NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK
Meet six designers shaking up the fashion scene.
MISBHV “I think the beauty of running an independent brand is that no one can judge you for changing,” says Natalia Maczek, founder of MISBHV, who resists being referred to as a designer. “I work with my friends, just trying to push ideas that we feel at any given moment.” Still, just four seasons in, she defaults to high-end materials (Portuguese raw denim, leathers sourced in France and Italy, Egyptian cotton) even while creating clothes that are youthful to the core. As she sees it, being based in Warsaw—“a rather grim, postSoviet capital with striking energy”—works to her advantage. If the melancholy seeps into her gritty colour palette, so does the romance, distinguishing her from other “poststreetwear” brands. “It’s all about finding our own voice and building our own world.”
Vetements To describe Vetements as the brand du jour is as much an understatement as the label name itself, which is French for “clothes.” Launched two years back, the designer collective is fronted by 34-year-old Demna Gvasalia and could best be described as Margiela 2.0 with its everyday sweatshirts, coats, floral dresses and pants with unusual proportions and garish colours (e.g., fluorescent lilac!). But the attraction to Vetements goes beyond the clothes; just one week after the label’s most recent show, Gvasalia was named Balenciaga’s new artistic director. Whether his prestigious new gig will affect the brand’s future remains to be seen.
Off- White Two years ago, when Virgil Abloh introduced his first Off-White collection of menswear, he was known principally as Kanye West’s creative director and the clever mind behind the widely popular Pyrex Vision graphic T-shirt line. His women’s collection, which debuted in 2014, made clear that he wanted to shift to an aesthetic that is fuelled by street culture but significantly more complex in construction and silhouette. “Personally, I want to see what’s on offer beyond the natural obsession with youth in fashion,” he says. “I don’t believe that obsession is over, but I am dedicated to following the maturation of that youth muse.” When you glimpse his women’s spring offering (think Céline meets Supreme), with its provocatively reworked jeans combined with conceptually tailored jackets, crisp shirting and tees altered almost imperceptibly, you understand that Abloh treats fashion as an exercise in remixing familiar codes with instinctively cool vibes.
Andrea Crews Parisienne style typically swings from Isabel Marant meets Emmanuelle Alt boho rock chick to Amélie-esque ingenue. But thanks in part to Andrea Crews founder Maroussia Rebecq, a local streetwear look has been percolating for the past decade. The brand is focused on offering original collections conceived by collaboration and rooted in artisanal, environmentally friendly ideals such as upcycling. The spring menswear show took place on a squash court, where a squad of boys and girls donned athletic attire inflected with Asian references, from graphic emblems to kimono sleeves. The statement was globally minded and entirely kick-ass. And although cropped bomber jackets and calf-length hoodies don’t necessarily qualify as radical, they challenge the status quo just enough to be conversation starters. Says Rebecq with enthusiasm, “When you wear Andrea Crews, you always make new friends!”
BENJI WZW Benji Wong believes clothing needs to be representative in order to stand out. For each collection, he creates narratives and characters in order to “build something that resonates and connects with people on a personal level.” The key ingredient, he adds, is authenticity: “People will feel that and see the story and vision only WZW can [bring to the] surface for them.” This ethos permits the London-based designer to merge haute materials and tailoring with youth culture and “street tribalism.” Wong studied architecture at the University of Waterloo before pursuing fashion at the prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp followed by training on London’s Savile Row, which helps explain why he is equally drawn to craftsmanship and new technology. A basic sweatshirt gets embellished with 3-D-printed anime appliqués, while raw-denim jeans boast handembroidered finishing. Driven by a “juxtaposition of opposites,” he says that his collections will always reveal the complementary forces of raw and refined.
Gypsy Sport While the idea of a fashion tribe is nothing new, Gypsy Sport seems to thrive on the notion of assembling a unique yet inclusive band of followers united by the street. Front man and creative director Rio Uribe has spent the past four seasons making the brand’s presence known, sometimes using unorthodox approaches such as presenting an illegal show in Washington Square Park and filming a campaign on the New York subway (also illegal). But the fact that he was among 2015’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners speaks volumes; anti-establishment thinkers have a way of breaking through in the industry as long as they express a point of view to complement the shock value. (It helps that Uribe honed his skills as a merchandiser at Balenciaga.) So far, Gypsy Sport’s urban, eclectic take on the global nomad—patchwork denim cloaks, tunics in sport jersey and satin, skirts cascading with raffia—seems like it’s on the right side of unhinged. Except for the fact that he has imagined a utopian other world called “Haturn,” which subsequently informed his logo (two hats aligned like a planet). Today, a gang of cool kids; tomorrow, the world. h