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Astrid Andersen SS16 LCM menswear
Backstage at Astrid Andersen SS16Photography Daisy Walker

When streetwear met Shanghai (and A$AP Ferg)

Astrid Andersen talks teaming up with the rapper for SS16 – watch the kung-fu-powered fashion film here

Astrid Andersen is stood amidst a sea of kung-fu heroes, clad in her own designs. She lists the things that inspire her “…90s hip-hop videos, Shanghai, fantasy worlds, Big Trouble in Little China…” and stops, giddy, gleeful and perhaps a little overwhelmed. Astrid’s eponymous line has just showed its SS16 collection at LC:M and she looks around at the room of Elgar Johnson-cast boys and men, taut, toned and bedecked in kimonos, blossom-brocade/sports kit mash-ups and oversized vibrant streetwear. “I was inspired by these otherworldly universes.” 

Trained at the RCA, graduating in 2010, initially showing as part of MAN with the support of Fashion East and now a part of LCM’s Newgen Sponsorship, Anderson has been lauded for a masterful and inventive understanding of modern sportswear. She is a designer that has notably never been afraid to flip athletic pieces on their head. A basketball kit can be oversized to the point of abstraction and rendered in the most luxurious cloths, and tech fabrics such as neoprene and nylon can equally be at home on her anarchist street kids as much exotic fur. 

Anderson’s latest collection takes the concept of reappropriating sportswear to the next level, or, as Anderson herself puts it, takes it “to the future”. A trip to Shanghai consolidated her infatuation with China and the outcome was this: Asian print on fine silks, neon pop colour woven badges, blues, purples, metallics and bold greens with intricate silver embroidery and custom woven neon heat transfers. Large shapes, oversized everything, baseball shirts, sports shorts, an athleticism prettified without negating strength. Developing hi-def, heat-pressed embellishments featuring shimmer and embroidery effects on oriental flower patterns, the overall look is a collision of cultures – “a balance of the visual clues of China with current silhouettes.” It is a collection of double-consciousness, a merging of urbanised westerner and Asian tradition, it is a collection fully conversant in both, with all the elements you would expect of Anderson: a fantasy special FX universe saturated by computer games, sports kits and Ghost Dog: The Way of The Samurai

“I was inspired by these otherworldly universes” – Astrid Andersen

US rapper A$AP Ferg is certainly someone who agrees with Astrid Anderson’s hype. In London to launch a collaboration with the designer, with Red Bull Catwalk Studio as the catalyst, A$AP created not only new music to soundtrack the street-culture inspired show but also a bespoke fashion film, celebrating Astrid's work. Set in an enchanted forest, the film sees the rapper decked out in Anderson's SS16 collection, opening with a tai-chi routine, going head-to-head with partner in crime Marty Baller with wolverine inspired claws, and finally morphing into a demonised character fending off an electricity field in a thrilling sequence.

"I have been very mesmerised by his energy for a long time,” says Andersen, "then when we finally connected it was clear that we should do something creative together. He has a very strong presence and brave character that I'm very impressed by. His understanding of art and appreciation makes our connection very instinctual.” She describes how she wanted to create something with “energy” – “energy”, she says, is inspiring. Energy is one of her and A$APs common references. The two seem to understand the same dialogue, both celebrating what it means to be a part of youth culture now. “It works,” Astrid says, “because every conversation between us inspires."

Watch the film below: