Friday, May 24, 2019

by the timehose goto me

Lately, whether atVFILES Fashion Week ragers, art openings at The Hole or Coachella pool parties at The Ace, you cant help but notice cool kids in t-shirts, hoodies or beanies that riff on high fashion labels. Although logo parodies have always been a big part of the streetwear aesthetic, they seem to have reached a new peak as of late. And, unlike older designs that played around with corporate logos, the more recent crop of parodies have steered away from the mass market in favor of recontextualizing luxury brands, eschewingTideandFordin favor of Cline and Chanel. (Though the pendulum may be swinging back again as we speak — apparentlynothings hotter right now than Home DepotandBeen Trills Heron Preston has even designed a racing shirt with the big box stores logo brandished on the back.) In many cases, these newer parodies arent intended as subversions but rather as a way to pay homage to a certain designer or label (see, for example,House of Ladoshas play on the Versace crest, whichaccessorizes their Medusa with a bandanaand sunglasses). At the same time, these designs allow a wider audience to participate in the fashion conversation. For those obsessed with fashion but who cant afford to shell out thousands for a Cline bag or $700 on one of Riccardo Tiscis coveted Givenchygraphic t-shirts, theres now another way to express your fashion savvy. You can buy a Tisci or Philo jersey by LPD New York, a COMME des FUCKDOWN beanie from SSUR or one of Conflict of Interests Giraunchy tees for a fraction of the price instead. For a certain Le Bain-and-Westway party-hopping crowd, these designs have become pseudo-status symbols much in the same way the original luxury items are.

Below, we chat with the designers behind ten brands making the cleverest high-fashion parodies at the moment. Brands are listed in alphabetical order.

1.Brian Lichtenberg, designed by Brian LichtenbergLaunched in 2000Based in L.A.

The [brands I riff on] are all the brands I love, admire, and wear. Especially Celine and Balmain. I wear Balmain jeans every day — I have over 20 pairs.

What is your design/fashion background?

Ive been obsessed with fashion since high school. I took a sewing class when I was 16 to learn the basics [but] other than that, Im self taught. Its very intuitive for me.

What made you first want to design shirts, hats and sweatshirts that riffed on — or parodied — high-fashion logos?

I always loved putting spins on my name — Bri-fying it, if you will. One of my earliest email addresses was Brianciaga a play on Balenciaga. I used to mock up ads as Lichtenberg Apparel based on American Apparel for fun but the first spoof label I actually designed and sold was No 1 BRIANEL SOUTH CENTRAL based off of Chanel in 2007.

Have you heard from any of the labels youve riffed on?

None have complained because the [designs] have all been in an uplifting manner and not derogatory. Actually many influential people in the fashion industry — designers, editors etc. — have purchased them for themselves. A friend that works at the Céline showroom in Paris just placed an order with me for his whole team.

You can find Brian Lichtenberg designsonline.

2.Cls Clo, designed by Anwar KeeysLaunched in 2008Began in L.A. and now based in New York City

What made you want to get into streetwear?

Streetwear is what Im most familiar with. I grew up wearing the hand-me-downs from my older brother, who was always up-to-date with the latest trends. Unfortunately, by the time those got to me, I was a couple seasons behind. I find now that Im always looking for current and future trends in streetwear.

What made you first want to design shirts that riffed on Y-3?

I admire Yoshi Yamamoto and Y-3. My intent in creating the Y-lie t-shirt was not to make a parody or riff on his logo — those two terms can have a negative connotation to them. [Y-3] was an inspiration to portray the ideology behind my brand. I feel like a lot of streetwear fashion has been more conducive to negativity, as opposed to influencing good in the world, so hence, Y-lie/Keep It 100.

Do you think youll ever go into high fashion?

I look forward to being in that lane some day, but one step at a time. Streetwear is where I feel comfortable for now.

You can find Cls Clo designsonline.

3.C.O.I. (Conflict of Interest), designed by anonymous agentsLaunched in 2012Based in New York City

How do you choose the brands you parody?

We are definitely fans of the labels that we parody. If we dont love the original house, designer, or logo, we dont touch it. We have also tried to stay away from some fashion houses that we feel are overdone as parodies and to stick to more slightly insider brands. We dont mind the word parody but the end result has to be a shirt that has street-chic power in its own right.

Have you heard from any of the labels youve riffed on?

The reaction has been for the most part favorable. We heard that Riccardo Tisci had a great laugh when we he saw our Giraunchy T-shirt and he has one now. We have also noticed that some of the other brands that we have played with have now started making logo shirts as well in the same straightforward way that we have been doing, so its another example of the influence of streetwear brands on high fashion labels.

What do you consider C.O.I.s relationship to be with the high-fashion industry?

We seek to shake things up and add some fun to an industry that has gotten increasingly serious throughout the years. The prices of our tees are in no way related to the price of the original…our Ballinciaga tee is in no way a substitute for Balencicaga if you couldnt afford it because at the end of the day, its not Balenciaga and is not meant to be. Our objective is not to confuse the customer, but rather to create a dialogue on fashion iconography and imagery. Is a Givenchy T-shirt raunchy? Is it impossible for a prestigious fashion house to be based in Harlem?

You can find Conflict of Interest designsonline.

4.KTHANKSBYE, designed by Fahad Al-HunaifLaunched in 2012Based in New York City

What made you first want to design hats that riffed on — or parodied — high-fashion logos?

My CUNTIER hats were inspired by a trip to a Cartier store. A friend of mine had a bad customer experience, and in a pissed off state she said to me what cunts. And then it just triggered.

Have you heard from Cartier about your designs?

Yes, they were not happy at all. I was told to cease and desist.

How did you come up with your Margiela-inspired beanie?

With Margiela, its different because I was conscious about creating more than just a parody. I wanted to see peoples reactions to a familiar logo that is not in their language. Its crazy how a visual arrangement of words can become so recognizable despite the language change — I believe my new hats are not necessarily a parody but a compliment to Margiela.

You can find KTHANKSBYE designsatAmerican Two Shot.

5.LPD New York, designed by Benjamin Sydney FainlightLaunched in 2012Based in New York City

Riccardo Tisci posted a picture of the Team Tisci shirt on his Instagram a few weeks ago, and a bunch of people from the Givenchy Paris office bought them when they first came out.

What is your design/fashion background?

Ive worked in fashion for around five years, doing all sorts of jobs. Ive done PR, sales, buying, styling and all sorts of stuff for high-fashion companies like Lanvin, Givenchy, Barneys, Alex White,WMagazine, and a few others. I used to make womenswear before all that, but decided I wasnt really into it enough to make it a full-time commitment.

What made you first want to design jerseys and how did you come up with the idea of putting designers names and birth years on the back?

I had the idea one night last year when I realized there was no way for someone to show they loved a brand like Céline except for spending a couple grand to buy a Luggage bag or a runway jacket. The whole jersey concept seemed to make sense because its an easy and direct way to show your love for [Célines] Phoebe Philo, and it implies savviness because only some of the people who see you will know what the shirt means. I also love jerseys because theyre something iconically street and American, making the combination with high fashion names and brands a nice collision of worlds.

Obviously, I have higher aspirations than making jerseys forever, so this is the first step for me. But I [also] think the whole fashion world can become confusing and overwhelming, with people moving, brands changing, and infinite trends to keep up on, and thats part of the reason I went with the t-shirt idea. Its pretty classic and clean — theres nothing to show you got one in 2012 as opposed to 2013, so theres no seasonality or hierarchy in that way.

You can find LPD New York designs atVFILES(NYC),Browns(London),Fred Segal Conveyor(L.A.) andmore.

6.Michael Agwunobi, designed by Michael AgwunobiLaunched in 2012Based in London

Streetwear is whats in right now — everywhere you look, its what people are wearing. Even high end brands are taking inspiration from streetwear.

What made you first want to design shirts that riffed on — or parodied — high-fashion logos?

[I was] playing around on Photoshop out of boredom. Everything just started as a hobby — something I just did for fun.

What was the first brand you riffed on?

It was Comme des Garçons. I first made theThat Sh*t Cray[shirt] when Jay-Z and Kanye Wests Watch the Throne tour was taking place and I wore it to their London show.

Have you been surprised by how popular your designs have become?

Yes very, because this is something I just started designing in my bedroom for fun, thinking that no one would care or take any notice of [my designs]. Now theyre getting attention from all corners of the globe, which I am very happy about.

You can find Michael Agwunobi designsonlineand atThe Fancy(NYC).

7.Nvr Mnd Us, designed by Trey LaTrashLaunched around 2011Based in New York City

I was first drawn to streetwear because its what me and my friends wore…also I lack the ability to kiss ass so high end fashion was not an option.

What made you choose Chanel to play with their logo?

I wanted to see their logo achieve its true potential of deity status. I felt like the inverted cross was the cherry on top! It gave the logo a pardon for all their war crimes against humanity.

Have you heard from Chanel about your designs?

Yes. I received a letter asking me to stop. They were very nice about it.

What are your thoughts on high-fashion and luxury brands in general?

I love high-end luxury brands [and] their ability to create the illusion of the perfect unattainable lifestyle! They are the masters of the golden carrot, which they dangle in front of consumers, daring them to reach for it. Its diabolical! But Im definitely inspired by aspects of the luxury market. Things like presentation, design, marketing etc. I both love and hate the fact that a high-end brand can charge $400 for a product that cost $6 to make. But I also think designer goods are a kind of golden calf and that pretense outweighs quality more and more every day.

You can find Nvr Mnd Us designsonline.

8.Reason, designed by Jon Price Totaro and Phil BassisLaunched in 2004Based in New York City

What made you first want to design shirts, hats, sweatshirts that riffed on — or parodied — high-fashion logos?

Weve been making cool, tongue-in-cheek graphics for almost a decade — the concept of flipping a classic logo into something fun and wearable is nothing new for us. In many ways the trends have caught up to what weve been doing for some time now.

What are your thoughts on high-fashion and luxury brands in general?

We are absolutely fascinated and captivated by high-fashion and luxury. Our Reason Outpost store in NYC carries vintage pieces from many of the brands that we look up to.

Have you ever gotten negative reactions from Herms, Givenchy or Cline?

We appreciate and respect that these are all brands with amazing histories behind them. If anything, our satirical graphics are probably enhancing their identities. No customer in their right mind is confusing our products with any of the brands that we might riff on.

You can find Reason designsonline, at their Outpost store (436 E. 9th St., NYC) andmore.

9.SSUR, designed by Russ KarablinLaunched in 1994Based in New York City

What is your design/fashion background?

The love of art and the desire to create. Coney Island. Brooklyn. Madhattan. NY. TV. Movies. Kung Fu flicks. Bruce Lee. The mob. Black market luxury. High fashion.

Have you ever heard from Comme des Garçons about your design?

Yes, and from the conversation, they were quite entertained and liked it waaaaay more than I expected. I took the correspondence as a blessing from the source. Though I believe with all the bootlegs and the amount of attention its gotten, its probably a bit vexatious at this point.

Were you surprised by how popular COMME des FUCKDOWN became?

It was popular at its conception close to a decade ago, but we didnt produce enough for the demand the first time around. The popularity escalated when we re-released it with the hopes of reaching a broader audience. I never expected the amount of attention that particular design gained. The timing was impeccable and in alignment with the now pop icon [A$AP Rocky] who helped it snowball into an avalanche because of his own leap to stardom virtually overnight. This made CdFD* a signature piece of Always $trive And Pro$per.

10.This Is Not New, designed by Jack RaelLaunched in 2012Based in L.A. and Santa Fe, NM

What made you choose to get into streetwear?

It is so much more accessible in so many ways. The avenue for getting a message out is wider. From rappers to runway models, you see everyone wearing streetwear staples like t-shirts. In my eyes, it is what graffiti is to art. Streetwear is the democratization of fashion. I love that aspect of the medium.

What are your thoughts on high-fashion and luxury brands in general?

Its a love/hate relationship. I love the well-made things that come from luxury brands and I respect the craftsmanship and humanism behind them. On the flip side, as symbols, they are disgusting. Also, the huge corporate entities and modern day aristocracy that exists at the top of the high fashion world is repulsive to me.

Have there been any other logo riffs besides Herms?

We also did a Goyard/Godard riff, mostly because I am obsessed with Godards films and wanted to find a way to subliminally highlight a real French icon worth advertising. Basically the message was, Fuck buying leather goods, go watch some French New Wave.

You can find This Is Not New designsonline.

Photo illustrations by Isabel Alcantara

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