Lukas Vincent of Ex Infinitas is in the midst of Australian winter, enduring temperatures of five degrees in Baxter. He sets the scene in his hometown like this: “There are guys walking past with stubbies [local lingo for shorts] and beer, who’ve literally cracked one open on the way home from the store: motorbikes and dirt bikes, hotted-up cars. It’s very real.”
It’s that unlikely backdrop for a fashion designer that’s gotten him noticed by the global fashion community. Instead of the bronzed, brawny Bondi aesthetic common to many surf-inspired labels, Vincent took his inspiration from his working-class town situated outside of Melbourne and a lifetime of jumping into Antarctic currents so icy his jaw would lock.
After just one Ex Infinitas collection, this dark horse took home the regional 2016 Woolmark prize.
He’s been enjoying the detachment he gets from being based away from city life and surrounded by family and familiar faces. However, Vincent is about to trade that in by moving to Paris in an effort to streamline the brand’s production time.
“I’m moving all of my production to Italy,” he said. “It’s a new way of working. At the moment, I do everything in Australia and it makes my life very difficult because I’m rushing in the collection three weeks before I show,” he said. “I do think ‘What if I move to Paris and I lose my inspiration?’ But unfortunately, it’s becoming so unmanageable to be here from a product development point of view.”
A new sales agent in the form of Tomorrow Ltd. is also set to widen his distribution.
“Right now, I’m with a very small agency that only sees around 70 stores,” Vincent explained, “compared to Tomorrow which sees over 7,000, so it’s a big jump.”
For his next collection, he is “cleaning up” the look away from the derelict wino aesthetic that first got him attention, and is working with prints a bit more.
Although he’s still discovering who his customer is — he’s only just finished selling through spring 2017 — he hopes he’s capturing “the surfer who is growing up,” he said.
“Maybe he’s put on a tailored pants that looks more like a pair of board shorts, a T-shirt but has a more interesting approach than cliché graphics. The surfer kid who still doesn’t want to put on a suit but is better than going to Ripcurl,” he said. — TIFFANY AP
Benjamin Alexander Huseby and Serhat Isik, cofounders of the Berlin-based collective GmbH, like to use elements from their personal lives, history and origins as the building blocks for their club-meets-street-meets-workwear-inflected designs.
Their second official collection — titled “Europe Endless” — was no exception. The idea behind the neo-melting-pot wardrobe was to show “some of the beauty and enrichment that immigrants, like our parents, have brought to Europe,” they said.
The setting for the show was the Arab World Institute with friend of the house Stefano Pilati walking in the show.
“We are both children of Muslims, who are now especially demonized, and we felt it was important to show that we are also very much part of Europe. The clothes were inspired by our fathers, and their way of dressing with a certain kind of pride and dignity,” explained Huseby.
The storyline came through strongest in the bulked-up shirts and tailoring, including fitted wool jackets and high-waisted pants with double pleats. Parkas built from Helly Hansen bags will resonate with the label’s local clubber community, as will the TPU pants.
The colors and textures, according to Huseby, were inspired by “what men of Middle Eastern or Arab heritage might be drawn to,” with a lot of gold and silver gilding and materials “bordering on tacky.”
The designers also introduced their first jean, based on last season’s German corduroy carpenter trousers. Other standouts included a denim jacket with a biker fit — tight at the waist and broad at the shoulders – “inspired by how Turkish teenagers dress.”
As a message of tolerance (and taste), the collection was shown on men, women and genderless types, and the clothes looked good on all of them.
Said Huseby: “GmbH is really always inspired by real life, whether it’s small things in our everyday lives, or bigger social political issues affecting the world.” — KATYA FOREMAN
When brothers Giuliano and Giordano Calza founded GCDS — an acronym for God Can’t Destroy Streetwear — in 2015, it launched as a digital project that spoke of their own lives and likes. And although the brand has graduated into the big time — its first runway show was held in June 2016 in Milan — its aesthetic hasn’t changed much.
“It’s a fun, very young collection. We are all under 30. It’s what we like and that’s what we realize, becoming more and more elaborate every season,” said Giuliano Calza, who has a background in international relations, marketing and communication. “It’s made in Italy, bold, very colorful, very international. It’s the sum of what I am. I studied in Shanghai, lived four years in China. There are Asian touches, contemporary references, modern logos.”
The brothers believe their brand is popular because it is “more accessible to a younger generation in terms of price range and image,” he said. “Everything has already been done, so we want to offer a new vision of what already exists.”
Citing a Nineties inspiration, Calza said one the brand’s bestsellers has been the “J’adore GCDS” T-shirts. “This was an homage to Dior, which is much more famous, obviously.”
For spring, fishing industry workwear served as the inspiration for the brand’s playful collection of streetwear basics in a fun combination of colors and tongue-in-cheek logos and accessories.
The brothers plan to gradually add new categories, from knitwear and shoes to handbags. “We also want to create pieces that are timeless and beyond one season.”
Capsule collections are also a way to create new content. “They must be organic and in line with the brand,” Calza stressed, revealing that GCDS will launch a capsule with Hello Kitty for Christmas.
While leveraging social media, and helped by friends such as Chiara Ferragni, Calza is very careful to avoid overexposure and carefully picks and chooses where GCDS sells its line.
But it is also hoping to expand its reach by showing at the Made shows in New York on Sept. 8.
In addition, he said the brand would like to expand its reach in Asia.
“I would like to open a store in Shanghai. It’s home to me since I’ve lived there, and then in Tokyo. Also, I would like to create a sort of lifestyle range, from candles or makeup to interior design pieces. We already have items such as cups and a [Maneki neko] cat that brings good luck, which already sell well.” — LUISA ZARGANI
For two years, A-Cold-Wall’s Samuel Ross has been focused on showcasing what his brand is from “a creative and imaginative perspective” by employing installations, soundtracks and graphic treatments.
“Now I want to move into refocusing on the garment development,” said Ross, who describes his work as “bridging the gap between industrial materials and how they can be used in clothing and accessories.”
The 25-year-old Ross — who launched his label in 2015 — was born and raised in South West London. Before delving into fashion, he worked in graphic and product design and dabbled in homewares, commercial buildouts and advertising campaigns. He also worked as a street artist and on obscure art films before taking on the role of Virgil Abloh’s design assistant. He worked with Abloh for three-and-a-half years, on various projects at Off-White, Hood By Air, A.P.C. Kanye collection and Stussy before starting his label.
“At the moment it’s more about technique,” said Ross. “It is what I’m really looking into, how I can take different fabrics and work them into where they need to be in regards to my references. So for example, taking a piece of 15-ounce canvas cotton, overdyeing that and then applying a starch liquid on top to allow shape to form.”
The designer noted that business has been growing organically and “flourishing in a really beautiful way.”
“It has been entirely natural,” said Ross. “When the business first started it was myself and Andrew, there were two of us two-and-a-half years ago. Now, we have 24 retailers and we’re entirely independent. We have two studios in East London and we work 24/7 around the clock with a team of 10 people.” The label is currently stocked at Barneys, Harvey Nichols and Slam Jam, and Ross plans on expanding his retail network.
“We are always brainstorming and testing out new ways we can interact with our consumer,” he added. “For example, last month we did a pop-up in which we released our look book entirely for free. We took over a news agent on Charlotte Street News in Central London and we reformatted the entire store and branded it off the other mood board of our previous London Fashion Week collection in which free items were given away to the consumer. It’s also about taking guerrilla marketing traits and applying them to the landscape we exist in. That’s what I’m supposed to do as a new designer. For me to fall too quickly in line would be a shame.”
In addition to his main line, the designer also plans on launching a sister line, Polythene Optics, an idea that derives from studying different types of plastic materials and how they can be used for garments.
“Polythene will release shortly,” said Ross. “But we are making sure to take our time with it. It’s not a brand or a project that needs to be rushed. A-Cold-Wall started as an art project of my own before it became a fully operating business. So with Polythene, now we have a little bit more experience, we should take our time and start it correctly.” — LORELEI MARFIL