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Aries: the London label doing female streetwear right

Sofia Prantera discusses her SS17 collection and its accompanying film which was premiered last night at LFW – watch it here

It’s undeniable: once a dirty word in fashion doomed to the same low-brow bargain bin as “sportswear”, streetwear has been accepted – no, gleefully welcomed – into the industry’s open arms. But while big brands rake in cash with logo flips and sleeve prints, London label Aries is standing resolutely away from the trend-driven crowd. If Aries was a girl at school, you get the feeling she’d be the cool older mate who gave you your first fag, burned you a Bikini Kill cd, and actually skated as opposed to just going out with a boy who did. Graphic without being obvious, tomboyish without being androgynous, and empowering without having to rely on girl power as a marketing gimmick, Aries has authenticity in shedloads.

When you consider who’s behind it, it’s hardly surprising. Founders Sofia Prantera and Fergus Purcell met back in the 90s working at Slam City Skates, collaborating on cult label Silas together and sharing not just a long friendship but a bank of obscure references, from weird humour to heavy metal. “Aries has always been a clash between me and Fergus, our aesthetics,” sums up Prantera, who deals more with design while Purcell is behind the graphics. Although they eschew regular fashion shows and presentations, this season they presented a film with the British Fashion Council, showcased last night in the basement at Brewer Street Car Park.

“We all felt that we should just start doing it and see how it developed... The whole idea of making a film becomes about how you get there, rather than what you get at the end” – Sofia Prantera

Made by Purcell and artist Ben Sansbury, the short uses imagery by photographer David Sims and stylist Jane How, created for an upcoming Aries book, and animates it into a surreal, stunted digital landscape. “It was never meant to be a fashion film – none of us really believe totally in the way that they come across,” Prantera explains, referring to how those decisive moments which define great photography can be difficult to capture the same way on film. “We all felt that we should just start doing it and see how it developed, without having any preconceived idea of how it was going to turn out. The whole idea of making a film becomes about how you get there, rather than what you get at the end.”

She approaches design in a similar way, preferring the process of experimentation and prototyping to simply drawing up a look and getting it made. While Prantera says the film isn’t supposed to be a literal showcase of the new season, for the new collection she found herself going back to what drew her to fashion in the first place. ”I always loved branding, that’s why I never wanted to design under my own name,” she says. “So the collection was about branding and looking again at old, big 90s brands, and at how branding sort of transcends what you wear, really.”

The best example of this can be found in a graphic t-shirt, bearing the word ARIES in the style of a variety of other famous fashion logos. For Prantera, appropriation was a natural move. “When I started working in the early 90s, what you did at the time was to appropriate other people’s graphics. One of the first things I did was a t-shirt with the Santana logo that said ‘satan’, which Supreme then did a version of. I went to the record shop in Portobello to buy the Santana record and they were like, ‘Ooh, you’re going to like that one!’”

Watch the film below.