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Serum Vs Venom

Having relaunched the Brooklyn brand, David Gensler discusses his new in-house atelier and whether entirely bespoke fashion is possible today

Brooklyn’s newly re-launched fashion label and studio SVSV, is an all encompassing, multi-media project that looks to challenge and re-align ideas surrounding fashion, exclusivity, and mass produced, consumptive culture. Founded in 2003 by designer, photographer and cultural strategist David Gensler, SVSV (Serum Vs Venom) has always been about showcasing a creative body of work rather than a simple clothes horse label.

Combining art and fashion with hand-crafted pieces that exist outside of the usual fashion industry calendar, SVSV’s liberation is in one part due to their in-house atelier, Brooklyn Sewn - a traditional neighbourhood, family-run studio that has been regenerated by SVSV. The high profile collaborations with artists Josh Vanover, Michael Osterman and Victor Antonio are also so much more than limited edition product. It’s a belief process of shared philosophies, and one that showcases SVSV’s passionate outsider manifesto and anti-mass agenda.

Dazed Digital: Can you introduce Brooklyn Sewn and their own local heritage?
David Gensler:
Brooklyn Sewn is our in-house atelier. We handle pattern making and sampling and short runs, with a focus on careful execution and fine details. It is too easy for brands, even luxury brands to become focused on cutting cost and short term profits and lose sight of developing long term value. 

DD: Does having the in-house atelier change how you approach SVSV?
David Gensler:
Every garment is unique. You can only achieve this through 100% control of your manufacturing. It also allows us to ignore the seasonal, traditional fashion calendar. The brand, in our case, wants to create an original, high value product that sustains. The retailer wants high quality products that sell, without need of discount. The media needs content to hold the consumers attention and the consumer wants something exclusive for a good value. Ultimately, keeping your scale on the relative small size and focusing on quality and speed is the key to success with almost any successful strategy in these troubled times.

DD: Creating bespoke and small run collections, how is this even sanely possible in today’s world?
David Gensler:
I moved away from true bespoke (in the Saville Row sense) only because most people are not willing to invest the time. I instead focused on the model mentioned above - a form of bespoke, capsule delivery to literally each retail partner. I want the retailer to be truly happy and confident in the products - which translates into better sell through and hopefully zero waste. 

DD: Can you tell us how SVSV re-approaches the essence of artistic collaboration?
David Gensler:
I think that the end garment is only one part of the brand. I believe the ideas, language, art and object all play equal parts. I think all of those elements are tied together through a true belief in our process. The way we do things is what is important to us. This way of doing things was applied to how we handle art. I understand that 90% of people that experience our brand will only experience it online - so the art become as, if not more important than the object.

DD: What is the new luxury in 2011?
David Gensler:
I think it is total transparency. I personally want to know who makes the things I consume. I want to know where my food is grown. I value craftsmanship and things that take time to produce. I want my services at instant speed, but I want my products to take time. I think luxury should also not revolve around anything digital or stimulated - I think it needs to exist in the real, tangible world - acting as a resisting force against the simulated, virtual world. 

SVSV will be unveiling the additional threads to this project via prints, books, events showcased on online and at their new store