Street Fight­ers

Ger­ald Tan speaks to DRx Ro­manelli and Cali Thorn­hill DeWitt—the mas­ter­minds be­hind an ex­clu­sive cap­sule col­lec­tion to mark the open­ing of Sur­ren­der’s new store

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS -

ar ren Ro­manelli aka DRx Ro­manelli and Cali Thorn­hill DeWitt are two names that are tied to some of the most talked-about col­lab­o­ra­tions in the streetwear cir­cle. Like his nick­name sug­gests, Ro­manelli slices apart gar ments and re­con­structs them with sur­gi­cal pre­ci­sion. His past projects have added fresh con­text to brands such as Nike, Con­verse, Levi’s and JaegerLeCoul­tre. DeWitt, on the other hand, is most noted for ap­ply­ing his ty­pog­ra­phy-heavy art to a mul­ti­tude of mer­chan­dise that Kanye West sold along­side his Life of Pablo al­bum.As part of the hype sur­round­ing the launch of Sur­ren­der’s sleek bou­tique at 268 Or­chard Road, the duo has cre­ated a cap­sule col­lec­tion of jack­ets, t-shirts, patches and zines.The nine out­er­wear pieces are, without a doubt, the stars of the ex­clu­sive range—each sports an al­pha­bet at the back that spells the name of the store when put to­gether.

Tell us more about the vin­tage jack­ets spe­cially cre­ated for the oc­ca­sion.

Cali Thorn­hill DeWitt (C): It’s a con­tin­u­a­tion of other projects we’ve done that have been go­ing on for a while.We’ve known each other for years and we’ve worked to­gether be­fore, so this col­lec­tion sort of hap­pened nat­u­rally. But there are also the tech­ni­cal bits, like mak­ing the jack­ets more light­weight for Sin­ga­pore’s weather.

DRx Ro­manelli (D): The “Ap­ple” piece was es­pe­cially mem­o­rable to put to­gether be­cause I was told that an Ap­ple store might open next to Sur­ren­der; so I went to source for an Ap­ple jacket. Oth­ers I’ve had in my col­lec­tion for a long time.Then there are the jack­ets with the Asian-in­spired in­te­ri­ors, which I think are re­ally rad. They res­onate for me and Sin­ga­pore be­cause of her his­tory.

How would you de­scribe the syn­ergy be­tween the two of you?

D: I think it’s re­ally high. We share a lot of sim­i­lar­i­ties when it comes to how we ap­proach life. C: Our styles are very dif­fer­ent though. D: But I think that’s why we’re such good friends and we col­lab­o­rate so well to­gether. There’re a lot of ex­changes that go on be­tween us out­side of the col­lab­o­ra­tions, so when­ever we work to­gether we al­ready have many ref­er­ences as far as touch points or ideations go.

Dar­ren, you’re known for re­search­ing, break­ing apart items and then piec­ing them back to­gether in dif­fer­ent ways. Is the back­story of a cloth­ing item some­thing that fas­ci­nates you a great deal?

D: I think re-ap­pro­pri­a­tion of imagery from an ad­ver­tis­ing per­spec­tive is some­thing I’ve been fas­ci­nated with since young. If you look at the me­dia as a whole, we’re con­stantly be­ing fed th­ese mes­sages. So, as a mar­keter and brand con­sul­tant, I’m al­ways think­ing: “Hey, if I can per­son­alise me­dia, then I can cre­ate a more in­ter­est­ing ap­proach to how con­sumers in­ter­act with brands.” Sim­i­larly, if I can per­son­alise cloth­ing and fash­ion in the same vein, I can in­spire the way I con­nect with peo­ple cre­atively. And I think Cali re-ap­pro­pri­ates imagery very beau­ti­fully with his word play, and I re-ap­propr iate it from a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive.This is why I love Andy Warhol so much. He makes you look at a can of soup dif­fer­ently, right? That’s why th­ese jack­ets have a deeper mean­ing than just be­ing cool fash­ion pieces.

What’s “new” to you? Is new­ness im­por­tant to the both of you? C: Well, I’m not in­ter­ested in recre­at­ing things that have al­ready hap­pened. But I don’t know if I think of it as new­ness, I like to feel like it’s its own thing. It’s sep­a­rate, per­haps. But peo­ple usu­ally want what they recog­nise. And it’s our job as cre­atives to help push that bound­ary. It’s some­thing I think about very of­ten. It’s sur­pris­ing how many peo­ple want the same things. But cloth­ing and art is all com­mu­ni­ca­tion, so peo­ple are drawn to the lan­guage they al­ready know. So­cial me­dia is part of the com­mu­ni­ca­tion land­scape now. You can fight against it, but if you don’t take part, you’re go­ing to lose the abil­ity to com­mu­ni­cate. Lan­guage and the abil­ity to talk to peo­ple in­spire me.

Have you sur pr ised your­self by be­ing in­spired by some­thing you didn’t like? D: Well, I bought an art piece that scared the shit out of me. It was a clown paint­ing. When I men­tioned to the lady at the gallery about be­ing fright­ened by it, she said that’s the rea­son why I should live with it and get to know it.The paint­ing’s one of my favourite pieces of art now.

From top: The “Ap­ple” jacket from the col­lec­tion. DeWitt (left) and Ro­manelli (right) dur­ing their visit to Sin­ga­pore. Be­sides Asian de­tails, var­sity in­flu­ences abound on the jack­ets

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