The streetwear brand that celebrates 20 years of bringing pop art to the streets
Taken from the October issue of Dazed & Confused:
“I don’t know any other brands that have been able to just stop for two years and then come back in and dominate the market again,” exclaims Erik Brunetti of his 2005 sabbatical from subversive streetwear brand FUCT, which he started in 1990. He’s right to be cocksure: FUCT’s cult graphics are instantly recognisable for their reappropriation of pop-culture logos and other symbols, from a stoned Pepé Le Pew to a Planet of the Apes character posed as Che Guevara, and are collected by the likes of Julian Schnabel and Larry Clark. Brunetti’s punk attitude perhaps stems from his New Jersey days as a solo graffiti artist under the pseudonym Den One in the 80s. As a new book celebrating FUCT is published by Rizzoli, Brunetti shares some highlights.
NO TARGET MARKET
“I started my brand with my own money. I think that’s the reason the brand never got big, because it never had that big money push that a lot of people have with brands now. Nowadays people start brands and they basically have some sort of business plan or some method of how they’re going to try and do it. When I started FUCT there was no plan. We did not have a target market or a demographic. That would insinuate that I had a plan... I think people give it more credit. We didn’t have focus groups or boardroom meetings. I don’t think there’s a message or an agenda. At the end of the day it’s just a subversive clothing brand.
When we released Ford FUCT we got a cease-and-desist letter from the Ford Motor Company. That was... Gosh, that was a long time ago. I guess that’s one of the better known images from the early 90s. Surprisingly enough I’ve never really had any backlash. A lot of people think that there is a lot of backlash but there’s not. But when I received the cease-and-desist, I didn’t know what it was at the time. I see people wearing the shirts but it’s like, it doesn’t do anything to you. I’d rather not see people wearing it. (laughs)
POP ART GOES POP
When I reference pop culture it’s not done for shock value. You also have to keep in mind that none of this was done prior. It was done in the pop-art world by Andy Warhol and people like that, but within the clothing industry it wasn’t really done. The reason that it works on the garment is it’s based on a collective memory of people seeing those designs, it’s not just pulling images and putting them on items. Nothing’s done for shock value, and I think as much as people would like to say, ‘Oh my God, it’s a company called FUCT, shock value!’, it’s simply just not the case. For me it’s not, anyway.”
FUCT by ERIK BRUNETTI is out now, published by Rizzoli