Pin It

Meet the designer saving summer goths

Phoebe Heess has designed a black tee that doesn’t heat up in the sun – here she discusses her creation

You know how it is. You have a dark, nihilistic outlook on life / identify as a goth / pray at the altar of Yohji Yamamoto / hold the belief that wearing dark colours makes you look thinner. So you wear black – all day, everyday. But when the inevitable happens – summer arrives – and the temperature rises, your love for a wardrobe noir gets put to the test. Your clothing absorbs heat rendering you a sweaty, not-so-hot mess with pit stains and bad BO. Not anymore.

Phoebe Heess – the designer who gifted us with the blackest-ever material last year – has designed a t-shirt using a new fabric which can cater to your gothic needs while forgoing the aforementioned sweatiness. Dubbed Vampireblack, the tees are made from a fabric with “nano-tech coating” which (somehow) doesn’t heat up in the sun. Here its designer and her collaborator Gabriel Platt tell us more about this game-changing creation.

Can you introduce yourself, and explain your involvement with this project?

Phoebe Heess: I am the designer and Gabriel takes care of communication.

What are your backgrounds, career-wise?

Gabriel Platt: We met in Berlin, where I was the digital guy at VICE and later worked as an innovation consultant. Phoebe just came back from working in Tokyo at Limi Feu (Yamamoto’s daughter) and London at House of Holland. Phoebe then started to work for adidas by Stella McCartney following her interest in functional clothing. She actually quit last week so that she can work on our own brand and be able to collaborate more.

Last year, you spoke to us about creating the blackest-ever material. Can you tell us briefly about this?

Phoebe Heess: We had a successful crowdfunding and since then explored the fascinating world of translating wave physics into something you can actually wear. We learned a lot and had plenty of iterations. The fabric is ready and we are confident to ship the first shirts next month.

Can you tell us about this new project? What inspired it?

Phoebe Heess: The idea originated from our backers asking us how much the Viperblack fabric would heat up since it sucks up all light. And wearing black ourselves, we know the struggle in the summer. So, we researched and found this nano-coating called coldblack, which has been used in a number of outdoor pieces and in cars so you don’t burn your ass. (laughs)

Who did you design it for?

Phoebe Heess: I wanted to do something to help prevent poor, sweaty goths ruining their make-up. No, seriously, it turned out that a lot of different people are buying the blacker-than-black shirt. From Berghain disciples to, surprisingly, overweight people who want to look thinner, to architects and artists. That’s why we kept the new Vampireblack shirt simple and functional (you can do sports in it), but with the futuristic Phoebe Heess look.

“I wanted to do something to help prevent poor, sweaty goths ruining their make-up” – Phoebe Heess

Can you talk us through the science?

Gabriel Platt: Everything we see is light, or the absence of it. This fabric manages to reflect a big part of the invisible heat rays of the light spectrum, while absorbing most of the visible light which makes the shirt appear black. You can really feel the difference.

What other kinds of technological fabrics are you working on?

Gabriel Platt: There is a proper collection coming up this fall, where we will integrate said technologies. Also, we love to collaborate and this resulted in a very cool wearables project we are currently working on.