Meet six de­sign­ers shak­ing up the fash­ion scene.

ELLE (Canada) - - Special - by amy verner

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

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