The Australian collective are in rebel mode with a collection of slick, skate-inspired looks
Ksubi once drove a 10ft tall sculpture of a bleeding businessman’s hand, complete with cufflink, peace fingers removed and blood flowing down the palm, from LA to NYC. The story of the label, established in 1999, starts too with a great anecdote. For their first show, the Australian collective couldn’t decide whether to let 300 rats loose, do a performance with local rock legend Johnny Justin (and smash up their instruments afterwards), or - radically in this context - stage a proper fashion show.
We have always had ramps in our office, so we thought a tweak on it would be good. Then a buddy of mine pointed out that artist Dan Colen had already done it and showed us some images of one of his exhibitions – we loved it, we think Dan's a genius and couldn't get past what he had done
Catching the bullet of nihilism between their teeth, the third option won out, Ksubi lauding acclaim from Sydney Fashion Week attendees for their spectrum of cool, slim denim. "We basically created a rocket that we all decided to hold onto," says George Gorrow, one of the brand’s founders. Following last week’s S/S12-13 show – that’s A/W12 to us, thanks to the way the different hemispheres work – Dazed Digital caught up with Gorrow and Mikey Nolan, long-term art director of the brand to learn more.
Dazed Digital: What inspired the rebel mood of the new collection?
Mikey Nolan: We live in a bit of a bubble in Sydney. We have always been inspired by the people around us, the people we work together with and the street. We looked at our own brand’s heritage and pulled some pieces out and either re-did them or used them as inspiration. At the same time we were really focused on updating and modernising the silhouette and proportions to something more relevant. We are inspired by street art, gangs and culture and always try to define a look that encapsulates that. I guess anything that takes street as inspiration is always going to have a rebel feel to it.
DD: Did show day go smoothly? Do you get stressed?
Mikey Nolan: Actually for the first time in our lives it ran really smoothly. It was almost eerie. The show was styled on Thursday, we did fittings on Friday and alterations over the weekend. On Monday there was almost nothing to do. The skateboard ramp arrived, fluoro cross went up, models were dressed and the show started. I think in all honesty it ran an hour late but that was for a myriad of other factors beyond our control. There's definitely a fair bit of nervous energy in the weeks leading up to a show. We had some funny nicknames going on like 'Georgie Jitters'. A few of us were having consistent work dreams for three weeks leading up to the show. It's pretty weird when you can't figure out if you made a decision in a meeting yesterday or dreamt it?!
DD: What inspired the Dan Colen set?
George Gorrow: The collection was inspired partly by skate and when we were concepting the set design one of the ideas was an inverted ramp. We have always had ramps in our office, so we thought a tweak on it would be good. Then a buddy of mine pointed out that artist Dan Colen had already done it and showed us some images of one of his exhibitions – we loved it, we think Dan's a genius and couldn't get past what he had done. So I thought the only thing we could do is contact him and ask for his blessing to do something similar. He was a cool as hell about it and gave us his blessing. We love the guy's art even more now. Much respect. We built the ramp in a day and dismantled it immediately after the show so it no longer exists out of respect to him.
DD: Ksubi has a strong community of collaborators...
George Gorrow: Yeah, we are all about the collective vibe. We like to have that melting pot of ideas going on. Sometimes it really works and maybe other times it doesn't. At the moment we have a really good team thats been working together for a good while. There are good synergies and I think it shows.
DD: What's the biggest lesson you've learnt along the way?
George Gorrow: Good whiskey is good whiskey, and it is better to water flowers not weeds.