There was no shortage of food for thought across ComplexCon’s two days.
Amid the hysteria of sneaker drops and live performances, some of the most respected names in the streetwear and fashion industries came together with consumers for a weekend of dialogue and reflections, to talk about all things streetwear that resulted in some interesting takeaways.
Below are excerpts from interviews with WWD and panel discussions from the ComplexCon floor.
Marc Eckō, founder and chief brand officer of Complex Networks, on how he sees the relationship between streetwear and luxury brands evolving:
“I think the traditional gatekeepers of fashion, their time is done. There’s a new generation, a new cohort and new energy that’s very authentic and comes from really passionate people. People are passionate about design and culture. The design houses and brands are drawn to creative energy so they’re finding the source and they’re finding it inspiring. There’s a connection happening that’s a reorganization of luxury.”
Virgil Abloh, Off-White founder and designer, on where the name Off-White came from:
“The [brand] name is where you get endless inspiration and I wanted to use a word that didn’t mean anything so that I could define it from now ‘til forever. If I wanted to call it my name, that’s not interesting to me, or if I called it some other generic word — Off-White, it’s like when you’re cheating in class and you use your pen and write on the palm of your hand. Off-White. I can never forget my design premise. It’s in-between two things. So if I like high fashion and I like streetwear, Off-White is a reminder to be in the middle. I don’t have to choose between high fashion or streetwear. My brand reminds me that it doesn’t have to fit in a box. It can just be in a gray area.”
Hiroshi Fujiwara, designer and founder of Goodenough and fragment design, on the punk and disco influences that shaped his design aesthetic:
“If you listen to punk, you wear punk. If you go to a disco, you have to wear disco. So category doesn’t really match, but I didn’t want to do the same thing, so that’s when I started. When I started to skateboard, they were always into thrash metal or punk rock but I was mixing them together. Every culture, you mix them together.”
Sarah Andelman, Colette cofounder, on whether fashion’s love affair with streetwear is a fad:
“Fashion is cycles. But when you see that even Céline starts to do sneakers….I think it’s a perfect thing for fashion brands to have some sportswear element, like a T-shirt or sneakers. They’re really in the vocabulary now. It’s part of what should be a collection. So, before there were jeans, and denim started to go slowly and slowly into a collection. Now you will always see in a showroom one pair of jeans so I think sneakers, T-shirts, it was already here, but maybe not with the same attention, not the same buzz.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, cofounder and chief executive of VaynerMedia and serial entrepreneur/investor, on whether he’d ever invest in apparel:
“One hundred percent. Actually, as a matter of fact, that’s probably my long-term goal. My long-term goal with VaynerMedia is to buy a big marketing company and then buy nostalgic brands. So I’ve been thinking Cap’n Crunch cereal, Blow Pops, but no question this [K-Swiss] collaboration and other things, like the idea of buying Fila, Puma one day seems very exciting. No matter how technology goes, you’re still buying clothes. You’re still going to have this [necklace]. I’m still going to have this [shirt].”
Yoon Ahn, Ambush cofounder, on the future of street culture:
“I think we’re at a very interesting cross[roads] right now. It’s not just streetwear, but it’s culture as well. Socially…things are becoming casual. A long time ago with high fashion, [it] was for a certain class of people — made-to-order clothes to get dressed up to dinner and then they had to change again. But that classicism, we’re blurred now. No one has time to get dressed up to go out. It’s generally becoming more casual and then, culturally, with the Internet, we see everything that’s going on [real] time. I’m in Tokyo most of the time, but I can see exactly what’s going on [globally]. I almost feel like the world is becoming closer and closer and it doesn’t feel like different countries, just different cities. It’s hard to say what’s going on in the future because everything is converging, but I think it’s quite an interesting time.”
Don Crawley, founder of Just Don and cofounder of RSVP Gallery, on the common thread linking the art, music and streetwear of ComplexCon:
“Emotion. This place is like the place to purvey feelings on planet Earth and the people up here [on the panel] make you feel some type of way. As many iPhone Xs come out that about to take out people on the planet Earth, all this AI, we have to convey feelings because we make people laugh, cry, like, dislike. That’s how we connect as humans. We’re all energy and energy connecting with each other.”