It’s a little bit of streetwear, skate, punk, new wave and contemporary art set amid half trashy pawn shop and half art gallery that’s overtaken Maxfield.
Los Angeles brand Enfants Riches Déprimés is next in line for Maxfield’s pop-up series when it opens the doors to its temporary stand-alone space located across from the boutique retailer’s main store on Melrose Avenue.
The temporary shop will have a three-week run selling a limited-edition shoe collaboration with Vans, archival pieces, toys, banners, art and the introduction of Enfants Riches Déprimés furniture, all born out of the mind of founder and sole designer Henry Levy, who sometimes goes by Henri Alexander.
The idea was to create an exterior similar to a pawn shop, complete with fake infomercials created by Levy playing in the store windows. The building’s facade was painted a bright yellow Levy called “obnoxious” amid the street’s more conventional building exteriors. Inside is a bit of a different story with white walls and a gallerylike backdrop for the clothes.
“I really wanted the person coming in to fully get pulled into the experience of the [Enfants] studio, but in a more organized fashion so really pinpoint and consolidate the visual of the art aspect of what I do with the fashion aspect,” Levy said.
Mixed in with the art and clothing are display cases filled with objects that have influenced the artist: ‘zines, a skate video from 2002, an Enfants rag doll toy and Henry Miller’s “Tropic of Cancer.”
It’s the first time Levy has had carte blanche with a space and some might say another milestone in the brand’s trajectory following a June runway show at Christie’s in Paris.
Levy started Enfants Riches Déprimés, which translates to “depressed rich children,” in 2012 while still studying art at the University of California, Los Angeles. He’s built a brand selling distressed graphic T-shirts bearing images of Parliament Lights or a reference to the Swiss boarding school Le Rosey mixed in with vintage leather jackets and coats Levy and his team then revamp with art or in some cases studs. It’s since caught on with celebrities such as Jared Leto, Courtney Love and the South Korean rapper G-Dragon.
“I think it has to do with the timing,” Levy said of why he thinks the brand has gained the following it has in such a relatively short amount of time. “I started the line in 2012. That was before anyone was wearing ripped T-shirts or anything else. I feel like the brand couldn’t have existed in the early [Aughts]. There wasn’t room for a brand with an aesthetic like this, and I feel like the industry was not ready for it. A lot of walls had to be broken down to be able to create a new luxury brand that wasn’t based on decades of work in Europe. A lot of the luxury aspect of the [Enfants] brands started with the concept rather than the quality like the idea of the Parliament Lights shirt for $1,000. I wanted to make things that I would want. I didn’t necessarily think anyone would relate to it.”
It’s a mixing of punk with luxury in a way that rings more authentic than other attempts he said seem “as if [companies] sat down and had a board meeting about it.”
It struck a chord not only with consumers via social media, where the brand first made inroads, but also buyers. Browns of London came calling first not long after Levy launched the line and then things started snowballing from there. Levy’s kept a close watch on distribution.
“I’m looking at the long-term longevity of the brand and I’d rather just be in the right places and make the right quantity because, at the end of the day, you blow it out, it gets on the wrong people,” he said. “I’m very cautious over it and I feel like it’s my baby.”
Production is tightly controlled not for the sake of creating hype but more because Levy views fashion design in much the same way as his paintings. He said he’ll likely retreat to his paintings for a few months once the Maxfield store completes its run. Enfants, he said, would never make more than 200 pieces of anything. It’s gotten close with 180 pieces and Levy said even that quantity felt like a mistake.
“I don’t want stores to have the same things,” he said. “If you buy something special, you don’t want to see another kid in it.”
As Enfants grows, Levy now finds himself balancing the art with a growing business and picking the right people to hire along the way. The company now counts a team of 17 in its Los Angeles office and another three in Paris. Enfants recently moved into new space, still in downtown, just under the I-10 freeway that Levy described as being more secluded.
“I just don’t want people to know where I am. I don’t want people to know what I look like. I don’t want people to know what I’m doing. I’m not really trying to brand myself personally. I have too many flaws as a human being. I just want people to look at the work,” he said.
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