Outside of making somewhat interesting, limited-edition product, the loose formula for breaking through and succeeding in streetwear today goes as follows: 1. Be Supreme; 2. Be Supreme alumni; 3. Be associated with Kanye West or 4. Seed clothes to influencers who are probably also connected with West.
Neither Heather Haber nor Remington Guest, the couple behind Advisory Board Crystals, which is self-funded, have worked for Supreme, and while they idolize him and appreciate his candor, they don’t know Kanye West. They also don’t seed clothes to anyone, including Justin Bieber, who purchased their pants from Patron of the New and wore them earlier this month. And although they live in Los Angeles, which has turned into a breeding ground for streetwear brands that cross over into luxury territory, they orbit in their own very private world that’s consumed by each other and building Abc., shorthand for Advisory Board Crystals.
“We don’t know anyone,” said Guest. “I know Scott Sternberg from Band of Outsiders, but that’s just a different thing.”
Despite being disconnected from the streetwear scene, over the course of two years Abc. has quickly become a key player in it. The couple has worked with retailers including Grailed, Colette, Bergdorf Goodman, Union and Barneys New York on capsule collections that quickly sold out, and built a following with their distinct crystal-infused dye technique and hand-crafted details.
The clothes connect to the greater good of the world and the wearer, but in the most noncontrived way. Eternal youth, or living forever, is an ongoing theme for the brand. T-shirts feature terms like Eudaimonia, an Ancient Greek word that translates to “fulfillment,” and certain pieces are constructed with fabric that shields the body from EMF radiation emitted by cell phones. Haber and Guest explain this information via extensive Instagram captions and sometimes zines that come with the purchase of product. And they don’t confine their collaborations to clothing or fashion brands. They’ve created a Youth Elixir with Furnace Creek Farms and recently partnered with Wikipedia on a T-shirt to help support the platform.
“We are always on Wikipedia researching about wellness and filtering that into our brand,” said Haber. “We want to offer information to live a better life, but not in a preaching or teaching way. Just by sharing the knowledge.”
Haber and Guest met in Los Angeles in 2015 in the back seat of an Uber Pool car, and randomly crossed paths again later that day at the Ace Hotel. Haber grew up in Miami and studied fashion design at Otis College of Art and Design. She ran her own dress line, Haber, for a few seasons while interning for brands including Three as Four and Band of Outsiders. Guest, who is from New York, also worked for Band of Outsiders — there was no overlap between the two — and ran a food blog called The Cheap, The Best & The Hidden.
They discovered their shared obsession for crystals on their first date when Guest took Haber to a crystal store and bought her a lepidolite crystal, which helps relieve stress and anxiety. Over Thanksgiving they drafted a plan for Advisory Board Crystals, which wasn’t meant to be a clothing brand, but rather a contemporary crystal store that also sold talismans and home decor. Remington met Chris Gibbs, the owner of Union, at a Noah pop-up in New York where he mentioned Abc. and later presented the entire concept to him.
“I was blown away,” said Gibbs. “They had thought everything out, even things that I never would have. They had all these creative ways that they wanted to connect with their customer. I thought it was really dope. Not to mention, they had a really great chemistry between the two of them.”
The first collection, which was titled “What Took You So Long?” told the story of how they met and it featured a crystal pack along with hand-dyed, rose quartz infused T-shirts, which sold out almost immediately.
Tie-dye is trending in streetwear — see Online Ceramics — and crystals are having a moment with Millennials — see their office desks — but Haber and Guest believe their brand is more than its dyeing techniques and said they were into crystals long before they became a thing. They present crystals and wellness in a way that feels advisory rather than restrictive, which isn’t typical — see Goop.
“I collected crystals because they were beautiful, but I didn’t necessarily know the names of all of them or the healing properties,” said Haber. “But we approach them from a viewpoint that’s more pragmatic and less spiritual. We think that if you believe in something, it is real and it does work for you. But it’s not a black-and-white or a right-or-wrong thing.”
It’s uncanny how simpatico they are about very specific things. They both lament the decline of Virgin Airlines post Richard Branson, they both think Dover Street Market isn’t as exciting as it used to be, and they both aren’t into unofficial do-it-yourself projects, including the tie-dye sneakers people keep tagging them in on Instagram. They prefer certified partnerships like the one they had with Nike Milan on an Abc. Air Force 1 that was sold exclusively at Slam Jam. Guest, a Nike obsessive who refuses to work with any other sneaker brand, said it’s hard to say whether it will get a wider release at some point.
They are also both critical consumers who believe retail needs to change and they’re attempting to defy that by eschewing seasonal collections and working on capsules made exclusively for specific retailers and artists. The two are juggling about 10 collaborations with everyone ranging from artist Ai Weiwei to a luxury brand they can’t disclose.
Guest said the clothes, which are made in the U.S., aren’t marked up in an exorbitant way. He remembered a dip-dyed T-shirt from Band of Outsiders retailing for $900, while a hand-dyed T-shirt from Abc. is usually around $100. Some of that is because they do the labor themselves, but they also believe that pricing for their collection should be fair.
“I believe in exclusivity through availability, not by price point,” said Guest. Haber added: “The paradigm has shifted. Girls mostly care about workout clothes, skin care, makeup and supplements. The other stuff is secondary. For myself, I don’t buy anything. I wear all Abc. and random vintage or thrifted skirts that I’ve had for a while.”
Despite this new paradigm, there are plans to launch a women’s collection, which they said will be different from the men’s line and won’t include streetwear or ath-leisure. And despite being disenchanted with most retail, they are interested in opening their own physical space for Abc. But what would that look like?
“I mean, wouldn’t everyone want to know?” said Guest. “We are secretive for a reason. It’s only the two of us right now so we have to be protective. But it won’t be your typical store.”