Afterhomework founder Pierre Kaczmarek talks tough competition, French rap, and Martin Margiela
Fashion is an industry well-known for its obsession with youth – but for one French designer who belongs (very) firmly in that category, age is nothing but a number. Having founded his Paris-based label Afterhomework when he was just 14, Pierre Kaczmarek not only finds inspiration in his friends – a crew of designers, artists and musicians – but also in the generations that came before him.
“I was in Shibuya a few weeks ago, and there were so many women in their 40s and 50s dressed in these amazing, crazy looks,” he explains. “You’d expect to see kids in my clothes, but to me it would be more exciting to see women like the ones I saw in Tokyo wearing them. I want to have that balance, you know? That’s more interesting to me.”
Afterhomework was established four years ago, as part of a project Kaczamrek immersed himself in after school when (surprise!) he’d finished his homework. “My dad didn’t want me to put my name to something at that point because I was so young,” he says. “It started out as a group of us creating t-shirts at the weekend and when we came home from school, and when I met Elena it slowly became something more than that.”
Elena Mottola is Waczamrek’s girlfriend and creative partner, a stylist who works on the collections alongside him and directs Afterhomework’s visual aesthetic – which has been developed and refined in a surprisingly short space of time. While the graphic t-shirts and streetwear-informed styles of its early days remain an integral part of the brand, the last two seasons have seen things take a more directional route, with sculptural shapes and garments that eliminate the line between gender making up the AW18 collection.
“I was very young when I started, and the brand grew up with me,” says Kaczmarek. “You change so much when you’re a teenager, so of course the aesthetic changed a lot, and very fast. I’m still inspired by the same things – my friends, funny things I see in the street, French rap, all the different styles you see across Paris – it’s just that both me and the brand have evolved and I present my ideas in a different way now.”
“We’re the youngest people to be nominated for the ANDAM Prize ever. The only person I’d really regard as an idol or someone I look up to is Martin Margiela, who won the first one in 1989, so it’s incredible to even be nominated and sharing something like this with him” – Pierre Kaczmarek
The designer is clearly doing something right, given, just a few weeks ago, Afterhomework was nominated for the prestigious 2018 ANDAM Prize – and while it’s clear that he’s (rightly) confident in what he’s doing, the announcement still came as something of a surprise. “We were so shocked, it’s amazing,” he says. “We’re the youngest people to be nominated, like, ever. The only person I’d really regard as an idol or someone I look up to is Martin Margiela, who won the first one in 1989, so it’s incredible to even be nominated and sharing something like this with him. Whether we win or not is a different story,” he laughs. Up against Neith Nyer, Kevin Germanier, and Ludovic de Saint-Sernin for the €100,000 Creative Label prize, the winners will be announced just a few weeks from now.
Kaczmarek has also found himself in demand with dozens of publicists and agents requesting pieces for French actors, musicians, and personalities to wear. But, just as he’s not obsessed with youth, he’s also not interested in celebrity. “We get propositions all the time, from this person and that person wanting to wear our clothes. But to be honest, I don’t want to lend clothes to someone I don’t think represents the brand just to get ahead,” he explains.
The designer is slightly more enthusiastic when it comes to a certain Dazed 100 rapper wearing Afterhomework. “We were approached by Tommy Cash to give him pieces for his new video, and of course we said yes,” Kaczmarek says. “I’m super inspired by rap – the music, the visuals, everything – so that was a pretty cool moment.”
When it comes to who he’d most love to see in the label, though, the answer lies a little closer to home. “I love French rap. Old, aggressive stuff by Ninho, for example. French rappers have their own style, so they don’t really need to wear my clothes of course, but if I were to choose someone to rock Afterhomework, someone from the French rap scene would be my dream.”