Conceptualizing a Collection

With the lines between streetwear and high fashion being deeply intertwined over the course of the last 10 years, it is crucial for designers to express a purpose, reason, and story in a collection. These key aspects are part of a more meaningful concept which is crucial for the longevity of a brand.  For quite some time there has been a never-ending feedback loop between high fashion and streetwear designers in their early stages would either replicate or reinterpret pieces derived from luxury labels or rebellion against the luxury ideology. In this case, now luxury labels are trying to emulate various streetwear aesthetics to gain creditably and appeal to a younger consumer pool. Both of these practices have cost benefits which can be fruitful or ineffective based on the approach that is taken. You can look at brands like Balenciaga and Gucci which have shifted their efforts in appealing to a younger demographic by designing more entry-level streetwear-focused pieces like t-shirt, hoodies, and accessories as opposed to more atelier crafted garments. But how long will this approach last before consumers get tired of the same tasteless reconstituted products? 

So it has become ever more dire to produce something with substance while being sustainably conscious. Numerous brands have sprouted from various functions which have to lend them building stories you can piece together because it is authentic and relatable enough to create a communitas feeling. I can remember brands like Southpole where I had endless pairs of jeans I would skate because of how MTV influenced me at the time.  I can recount Daymond John’s Fubu (For us by us) and how it derived from an area of fashion that was being ignored by luxury houses, which happened to be the urban and hip hop community but yet they recouped much of their profits from that one demographic. I remember brands like Babyphat and Phatfarm because it was plastered on the back of every popular kid I can remember. Another one was Marc Ecko’s Ecko unlimited brand which was one of the first streetwear brands that I can associate with using the term “cut and sew” which is a term I see a lot of streetwear brands using today to separate themselves from other streetwear brands. 

 Only the real ones can remember childhood staples like Akademiks, SeanJohn, and Rocawear which my mom would routinely purchase from Cookies on Jamaica ave( If you know you know). I can easily name more brands but it just shows that growing up the most memorable brands are the ones that I enjoyed with like-minded people or the lines that I was ridiculed for wearing. What I loved the most about each brand is how they each had their own way of telling a story and present a feeling whether it was through a label on a piece or a commercial.

Some of the more notable contemporary designers such as Alexander McQueen and Rei Kawakubo are in the company of the greatest designers because of their ability to tell a story through clothing. For instance, Alexander McQueen’s F/W 1995 show ” Highland Rape” which still to this day is one of the most controversial shows ever conducted. McQueen’s collection consisted of pieces that were quite revealing and were torn and battered in a manner that hinted at sexual assault of some kind.

At a first glance, many people believed that his collection was promoting rape and abuse of women. Instead, it was him telling a story of how the English exploited and had taken so much from the Scottish in the 1800s. In fact, none of the pieces from the show were for sale it was more artistic expression than fashion.

Rei Kawakubo S/S 1997 ” Body meets dress, dress meets body” show not only pushed the boundaries of what the constructional portions of a garment could be, but it also challenged the traditional narrative of an ideal female body type and typical beauty standards for women. The garments from this collection consisted of dresses with tumor-like shapes that were displaced throughout the garment to disfigure the models and appear grotesque.

To get to a point where a designer can fully conceptualize a collection and tell a narrative through clothing is only something that can be developed by experience. You have to continually learn and experience life because it makes it a lot easier to retell bespoke instances in life. Don’t set boundaries, being closed-minded will only hinder you in the long run, you should never be scared to step out of your comfort zone and pull influence from these things because it is your story to tell.

The enigma that was MF DOOM

” Beef rap could lead to getting teeth capped

Or even a wreath for ma dukes on some grief crap
I suggest you change your diet
It can lead to high blood pressure if you fry it
Or even a stroke, heart attack, heart disease
It ain’t no starting back once arteries start to squeeze
Take the easy way out phony, until then
They know they wouldn’t be talking that baloney in the bullpen” -MF DOOM Track: “Beef Rap”, project MM Food”.

This is just one of many verses that MF DOOM was able to stuff as many punchlines into until you could envision what he was saying. The way he could drunkenly stitch together words to create verbal anomalies was something that set him apart from his typical artist at the time. MF DOOM was never an artist to boast and bolster fame or brag about frivolous luxuries in his lyrics. His lyrics often went against what many artists during his time were trying to obtain. That is why his music has gone on to influence “weirdo” rappers like Mos Def, Tyler the Creator, Earl Sweatshirt up until the point he’s been labeled your favorite rapper; favorite rapper. It’s not like MF DOOM garnered any critical acclaim or music awards throughout his career but his impact surpasses all of that.  MF DOOM wouldn’t stand out in a crowd if he wasn’t wearing a mask because of his nonchalant presentation. Most often you would typically see him wearing a hoodie, collard shirt, sweater, or a size 4X tee and his signature mask, he never tried to make a statement other than with his music.

DOOM was a brilliant composer in the way he would sample his instrumentals often using audio rips from the Marvel comic Doctor Doom which would tie into his varying rap personas “Viktor Vaughn”, “DOOM”, and “King Geedorah” which individually have their descriptive personalities and backstories. It was like he was playing the role of a Stan Lee in carefully crafting characters that we could gravitate to because we could understand the reference point. His stories were something that we as fans grew to love up until the point; where he would send imposters of himself to go perform at his shows which were something an actual “Doctor Doom” would do as an evil villain. The man was a diabolical genius on more levels than 1, just the concept of him wearing the mask spoke volumes about how he thought. The mask was a rebellion against the focus on what the artist might look like and try to sell the product of music as a human being instead of selling the music for what it is.

MF DOOM started out in music under his real name Daniel Dumile in a band called KMD which consisted of his younger brother DJ Subroc and Onyx the Birthstone Kid. After the tragic passing of his younger brother the group was dropped from its record label due to its “controversial” album cover art.

Following this Dumile would vanish from the music scene on the brink of homelessness often sleeping on park benches and would soon return with a vengeance on the industry that had taken so much from him under the new moniker “DOOM”.  He would go to produce a number of singles with New York legend Bobbito Garcia before dropping his first full-length project Operation: Doomsday

MF DOOM had gone on to produce more varying instrumentals and full-length projects under his different personas which include “Take me to your leader”,  “MM Food”,  “Madvilliany”, “Born Like This”, and “Venomous Villain” amongst others. Some of his most noted projects include the production of the infamous Malib which many of their projects have gone on to solidify themselves as rap masterpieces. MF DOOM has also done a number of different collaborative efforts which includes the likes of Nike, Clarks,  Gorillaz, and The Boondocks. He was not a limited thinker in the slightest which can be seen all throughout his career. The early departure of MF DOOM is something that caught a lot of people of the guard but all of the love people have shown is to highlight that MF DOOM’s impact will be continued to be felt for generations to come but always remember to use all caps when you spell the man’s name. 

Rest In Paradise,

Understanding and Developing Personal Style

Having a fashionable “style” is something that can be viewed as very subjective for more reasons than one. With all the outside influences from our friends, social media, influencers, and products being pushed into our faces it’s hard to understand what style is meant to be. It can be something that’s tough to fully form and call our own. With all the trends that constantly get shifted around people are hunting them down like pokemon. There’s nothing wrong with taking bits and pieces of inspiration from other people but, when you completely rip and call something your own you lose yourself. You get caught up in an endless cycle of spending money on pieces that you won’t wear 3 seasons from now. You become a fashion victim because you’ll constantly be in on the hunt for what trending next.  As a consumer, you have to understand what fits your profile and it isn’t the price tag of your pieces or the brand. There are 4 basic principles that create a solid style profile and that’s the shape, proportions, color palette, and layering.

Let’s start with the shape. There are 3 types of shapes  

1. The shape of one’s self 

2.The shape of clothing pieces 

3. The shape the gets created when the garments are on your body. 

Take a look at these outfits.

The model in the 1st outfit by Hellessy Resort has a slim body build with long limbs but, the shape of the shirt and trousers is fairly the opposite. The blouse she is wearing is sleekly tapered around her upper body and arms but expands out as it reaches her elbow giving it a ballon like an appearance. The trousers are tapered along the legs but flair out similar to a bell bottom with split seams. The model in the second photo is in an off-white look and is wearing tailoring that’s mostly oversized and slightly elongated at the arms and legs but still meshes well with the model’s body. Elements from both these looks can be used in other styles besides formal or business casual looks. 

Let’s move on to proportions. Proportions are comprised of the figure of the body and its measurements as well as proportions of clothing pieces. With that being said you have to take good care of your body Rick Owens said it best himself “Working out is modern couture. No outfit is going to make you look or feel as good as having a fit body. Buy less clothing and go to the gym instead.”

Take a look at these two outfits.

The 1st look is of stylist Louis Rubi who is around 5’8-5’9 and has a small/slim build. In his look, the proportions of all the pieces he’s wearing are completely oversized but all of the pieces are sound. They don’t overpower each other and the patterns aren’t too loud. There are ways of getting around wearing oversized clothing when you have a small frame you can belt pants in a certain way and tuck in tops a certain way that is appealing to the eyes. Getting pieces adjusted through tailoring is also another option.

The second look is of an older Yohji Yamamoto show, the model is short with a small frame but is wearing a slightly baggy double-breasted blazer with a beautiful pair of pleated holster pants that cascade around his legs to give a uniform look. Both silhouettes complement each other without one being too oversized. 

Now let’s discuss color palette, there are two routes that can be taken when putting together an outfit centered around color.

1. Blend tones and hues of colors

2. Mix and match colors and patterns

The 1st look is something that can be hard to pull off because there is a larger chance for failure if one or two aspects of the outfit are too overbearing it can completely throw off an outfit. Finding the balance between both patterns and colors is key. In the second look, there’s a perfect balance between prints and color blending, even though the stylist took the easy way out by centering the major parts of the outfit around black and white it’s still a solid look.

Finally Layering. Layering can be done using accessories or clothing pieces. Layering pieces in the summer can be a bit more difficult due to the temperature but, understanding the weight of materials and how light reflects and absorbs certain colors can keep you cool.

The 1st look is a solid way of layering a slim knitted sweater under a trench that creates a strong shift from certain fabrics and colors by creating a visual hierarchy. The 2nd look is a strong take of layer denim and workwear with subtle accessories that coexist with colors of the outfit as a whole but, don’t shy away from implementing more color to give more of a standout look. So that wraps it up, remember that solid outfits should be centered around the 4 principles shape, proportions, color palette, and layering. Although name brands can add to an outfit it isn’t the only thing, they’re more than enough second thrifts either online or in-person where you can find solid pieces.