VPL’s Victoria Bartlett and Stella Ishii of 6397 have teamed up to launch their first collaboration — an activewear collection ironically named Neverbefore — ironic because Bartlett was actually one of the pioneers in the category. “It’s funny because I’ve known Stella for years,” Bartlett said backstage at the Neverbefore presentation at Ishii’s showroom The News. “In 2013, she came to me at VPL and said, ‘You are the person; you started active in your first shows.’ And this November she approached me again and by December, we had started putting together the whole team, boards and a collection.” It happened very organically, Bartlett said; they just “did it.”
“For me, it’s also a statement of the times,” she added. “I’m very active, I do aerial, trampolining, yoga and I wear what feels good, what works for me, what’s comfortable.”
On stage was a very visually stimulating sight: boys and girls wearing what seemed to be colorful genderless layered pieces that could be interchangeable. “Even though the looks are styled for the show, when you pare them down, these are pieces that can be worn to work out or at any time,” Bartlett explained. “I don’t think we need to categorize so much — we are busy, why not wear clothes that can cross boundaries?”
The prints were based on vintage Fifties kimonos, which Bartlett explained aimed to incorporate Ishii’s Japanese sensibility; another print was inspired by Russian expressionist paintings. Technical fabrics were meshed together with cotton Ts and lightweight knits.