MILAN — Simon Cracker’s Simone Botte and his business partner Filippo Biraghi would rather say “no” to the fashion establishment, stop manufacturing new gear and quit the industry.
Yet in their frequent musings about how to best convey their radical fashion proposition, the pair has found a formula to shift perceptions and tear down barriers from within, embracing a punk attitude which, they said, is inspired by, among others, the late queen of punk Vivienne Westwood.
Her death last December, and that of Pamela Rooke, known as Jordan, the legendary sales assistant at Westwood’s shop “Sex,” struck a chord with Botte and Biraghi, who had already been busy plotting a coed collection slightly more rage-y than their debut fashion week display last June.
The brand has been in business for 12 years, championing a radical approach to fashion, in sourcing (only upcycled fabrics are allowed), casting of friends of the house only, and concept of “punk kindness.”
The latter was not entirely apt for the current times, the duo said.
“We are pissed off by all that’s going on in the world,” Biraghi said. “Instead of championing our usual ‘punk kindness’ mindset we embraced a ‘but no’ attitude: The ability to say no is the only way we have to be free and formulate our own thinking.
“We’re kind of upset that the world is heading toward the wrong direction, and especially in fashion, as it feels like a detached bubble,” Biraghi said.
The collection, rich in experimental techniques and upcycled fabrics, pays homage to Westwood and to “Der Struwwelpeter,” the 1845 German children’s book by Heinrich Hoffmann. It will be unveiled with a runway show taking place on Sunday at 10 a.m. CET.
Decidedly more gloomy than past displays, the collection includes tailoring that is draped, wrapped and knotted on the body and covered with silicone coating that crackles when worn for the first time. The same applies to mixed-media outfits coated to blend in the different textures. They retrieved vintage blankets and draped them on the body as dresses and overcoats and repurposed old military gear, spray-painting them.
The lineup is rich in handknits crafted from deadstock yarns and evoking a collegiate vibe, also a nod to punk’s rebellion against institutions. The duo linked up with the Gaia Segattini Knotwear brand on a range of open-weave, see-through mohair knitwear in neon colors, as well as mélange options.
The other cobranding they developed has a punk undercurrent, too. They got in touch with John Marchant, the gallerist and curator behind Ragged Kingdom, the fashion and lifestyle venture of Jamie Reid, the famed British punk artist best known for his ransom notes and cut-and-paste lettering and his close collaboration with the Sex Pistols. The brand borrowed unsold merchandising from Ragged Kingdom and turned it into new gear, with a vintage flair.
Most of the lineup comprises one-of-a-kind pieces as the two creatives increasingly acknowledged those were the items most highly in demand at retail.
“We’ve slightly changed our idea and decided to no longer conceive the collection as two-pronged, with show and retail pieces. Buyers very much appreciated our one-of-a-kinds, perhaps because they look like flea market findings,” Botte said. “In the past we used to fear that they were too conceptual for retail and would intimidate buyers.”
Distributed through the Garage showroom in Milan, Simon Cracker is getting new stockists every season, including the avant-garde Daad, as well as Wait&See in Milan.