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Havana Club X Aries 2
Photography Joshua Gordon, Courtesy of Havana Club and Aries

London label Aries looks to Havana for its latest capsule collab

The collection is part of a collaborative project with Havana Club and photographer Joshua Gordon

Last week saw the announcement of Butterfly, a new multimedia collaboration between Aries, Havana Club and photographer and Dazed 100-er Joshua Gordon. With a book, a film of the same name, and an exhibition all set to make their debut, the wide-ranging project documents what life is like in Cuba’s capital for trans women today. 

The collaboration also features a nine-piece capsule line, which incorporates intimate images collected during Gordon’s time spent shooting Butterfly in Havana. Saturated Polaroids and personal pieces of writing by the women portrayed in the film are seen across a series of tees, caps, socks, and a standout Hawaiian shirt. The pieces were then photographed in London and published in an appendix to the book, with the shoot directed by Jane How and photographed by Gordon. The project is the latest collaboration headed up by Aries director and founder Sofia Prantera.

A respected name on both the streetwear and skate scenes for the last two decades, Prantera has worked with the likes of Fergadelic, David Sims, and artist Jeremy Deller (who she recently teamed up with to make archaeology sexy again). For Prantera, who was recently recognised as an emerging menswear designer by the British Fashion Awards, collaborating with creatives whose work she respects and wants to learn more about is wrapped up in the very essence of Aries. 

“Collaborating with people is what drives my creative process,” she explains. “It’s usually a journey; a process to understand each other’s ideas and goals and develop something new for both parties.” Partnering with other brands is also not virgin territory for Aries: working with Havana Club comes in the wake of projects alongside the likes of New Balance. “I find collaborating with other brands interesting because it allows your reach and work to venture somewhere different.”

When it came to working on Butterfly, Gordon felt like the perfect fit. Prantera describes falling in love with the photographer’s work the very first time she watched one of his documentaries. Understanding that he would need to create freely in Havana, she was happy for Aries to take a backseat and fill the role of facilitator for the project. “Josh is a very talented young artist and, right from the beginning, I knew that for the project to work he would have to be given a lot of freedom.”

Once Gordon returned home, Prantera was able to bring her brand expertise to bear, working intensively on designing the book and supporting him with the exhibition. For the collection’s lookbook, Aries worked with How and Gordon in a London studio to reimagine La Giraldilla – the historic female bronze who keeps watch over Havana. Alongside the garments that make up the capsule, models, Jess Maybury and Kasper Kapica are seen in studded one-pieces, satin sashes, and rosettes, drinking from a limited Havana Club 7 bottle design, all featuring a reinterpretation of the Havana Club logo. The shoot was captured on Polaroid film and produced on the day, with no retouching. “Jane really helped with directing the models. Every shot looked incredible.”  

The nostalgia-laden Polaroids nod to magazines from a time gone by. “For us it was important to take the commercial part of the collaboration somewhere unusual and risky. We wanted the merchandise images to have a nostalgic Pirelli calendar feel and to revisit a now dated but still fascinating way to advertise brands,” says Prantera. Publications like Totem, Playboy, and Frigidaire, which Prantera first became aware of while growing up in the 80s, served as inspiration, with their glossy pages filled with raw, left-leaning political content set alongside nude women and sexualised advertising. The Italian-born creative used the lookbook as an opportunity to explore the juxtaposition through her own lens – “Something which is not very often done from a woman's point of view.”

The capsule collection and wider Butterfly project commissioned by Aries and Havana Club have been a long time in the making. The vintage-feeling pieces which feature Gordon’s photography might look a little different to previous Aries drops but they hold onto the casual feel, clean silhouettes, and use of prints the brand is known for, with the iconic Aries columns seen throughout. 

The collection is available now and you can check out the campaign in the gallery above.