Archive for the ‘Fashion’ Category

Ben Cuervo for Innercity Clothing: An Interview

October 8, 2010

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As regular readers will know, we like to do what we can to promote emerging talent across all industries. For the past 8 months or so I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ben Cuervo, a very talented fashion graphic designer and good friend who is now putting all his energies into Innercity Clothing, a streetwear brand of his own making. I had a quick catch-up with him to discuss past, present and future.

(As a bit of a disclaimer, Ben expresses some opinions about various other brands – we would like to make it clear that these are solely the opinions of Ben and not necessarily shared by us at the Fold. We don’t want to upset anyone, or get sued. Ta!)

For those who may not know, tell us a bit about Innercity (how long you’ve been going, what you do, who your peer brands are etc).

Innercity is a brand new streetwear brand based in Bournemouth. We’ve been building it for the last  year but we only launched with our first collection this summer; we took so long because we wanted everything to be right, no half-assed rush job! My partner-in-crime in making Innercity is Wayne Collins, who was the man behind Criminal Clothing. We’re very much picking up where he left off but with a heavier graphic element to the tees.

Given the large number of streetwear brands available to UK consumers, what do you feel sets you apart from the rest?

I think that us just doing what we like and making the best product we can is what set us apart. We’re not churning out stuff for profit; we’re doing what we love. Every tee, hood or whatever took me hours and all my thought and passion. All the big brands hire freelancers!

How can you design for one brand and yet design for 3 more at the same time? That’s why their product is all the same; I live what I design and wear my own designs every day so I have to be proud and believe in what I do. A freelancer doesn’t give a shit; it’s all about the money. Nuff said.

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On a more personal note – how did you get into clothing and graphic design?

I did Graphics at the Arts Institute in Bournemouth; it was awesome! I stood out like a sore thumb with all those arty types but there were a few like-minded people in my class who encouraged me to get my head into it. I did okay, passed my degree then went off trying to freelance. After a while I came back to Bournemouth, worked in a studio for a bit doing normal graphic stuff then met Wayne and did a few tees with him for another brand that I went on to work for.  It didn’t work out well so Wayne said that we can do this ourselves… so we did!

Tell us a bit more about your range.

The brand has two sections to it. There’s the old-school vintage range, which definitely has a hip hop theme, but its more 80’s and 90’s. Music I love! Just like everyone, music is a big influence in what I do. I wanted that vintage feel but without being cheesy, so we came with the old school vintage tip.

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On the other side we have the streetwear tees which are just based on things I see every day and just life experiences that I’ve had. It’s not trying to be cool for being cool’s sake; if you don’t live it you won’t love it.

The material used in the t-shirts has a very unique, almost luxury feel to it for a street wear brand. Without giving away too many trade secrets, how do you achieve this effect?

We spent a lot of time and money getting this right; we custom-made every garment we sell from scratch and we use the best material we can. When we started, we decided that we wanted to go for quality not quantity and so we make our tees in Europe. That way we can keep everything under control and make sure it’s the best it can be; they are without doubt the best quality streetwear tees out there. All you have to do is try one on and you will see; the fit, the fabric, the detail… it’s the bollocks!

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Is there any advice you would give to budding designers or indeed anyone that wants to set up their own business?

Yes, I’ve read loads of books about entrepreneurs and now having started a business myself there two thing I would say. Firstly, you have to start. Trust me, this is harder than it sounds! I started thanks to Wayne and a year later we have a brand in the shops, but a year is a long time; you need the stomach for it. Secondly, do the things you have to do even when you don’t want to. That is also hard but you can never put anything off in this game.

We would like to thank Ben for his time and wish him all the best in the future – keep your eyes peeled for Innercity/Threefold collabs in the future! Innercity is available from these fine outlets:

Monkey Clothing

USC

James & James

Divine Trash

So go and fill your boots. Alternatively, catch them here or on Facebook.

James

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i-D Magazine 30th Birthday Issue

August 10, 2010

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30 years is a long time in fashion. Long enough to see trends come, go, come back again, go again and return in an endless cycle that may make you wonder what the point of it all is… ahem, sorry, I digress.

This month, venerable fashion and style bible i-D hits that big ol’ three-oh milestone, and to celebrate they have commissioned a special issue with three different collector’s covers, featuring Kate Moss, Lady Gaga and Naomi Campbell respectively.

Editor-in-Chief Terry Jones had this to say:

“30 years – whoosh, more than an instant in i-D’s lifeline – it’s a generation. Three decades to be celebrated and contained in this special issue. The whole issue was created by Nick Knight 200 portraits that SHOWstudio made at the close of 2009 in Somerset House – once the home of British passports, now the central location for British Fashion Week. Nick’s celebration of identity was also a commemorative project inspired by the 5th birthday issue of i-D, where 100 portraits were featured in The Grown Up Issue. 25 years on, the gallery selection grew to 200. Happy birthday!”

Happy birthday indeed.

James

Paris Couture Week A/W 10-11 Highlights

July 9, 2010

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This month Sarah indulges us with her personal highlights from Paris Couture Week.

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Christian Dior Haute Couture, autumnwinter 2010/11 and Jean Paul Gaultier Haute Couture, autumnwinter 2010/11

Now ready-to-wear is more my bag, but if I were cohabiting with a Sheik or Oligarch (sorry boyf, no offence), Haute Couture may be more so. Paris Haute Couture Week is one of those fashion occasions that combines the most dazzling displays of design, craftsmanship and luxury with theatrics, entertainment and unadulterated glamour.

Giving the world’s most skilled designers platform to unleash their inner imagination, Couture Week often sets the trends for seasons to come. This season, a few such trends emerged – notably black, black and more black, injections of acidic lime green and a running Middle Eastern aesthetic.

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Jean Paul Gaultier

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Jean Paul Gaultier

My highlights include John Galliano for Dior’s vibrant, ostentatious extravaganza; complete with dip-dyed fabrics, tiers, frills, ruffles and lashings of botanical inspiration. Jean Paul Gaultier also wowed with simple yet effective takes on wardrobe staples such as the trench and twinset, while his 1970’s-tinged floating silk-satin gowns and draped little black dresses left me particularly enamoured. This, paired with the turban-esque headpieces left me imagining a nostalgic, seriously wealthy, Upper East Sider expatriated in the Middle East…

Both Dior and Gaultier favoured thinly veiled faces, adding to both the mystery and drama of the occasion, and perhaps echoing just a little bit, the conservative nature of Arabic inspiration.

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Elie Saab Haute Couture, autumnwinter 2010/11

Leave it to Elie Saab, this time inspired by La Fenice, Venice’s legendary opera house, to come up with a perspective myriad of gowns to grace the red carpets and church isles. This particular taupe creation caught my eye, with its frilled, open-backed bodice and full layers of rich chiffon skirting… and yes Dad, you will be needing to find out if they do it in ivory, and familiarise yourself with the swing tag.

Sarah

Jack Wills Varsity Polo 2010

June 13, 2010

On Saturday myself, my flatmate Max and friend Jack ventured to Windsor for the Jack Wills-sponsored Oxford v Cambridge Varsity Polo.

Absolutely brilliant day out – kind of like a one-day festival, with shops, a Pimm’s bus, live music, the England vs USA match on a big screen, a silent disco and, of course, polo matches!

Didn’t end up watching much polo; I can’t say I understand the rules much, and our 30-odd cans of beer and sunshine were much more enticing! Definitely going to go next year, although more planning will be necessary I think.

Here’s a few snaps of the day, taken variously by myself and Max:

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James

Adidas Originals x Star Wars – Cantina

June 11, 2010

Continuing on from the much-lauded Star Wars x Adidas collaboration collection, this advert brings several of the famous Adidas Originals faces to the Mos Eisley Cantina from the films. Ever wanted to see Snoop Dogg rock a lightsaber?

James

Let’s Get Lost: Racism in the Fashion Industry

May 24, 2010

Last week a colleague forwarded me a link to an article on refinery29.com regarding a recent shoot for Interview Magazine featuring model Daria Werbowy, shot by Mikael Jansson. The story itself has caused a fair amount of controversy regarding alleged racist undertones within the shoot.

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Personally, I think this shoot is one of, if not the most evocative fashion story I have seen all year. The lighting, poses, clothing and colour all contribute to an overall ambience which I find simply captivating. You can almost taste the salty tang of sweat, the earthy and metallic grease and engine oil, the cold bottled beer and the acrid, lingering smoke.

As a big fan of dancehall music and dingy, sweaty yet atmospheric clubs in general, I cannot envision a more perfect setting to hear one of my favourite genres of music. All of the models, not just Daria, look beautiful, and while there is the faintest nuance of menace in the air, that is thanks mainly to the setting; it certainly, to my eyes anyway, does not reinforce any negative stereotypes of black people.

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However, this is where the allegations come pouring in. According to its many detractors, it places black models in the shoot merely as ‘props’, dressing them in ‘tough’ leather and knits, while placing Daria in ‘ethereal’ and ‘angel-like’ gowns.

Looking at these images as objectively as possible, I’m still not entirely sure of the validity of this statement. I mean sure, Daria is the main focus of many of the images – although not all, it is important to note – but I think that the images would be just as strong without her in them at all; the shoot is about capturing an atmosphere, a moment in time in some faraway place that many of us Western Europeans will never experience.

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It is antithetic escapism in a way; instead of providing something typically beautiful and aspirational, it does the opposite and shows us a world of vice, sleaze and depravity, which, due to its obvious id-based appeal, is just as alluring.

The fact remains that clubs like this do exist; from grimy dancehall venues in the backstreets of Kingston to basement dubstep clubs in East London, the ‘dive’, as many of these places are known, represents a coming-together of people for one thing – a love of music. All the pretentious trappings of so-called nightlife – dress codes, expensive cocktails, and condescending attitudes – are forgotten; the venues aren’t pretty but they are brimming with energy, both sonic and sexual. In my opinion, that is what this shoot conveys perfectly.

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Of course, this isn’t the first time in recent months that the fashion industry has been accused of racism. Last year, the October 2009 issue of Vogue featured a shoot – shot by Steven Klein, styled by Carine Roitfeld – in which model Lara Stone was depicted covered in brown paint, in a move dubbed by many as ‘contemporary blackface’. The outrage over this shoot is, in my opinion, fairly justified.

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Although I am a big fan of Steven Klein, it is surprising that anyone would allow this kind of photoshoot to go ahead. While I don’t think that a depiction of ‘neo-minstrels’ was necessarily the aim of the shoot, it was nonetheless a naive move by those in charge, and actually detracts a lot of attention from the other images in the shoot, which are otherwise very cool indeed.

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I guess your outlook on this whole debate depends on your views on what is considered racist. Personally, with regard to the Daria Werbowy shoot, I think that most of the outrage has been generated by whites who think it is up to them to dictate what people from other ethnic backgrounds find offensive. Sure, there are black people who will find it offensive but there are also plenty who don’t (Kiah, the colleague who forwarded the images to me, is Jamaican and loves them) which wouldn’t be the case if the images depicted were overtly offensive.

Another big factor is the way in which fashion chooses to politicise itself. Many people speak of fashion as being very politically and socially motivated, something which I don’t agree with at all. Any kind of political or social commentary embued within a collection that I’ve seen has been very trite and contrived at best; certainly nothing that has made me want to make any rash lifestyle changes.

Fashion makes itself political because people that design want it to be taken seriously as an art, which it is not. It may be conceptual, but fashion design is a craft, not an art. Clothing, in my opinion, cannot express any kind of political statement; it can express an opinion, an outlook on life – look to the Dadaist, make-do-and-mend aesthetic of punk, or the often prison-related fashions present in hiphop style – but when it comes to fashion, the only real politicisation comes through depiction in a context, through mediums such as photography or film.

It is only when clothing is placed within a context that it is given meaning; the ‘Guide to Successful Living’ campaign started by Diesel in 1992 is, to me, one of the most satirical and provocative advertising campaigns ever made, and marks a true milestone in terms of the politicisation of fashion advertising.

When you consider that there are so many actual examples of racism and persecution in the world that continue to cause pain and suffering to people all over the world, getting worked up over a perceived slight in a magazine editorial seems, to me at least, to be fairly out of perspective. Let’s concentrate on fixing some of the other evils in the world before blaming fashion for all of the world’s problems, shall we?

James

Fulvio Bonavia – A Matter of Taste

May 15, 2010

Who said fashion couldn’t be delicious?

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Fulvio Bonavia began his career as a graphic designer and illustrator of film posters. As a photographer, he brings his artistic and design sensibilities to each and every one of his pictures, doing all of the post-production himself so that his images are infused with his vision from start to finish.”

Absolutely wonderful photographs, I think you’ll agree. The way that Bonavia has managed to match the textures from foodstuff to textile is simply inspired.

via Coute Que Coute.

James

Celebrities & Diffusion Ranges: An Analysis

May 12, 2010

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The Kardashians, who have designed a capsule collection for Bebe

How involved are celebrities in the design of their diffusion ranges?

In a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph, renowned fashion designer Zandra Rhodes criticised the stars who put their names to fashion collections, stating “they have taken things out of their wardrobes — by Balenciaga or some other brand — and had it knocked up by the chain, which is why [some of these] places lost a lot of their designers.”

If indeed Ms. Rhodes is correct, are such collaborations necessary? In a world of seemingly endless opportunities for consumption, are these ranges needed to ensure a brand remains visible to the public, or are they simply further adherence to the modern cult of celebrity?

Zandra Rhodes: Role Models From World of Fashion Fail Our Children

Of course, it’s fairly obvious to suggest that celebrities don’t know what they’re talking about. For example, the placement of Lindsay Lohan as creative adviser to established fashion house Emanuel Ungaro – and the resulting, devastating criticism of her first collection – has done much to damage the idea of bringing in a famous name to enhance a brand’s standing in the public eye.

It certainly seems as though every ‘celebrity’ in LA has turned their hand to designing – from Paris Hilton to J.Lo to… well, virtually any mainstream hiphop artist you care to mention. It is almost as if there is some kind of ‘fame hierarchy’ in place, in which different forms of talent are considered more reputable than others, and everyone is just trying to move up the food chain – reality TV stars want to sing, singers want to act and just about everyone wants to be a designer.

However, the fact remains that much designer fashion remains blissfully out of reach for many – and lest we forget that diffusion lines, as well fragrances, underwear and other less expensive but nonetheless branded items are where labels get their lion’s share of income from. Fashionistas (myself included, sometimes) may sneer and turn their noses up at overtly-branded diffusion T-shirts and other rudimentary items that are given astronomical price tags because of conspicuous logos, but thanks to the twin miracles of consumer capitalism and mass media, a three-pronged fork of self-definition through possession, a push towards instant gratification and commodity fetishism strikes many consumers straight through the heart – and often the wallet – leaving them powerless to resist.

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Items such as fragrances are where fashion houses make most of their money

More importantly, however, it keeps the accounts of major fashion houses nicely topped up, so that they can continue to operate and produce more ways for people to feel like a part of something aspirational through consumption.

This may sound cruel, but unfortunately that is the way in which a capitalist society works. During my time at university I learned that fashion, rather than being a fluffy little ‘optional extra’, is actually a crucial pillar in ensuring that the economy continues to flourish. Many would fail to see the connection, as I did; fashion is not just about catwalk shows and haute couture, but deals with creating desirability for almost every consumer goods item you care to think of, from mobile phones to soft furnishings. Due to its cyclical nature, it ensures that objects are not replaced when they cease to be useful, but when they cease to be ‘fashionable’ or desirable. Fear of exclusion is a powerful thing, and many will maintain their consumption habits to remain within the group.

Not always as easy as it sounds though. Contrary to many people’s belief, and the sheer mountains of damning evidence, the general public is not stupid, particularly since the recession. Consumption habits have completely polarised; yes, you still have people queuing endlessly at quick-fix disposable stores such as Primark, but you also get people making much more informed choices about where they spend their money. As a result, companies have to coax and persuade people to buy their products – which is where advertising comes in, although that is a topic so vast in itself I won’t be going into it. Another way is through celebrity endorsements, which brings me neatly back to the aforementioned diffusion lines.

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Elle Macpherson, whose Intimates range, forged in a partnership with Bendon Limited Apparel, remains one of the most popular celebrity-endorsed lines

Celebrities are so explicitly public property these days that in many cases, a personal investment of emotion is made by the member of the public. How many times have you heard someone expressing strong feelings towards a celebrity, both positive or negative, despite the fact that they have never even been on the same continent, let alone met? The same applies with fashion collections. By attaching a known face to the brand, people can make an emotional connection between their feelings for that person and the brand they are associated with. Furthermore, if that celebrity is known for being particularly stylish, people can attempt to emulate their style by buying clothes that they supposedly designed.

When you look at it like this, I suppose it doesn’t really matter whether the celebrity in question sat down with the head designer and a pad and pencil and conceptualised the entire collection from scratch, or merely turned up one day, cast their eye over a bunch of potential designs and signed off the ones they liked. In the same way as you wouldn’t expect a musician that endorses Pepsi to be any good at making drinks, or a footballer that promotes certain foods to be a good cook, why expect an actor to actually be able to design?

How involved are celebrities in the design of their diffusion ranges? Well, as long as you like the clothes, what does it matter?

James

Burberry Black Label Fall/Winter 2010 Preview

April 7, 2010

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Quick look at the Japanese-based Burberry Black Label’s forthcoming collection. I’m always a fan of Burberry’s output – classic suiting and trenches are a sure sign that no matter which way trends go, there is always a difference between fashion and style.

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James

Style Society – Interview With Sarah Leigh

March 19, 2010

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Sunday 14th March saw Style Society, a fashion and live music event put on by dear friend of the Fold Sarah Leigh, descend upon Orange Rooms, Southampton. Seeing as the night was such a success, we felt it necessary to have a quick chat with Sarah about the night – the highs, the lows and plans for the future.

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Just for the benefit of our readers, what exactly was Style Society?

In a nutshell, Style Society was, and will be a bi-annual event created to enjoy the talent of Southampton’s local fashion brands and professionals, artists and musicians – to put all this creativity under one roof for an informal evening of networking and entertainment.

What inspired you to put this event on in the first place?

The concept came about when I started my blog; Sarah-Leigh’s Style Files. I’ve been working in the fashion industry for a few years now and wanted a space to document my day to day experiences, sights and give my opinion on things I’m passionate about. The blog has proved successful and I have found it a great platform to promote local fashion and design talent and to speak about up and coming names. It was this idea that lead me to think about putting an event on; to gather many of my friends and contacts together in one location and empower them to show off their skills to a live audience, promote themselves and have a really great time while they do it. Initially I discussed the idea with Sophie Penn, my friend and a Southampton-based writer and stylist, who was also looking to do something locally too to promote herself and the designers she regularly uses, and Style Society was born.

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What was the biggest highlight of the night for you?

The highlight was seeing it all come together at about 7pm! We’d spent the whole day setting up Orange Rooms, the bar where the event was held, to house all of our exhibitors and entertainment, not to mention 4 months planning it all, and to see everyone in place and guests start arriving was so rewarding. It looked just how I’d imagined.

What was the biggest headache you encountered?

The biggest headache in the run-up to the event was the fact that it was on a Sunday, and Mothering Sunday to be exact! As far as promoting was concerned, we really had our work cut out, but this just meant that we ensured our event had something for everyone (Mums too), and that there was enough entertainment to ensure people stayed all night long!

On the day space was a small headache, just because of the number of people involved, and we wanted to make sure everyone has a great location to promote their products or services. Room was a little tight, but it turned out fantastically!

In hindsight, what would you choose to do differently, if anything?

In hindsight, I would have been aware of the date of Mothering Sunday! Although the event was a huge success, it could have been one less thing to worry about!

How well suited do you feel Southampton is as a city to hold events such as these?

To be honest, Southampton has an unfair reputation of lacking creativity, but I wanted to prove that there is an underground scene here, with hoards of fantastic artists, singers, fashion designers and stores looking to spread their message and inspire others. In Solent University, we have a hotbed of creative talent emerging, and the event was just as much about promoting this as established organizations.

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Style Society featured live art, illustrators, vintage boutiques, live music and DJs. If there is the possibility of a follow-up event sometime in the future, are there any other avenues you’d particularly like to explore?

I would love to do another event, perhaps in the summer, so that we could have some of the entertainment outdoors – a fashion festival would be ideal!! Its early days, put I’ve got my planning hat back on already! I would love to include more designers, brands and bands who have now approached me, and really I think there’s room for all kinds of creative outlet – as long as it fits with the ethos of Style Society.

How much money did you raise altogether? Where will it be going?

On the night we raised around £900, which is just fantastic – I’m overwhelmed by the people who came out and supported the event. Donations are still pouring in this week, and so we look set to hit our £1000 goal. £1000 will aid Oxfam to build a classroom in one of the world’s poorest communities – I strongly support education, and this overall aim fitted perfectly with our support of promoting emerging individuals.

What has the reaction been from the people that contributed on the night?

Everyone I have spoke to, that was involved with the event has been so kind and generous following it, and have all offered their services for next time. I think we’ve found a fantastic set of people who have a lot in common and have proved to be quite a forceful collective!

Any plans to put another event on in the future?

Yes I thinks so, Sophie and I would love to repeat Style Society, and there are a few more charity and networking orientated events I’ve been asked to get involved with. This has been the first event I planned beginning to end, and let’s just say I’ve caught the bug – stay tuned to Sarah-Leigh’s Style Files for news!

Visit Sarah’s blog for full coverage of the night!

James