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SSENSE 5


SSE


NSE


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POL · I · TICS /ˈpäləˌtiks/

noun the activities associated with the governance of a country or other area, especially the debate or conflict among individuals or parties having or hoping to achieve power. 5


THE

POLITICS

OF DRESS

Inside the Mind and Atelier of the French Collective Études Interview by Jina Khayyer

Études is a collective of six Frenchmen who grew up as neighbours in Grenoble. A true boys club—raised in the nineties and connected through their love of graffiti. Aurélien Arbet, Jérémie Egry, Nicolas Poillot, José Lamali, Antoine Belekian, and Marc Bothorel identify Études as a brand for “contemporary men.” They coalesce between multiple creative disciplines, from accessible clothing to a recently established publishing house. Collaborating with German artist Andrzej Steinbach, Études is debuting a political image-series: a special edition hoodie, t-shirt, and long-sleeve tee, each branded with the Flag of Europe, exclusively created for SSENSE. Although Études’ creative director, Jérémie Egry, says that the founding idea of using the European Flag was not planned as a political act, the collaboration with Steinbach addresses one of the most relevant topics of our time: social racism. Études decided to embrace the topicality. Your image-concept is super political: you refer to a scene in an American court, where Black Rights activist Bobby Rush is taking off his suit and covering his head with a hoodie in memory of Trayvon Martin, an African American boy, who was killed because of a hoodie wrongfully interpreted to be threatening. What about this inspired you to begin this collaborative project? Jérémie Egry: The idea and images for this collaboration were developed together with Andrzej Steinbach. We chose Andrzej because he uses iconic fashion codes, but is also able to talk about political topics. Andrzej has a great eye and makes connections between someone’s personality and what this person wears. Everything you put on yourself is a political act. So today, in places like the States, if you’re black and you put on a hoodie, you can be killed by the police. We don’t want to live in a racist society, so we try to do our contribution to create awareness. But we don’t want to be moralistic either. Some people are not going to see the reference. But they will still see a strong image.

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PHOTOGRAPH BY: TOM DE PEYRET

Left Page Blazer: $650; Shoes: $450 This Page Shirt: $250; Hat: $410

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PHOTOGRAPH BY: TOM DE PEYRET

Hat: $370; Book: $55


Have you ever been a victim of social racism yourself? Nicolas Poillot: I never feel it myself, but my girlfriend is black, so I feel it through her. It’s humiliating. Racism is a question of education. Thanks to my mother I was raised not to judge anyone, not to feel entitled, not to feel superior. Social racism is also a question of identification. What do you identify as? NP: I was born in France, but I feel more European than French. In fact, I’m even more comfortable to say I’m a European than to say I’m French. What does it mean to be European today? JE: We were born when the borders between every country in Europe still existed. It was beautiful to grow up and see how borders have been systematically suspended. It’s a great thing to be European. We’re really proud to be from Europe. But we are also very concerned. How can we keep the borders open and prevent the building of new fences and walls? Is that why you decided to use the flag of Europe as a print? NP: Yes and no. We did it when we realized that we are identifying as European and not as French. As a way of celebrating Europe, long before the hysteria of closing borders came up. Now it is political, and that’s good. The personal is always political, isn’t it? That’s a political argument of the student and feminist movement from the late 1960s. JE: We are unfortunately going back in time and have to now fight again for the same issues our parents fought for. Which is really ironic, seeing as our parents’ generation is now becoming more and more conservative again. Is it the role of a designer to be political?  JE: It is the role of a human being to be political. If the designer identifies as a human being, then yes, it’s his role to be political. Fashion gives you great opportunities to raise your voice. Sure, when you work in fashion and you’re living off of capitalism, it can be a conflict. You don’t want to be a hypocrite. And you don’t

want people to be depressed when they come into your store. But you also don’t want to throw your values overboard, just to sell a product. On your website, you say that you are producing contemporary men’s fashion. What makes Études pieces contemporary? JE: Our references are from the present. In our work we are not nostalgic, we want to talk about the now. We’re sensitive to what’s around us. What can you observe while leaving your house, taking the metro, and walking from the train station to your work, for example? And how can you connect these observations and experiences to your work? Or translate them into a product? I think it’s important for any crea-tive person to be connected with la vie quotidien, the daily life. What does masculinity mean today? It seems to be a major fixation of your collective.  JE: No, not really. Yes, we’re men. And yes, we design clothes for men, but we don’t really care about it. We don’t think: Oh, it’s men’s clothes. Obviously there’s a masculinity code. But that doesn’t really interest us. We’re more interested in what we want to say or explore, rather than thinking about a gender. Also we don’t like to interpret too much into a piece of fabric. One goal of Études

“When it comes to gender, to us the modern society is gender fluid.”

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is to stop stereotypical thinking. The only codes we are interested in are the codes of modern society. And when it comes to gender, to us the modern society is gender fluid. Études has six heads. Although each one of you is responsible for a separate division, it’s still six final opinions. Do you follow any hierarchy? NP: No. We’ve always worked as a team since the beginning. We naturally chose to be a collective because we like to share our energy. Do you also have a collective vision? JE: Yes. Our goal with Études is to propose something creative but accessible. Why did you choose Paris as a headquarters? JE: That’s a good question. We just recently asked ourselves that, as none of us is from Paris originally. Throughout our youth we took advantage of the open borders and lived all over Europe. We are all graffiti artists, so we just went wherever we could find white walls and an empty couch. We decided to come back to France and move to Paris when we created Études. It was an experiment—we never liked the idea of Paris. But we’re happy about it. In the past few years the city has changed a lot for the better. Even if the last two years have been very traumatic, it’s good for Paris to get tough. Difficulties give you an energy that are good for creation.

“Everything you put on yourself is a political act.”


PHOTOGRAPH BY: NICOLAS COULOMB

Hat: $370; Jacket: $1000; Shirt: $260; Trousers: $365; Bag: $110

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THIS

COAT IS YOUR

SAFE

SPACE How Raf Simons’ Down Jacket Embodies the Needs of Our Oversized Moment

by Bianca Heuser

PHOTOGRAPH BY: HAW-LIN SERVICES

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PHOTOGRAPH BY: RONAN MCKENZIE

RAF SIMONS

Jacket: $3900; Coat: $3325

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this coat is so big, it needs its own

zip


PHOTOGRAPH BY: ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE

Sweater: $1990

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PHOTOGRAPHS BY: ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE AND TEDDY TELLES

Top Coat: $3325; Sweater: $1990 Bottom (Left to Right) Sweater: $1550; Shirt: $1390; Sweater: $1990


O V ER RME SA I IN S Z

New Icons celebrates the stories behind particularly notable pieces from this season. If you don’t know growing pains, then you’re a baby. If you’ve experienced them, then you know the importance of having just a scrap of comfort to hold on to. The ever-angsty Raf Simons gets it. The black and yellow stripes of this down jacket warn off predators like those of a bee, allowing you to prosper in peace. Meanwhile, its enormous size conveniently ensures you get all the personal space that you require. This coat is so big, it needs its own zip code. It takes the idea of outerwear so literally, it almost makes a mockery of it. Coats are portable safe spaces. They are the suites we spend our winters in. They are blankets with sleeves. They are the embrace of a spooning lover. For decades, people have sacrificed cuteness for comfort, and for very valid reasons. Yet this coat is that once-in-a-blue-moon opportunity to have your cake and eat it too. And all of that is in its size. Raf Simons’ designs for Fall/Winter 2016 know no such thing as regular sizing. With pants looking shrunken and sweaters way oversized, the collection again circles the designer’s eternal obsession with youth culture. Every one of these garments appeared as though their models had already outgrown or had yet to grow into them as they walked them down the runway. The comfort to be found in this look stems from faint memories of the hand-me-downs of older siblings. You might have hated those overalls, but they still bring back the smell of early Fall mornings. It is not nostalgia exactly, more like a pining… for pining. Oversized remains a thing—a movement even—pillared by brands like Vetements, Loewe, and of course Simons himself. It signifies a sociocultural need for comfort and flexibility as well as easiness: An oversized coat or sweatshirt does just fine with plain black pants, even leggings if that’s your inclination. It is a decision that eliminates a series of follow-up questions.

A MOVEMENT

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Jacket: $4100

PHOTOGRAPH BY: HAW-LIN SERVICES

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T R P


PHOTOGRAPHS BY: JAY BAWAR

T Shirt: Maison Margiela, $600; Trousers: Jacquemus, $775

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Left Jacket: Versus, $645; Shirt: Y’s, $1110; Jeans: Off-White, $766 Right Shirt: Jacquemus, $950; Skirt: Vetements, $1790

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Dress: Maison Margiela, $1720

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Blazer: A.P.C., $600; Dress: Maison Margiela, $1720


Shirt: Maison Margiela, $600; Trousers: Jacquemus, $775; Sneakers: adidas by Stella McCartney, $380

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Shirt: Maison Margiela, $1880; Trousers: Yohji Yamamoto, $1250


Left Jacket: Versus, $645; Shirt: Y’s, $1110; Jeans: Off-White, $766 Right Shirt: Jacquemus, $950; Skirt: Vetements, $1790

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Left Shirt: Maison Margiela, $600; Trousers: Jacquemus, $775 Right Shirt: Shirt: Maison Margiela, $1880; Trousers: Yohji Yamamoto, $1250

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OFF-WHITE c/oTM VIRGIL ABLOH


AN IDEA THAT RESONATES Virgil Abloh Lifts The Creative Curtain

Close your eyes and say the words “creative director,” and the first thing you’ll picture is Virgil Abloh. The former architect, world-touring DJ, and creator of rising streetwear line Off-White likes the title precisely because, he reveals, “it’s a catch-all to sort of do everything.” So it’s fitting that Before and After, the exclusive capsule collection he designed for SSENSE, was conceived not just as a clothing concept, but also a multilevel media experience. Watch the Pierre Debusschere-lensed film and you’ll understand. Speaking over the phone from Coachella, Abloh opened up about inspirations, ideas, the zeitgeist’s shifting boundaries, and the power of youth. In short, everything.

It’s a great dimension. It all started with something that could have been very surface level. And I’m proud of the fact that we were able, through conversation and talent and patience, to come up with something richer. Bringing this extra effort really ties in to the rapid rise that Off-White has seen. Just four seasons in, you’re a finalist for the LVMH Young Fashion Designer prize. Something about your point of view is really resonating. Things like that are just affirmation. I’m just one of amongst a million kids that wants to be a designer. I don’t even know exactly what that means! I just know that I’m trying to showcase what goes on in my head in a very succinct and credible way. I’m trying to prove to myself that I’m a designer. To me, that was such a holy word that never seemed attainable. So I’m always wary of resting on any laurels, or even acknowledging that it’s the goal to achieve any sort of… anything. I like to think of an idea that resonates. So that it resonates, and it has a space within culture, is encouraging to me. Whether it’s successful or not in the near future, I’ll still be doing some version of all these ideas.

Let’s start from square one. Tell me about the genesis of this collection. Virgil Abloh: The beginning, for me, started as a place to do something new. Working with SSENSE all started with an email. It was just like, what about creating a special capsule collection? I could have approached it as a more robotic thing. But I thought it was a unique opportunity to put me and Pierre Debusschere together under the SSENSE umbrella. I’m such a fan of Pierre’s work. I had been admiring of his aesthetic for a long time. So I wanted to put that on display instead of simply doing clothes and making a video about it. I wanted it to be intertwined, so that it’s a collaboration between him and I as much as it is specially for SSENSE. The clothing was created at a 50% capacity, and only after we did the film would the 100% identity of the clothing be finished. And that’s the concept not only of the film, but of the clothes. I work on the silhouettes, fabrics, and details, and then, through the process of making the film, the color gets applied. There’s multiple layers of inspiration behind that, but the surface one being that through the process, you get this effect of color. And when you You’ve said that your mission for Off-White is to occupy the space between streetwear and high watch the film it completes the reason of why. fashion. It’s such a relevant space right now. What I liked was that the clothes and film both cap- I just think that’s where culture is. Through the his-tory ture a moment of transformation. That could be a met- of fashion and ready-to-wear and what people actually wear, there’s this new space. What people like to aphor for a lot of different things. Yeah. The idea of freezing an energy. But also, as an over- wear to brunch, I often cite. [Laughs] Brunch or shopping. riding premise in my work, I like to remove the mystique Whatever people wear to go shopping, to go buy more behind design a bit. All with an effort to inspire kids and clothes, or wear at brunch with their friends is sort of other generations, younger or older. I’ve always been a the most poignant moment of culture now. There’s also fan of a documetary versus just watching the finished the age of street style, and how outside fashion shows film, or a fan of the director’s cut. Cause it allows you to becoming just as relevant as the clothes being shown dream even more once you know a little more of behind has given people a sense of pride in styling themselves. the scenes. That’s what I love about this project: the title I’m awfully inspired by that. And I just so happen to be a “Before and After” and the whole energy of, you can see kid that grew up during the advent of streetwear: early into the creative process and you’re looking at the final skateboarding graphic tees, early Japanese streetwear culture, early New York, Lower East Side. So that being result at the same time.

“I’m just one of amongst a million kids that wants to be a designer. I don’t even know what that means!”

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: RAHNA WANAS

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Shirt: $410; Trousers: $910; Shoes: $1197


Shirt: $410; Trousers: $910; Shoes: $1197


Jacket: $1914; Skirt: $718; Shoes: $1197

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my generation, and me also being a fan of other genres of fashion design, it’s only right for that to be my pedestal to stand on. While it’s your aim to bring streetwear into a luxury context, luxury at the same time seems like it’s taking a lot of cues from streetwear. You’ve got collections where the branded graphic t-shirt is the signature piece, and the schedule of collaborations and one-offs has that same limited-edition mentality. It’s the current ways. It’s how people wear clothes, it’s what people buy. I admire it. That gave me added motivation to insert my brand at this time and do it at the pace that I am: because I want a young representation among all those brands. I’m honored at retail, especially at SSENSE, to just be amongst that designer list, and let consumers come across what I’m doing, and have it sit next to what I believe are the most credible brands and designers in the market that are exactly what you’re saying, sort of tapped into this culture. Just the past three or four years is when this shift hit full swing. Anyone that’s living and breathing and looking out of an Uber can feel that this is the current culture. It’s the zeitgeist forming into a new set of boundaries. Do you find that the connection people have to skate and streetwear brands is more authentic than the one they have to luxury labels? I feel like they might be the same, they just tap into a different side of the brain. We’re seeing a convergence of people who love to mix both, and that expresses more about their personality than wearing head to toe one brand.

“Anyone that’s living and breathing and looking out of an Uber can feel that this is the current culture. It’s the zeitgeist forming into a new set of boundaries.” Whatever you put on yourself speaks for you as a person and says “Hey, I adopt these certain principles if I wear X brand.” And you mix them together and you get a different sort of cocktail, if you will, of who you are. The identity that I’m defining for Off-White is already a cocktail. It’s a bit more random, but it’s definitely now. Men’s and women’s and furniture. A young lifestyle that has a certain degree of appreciation for things. This collection in particular has the feeling of a uniform, but a personalized uniform. It’s utilitarian pieces with the diagonal stripes and branding, and then the one-of-a-kind color treatments. I’m constantly inspired by workers – blue-collar workers. If you go to an industrial plant or a mechanic or something, how they’ve all got the same thing on, but they’re all distressed slightly differently. It has a larger context

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to it as well: we’re all the same people, in a way. However we’re distressed makes us look like we’re different, but we’re actually still the same. Men’s and women’s, too: the collection is unisex by nature. By design, as rather I would say. I can also see the utilitarian, workwear aspect as a redefinition of luxury. Like an undercover luxury. I think the word “luxury” has a different meaning now than it did ten years ago. You say that word and it means one thing. And you see that now, not only is there like, some tech kid that starts Instagram and is worth what ever, but I just think there’s less social barrier on the word “luxury.” My favorite type of luxury is like a distressed, worn in luxury. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s brand new and pristine and rich and all those sorts of things that are considered luxury. There’s different types. Another part of it is that people dress for functionality now. They don’t have that ritual of changing clothes five times a day. Yeah, it’s not like we’re all going to these black tie events anymore. It’s brunch. [Laughs] Black tie brunch. Casual luxury. Is that what we can expect for Spring 16? Yeah, that’s a good idea! Maybe that’s the second SSENSE capsule. Even in your Fall collections, I can see an evolution towards more of a focus on cut and fabric and construction, and categories like tailoring and footwear, and less of an emphasis on graphic branding. That’s the natural evolution that I always had planned. From my earlier work, I always wanted to run away from being put in a box. And I would have put myself in a box, had I seen the earlier stuff. It’s like, a bandwidth to actually have an opinion on silhouette, fit, fabric, and concept might get trapped in graphic t-shirts, graphic sweatshirts, and shorts with print on the crotch. The plan for Off-White, this is like a ten-year thing, and right now you can only see one and a half years into the whole timeline. So as I hope to grow and develop and take on other challenges within putting out a collection and building a brand and proving to myself that I can steer an idea that I once had, there’s always going to be some sort of departure that’s happening. Or reverting back. I look at that as freedom, design freedom: to evolve, but then give myself an option to go back to what has been expected. This freedom to evolve seems very tied to your credo for Off-White: “the youth will always win.” Can you explain that a bit more? Just that rebellious spirit of the generation right behind you. Or your assistant, you know? [Laughs] Or the intern that gets hired. They’re not getting hired just to be your assistant, necessarily, for forever. For me, the brand is a way to stay young. On the treadmill, always thinking and getting inspired. I believe in it – that’s why it’s my brand. In all the projects we do, we foster young talent and bring them in, because in a way I’m the same as the hundred-year brands before me: I’m trying to offer a different option. But that only happens if someone young gets in the mix.


Jacket: $1914; Shirt: $425; Skirt: $718; Shoes: $1197; Socks: $120

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Shirt: $694; Jeans: $694; Shoes: $1340

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What was that like? I was wearing baggy jeans – which I am today. I was interested in skateboarding. My friends, we were all interested in graffiti, we were drawing on our backpacks, we were listening to Nirvana, we were listening to rap music. I’m a sponge for things that are happening, but my upbringing and childhood was just as steeped in culture as it is now. Like, if you were a part of skateboarding, skateboarding was illegal! Now it’s obviously not, but at the time, it was a niche culture that bridged kids from California to New York together. So as you get older, you can kind of forget the things you were into. I’m not really a part of the theory of looking to five years older. That might work for other people. But the way I see it is, this is all post - “the internet.” Kids that are five years younger are now more mature than people who are five years older in this new context. It’s true. They’re more open-minded, they’ve traveled more. It’s like, compare your Facebook with your Twitter. Your Facebook is full of people that are older and live a different lifestyle. And Twitter’s full of a bunch of young kids, and they’re expressing themselves in a more current way. 2015 is a different time than any time before it, as lofty and as corny as that sounds. When people look back on our time and the internet and things, they should look like something special. That’s really the goal of so many fashion collections and works of art: capturing a moment in the zeitgeist. My whole premise, the reason why I picked the name Off-White, is because it’s the color of canvas. You can paint a canvas any color, but the color of it is off-white. Which puts it under the guise that everything that I’m doing with the brand has some level of an artistic statement. Just the medium is fashion.

OF

I’ve heard a theory about how trends come up, and it’s that designers are essentially designing for the kids five or six years older who they thought were cool when they were younger. Your older brother’s friends, your hot babysitter, whoever. And whenthey come of age and they’re in control of the conversation, they bring back a trend like 90s grunge in the 2000s because that’s what cool looks like to them. But it seems like you’re taking the opposite approach: looking to the people younger than you. Yeah, maybe that’s why I’m here! [Laughs] Lately my catchphrase has been, “I’ve just been trying to revert to the 17-year-old version of myself.”

What are your plans for extending Off-White? What other media do you want to bring in? Right now I’m interested in focusing and doing less. I’m focused a lot on the furniture, I’m focused a lot on the image-making surrounding the stuff. The main thing I’m focusing on is print: I’m starting a publishing arm. I’m putting out different works that I’m creating in between and around the collections, just so there’s some sort of physical copy – a representation of all these thoughts. Cause what I’m learning is that the process of making clothes, showing them to buyers, showing them to editors, and then it goes, and then it’s gone, isn’t as lasting as I would hope. Some of my first collections, I’m still on those ideas, but they only exist in my head! So I’m working on a few books around a few poignant projects, so that I don’t have to go so fast. So this film is another one of those projects, documenting the process of creating these clothes. And after all the hits on the film are gone, it’s still gonna be there on Vimeo or Youtube. That’s interesting to me. That it can live longer than the actual clothes. You’ve got the digital and the physical copy. Precisely.

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WOMAN

BUSINESS

OFF-WHITE

S/S 2017


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T-SHIRT / ˈtē ˌSHərt/

noun A T-shirt (or tee shirt, or tee) is a style of unisex fabric shirt, named after the T shape of the body and sleeves. It is normally associated with short sleeves, a round neck line known as a crew neck, with no collar.


EQU I L I B

SWE AR A New Guard Emerges

R I U M: WOM E N

I N

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: PIERRE ANGE-CARLOTTI


Online, everything is equal. Image follows image in a sprawling infinity like the perfect horizontal of a Sugimoto photograph – until the euphoria of hype sends a #trend speeding skywards like a cork from a champagne bottle. Today, if a debut collection strikes a chord, it can make as much noise as the most established Parisian houses. But young designers have earned it. They’ve put in the work and are backing up the waves of iPhone photos and Style.com show details with production just as sophisticated as the old guard’s. Just like their menswear counterparts, rising women’s designers Vetements, Eytys, and Thomas Tait are sharing factories and challenging norms with the industry’s finest: old and new in equilibrium. It was Vetements that really got editors in Paris talking recently. Designer Demna Gvasalia staged his second catwalk in gay club Le Depot amidst the smell of sex and booze, with an invitation image showing a rebranded bottle of poppers. It was heralded as one of the hottest shows of the season – and Vetements as one of the most exciting new labels in the industry. Gvasalia is an alum of Maison Margiela and Louis Vuitton. His evolving team are former colleagues or designers he studied with at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. He has enough experience for his emerging label, which combines the familiar with a liberated flair and a cerebral sex appeal, to be brilliant from the start. “There are many problems to solve at different levels, but this can be fun once we believe in what we do,” Gvasalia explains. “What matters is the product, the clothing, especially when we live in the era of ‘too much everything.’ ”

Vetements uses factories the big conglomerates use “because some of them have an amazing know-how for doing certain products. Depending on the type of garment, we try to define its level of execution and craftsmanship.” The brand simultaneously produces in smaller, specialized ateliers, depending on the piece. Thomas Tait is another designer making an impact in Paris. The London-based Canadian whose label is synonymous with craftsmanship, emotional intellectualism, and modernism was the first talent to win the inaugural LVMH Prize in 2014, scooping up €300,000 plus a yearlong mentorship. The panel that awarded him included Louis Vuitton’s Nicolas Ghesquière, Céline’s Phoebe Philo, Karl Lagerfeld, Raf Simons, Kenzo’s Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, Givenchy’s Riccardo Tisci, and Marc Jacobs. That his brilliant clothes have been endorsed by some of the industry’s most established shows how far emerging designers have come – and nods to the relationship new voices enjoy in a panoramic fashion context. “I launched my label in 2010, the pit of a financial recession. It’s very easy to see the rise of media interest and how it can quickly surpass commercial growth,” Tait reflects. “I’ve noticed that during this difficult economic climate people look to fashion with a thirst for escapism, but lean towards normalcy and even conventionalism when shopping. This contrast creates a huge challenge for brands who, as a result, live in what might feel like a limbo space between the runway and the racks.” Yet there has to be harmony: there cannot be an abrasive gulf between art and commerce. Jonathan Hirschfeld and Max Schiller of Stockholm sneaker brand Eytys believe above all in a refined product.

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Left Page Jacket: $5040; Sweater: $1130; Pants: $1985; Boots: $2260 This Page Shirt: $990; Skirt: $5040;Boots: $3380 (All by Vetements)

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This Page Jacket: $6090; Sweater: $800; Dress: 1075; Shoes: $3070 Right Page Dress: 2170; Shorts: $1490; Boots: 3380

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“Designer Demna Gvasalia staged his second catwalk in gay club Le Depot amidst the smell of sex and booze, with an invitation image showing a rebranded bottle of poppers. It was heralded as one of the hottest shows of the season – and Vetements as one of the most exciting new labels in the industry.” “We’ve dared to really focus, not trying to do everything all at once, which has allowed us time for tweaking and perfecting,” explain the duo. “To go all geeky, deep. It’s very hard to do that when working for a big house that always has to re-invent itself at a very fast pace.” “I do think the pressure has increased significantly,” Thomas Tait remarks. “With the internet and social media in mind, by default brands launch on a global platform. With such a wide audience and an ever-growing commercial reach, it’s understandable that viewers and consumers of fashion do not have the patience, knowledge, or care whether a brand is a small operation or a huge conglomerate machine. What is usually desired is an end product, the best possible end product… the consumer has no interest in hearing ‘excuses’ from brands. High fashion products need to be amazing no matter where they’re coming from.” “As a designer, you realize that you have very few chances to communicate the physical story behind the clothes,” Tait continues. “You have to trust that the product speaks for itself. The quality and cut has to be felt – that’s the best communication tactic.”


Shirt: $3300; Belt: $990; Jeans: $1790; Boots: $2070

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Sweater: $660; Sweatpants: $660; Boots: $2260


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PHOTOGRAPHS BY: RAHNA WANAS


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Glasses: $395 Sweater: $250 Shirt: $590 Jeans: $330 (All Acne Studios)

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Your OneSize-FitsAll Future

PHOTOGRAPHS BY: RAHNA WANAS

What the Oversized Silhouette Tells Us About Our Time

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If fashion moves forward, it does not do so in a straight line. It meanders frantically, looping back on itself, and if we are lucky, something legitimately new emerges along the way. After a decade-plus of shrink-wrap skinny jeans, designers are going big—volumes are amplifying, sleeves are extending, hoods are ballooning, and trousers are pooling around ankles. In both men’s and womenswear, the dominant silhouette is skewing massive. The line dividing gendered garments is looking ever more porous, and the way we shape our bodies through dress is becoming more homogenous as a result. When a designer sends a four-foot-long sleeve down the runway, what are they responding to or reaching for? What does the urge to cloak ourselves in all this excess fabric tell us about ourselves?

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Left Page Sweater: Acne Studios, $560; Pants: adidas by Alexander Wang, $350; Shoes: Off-White, $1197 This Page Jacket: Off-White, $955; Sweater: Vetements, $845; Sweatpants: Vetements, $850;Sneakers: Y-3, $450

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IGGE


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We do not just communicate with our hands—we work with them, too. Recoiling into a cavernous hoodie is a petulant, punky objection to labour made by both the garment and its wearer. This is a statement of unavailability. With a hood drooped over one’s eyes and sleeves


obscuring one’s hands, hands, social niceties are restricted, too. Eye contact and handshakes have to be earned. Aesthetic touchstones of the 90s like the ones pushed by Vetements offer an antisocial pose through slacker cosplay. Dress up, log off, drop out.


REFUSAL: We do not just communicate with our hands—we work with them, too. Recoiling into a cavernous hoodie is a petulant, punky objection to labour made by both the garment and its wearer. This is a statement of unavailability. With a hood drooped over one’s eyes and sleeves obscuring one’s hands, social niceties are restricted, too. Eye contact and handshakes have to be earned. Aesthetic touchstones of the 90s like the ones pushed by Vetements offer an antisocial pose through slacker cosplay. Dress up, log off, drop out. (RE/EX)PRESSION: Raf Simons’ enormous sweaters jam the accelerator on the oversized look, taking it to its illogical conclusion. Magnified to an absurd degree, these pieces are as much one-size-fits-none as they are one-size-fits-all. Conceptually, they could be interpreted as a tongue-in-cheek formal exercise, questioning the whole notion of “good fit.” Practically, though, the effect is simple—something this huge is designed to make its wearer feel small. It recalls wearing a parent’s old sweater. It is a comforting retreat into childhood, and a brief reprieve from uncertainty. ILLUSION: Unless you sit atop the food chain, evasive action is a necessity. Many creatures defend themselves from predators by appearing larger than they really are— one of the oldest tricks in the book. So while we cannot change our bodies—at least not without a combo of time, money, and effort—we can change our clothes. Just as they can make us feel small, they can help us occupy more space. A stacked shoulder makes an edifice of a torso, and billowing trousers turn legs into columns. Fabric becomes prosthetic confidence.

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“Magnified to an absurd degree, these pieces are as much onesize-fits-none as they are one-size-fits-all.”

PROTECTION: The bigger the garments get, the more their wearers shrink within them, revealing less and less of their bodies. Our hands are our most expressive non-verbal body parts. They communicate actively through gesture and adornment, passively through color and markings—scars tell stories, chewed cuticles reveal habits. To conceal one’s hands, then, is to withhold information. And we all have reasons for keeping secrets. For some, concealment could be about self-defense—a man hiding his nail polish in a neighborhood where it might put him in physical danger. In the age of ubiquitous surveillance, could anyone be blamed for wanting a little privacy?

HARMONY: In 1919, Italian artist and designer Thayaht proposed a wholesale reinvention of the wardrobe with a drab, shapeless jumpsuit he called the TuTa. He published the pattern in Italy’s La Nazione newspaper so that anyone could make their own. A futurist, Thayaht wanted to streamline our bodies, to make them more functional. His TuTa typified a steady sameness that appears in most utopian design thinking: designers envision a better world and pick motifs and materials that match. Think of Le Corbusier’s Radiant City, his ideal metropolis imagined as a grid of identical high-rises and green spaces. Think of the color-blocked, form-fitting uniforms from Star Trek’s advanced societies. Even the stark minimalism of an Apple Store suggests perfection is attainable through standardization. Thayaht’s proposal is a relic of a partially-industrialized world. Today, most of us have no idea how to create a garment from scratch, pattern or no, so barring a breakthrough in maker technology— cost-efficient consumer 3D printing, for instance—a DIY world uniform is not in the cards. We are stuck with mass production, which means that for a garment to fit a plurality of bodies across genders, it needs to be big. One-size necessarily leads to oversized. Through generic excellence, we exchange individuality for comfort and peace. At least, that’s the idea.


Sweater: YEEZY Season 3, $465; Jeans: Vetements, $1790; Boots: YEEZY Season 3, $1210

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ANTIFASHION PHOTOGRAPHS BY: REBECCA STORM

A Guide to Sartorial Counter-Programming by Adam Wray

Fashion applies pressure from every angle. It is in our heads as much as it is on our bodies, buttressed by years of ad messaging, peer pressure, and media intake. We are convinced that our bodies are the wrong shapes, that our never-quite-right wardrobes are somehow holding us back. We sacrifice time, energy, money, and comfort in pursuit of moving targets, knowing full well that advertisements and social media are selling us fantasies. As much as we are drawn to fashion as a landscape of desires, we unconsciously yearn to quit shopping within a pre-set market of identities. New methods need to be devised to cope with getting dressed—here are four proposals.


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BIRTHDAY SUIT

When asked why he was drawn to clothing design, Kanye West turned to a well-worn truism: he cares about clothes because it is illegal to be naked. That, of course, is what makes nudity so compelling. Both taboo and impractical, public nakedness is the ultimate sartorial mic drop, pushing minimalism far past its illogical conclusion. Prove Kanye’s point—if something is truly important, there is no better way to reinforce it than by taking it away. Strip down and channel a vintage, ass-out Alexander McQueen runway look. Be your own teachable moment.

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During the First World War, the English Navy invented dazzle camouflage, a paint job applied to warships as a method of creating optical illusions. The pattern was not intended to conceal a ship, but rather to obscure the direction in which it was traveling and evade enemy fire. This is a more portable technique than one might imagine. The clothing we wear will always be used to define and categorize us. But we can flip this dynamic and use it to our advantage by crafting incoherent narratives. For example, pairing loose jogging pants with a tailored jacket and tie raises seductive ambiguities about your own employment status. Create alternate timelines by pulling references from multiple eras. Defy judgement with information overload. Heap contradiction atop contradiction and bury your signal in noise.

SEMIOTIC SCRAMBLING

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DEVOTED BASIC

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Silicon Valley’s sea of heather grey t-shirts has given uniform dressing a bad name. Yet the idea of creating a set-and-forget-it wardrobe is still something many of us fantasize about. The key is to not think of basicness as a way of giving up, but rather as a form of devotion. Pay close care to the cozy hang of your relaxed cut garments. Find yourself lost in a symphony of beige. Approach your next t-shirt purchase with the maniacal precision of a minimalist sculptor or an Olympic diver. The care shows. And attention to detail is sexy.

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ESCAPE INTO LAYERS

If there are two processes that have come to represent this era of cultural production, they are repurposing and layering. Art changed forever with the modernist advent of photomontage, and today all creative fields are sites of obsessive quotation. Part of our attraction to these methods is the element of chance that the copy-paste brings into the equation, forcing us to embrace the discrepancies and irregularities of colliding two originals. Dressing for the moment means embracing mis/dis/replacement.

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Credits Pages 6-11 1. Coulomb, N. (2013, October 28). [Photograph found in THE ETUDES STUDIO MAN IS A CURIOUS PERSON…, Paris]. Retrieved from http://paperjournal.com/nicolas-coulomb-etudes/ 2. De Peyret, T. (n.d.). [Photograph found in ÉTUDES STUDIO RUE DEBELLEYME, Paris]. Retrieved from http://cigue.net/en/project/etudes-studio/ 3. Egry, J., & Poillot, N. (2016, December 13). The Politics of Dress: Inside the Mind and Atelier of the French Collective Études [Interview by J. Khayyer]. Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/interview/the-politics-of-dress Pages 12-18 4. H. (n.d.). [Photograph found in Online Editorial for SSENSE’s New Icons.]. Retrieved from http://haw-linservices.com/project/ssense-raf-simons-puff/ 5. Heuser, B. (2016, August 29). This Coat Is Your Safe Space: How Raf Simons’ Down Jacket Embodies the Needs of Our Oversized Moment [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/feature/ this-coat-is-your-safe-space 6. Mapplethorpe, R. (2016, January 26). [Photograph found in Raf Simons Takes to Instagram to Show off His FW16 on the Streets of Paris, Highsnobiety]. In J. Drummond (Author). Retrieved from http://www.highsnobiety.com/2016/01/26/raf-simons-fw16-collectionparis-instagram/#slide-3 7. Mckenzie, R. (2016, September 20). [Photograph found in This Latest Editorial Is All About FashionForward Female Style, Highsnobiety]. In A. Leach (Author). Retrieved from http://www.highsnobiety. com/2016/09/20/highsnobiety-leafy-womensweareditorial/ 8. Telles, T. (2016, August 31). [Photograph found in Raf Simons FW16, Fucking Young!]. Retrieved from http://fuckingyoung.es/raf-simons-fw16/ Pages 21-30 9. Bawar, J. (2017, March 10). [Photograph]. The Business of Streetwear, Toronto In R. Wanas (Ed.). Pages 34-46 10. Model wearing Off-White Business Woman by Virgil Abloh [Personal photograph taken in Toronto, ON]. (2017, March 25).

11. Abloh, V. (2016, April 29). An Idea That Resonates: Virgil Abloh Lifts the Creative Curtain [Interview]. Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/feature/ off-white-before-after Pages 49-56 12. S. (2015, October 29). [Photograph found in YEEZY Season 1, SSENSE, England]. Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/feature/yeezyseason-1 13. YEEZY Season 1: adidas Originals by Kanye West [Editorial]. (2015, October 29). Https://www.ssense. com/en-ca/feature/yeezy-season-1. Retrieved from YEEZY Season 1 | SSENSE Pages 60-68 14. Ange-Carlotti, P. (n.d.). [Photograph found in Vetements SS16 look book, Nss magazine]. In V. Nuzzi (Author). Retrieved from http://www.nssmag.com/en/ fashion/8057/vetements-ss16-look-book 15. In Equilibrium: Womenswear: A New Guard Emerges [Web log post]. (2015, April 15). Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/feature/ equilibrium_w Pages 71-77 16. Portrait in Natural Light [Personal photograph taken in Ryerson University, Toronto, ON]. (2016, October 24). Pages 79-88 17. Oversized Silhouettes [Personal photograph taken in Toronto, ON]. (2017, March 25). 18. Wray, A. (2016, October 13). Your One-Size-FitsAll Future: What the Oversized Silhouette Tells Us About Our Time [Web log post]. Retrieved from https:// www.ssense.com/en-ca/feature/your-one-size-fits-allfuture Pages 91-95 19. Strom, R. (2016, December 23). [Photograph found in Anti-Fashion, SSENSE]. Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/feature/anti-fashion 20. Wray, A. (2016, December 23). Anti-Fashion: A Guide To Sartorial Counter-Programming [Web log post]. Retrieved from https://www.ssense.com/en-ca/ feature/anti-fashion

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SSENSE Mock Lookbook  

**Pages left mostly or completely blank represent vellum pages in print.** A 100 page mock lookbook for SSENSE. Typography, graphic product...

SSENSE Mock Lookbook  

**Pages left mostly or completely blank represent vellum pages in print.** A 100 page mock lookbook for SSENSE. Typography, graphic product...

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