — into a T-shirt using the same free downloadable font, Art Dystopia, used in the design West had shared. As there were no grounds for legal recourse, Chinatown Market had gamed the system by working with the speed and topical relevance of meme culture. “We already had it all online before anyone had talked about it,” Cherman says. Months later, when West launched his album ye at a listening party in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Cherman took notice of the merch being documented on social media, especially the black dad cap with “KANYE WEST / ALBUM LISTENING / MAY 31 2018 / JACKSON HOLE” emblazoned on the front. He made his own version and put it up for sale, beating West’s official merchandising company Bravado to the punch. Although Bravado made West’s ye merch available online shortly after the listening party, it didn’t make the hat one of the items people could purchase.

Perhaps the brand’s most noticeable success to date was its take on Converse’s Chuck Taylor high-top silhouette, customized with a Nike Swoosh screen-printed on the upper. Although the design was never sold to the general public — and made without Converse’s official consent — it still graced LeBron James’ feet prior to game two of the 2018 NBA Finals. “Those are the moments where it validates all the hard work,” says Cherman. While the legality of some of Chinatown Market’s early products is debatable, Cherman gets particularly fired up when he references other brands that think he is pilfering their ideas. Whereas the old model dictates that brands be several seasons ahead, Chinatown Market is free to explore ideas whenever it wants. “I don’t copy streetwear brands,” he states adamantly. “I’m not looking at people next to me. That’s not what we’re here for. We’re here to give homage to these large corporate monsters that essentially are luxury brands and pull that down to ground level.” As we’re finishing up, I’m reminded of a quote from Ethan Hawke’s character in Training Day. When riffing about his attempts to understand the motivations of people on the streets, he quips, “You gotta control your smiles and cries, because that’s all you have and nobody can take that away from you.” Cherman has seen relationships falter, had a brand taken away from him, and been accused of thievery. And yet, the smiley faces adorning everything from a pop-up tent to a table tennis paddle in his office suggest he’s literally taken ownership of his emotions. And in this moment, he’s about nothing more than getting Chinatown Market to the next level — on his own terms. “A lot of people have approached this business about investing and about getting involved,” he admits. “But I’m gonna try my best to run this thing as far as I can go without having to do that. It’s not gonna be easy, but that’s part of building a business. If I wanted it to be easy, I would go pick another profession.”


THE FUTURE IS GREEN Dio Kurazawa WORDS ALEC LEACH PHOTOGRAPHY EVA AL DESNUDO

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It’s no secret that fashion is bad for the planet. Our addiction to cheap, disposable clothes is creating a global environmental crisis, and despite all the sustainability initiatives, conscious collections, and corporate responsibility programs out there, the industry isn’t adapting fast enough. Supply chains are opaque, complex, and difficult to change. Brands are thinking of their bottom line, not the ice caps and oceans. The human cost is tremendous, too. Garment-producing countries are locked in a race to the bottom, set off by fast fashion’s obsession with rock-bottom prices. That means factories cut corners with regulations and worker safety: in 2013, 1,134 Bangladeshi garment workers were killed when the eight-story Rana Plaza factory in Savar collapsed on top of them. To make matters worse, there’s an ideological schism. What does sustainability even mean? Is it simply reducing a company’s negative impact wherever possible, or is it completely revolutionizing consumption habits? On the one hand, we can minimize waste, incorporate more recycled fibers, and reduce chemical and water consumption, but that’s not going to solve things long-term — clothing consumption is set to rocket in the coming years as developing markets fulfill their true potential as consumers. Different solutions have been offered by more radical minds, such as William McDonough, the award-winning architect and author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. McDonough believes the only way we can truly get out of the mess we’re in is by completely overhauling the way we design, produce, and consume things, only making goods that actually benefit the world we live in.

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The word “sustainability” in fashion might bring to mind hemp tote bags and corporate greenwashing, but behind the scenes there’s been rapid progress and insane innovation. Dio Kurazawa is a production expert who’s worked in the clothing industry his whole life — and he’s on the frontline of the war against waste, pollution, and worker exploitation.

Another figure on the frontline of the sustainability movement is Dio Kurazawa. He’s been in the clothing industry his whole life. He grew up running his family’s factory in Thailand before doing production for fast-fashion brands. During this time he saw firsthand how cost-cutting measures harmed workers and damaged the environment in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Mexico. Now he’s denim director of trend forecasting agency WGSN and runs his own company, The Bear Scouts. In this role, he’s a middle man between brands and manufacturers, helping labels to achieve their sustainability goals by overhauling their production and supply chains using innovative technology. For Kurazawa, it’s about building from the ground up, helping brands on their journey toward a so-called “circular supply chain,” wherein waste is turned into new products. He only works with forward-thinking, influential labels. Right now he’s producing for 1017 ALYX 9SM, Ex Infinitas, and Soulland, knowing that wherever influential brands lead, others will follow. He turns down fast-fashion business as a matter of principle. We caught up with Kurazawa as he met with Art Comes First’s Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh to get his thoughts on what the future holds for clothing production, consumption, and the fast-fashion industry.


THE FUTURE IS GREEN Dio Kurazawa WORDS ALEC LEACH PHOTOGRAPHY EVA AL DESNUDO

242

It’s no secret that fashion is bad for the planet. Our addiction to cheap, disposable clothes is creating a global environmental crisis, and despite all the sustainability initiatives, conscious collections, and corporate responsibility programs out there, the industry isn’t adapting fast enough. Supply chains are opaque, complex, and difficult to change. Brands are thinking of their bottom line, not the ice caps and oceans. The human cost is tremendous, too. Garment-producing countries are locked in a race to the bottom, set off by fast fashion’s obsession with rock-bottom prices. That means factories cut corners with regulations and worker safety: in 2013, 1,134 Bangladeshi garment workers were killed when the eight-story Rana Plaza factory in Savar collapsed on top of them. To make matters worse, there’s an ideological schism. What does sustainability even mean? Is it simply reducing a company’s negative impact wherever possible, or is it completely revolutionizing consumption habits? On the one hand, we can minimize waste, incorporate more recycled fibers, and reduce chemical and water consumption, but that’s not going to solve things long-term — clothing consumption is set to rocket in the coming years as developing markets fulfill their true potential as consumers. Different solutions have been offered by more radical minds, such as William McDonough, the award-winning architect and author of Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things. McDonough believes the only way we can truly get out of the mess we’re in is by completely overhauling the way we design, produce, and consume things, only making goods that actually benefit the world we live in.

243

The word “sustainability” in fashion might bring to mind hemp tote bags and corporate greenwashing, but behind the scenes there’s been rapid progress and insane innovation. Dio Kurazawa is a production expert who’s worked in the clothing industry his whole life — and he’s on the frontline of the war against waste, pollution, and worker exploitation.

Another figure on the frontline of the sustainability movement is Dio Kurazawa. He’s been in the clothing industry his whole life. He grew up running his family’s factory in Thailand before doing production for fast-fashion brands. During this time he saw firsthand how cost-cutting measures harmed workers and damaged the environment in countries like Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Mexico. Now he’s denim director of trend forecasting agency WGSN and runs his own company, The Bear Scouts. In this role, he’s a middle man between brands and manufacturers, helping labels to achieve their sustainability goals by overhauling their production and supply chains using innovative technology. For Kurazawa, it’s about building from the ground up, helping brands on their journey toward a so-called “circular supply chain,” wherein waste is turned into new products. He only works with forward-thinking, influential labels. Right now he’s producing for 1017 ALYX 9SM, Ex Infinitas, and Soulland, knowing that wherever influential brands lead, others will follow. He turns down fast-fashion business as a matter of principle. We caught up with Kurazawa as he met with Art Comes First’s Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh to get his thoughts on what the future holds for clothing production, consumption, and the fast-fashion industry.


How do you feel the sustainability issue is going, right now?

What do you think about the future of clothing production?

There are always going to be players like Patagonia, Levi’s, and Everlane who are really passionate about it. But as consumers don’t really demand it at the moment, the industry has to demand it. With companies like Zalando, MR PORTER, and ASOS making big statements about taking on brands that are only focused on sustainability, I think that will mark a big shift. That kind of statement changes the way the industry looks at sustainability.

I prepare my bespoke supply chains for a more consumerto-manufacturer relationship. I think in the future, designers and buyers will select silhouettes, they’ll select fabric options, they’ll select hardware options, and they’ll select color options. They’ll allow the consumer to put those pieces together, and that customized or bespoke look will go directly to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will have a direct link to that information and produce whatever needs to be produced for the client or consumer directly.

How do you define sustainability? Is it using a bit less water? Or is it completely overhauling the way we produce, consume, and design things? For me, it’s the latter. You could easily say that it’s also reducing water, and I’m not gonna say that that’s wrong, because we need to do that as well. It’s about first having the conversation: looking at your business and how your business can specifically reduce some chemical usage, can reduce some water usage, can reduce some energy usage. But it’s also about looking at how to give back to the plant. For example, at the moment I’m dealing with laboratories who are making leather out of food waste, out of Cocoa Puffs, which is crazy enough, but it actually looks convincing. That’s where I think sustainability is going. Sustainability, the word itself, is not the final terminology. It doesn’t have an endpoint. Have you read Cradle to Cradle? Yes, of course. I’m a huge fan of Cradle to Cradle. But the biggest challenge is that not every product is able to be Cradle to Cradle certified. We’re lucky enough to see G-Star having Cradle to Cradle certified gold denim fabric. They’ve actually created a denim that’s as sustainable as any denim has ever been, because the fabric can be broken down and reused. Essentially anyone can use that fabric now. It’s open source. The other part is that they use all these new technologies to make sure there’s no chemicals or no heavy water. That’s huge, but we need that kind of innovation everywhere. So does that mean if you have a pair of G-Star jeans made with Cradle to Cradle gold-certified denim, once you’re bored with them, they can be recycled with no loss or waste? You’re not gonna get a one-to-one. You won’t get a pair of pants from a pair of pants because it’ll be a smaller yield, of course. But you’re still able to put that back into a garment and produce a brand new garment from that used item. It’s really amazing what they’ve done. G-Star’s not just talking about it, they’re really about that shit. They’re not trying to do it for publicity or any other reason. They really are pushing the envelope.

You’ll no longer have the need to overproduce and hope that it sells. It will all be sold essentially by desire. Almost like pre-ordering. Exactly. It gives consumers the ability to have a high-street price point but get a product that’s different from anyone else. They’re not buying off the shelf and running the risk that everyone is wearing the same shirt. It’s like customized Vans. If everyone were to take that model, there would be a massive amount of success. Same with NIKEiD, right? Yeah, Nike was first, I guess. But if you take that basic business model and apply it to a whole collection, it could easily work. The biggest issue is time. How long is a client or a customer willing to wait to get their product? If they’re willing to wait — let’s say a week — if we can do it in a week’s time, then that could be a really viable business model. At the moment, you wait around two to three weeks for customized Vans. Given the information out there is so hard to digest, so scrappy, and so inconsistent, what can consumers do to shop more ethically? We need to remember that when we think about food, we look at the ingredients. When we think about clothing, we look at the clothing itself without looking at the hang tag or labels. If we start looking at the labels and looking at the hang tags more, then we’re more informed, aren’t we? We’re able to see where this product was actually made, what the composition of this product is. If you think about the food industry, we didn’t have to do anything for the food industry to become more ethical. Clothing is not a public health issue, so it’s not getting the same level of attention that the food industry does. It requires the consumer to inform themselves a bit more, but the information is already there on the hang tags.

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How do you feel the sustainability issue is going, right now?

What do you think about the future of clothing production?

There are always going to be players like Patagonia, Levi’s, and Everlane who are really passionate about it. But as consumers don’t really demand it at the moment, the industry has to demand it. With companies like Zalando, MR PORTER, and ASOS making big statements about taking on brands that are only focused on sustainability, I think that will mark a big shift. That kind of statement changes the way the industry looks at sustainability.

I prepare my bespoke supply chains for a more consumerto-manufacturer relationship. I think in the future, designers and buyers will select silhouettes, they’ll select fabric options, they’ll select hardware options, and they’ll select color options. They’ll allow the consumer to put those pieces together, and that customized or bespoke look will go directly to the manufacturer. The manufacturer will have a direct link to that information and produce whatever needs to be produced for the client or consumer directly.

How do you define sustainability? Is it using a bit less water? Or is it completely overhauling the way we produce, consume, and design things? For me, it’s the latter. You could easily say that it’s also reducing water, and I’m not gonna say that that’s wrong, because we need to do that as well. It’s about first having the conversation: looking at your business and how your business can specifically reduce some chemical usage, can reduce some water usage, can reduce some energy usage. But it’s also about looking at how to give back to the plant. For example, at the moment I’m dealing with laboratories who are making leather out of food waste, out of Cocoa Puffs, which is crazy enough, but it actually looks convincing. That’s where I think sustainability is going. Sustainability, the word itself, is not the final terminology. It doesn’t have an endpoint. Have you read Cradle to Cradle? Yes, of course. I’m a huge fan of Cradle to Cradle. But the biggest challenge is that not every product is able to be Cradle to Cradle certified. We’re lucky enough to see G-Star having Cradle to Cradle certified gold denim fabric. They’ve actually created a denim that’s as sustainable as any denim has ever been, because the fabric can be broken down and reused. Essentially anyone can use that fabric now. It’s open source. The other part is that they use all these new technologies to make sure there’s no chemicals or no heavy water. That’s huge, but we need that kind of innovation everywhere. So does that mean if you have a pair of G-Star jeans made with Cradle to Cradle gold-certified denim, once you’re bored with them, they can be recycled with no loss or waste? You’re not gonna get a one-to-one. You won’t get a pair of pants from a pair of pants because it’ll be a smaller yield, of course. But you’re still able to put that back into a garment and produce a brand new garment from that used item. It’s really amazing what they’ve done. G-Star’s not just talking about it, they’re really about that shit. They’re not trying to do it for publicity or any other reason. They really are pushing the envelope.

You’ll no longer have the need to overproduce and hope that it sells. It will all be sold essentially by desire. Almost like pre-ordering. Exactly. It gives consumers the ability to have a high-street price point but get a product that’s different from anyone else. They’re not buying off the shelf and running the risk that everyone is wearing the same shirt. It’s like customized Vans. If everyone were to take that model, there would be a massive amount of success. Same with NIKEiD, right? Yeah, Nike was first, I guess. But if you take that basic business model and apply it to a whole collection, it could easily work. The biggest issue is time. How long is a client or a customer willing to wait to get their product? If they’re willing to wait — let’s say a week — if we can do it in a week’s time, then that could be a really viable business model. At the moment, you wait around two to three weeks for customized Vans. Given the information out there is so hard to digest, so scrappy, and so inconsistent, what can consumers do to shop more ethically? We need to remember that when we think about food, we look at the ingredients. When we think about clothing, we look at the clothing itself without looking at the hang tag or labels. If we start looking at the labels and looking at the hang tags more, then we’re more informed, aren’t we? We’re able to see where this product was actually made, what the composition of this product is. If you think about the food industry, we didn’t have to do anything for the food industry to become more ethical. Clothing is not a public health issue, so it’s not getting the same level of attention that the food industry does. It requires the consumer to inform themselves a bit more, but the information is already there on the hang tags.

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But right now, regulations are quite lax, in that you can finish a product in Italy and that then counts as “made in Italy.” Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of that. At one brand I worked for in the past, we had the last label sewn on in California but everything else was made in Mexico, but you can call that “made in America.” It’s like the Wild West when it comes to this kind of thing.

are no temperature gauges on the machines and chemicals aren’t stored in climate-controlled environments, just to save costs. It can be really, really bad. I’ve been going to Bangladesh for two months every two years and I don’t ever want to go back. It’s not because the people aren’t great or that it’s a terrible culture, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that we’re gouging places like this. Bangladesh is going to be underwater soon. Is the situation getting better at least?

If you’re Patagonia, you know this. So you know not to go down this path because you think, “Although I may be able to get away with it, we don’t feel that it’s the right thing to do.” More companies should say, “Yeah, it’s actually misleading. Let’s not go down that path. If it’s got to be made in Italy, let’s make sure that every last drop of the garment is made in Italy and not play in this gray area,” which happens far too often. What do you think about the future of fast fashion? I think it’s starting to die. With younger generations and millennials, they’re very critical about quality and they’re very conscious about branding. They’re also conscious about having something different from other folks. You can’t have that at the high-street level. We don’t do high street brands at The Bear Scouts. Most of the clients I’ve had with The Bear Scouts are also not working with high-street brands. The Bear Scouts turns down high-street brands almost exclusively because it’s not about money for us, it’s about the quality. The difference between ourselves and let’s say a Bangladeshi manufacturer is that we don’t focus on that business model. We’re simply focused on quality over quantity, with eyes to the future. Not that all Bangladeshi manufacturers are bad, but the majority of them are cutting costs and trying to figure out ways to get high-street business. The fast-fashion business is a race to the bottom, isn’t it? Everyone’s trying to get the cheapest price imaginable. I’ve been in meetings where I’ve seen factory owners reduced to tears when a high-street brand nickel-and-dimes them — and I’m talking about $0.07 between Bangladesh and Pakistan. So the Bangladeshi supplier has to say yes to a $0.07 reduction, which when you talk about 500 pieces is nothing, but when you’re talking more, about 20,000 pieces or more, they can’t say no because otherwise they can’t keep their business running. If they say yes, they can keep their business running, but something’s gonna be missed. And that’s how things like Rana Plaza end up happening. Exactly. Rana Plaza is exactly what we’re talking about, but that got a lot of attention. Imagine when a lot of people don’t die but constant injuries are happening. I’ve been to places where heavy machinery is on the third floor of the building and there

I mean, if you listen to Mostafiz Uddin, who’s CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, he says don’t come to Bangladesh unless you’re willing to invest more money. I think the thought process is going the right way, that, yes, you need to spend more money to get the product you need. But then it doesn’t really make sense to go to Bangladesh anymore. We’re giving Bangladesh the wrong option. We should be figuring out how to help Bangladesh deal with their flooding issues, not overwhelming them in production, which isn’t doing anything to help them with the water issue. To me, it’s not getting better because we’re not placing the proper attention. Do you think innovation in the industry should come from brands? No. Brands are still stuck trying to focus on their profit margins, and I can’t really hate them for that, because without money they can’t produce clothing or pay their salaries. A lot of this has to come from the manufacturing and the fabric mill side. Fabric mills, in order to stay competitive against each other, need to look at what can they do to stay relevant and innovate. This is what you do with The Bear Scouts, right? Yes, definitely. Basically, we’re there with fabric mills looking at options for how we can reduce from every perspective, or how we can reuse from every perspective, while still ensuring the product looks just as good as if it were made in the traditional way. That’s the most important aspect of our job. We can talk about sustainability, reduction of water, chemicals, and energy, worker impact, all those types of things, all day long. But if the product never stands up against a traditionally made garment, then the consumer will have reason to choose a traditionally made garment instead of a sustainably made one. If something doesn’t feel right, then that’s it. There’s no hiding anymore. But the thing that’s always surprised me is that brands are not aware of certain types of technologies out there that they can really take advantage of, which would almost immediately reduce 20 percent of their water usage or their chemical usage. That has a lot to do with being digital. You can digitally print color on everything. You can even eliminate the dying process by digitally printing the color on the fabric. I’m always surprised that brands don’t know this.

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But right now, regulations are quite lax, in that you can finish a product in Italy and that then counts as “made in Italy.” Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of that. At one brand I worked for in the past, we had the last label sewn on in California but everything else was made in Mexico, but you can call that “made in America.” It’s like the Wild West when it comes to this kind of thing.

are no temperature gauges on the machines and chemicals aren’t stored in climate-controlled environments, just to save costs. It can be really, really bad. I’ve been going to Bangladesh for two months every two years and I don’t ever want to go back. It’s not because the people aren’t great or that it’s a terrible culture, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that we’re gouging places like this. Bangladesh is going to be underwater soon. Is the situation getting better at least?

If you’re Patagonia, you know this. So you know not to go down this path because you think, “Although I may be able to get away with it, we don’t feel that it’s the right thing to do.” More companies should say, “Yeah, it’s actually misleading. Let’s not go down that path. If it’s got to be made in Italy, let’s make sure that every last drop of the garment is made in Italy and not play in this gray area,” which happens far too often. What do you think about the future of fast fashion? I think it’s starting to die. With younger generations and millennials, they’re very critical about quality and they’re very conscious about branding. They’re also conscious about having something different from other folks. You can’t have that at the high-street level. We don’t do high street brands at The Bear Scouts. Most of the clients I’ve had with The Bear Scouts are also not working with high-street brands. The Bear Scouts turns down high-street brands almost exclusively because it’s not about money for us, it’s about the quality. The difference between ourselves and let’s say a Bangladeshi manufacturer is that we don’t focus on that business model. We’re simply focused on quality over quantity, with eyes to the future. Not that all Bangladeshi manufacturers are bad, but the majority of them are cutting costs and trying to figure out ways to get high-street business. The fast-fashion business is a race to the bottom, isn’t it? Everyone’s trying to get the cheapest price imaginable. I’ve been in meetings where I’ve seen factory owners reduced to tears when a high-street brand nickel-and-dimes them — and I’m talking about $0.07 between Bangladesh and Pakistan. So the Bangladeshi supplier has to say yes to a $0.07 reduction, which when you talk about 500 pieces is nothing, but when you’re talking more, about 20,000 pieces or more, they can’t say no because otherwise they can’t keep their business running. If they say yes, they can keep their business running, but something’s gonna be missed. And that’s how things like Rana Plaza end up happening. Exactly. Rana Plaza is exactly what we’re talking about, but that got a lot of attention. Imagine when a lot of people don’t die but constant injuries are happening. I’ve been to places where heavy machinery is on the third floor of the building and there

I mean, if you listen to Mostafiz Uddin, who’s CEO of Bangladesh Apparel Exchange, he says don’t come to Bangladesh unless you’re willing to invest more money. I think the thought process is going the right way, that, yes, you need to spend more money to get the product you need. But then it doesn’t really make sense to go to Bangladesh anymore. We’re giving Bangladesh the wrong option. We should be figuring out how to help Bangladesh deal with their flooding issues, not overwhelming them in production, which isn’t doing anything to help them with the water issue. To me, it’s not getting better because we’re not placing the proper attention. Do you think innovation in the industry should come from brands? No. Brands are still stuck trying to focus on their profit margins, and I can’t really hate them for that, because without money they can’t produce clothing or pay their salaries. A lot of this has to come from the manufacturing and the fabric mill side. Fabric mills, in order to stay competitive against each other, need to look at what can they do to stay relevant and innovate. This is what you do with The Bear Scouts, right? Yes, definitely. Basically, we’re there with fabric mills looking at options for how we can reduce from every perspective, or how we can reuse from every perspective, while still ensuring the product looks just as good as if it were made in the traditional way. That’s the most important aspect of our job. We can talk about sustainability, reduction of water, chemicals, and energy, worker impact, all those types of things, all day long. But if the product never stands up against a traditionally made garment, then the consumer will have reason to choose a traditionally made garment instead of a sustainably made one. If something doesn’t feel right, then that’s it. There’s no hiding anymore. But the thing that’s always surprised me is that brands are not aware of certain types of technologies out there that they can really take advantage of, which would almost immediately reduce 20 percent of their water usage or their chemical usage. That has a lot to do with being digital. You can digitally print color on everything. You can even eliminate the dying process by digitally printing the color on the fabric. I’m always surprised that brands don’t know this.

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Speaking of factories, which ones are leading the conversation? Saitex in Vietnam is amazing. One of the craziest things they do, which I’m always impressed with and can’t figure out how to do it on my own, is they take the sludge, which is a huge issue with manufacturing — the runoff, all that muck — and they actually turn it into bricks. They build houses from it and put their employees in those houses made from the sludge in the runoff. That’s something businesses usually have to spend loads of money to get rid of. Instead of getting rid of it, you’re turning it into building material. Freaking amazing. You also have manufacturers like Pedrosa & Rodrigues out in Portugal. They’re a family business. They’re a manufacturer, they do a lot, they do Kenzo and Neil Barrett. They spend loads of money on machinery that is very sustainable but also almost robotic. It doesn’t require human intervention to use. They have a gym in their facility, they have a doctor there constantly, they have a playroom. It’s ridiculous, really on another level.

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Then you have Tintex, a fabric mill also in Portugal. They have a couple of scientists who just sit in their laboratory figuring out ways to create amazing textures and fabrics out of things like food waste. I mean, with the leather made of Cocoa Puffs, that shit is actually convincing. They’re just playing with everything: wood dust, corks from wine bottles, lots of crazy things. And the outcome looks like shit a luxury brand would love to have. It’s just really a matter of getting designers into their laboratory and just brainstorming together, because they’re coming up with shit out of thin air. Imagine if they had a bit of a focused initiative. There are a lot of manufacturers who are doing really crazy, innovative things, but I don’t know why there seems to be a disconnect between brands who know about this and what they’re actually doing. I think it has to do with the fact [the manufacturers] aren’t screaming about themselves. They’ve not got a platform to talk about what they’re doing. In terms of brands, which do you think is really leading the way? I’m always gonna say Patagonia. The nucleus of their business is sustainability. They think about the environment first. From a Bear Scouts’ perspective, that’s one of the reasons we don’t work with high-street brands, because it’s hard for us to change the nucleus of their business. It’s very hard for us to say, “Okay, consider how much paper you’re using, consider how many employees are taking company cars instead of riding a bike or taking public transportation.” It’s very hard to change those ways of thinking. Patagonia started that from day one. I always looked at them as a business model to copy, if possible.

It helps that Patagonia is still independently owned. Yeah, it always helped that they’re independently owned. As I said before, I’ve worked with a lot of big companies, and when they’re not independently owned, you’re trying to convince people but you’re never speaking to the decision makers. There’s a board of directors from a variety of different companies with different initiatives. And at the end of the day, it’s often their wallet they think about first. It’s very difficult when it’s a big brand. But Patagonia’s not small. The progress being made is completely independent from price point. You can be the cheapest brand in the world or the most expensive brand in the world. It doesn’t make a difference to how your environmental program is. No, it doesn’t. As long as you’re starting to have that discussion, that’s already a win for me. Because the next step is to do something. As long as you’re not greenwashing and saying you’re doing something when you’re really not. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. It has nothing to do with the price point. It has everything to do with just getting involved and starting with a strategy. And the future? The future for sustainability is looking quite good. The reason I think that is because influential brands are focusing on it. Gucci has built a whole facility focused on sustainability. Massive retailers like Zalando and ASOS, they’re starting to stand up and require their brands to have a foothold there. I think it’s bright. What I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone knows, is if we’re moving fast enough. We need to make it sexy and stop talking about the science. You have a lot of big brains talking about the top-level helicopter view, which alienates those who’re just in the fight. Those people in the fight, those brands and those manufacturers, they just want to know what they need to do to make their company more sustainable and to have a positive impact on the environment. We can start to get there by giving brands and manufacturers the opportunity to meet and speak on issues that are related to them directly, instead of just having a helicopter view and a big-brain discussion about sustainability. It needs to be made practical.


Speaking of factories, which ones are leading the conversation? Saitex in Vietnam is amazing. One of the craziest things they do, which I’m always impressed with and can’t figure out how to do it on my own, is they take the sludge, which is a huge issue with manufacturing — the runoff, all that muck — and they actually turn it into bricks. They build houses from it and put their employees in those houses made from the sludge in the runoff. That’s something businesses usually have to spend loads of money to get rid of. Instead of getting rid of it, you’re turning it into building material. Freaking amazing. You also have manufacturers like Pedrosa & Rodrigues out in Portugal. They’re a family business. They’re a manufacturer, they do a lot, they do Kenzo and Neil Barrett. They spend loads of money on machinery that is very sustainable but also almost robotic. It doesn’t require human intervention to use. They have a gym in their facility, they have a doctor there constantly, they have a playroom. It’s ridiculous, really on another level.

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Then you have Tintex, a fabric mill also in Portugal. They have a couple of scientists who just sit in their laboratory figuring out ways to create amazing textures and fabrics out of things like food waste. I mean, with the leather made of Cocoa Puffs, that shit is actually convincing. They’re just playing with everything: wood dust, corks from wine bottles, lots of crazy things. And the outcome looks like shit a luxury brand would love to have. It’s just really a matter of getting designers into their laboratory and just brainstorming together, because they’re coming up with shit out of thin air. Imagine if they had a bit of a focused initiative. There are a lot of manufacturers who are doing really crazy, innovative things, but I don’t know why there seems to be a disconnect between brands who know about this and what they’re actually doing. I think it has to do with the fact [the manufacturers] aren’t screaming about themselves. They’ve not got a platform to talk about what they’re doing. In terms of brands, which do you think is really leading the way? I’m always gonna say Patagonia. The nucleus of their business is sustainability. They think about the environment first. From a Bear Scouts’ perspective, that’s one of the reasons we don’t work with high-street brands, because it’s hard for us to change the nucleus of their business. It’s very hard for us to say, “Okay, consider how much paper you’re using, consider how many employees are taking company cars instead of riding a bike or taking public transportation.” It’s very hard to change those ways of thinking. Patagonia started that from day one. I always looked at them as a business model to copy, if possible.

It helps that Patagonia is still independently owned. Yeah, it always helped that they’re independently owned. As I said before, I’ve worked with a lot of big companies, and when they’re not independently owned, you’re trying to convince people but you’re never speaking to the decision makers. There’s a board of directors from a variety of different companies with different initiatives. And at the end of the day, it’s often their wallet they think about first. It’s very difficult when it’s a big brand. But Patagonia’s not small. The progress being made is completely independent from price point. You can be the cheapest brand in the world or the most expensive brand in the world. It doesn’t make a difference to how your environmental program is. No, it doesn’t. As long as you’re starting to have that discussion, that’s already a win for me. Because the next step is to do something. As long as you’re not greenwashing and saying you’re doing something when you’re really not. But yeah, you’re absolutely right. It has nothing to do with the price point. It has everything to do with just getting involved and starting with a strategy. And the future? The future for sustainability is looking quite good. The reason I think that is because influential brands are focusing on it. Gucci has built a whole facility focused on sustainability. Massive retailers like Zalando and ASOS, they’re starting to stand up and require their brands to have a foothold there. I think it’s bright. What I don’t know, and I don’t think anyone knows, is if we’re moving fast enough. We need to make it sexy and stop talking about the science. You have a lot of big brains talking about the top-level helicopter view, which alienates those who’re just in the fight. Those people in the fight, those brands and those manufacturers, they just want to know what they need to do to make their company more sustainable and to have a positive impact on the environment. We can start to get there by giving brands and manufacturers the opportunity to meet and speak on issues that are related to them directly, instead of just having a helicopter view and a big-brain discussion about sustainability. It needs to be made practical.


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IS THE STREETWEAR BUBBLE ABOUT TO BURST? WORDS DOUGLAS BRUNDAGE

PHOTOGRAPHY EDWARD CHIU

History has shown several instances of “bubbles,” boom and bust periods involving everything from tulips to the American housing market. If the current state of streetwear is any indicator, the golden years of the movement might be about to end with an almighty pop.


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IS THE STREETWEAR BUBBLE ABOUT TO BURST? WORDS DOUGLAS BRUNDAGE

PHOTOGRAPHY EDWARD CHIU

History has shown several instances of “bubbles,” boom and bust periods involving everything from tulips to the American housing market. If the current state of streetwear is any indicator, the golden years of the movement might be about to end with an almighty pop.


In 1841, Scottish writer Charles Mackay published Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The book detailed examples of social epidemics, market speculation, and urban legends. In the 177 years since its publication, Mackay’s outline of how humans form social ingroups and endorse the absurd to their own detriment has only grown in relevance. Its insights are particularly relevant to the realm of streetwear today, which is officially a billion-dollar business.

This perspective is valid, but it would have had a bigger impact had Kim not been promoting his own documentary on the scene, Built to Fail, at the time. He’d announced the film seven months earlier at ComplexCon, perhaps the most successful attempt to corporatize the community yet. This hustler mindset, one of constant self-promotion combined with a persistent and scorching thirst for relevance, is core to the world of streetwear. There is a fear, it seems, that no matter how big a brand becomes, it could be forgotten overnight.

As the dominant facet of 21st-century fashion, streetwear has come to define and be defined by the fervor with which it is coveted by adoring fans and cunning resellers the world over. It is a single red thread that extends through youth culture in nearly every major city around the globe. It is a bubble at least two decades in the making whose growth shows little sign of slowing. It has evolved from the uniform of skaters, punks, and hip-hop heads to a commercial fad powerful enough to upend the fashion industry itself.

If anything, streetwear was born as a subculture. It rose from a DIY aesthetic and a loose community of surfers, skaters, artists, graffiti artists, punks, and new wave and hip-hop musicians. Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo once defined streetwear in the following way: “No investors, no partners etc. The product is pure, as we’re not on the fashion calendar… I guess anything would be considered street that comes outside of the traditional fashion system.”

Streetwear and sneaker culture is a form of mass hysteria, propagated by the internet and fueled by insecurity. In the near future, streetwear fever will reach its apex, and the category will shift into something entirely different, if not dissimilar. Here’s how. If one positive social trend has grown out of streetwear’s mainstream success, it’s the rise of recognition. For the first time in history, major brands aren’t only borrowing from a previously unrecognized style subset, they’re embracing it fully. In this new era, names such as Shawn Stussy and James Jebbia drip, quasi-fetishized, from the lips of high society in Milan, Paris, and Seoul. But so do Rammellzee, Dondi White, and Dapper Dan. Are these complex, often revolutionarily important figures becoming one-dimensionalized by a European fashion industry that truly couldn’t care less about the history of a culture they’re now so ardently taking as inspiration? Absolutely — but that’s kind of what they do. And if it gets a few stories out there that need to be told, that’s certainly better than allowing them to be swallowed by the abyss of history. When Yves Saint Laurent dove into North Africa and East Asia for inspiration and showed black models on the runway for the first time, he certainly could have been accused of tokenism. And sure, by today’s standards there was some ignorance in how he presented his collections. Yet, in the end there was more good than bad done by his willingness to tap into other cultures’ perspectives. And it can be argued that something similar is happening today. In fact, Virgil Abloh, the patron saint of this movement, has compared the rise of streetwear to Saint Laurent’s introduction of ready-to-wear as a democratizing moment in fashion. Streetwear is often defined not by product category, marketing schemes, or price point, but rather as a culture. Yet this definition is too easy, and repeated so often that it has become a platitude: “Do it for the culture.” This common streetwear-adjacent phrase has even inspired a Migos track, two album titles, and the name of Migos member Offset and Cardi B’s first child — although the baby’s name is spelled “Kulture.” Many well-meaning titans of the industry, Bobby Kim — better known as Bobby Hundreds — chiefly among them, have written diatribes on what defines “the culture” and how corporations are negatively impacting it. “Sales distro and image are what ultimately constitute a brand as streetwear,” Kim wrote. “Not the art or design.” In 2017, Kim also wrote, “After 14 years of building my own brand, The Hundreds, I saw the ‘streetwear’ label get twisted and turned by the media and mainstream… Today, streetwear is the hottest hashtag in style, youth culture, and music, but no one agrees on what it means or where it came from.”

Yet, of course, many streetwear brands (including Lorenzo’s own) are now deeply ensconced in the system. The majority have outside investment (including Supreme — even before the $500 million Carlyle Group deal) and the fashion industry on the whole has followed streetwear’s lead, eschewing seasonality more and more with each passing year. 254

255

Still, streetwear did indeed once exist outside the established systems of fashion, retail, merchandising, finance, and marketing. It entered the mainstream in 2017, morphing into something new. There’s a simple fact about the movement: it’s easy to produce, relying heavily on graphics and screenprinting rather than cut-and-sew, and it’s culturally viable. People want streetwear because it looks cool — validated by celebrities around the world — and it’s comfortable. Fashion brands love this. To charge the best part of $1,000, as Balenciaga does with its Triple S, for a shoe made in China is a coup for an industry struggling to improve its ever-slimming margins. By tapping into the release methods of Supreme and its ilk, often referred to as a “drop” model, high-end brands can bypass seasonality for monthly or even weekly brand moments. Gucci was probably the first to jump on this model. Hedi Slimane at Céline and Riccardo Tisci at Burberry have promised to follow suit. On the flip side, the embrace of the luxury sphere allows street-level brands to upsell their own collaborations. The thought of Nike charging $1,000 for an ACG shell jacket, for example, was unimaginable a decade ago. Today’s consumer culture is a dream come true for the finance guys over at Nike, adidas, LVMH, and Kering, yet it’s creating an evolving reality in which items that should cost a few hundred dollars end up being retailed for thousands and then resold for triple those prices. What if, as sites like StockX suggest is starting to happen, the demand for some of these items doesn’t meet the supply? What you have is a huge set of products that are overinflated in price, bearing little relation to the intrinsic value of the garment because its value has been defined solely by hype. That’s the classic first warning sign of a bubble.


In 1841, Scottish writer Charles Mackay published Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds. The book detailed examples of social epidemics, market speculation, and urban legends. In the 177 years since its publication, Mackay’s outline of how humans form social ingroups and endorse the absurd to their own detriment has only grown in relevance. Its insights are particularly relevant to the realm of streetwear today, which is officially a billion-dollar business.

This perspective is valid, but it would have had a bigger impact had Kim not been promoting his own documentary on the scene, Built to Fail, at the time. He’d announced the film seven months earlier at ComplexCon, perhaps the most successful attempt to corporatize the community yet. This hustler mindset, one of constant self-promotion combined with a persistent and scorching thirst for relevance, is core to the world of streetwear. There is a fear, it seems, that no matter how big a brand becomes, it could be forgotten overnight.

As the dominant facet of 21st-century fashion, streetwear has come to define and be defined by the fervor with which it is coveted by adoring fans and cunning resellers the world over. It is a single red thread that extends through youth culture in nearly every major city around the globe. It is a bubble at least two decades in the making whose growth shows little sign of slowing. It has evolved from the uniform of skaters, punks, and hip-hop heads to a commercial fad powerful enough to upend the fashion industry itself.

If anything, streetwear was born as a subculture. It rose from a DIY aesthetic and a loose community of surfers, skaters, artists, graffiti artists, punks, and new wave and hip-hop musicians. Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo once defined streetwear in the following way: “No investors, no partners etc. The product is pure, as we’re not on the fashion calendar… I guess anything would be considered street that comes outside of the traditional fashion system.”

Streetwear and sneaker culture is a form of mass hysteria, propagated by the internet and fueled by insecurity. In the near future, streetwear fever will reach its apex, and the category will shift into something entirely different, if not dissimilar. Here’s how. If one positive social trend has grown out of streetwear’s mainstream success, it’s the rise of recognition. For the first time in history, major brands aren’t only borrowing from a previously unrecognized style subset, they’re embracing it fully. In this new era, names such as Shawn Stussy and James Jebbia drip, quasi-fetishized, from the lips of high society in Milan, Paris, and Seoul. But so do Rammellzee, Dondi White, and Dapper Dan. Are these complex, often revolutionarily important figures becoming one-dimensionalized by a European fashion industry that truly couldn’t care less about the history of a culture they’re now so ardently taking as inspiration? Absolutely — but that’s kind of what they do. And if it gets a few stories out there that need to be told, that’s certainly better than allowing them to be swallowed by the abyss of history. When Yves Saint Laurent dove into North Africa and East Asia for inspiration and showed black models on the runway for the first time, he certainly could have been accused of tokenism. And sure, by today’s standards there was some ignorance in how he presented his collections. Yet, in the end there was more good than bad done by his willingness to tap into other cultures’ perspectives. And it can be argued that something similar is happening today. In fact, Virgil Abloh, the patron saint of this movement, has compared the rise of streetwear to Saint Laurent’s introduction of ready-to-wear as a democratizing moment in fashion. Streetwear is often defined not by product category, marketing schemes, or price point, but rather as a culture. Yet this definition is too easy, and repeated so often that it has become a platitude: “Do it for the culture.” This common streetwear-adjacent phrase has even inspired a Migos track, two album titles, and the name of Migos member Offset and Cardi B’s first child — although the baby’s name is spelled “Kulture.” Many well-meaning titans of the industry, Bobby Kim — better known as Bobby Hundreds — chiefly among them, have written diatribes on what defines “the culture” and how corporations are negatively impacting it. “Sales distro and image are what ultimately constitute a brand as streetwear,” Kim wrote. “Not the art or design.” In 2017, Kim also wrote, “After 14 years of building my own brand, The Hundreds, I saw the ‘streetwear’ label get twisted and turned by the media and mainstream… Today, streetwear is the hottest hashtag in style, youth culture, and music, but no one agrees on what it means or where it came from.”

Yet, of course, many streetwear brands (including Lorenzo’s own) are now deeply ensconced in the system. The majority have outside investment (including Supreme — even before the $500 million Carlyle Group deal) and the fashion industry on the whole has followed streetwear’s lead, eschewing seasonality more and more with each passing year. 254

255

Still, streetwear did indeed once exist outside the established systems of fashion, retail, merchandising, finance, and marketing. It entered the mainstream in 2017, morphing into something new. There’s a simple fact about the movement: it’s easy to produce, relying heavily on graphics and screenprinting rather than cut-and-sew, and it’s culturally viable. People want streetwear because it looks cool — validated by celebrities around the world — and it’s comfortable. Fashion brands love this. To charge the best part of $1,000, as Balenciaga does with its Triple S, for a shoe made in China is a coup for an industry struggling to improve its ever-slimming margins. By tapping into the release methods of Supreme and its ilk, often referred to as a “drop” model, high-end brands can bypass seasonality for monthly or even weekly brand moments. Gucci was probably the first to jump on this model. Hedi Slimane at Céline and Riccardo Tisci at Burberry have promised to follow suit. On the flip side, the embrace of the luxury sphere allows street-level brands to upsell their own collaborations. The thought of Nike charging $1,000 for an ACG shell jacket, for example, was unimaginable a decade ago. Today’s consumer culture is a dream come true for the finance guys over at Nike, adidas, LVMH, and Kering, yet it’s creating an evolving reality in which items that should cost a few hundred dollars end up being retailed for thousands and then resold for triple those prices. What if, as sites like StockX suggest is starting to happen, the demand for some of these items doesn’t meet the supply? What you have is a huge set of products that are overinflated in price, bearing little relation to the intrinsic value of the garment because its value has been defined solely by hype. That’s the classic first warning sign of a bubble.


The major shift in high-end fashion from the beginning of this era to now is from leader to follower. Kim Jones, by no means an untalented designer, helped bring things full circle when he engineered a collaboration between Supreme and Louis Vuitton during his tenure as the house’s artistic director. In a previous life he had worked for streetwear distributor Gimme Fix in London, which doled out rare Supreme gear to a select number of stockists (Supreme wouldn’t open its London outpost until much later, in 2011).

The rise of streetwear coincides with a greater casualization and deconstruction of societal norms. Men no longer need to wear suits to work in most industries and women are no longer tied to high heels or traditional ideas of femininity. As trust in institutions around the world is shattered, young people are modeling themselves in the image of the public figures they admire, and that started in the mid ’00s with the likes of Kanye West. Claims that West invented leather jogging pants, for example, are wide of the mark — but it’s hardly debatable that he popularized them. Before West, men didn’t wear a lot of the things we do now. He helped turn Slimane, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann, Alexander Wang, Balmain, and even Céline and Chloé into household names — if there’s a streetwear fan in the household, at least. By the time he got around to designing his own sneakers for Nike and adidas — although he did it for BAPE first — he was a bona fide fashion god. Everyone started dressing like him. For diehards, though, there have been moments when it’s been more difficult to follow Yeezy’s path. In 2010, he launched the short-lived but politically charged “Rosewood” movement, named for the majority-black town in Levy County, Florida that was burned to the ground during a 1923 race riot. In this period, he wore only black suits. A year later, around the time Watch the Throne dropped, he started rocking leather kilts. For 2013’s Yeezus era, he took to bejeweled Margiela masks that completely obscured his face. Nowadays, he has fully embraced the “cool dad” aesthetic, and every look at Zara seems to reflect a different era of his personal style. Streetwear began without the internet but came to be defined by it. Forums on Hypebeast (now defunct), Superfuture, and Reddit have had outsized influence on the industry. These early social media communities looked different from the ones we see today — for one, they were (mostly) positive places. Before it was considered the norm to obsess over what Kanye wears, how to wash raw denim (put it in the fridge, walk into the ocean while wearing it, and so on) or where to get limited-edition BAPE camouflage bandanas (find a 2006 issue of Cool Trans, a Japanese fashion magazine that came with the scarf as a gift), members of the streetwear community helped each other out on the forums. Fans shared information on sizing, releases, and the availability of their favorite brands. They would even sell to and trade with one another for (gasp) little-to-no markup on pricing. Debating music was another core function of these networks. In the early days, forums featured frequent posts from the likes of Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi.

Jones brought the same ethos to his debut men’s collection at Dior, enlisting the services of street artist KAWS for several installations and reimaginings of venerated Dior motifs, brought in AMBUSH designer Yoon Ahn to oversee the house’s accessories, and tapped 1019 ALYX 9SM’s Matthew Williams to craft logo-laden quick-release belt buckles — one of his signature street style-ready items — in conjunction with the house. As higher-end brands hopped on the streetwear train, collaborations, graphic tees, sweatsuits, and sneakers were, above all, safe bets. There’s little chance anyone on the internet would lambast these items, and there was a strong likelihood that the nowinfluential OG streetwear personalities would wear them, serving as free channels of “earned” media.

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Meanwhile, the original online communities started to wane. A new generation of kids completely detached from the inner-city skate and hip-hop communities that had popularized streetwear trends started chasing them with gusto. Rich suburban kids and new wealth in Russia, Dubai, and China all began coveting brands like OFFWHITE, Supreme, and BAPE. Others started reselling to them — hard. Streetwear has long battled for legitimacy in the fashion universe, but now that its coup d’état has succeeded, it’s left with little to give besides a hype-based business model and a penchant for styling, photography, and marketing that makes it all look a lot more exciting than it actually is. It’s in the best interest of all parties involved that their products continue to demand a high level of cultural credibility and cool. This is why previously ostracized resellers are now being heralded as champions of the industry, with brands such as Nike openly collaborating with Sean Wotherspoon of consignment resale store Round Two, and Nordstrom adding an in-store space in New York operated by reselling platform Stadium Goods. Yet a little sleuthing on the web tells a different story — one of excess inventory, sinking profits, and vast discrepancies in pricing between the likes of StockX, Stadium Goods, and eBay, for example. What we have here is industry-wide speculation: the second telltale sign of a bubble. Beyond the inflated value and rampant speculation in the streetwear industry today, there are other signs that we’re in a bubble. Traditionally, the stages of a bubble are as follows:


The major shift in high-end fashion from the beginning of this era to now is from leader to follower. Kim Jones, by no means an untalented designer, helped bring things full circle when he engineered a collaboration between Supreme and Louis Vuitton during his tenure as the house’s artistic director. In a previous life he had worked for streetwear distributor Gimme Fix in London, which doled out rare Supreme gear to a select number of stockists (Supreme wouldn’t open its London outpost until much later, in 2011).

The rise of streetwear coincides with a greater casualization and deconstruction of societal norms. Men no longer need to wear suits to work in most industries and women are no longer tied to high heels or traditional ideas of femininity. As trust in institutions around the world is shattered, young people are modeling themselves in the image of the public figures they admire, and that started in the mid ’00s with the likes of Kanye West. Claims that West invented leather jogging pants, for example, are wide of the mark — but it’s hardly debatable that he popularized them. Before West, men didn’t wear a lot of the things we do now. He helped turn Slimane, Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann, Alexander Wang, Balmain, and even Céline and Chloé into household names — if there’s a streetwear fan in the household, at least. By the time he got around to designing his own sneakers for Nike and adidas — although he did it for BAPE first — he was a bona fide fashion god. Everyone started dressing like him. For diehards, though, there have been moments when it’s been more difficult to follow Yeezy’s path. In 2010, he launched the short-lived but politically charged “Rosewood” movement, named for the majority-black town in Levy County, Florida that was burned to the ground during a 1923 race riot. In this period, he wore only black suits. A year later, around the time Watch the Throne dropped, he started rocking leather kilts. For 2013’s Yeezus era, he took to bejeweled Margiela masks that completely obscured his face. Nowadays, he has fully embraced the “cool dad” aesthetic, and every look at Zara seems to reflect a different era of his personal style. Streetwear began without the internet but came to be defined by it. Forums on Hypebeast (now defunct), Superfuture, and Reddit have had outsized influence on the industry. These early social media communities looked different from the ones we see today — for one, they were (mostly) positive places. Before it was considered the norm to obsess over what Kanye wears, how to wash raw denim (put it in the fridge, walk into the ocean while wearing it, and so on) or where to get limited-edition BAPE camouflage bandanas (find a 2006 issue of Cool Trans, a Japanese fashion magazine that came with the scarf as a gift), members of the streetwear community helped each other out on the forums. Fans shared information on sizing, releases, and the availability of their favorite brands. They would even sell to and trade with one another for (gasp) little-to-no markup on pricing. Debating music was another core function of these networks. In the early days, forums featured frequent posts from the likes of Lupe Fiasco and Kid Cudi.

Jones brought the same ethos to his debut men’s collection at Dior, enlisting the services of street artist KAWS for several installations and reimaginings of venerated Dior motifs, brought in AMBUSH designer Yoon Ahn to oversee the house’s accessories, and tapped 1019 ALYX 9SM’s Matthew Williams to craft logo-laden quick-release belt buckles — one of his signature street style-ready items — in conjunction with the house. As higher-end brands hopped on the streetwear train, collaborations, graphic tees, sweatsuits, and sneakers were, above all, safe bets. There’s little chance anyone on the internet would lambast these items, and there was a strong likelihood that the nowinfluential OG streetwear personalities would wear them, serving as free channels of “earned” media.

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Meanwhile, the original online communities started to wane. A new generation of kids completely detached from the inner-city skate and hip-hop communities that had popularized streetwear trends started chasing them with gusto. Rich suburban kids and new wealth in Russia, Dubai, and China all began coveting brands like OFFWHITE, Supreme, and BAPE. Others started reselling to them — hard. Streetwear has long battled for legitimacy in the fashion universe, but now that its coup d’état has succeeded, it’s left with little to give besides a hype-based business model and a penchant for styling, photography, and marketing that makes it all look a lot more exciting than it actually is. It’s in the best interest of all parties involved that their products continue to demand a high level of cultural credibility and cool. This is why previously ostracized resellers are now being heralded as champions of the industry, with brands such as Nike openly collaborating with Sean Wotherspoon of consignment resale store Round Two, and Nordstrom adding an in-store space in New York operated by reselling platform Stadium Goods. Yet a little sleuthing on the web tells a different story — one of excess inventory, sinking profits, and vast discrepancies in pricing between the likes of StockX, Stadium Goods, and eBay, for example. What we have here is industry-wide speculation: the second telltale sign of a bubble. Beyond the inflated value and rampant speculation in the streetwear industry today, there are other signs that we’re in a bubble. Traditionally, the stages of a bubble are as follows:


1. displacement, which occurs when a new paradigm is touted, wooing industry stakeholders (e.g. the drop model); 2. a boom, the at-first slow and then rapid increase in the price of a particular asset or assets (for example, T-shirts and sneakers); 3. euphoria, also known as the “greater fool” phase, wherein valuation reaches absurd levels (like the May 2018 Supreme auction in Paris nauseatingly titled “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” which garnered around $1 million for what are essentially mass-produced tchotchkes with logos emblazoned on them); 4. profit-taking, the phase in which smart people grab their money and get out (like those who own and operate reselling operations), and finally; 5. panic, which is self-explanatory. To argue that we’re currently in the fourth, profit-taking phase of a streetwear bubble isn’t outlandish. A basic characteristic of a bubble is the suspension of disbelief by the majority of participants involved. With this mindset, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which every metropolitan city isn’t bustling with kids obsessing over sneakers and drenched in designer logos. Yet bubbles are also usually only ever identified once they’ve burst. The point of this analysis isn’t to predict what comes next, but rather to take a moment to look back at the beautiful, sometimes infuriating culture streetwear has evolved into — and to forewarn that it could be coming to a close in its current form. No one is arguing that sneakers are going away, they just might not always trade at the level they do today, wherein people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on them. Perhaps we’ll experience a return to minimalism, with affordable basics such as white Vans experiencing a surge in popularity. Perhaps the next generation will consider comfort a crutch and return to hard-bottom shoes and tailored shirts (there are small pockets from London to Hong Kong already doing this). Perhaps Supreme, now beholden to its $1 billion valuation, will overextend itself, diluting the brand and the culture to such a degree that it ends up self-immolating. Or maybe Supreme will do everything it can to earn that capital and realize it simply isn’t the lifestyle brand we all thought it was, leading to a panic phase in which investors flee the sector entirely. No matter what happens, we can’t keep up the charade. YEEZYs, once the holy grail of streetwear, are now available for days at a time online at retail price before selling out. Brands such as Vetements are rumored to be underperforming from a financial perspective. ComplexCon, the ultimate celebration of the culture, has been on the end of a substantial backlash from consumers, oddly, for being too consumerist. The cycle might just be coming to a close. Like with the late-’90s dotcom bubble, the subprime mortgage crisis, and even bitcoin, warning signs abound. In the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, “tulip mania” gripped what is today the Netherlands. This event is often considered to be the first ever market bubble. A perfect storm of free-market capitalism, consumerism, and social trend, it saw a new wealthy elite go crazy for tulips. The flowers had been introduced to Europe about a century earlier, and their colors were unlike anything that existed on the continent. The Dutch elite became obsessed with trading tulip bulbs, and a boom market was born. At the height of the craze in 1637, a single tulip bulb is reported to have been valued at more than 10 times the annual salary of a skilled worker. In Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Mackay wrote that one man had traded 12 acres of land for a single bulb. A formal futures market had been set up in 1636, although short-selling was banned. And then, in February 1637, less than a year later, it all came crashing down. Are hyped sneakers the new tulips? We’re about to find out.

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1. displacement, which occurs when a new paradigm is touted, wooing industry stakeholders (e.g. the drop model); 2. a boom, the at-first slow and then rapid increase in the price of a particular asset or assets (for example, T-shirts and sneakers); 3. euphoria, also known as the “greater fool” phase, wherein valuation reaches absurd levels (like the May 2018 Supreme auction in Paris nauseatingly titled “Cash Rules Everything Around Me,” which garnered around $1 million for what are essentially mass-produced tchotchkes with logos emblazoned on them); 4. profit-taking, the phase in which smart people grab their money and get out (like those who own and operate reselling operations), and finally; 5. panic, which is self-explanatory. To argue that we’re currently in the fourth, profit-taking phase of a streetwear bubble isn’t outlandish. A basic characteristic of a bubble is the suspension of disbelief by the majority of participants involved. With this mindset, it’s almost impossible to imagine a world in which every metropolitan city isn’t bustling with kids obsessing over sneakers and drenched in designer logos. Yet bubbles are also usually only ever identified once they’ve burst. The point of this analysis isn’t to predict what comes next, but rather to take a moment to look back at the beautiful, sometimes infuriating culture streetwear has evolved into — and to forewarn that it could be coming to a close in its current form. No one is arguing that sneakers are going away, they just might not always trade at the level they do today, wherein people are willing to spend thousands of dollars on them. Perhaps we’ll experience a return to minimalism, with affordable basics such as white Vans experiencing a surge in popularity. Perhaps the next generation will consider comfort a crutch and return to hard-bottom shoes and tailored shirts (there are small pockets from London to Hong Kong already doing this). Perhaps Supreme, now beholden to its $1 billion valuation, will overextend itself, diluting the brand and the culture to such a degree that it ends up self-immolating. Or maybe Supreme will do everything it can to earn that capital and realize it simply isn’t the lifestyle brand we all thought it was, leading to a panic phase in which investors flee the sector entirely. No matter what happens, we can’t keep up the charade. YEEZYs, once the holy grail of streetwear, are now available for days at a time online at retail price before selling out. Brands such as Vetements are rumored to be underperforming from a financial perspective. ComplexCon, the ultimate celebration of the culture, has been on the end of a substantial backlash from consumers, oddly, for being too consumerist. The cycle might just be coming to a close. Like with the late-’90s dotcom bubble, the subprime mortgage crisis, and even bitcoin, warning signs abound. In the Dutch Republic in the 17th century, “tulip mania” gripped what is today the Netherlands. This event is often considered to be the first ever market bubble. A perfect storm of free-market capitalism, consumerism, and social trend, it saw a new wealthy elite go crazy for tulips. The flowers had been introduced to Europe about a century earlier, and their colors were unlike anything that existed on the continent. The Dutch elite became obsessed with trading tulip bulbs, and a boom market was born. At the height of the craze in 1637, a single tulip bulb is reported to have been valued at more than 10 times the annual salary of a skilled worker. In Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds, Mackay wrote that one man had traded 12 acres of land for a single bulb. A formal futures market had been set up in 1636, although short-selling was banned. And then, in February 1637, less than a year later, it all came crashing down. Are hyped sneakers the new tulips? We’re about to find out.

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MASTHEAD ISSUE 17

PUBLISHER DAVID FISCHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF PETE WILLIAMS CREATIVE DIRECTOR EDWARD CHIU ART DIRECTION & DESIGN SON MOK FASHION DIRECTOR ATIP W EDITORIAL DIRECTORS MATT CARTER, BROCK CARDINER, JIAN DELEON EXECUTIVE EDITOR JEFF CARVALHO EDITORS ALEC BANKS, JAKE BOYER, BIANCA GIULIONE, SYDNEY GORE, ALEC LEACH COPY EDITOR CHRIS MCDONALD CONTRIBUTORS NABEEL ALLIE, DOUGLAS BRUNDAGE, ANGELO FLACCAVENTO, EUGENE RABKIN, MICHELE RAFFERTY, NICK SCHONBERGER

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F / W 2018

PHOTOGRAPHERS JULIEN BOUDET, SOPHIE CARRE, MICAIAH CARTER, ALEXANDRA CATIERE, AHMED CHREDIY, EDWARD CHIU, IMRAAN CHRISTIAN, EVA AL DESNUDO, VITALI GELWICH, WILL GOODAN, SYLVAIN HOMO, KUSI KUBI, ADRIAN MESKO, ALEX DE MORA, JACKIE NICKERSON, MORGAN Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;DONOVAN, CHRIS SCHOONOVER, DOMINIK SCHULTE, MAEVE STAM, JULIEN TELL, NICK THOMPSON, MILAN VUKMIROVIC, CG WATKINS, THOMAS WELCH

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MASTHEAD ISSUE 17

PUBLISHER DAVID FISCHER EDITOR-IN-CHIEF PETE WILLIAMS CREATIVE DIRECTOR EDWARD CHIU ART DIRECTION & DESIGN SON MOK FASHION DIRECTOR ATIP W EDITORIAL DIRECTORS MATT CARTER, BROCK CARDINER, JIAN DELEON EXECUTIVE EDITOR JEFF CARVALHO EDITORS ALEC BANKS, JAKE BOYER, BIANCA GIULIONE, SYDNEY GORE, ALEC LEACH COPY EDITOR CHRIS MCDONALD CONTRIBUTORS NABEEL ALLIE, DOUGLAS BRUNDAGE, ANGELO FLACCAVENTO, EUGENE RABKIN, MICHELE RAFFERTY, NICK SCHONBERGER

|

F / W 2018

PHOTOGRAPHERS JULIEN BOUDET, SOPHIE CARRE, MICAIAH CARTER, ALEXANDRA CATIERE, AHMED CHREDIY, EDWARD CHIU, IMRAAN CHRISTIAN, EVA AL DESNUDO, VITALI GELWICH, WILL GOODAN, SYLVAIN HOMO, KUSI KUBI, ADRIAN MESKO, ALEX DE MORA, JACKIE NICKERSON, MORGAN Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;DONOVAN, CHRIS SCHOONOVER, DOMINIK SCHULTE, MAEVE STAM, JULIEN TELL, NICK THOMPSON, MILAN VUKMIROVIC, CG WATKINS, THOMAS WELCH

PRINTING FEINDRUCKEREI FEINDRUCKEREI.DE

HEAD OF PRODUCTION KLAUDIA PODSIADLO

NYC ADDRESS HIGHSNOBIETY, INC. 26 BROADWAY SUITE 1104 NY, NY 10004 UNITED STATES

BRAND PARTNERSHIPS TEAM LINDSAY BLUE, NATHAN CHAPMAN, TARA DABUNI, JASON DANAHY, MEGAN DEFORD, LYDIA DEWDNEY-PALA, BENNY EICHELMANN, JOHN FLOOD, CAITLIN LEROUX, BEN HAKKI, SAM HART, JOSH PARKER, JOHN PARKES, ANGUS MACEWAN, ROB MILLER, EMILY OWENS

CONTACT MAGAZINE@HIGHSNOBIETY.COM ADVERTISING@HIGHSNOBIETY.COM HQ ADDRESS TITEL MEDIA GMBH HIGHSNOBIETY MAGAZINE RITTERSTRASSE 9, 10969 BERLIN GERMANY

WEBSITE HIGHSNOBIETY.COM

BRAND PARTNERSHIPS, ITALIAN MARKET JB MEDIA ADVERTISING@JBMEDIA.COM DISTRIBUTION FANIA FOLAJI SPECIAL THANKS LIBAN ALI, ANCHORET, ANDREW BUNNEY, LUDOVIC ENGRAND, GOOGLE

HIGHSNOBIETY IS A TRADEMARK UNDER LICENSE FROM TITEL MEDIA GMBH. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. ALL PRICES AND CREDITS ARE ACCURATE AT TIME OF GOING TO PRESS BUT ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. MANUSCRIPTS, PHOTOS, DRAWINGS AND OTHER MATERIALS SUBMITTED MUST BE ACCOMPANIED BY A STAMPED, SELF-ADDRESSED ENVELOPE. HIGHSNOBIETY MAGAZINE CANNOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR ANY SOLICITED MATERIAL.

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Profile for HIGHSNOBIETY

Highsnobiety Magazine 17 - Winter 2018  

Kim Jones

Highsnobiety Magazine 17 - Winter 2018  

Kim Jones