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Laura Pérez ( @laurappz ) | The fusion of two people in the same creative soul. In the same concept. 44 Studio is the project of Franx de Cristal (@franx_de_cristal) and Xavi García (@xavigarcia44) with which we make a journey through time, urban tribes, histories and identities.
On that trip, people don’t have gender. There are no labels or prejudices. Everything is the product of a rave of seams, volumes and fabrics in which creative freedom is injected. From a Universe in androgynous code professing a new religion: 44 Studio.
The New Religion sets a DNA of its own codes: tailor + street culture. The street corrupts -as well as the clacissism of the initial pattern, and the mystical concept is born that connects transgression, eccentricity, symbolism and hypnotic expression. We talk to the creative directors of the firm, so that they can introduce us to this surrealistic and inspirational world, at the same time as it is eternal.
Highxtar (H) – For those who don’t know you, tell me about the 44 Studio concept: When did it come up? Who are you people?…… …
44 Studio (44) – 44 Studio is Xavi Garcia and Franx de Cristal. The project was born in 2015, and the concept is based on creating a brand without barriers, without limits or labels. Above all, let it be the one in which people choose, we not put the label on you: if it is male or female, if it is’ oversize’ or if it is more slim, if not that people are free to choose their own aesthetics.
H – And, the name 44 Studio: Where does it come from?
44 – The 44 comes – apart from the brand – from the hairdressing salon and shop that we have. 44 was for the number of the street where the hairdresser was. Already, afterwards, we began to investigate and 44 in numerology is one of the strongest numbers that there are; that 4 + 4 are 8, which is the infinite. So we are very interested in the concept of numerology and developing a project through numbers rather than a proper name.
H – Being two people and having their own/various ideas, how do you fuse them into the same concept? What would you say that each of you contribute to the brand and how do you complement each other?
44 – Xavi: we complement each other very well, because in the end I am more earthly/realistic, and he (Franx) goes a little more to the creative part. Then I think that the merger of the two works very well because we are fairly balanced. At first, we worked each one of us directing a part and it was more complicated. Now we do everything together: the development of making designs, searching for fabrics, creating volume, figure… Then, in doing so, it works much better than before.
H – What or who are you inspired by when you create?
44 – We are inspired by many things: from the art world to the urban tribes that have existed until now. We are a concept that is very much influenced by the urban tribes that have marked our adolescence, which I believe have marked in history. Then, apart from that, we have our idols in fashion or art that are always referents, and that we have learned and grown a little bit with them. So, I think it’s a bit of a mix of that urban tribe, that part of the street, the do it yourself. When we were teenagers, everything was done by us looking for and customizing clothes, creating our own look, because we didn’t like what we had. It was taking all that to something more serious and real, and I think that was our learning: that our adolescence was creative in that aspect.
H – What message do you want to convey through your clothes? In terms of values, aesthetics… The collection autumn-winter 16 you named it’ New Religion’, what new religion would you say you profess?
44 – It was a little bit the mixture of religions and all those tribes we liked, keeping the mystical point. In the end, religion creates you as a kind of oppression and what we wanted was just the opposite, to liberate it; because we don’t like to be labeled, or to label clothes. Then that collection was a little bit open and touching all those fields to create as a new religion.
In the end, it’s all about codes, tribes and images that identify you with a group you want to belong to. Then, we were talking about maybe a very strict person can judge someone who goes with a crest or vice versa, when they are doing the same thing: identifying you by a way of dressing or pretending. The important thing was the message that we should not judge, because in the end we all ended up in that circle without wanting to. Then -also- it’s a little bit of that message, of that freedom to be who you want to be.
H – What is the added value you have, the distinctive that differentiates you from other brands?
44 – I believe that it may be the one who sends a message through each collection, in which we try to reflect on what we think is troubling us at that time, which may be a concern in society. So that message is a little bit what identifies us. Each collection is very different from the previous one, because we have a different message to tell, so we believe that this can be the distinction of the brand. In the end, each collection has a story to tell and I believe it is transmitted.
H – Do you think the genre is already outdone in the fashion world? In the end, this is where unisex fashion is becoming more visible, but I think there are still barriers there, aren’t there?
44 – There is still a lot of work to be done, especially since we have grown and are’ planned’ to have labels. You’re gonna buy yourself a perfume, and you have to go to either the men’s or women’s section. Sunglasses, and the same thing; when they are things without gender, because the aroma has no gender. It has involved us having to have that distinction, and that’s what makes fashion so complicated, that it suddenly becomes something that no longer has labels.
The difference between man and woman will always exist because the pattern is different. In our brand there are patterns that women wear on their hips and men at the waist; there are garments that work on both, but others are more designed for women or men. What we are seeing is that the greatest change is in men rather than women. We, when we opened it was an unisex store, but in the end it is becoming something more for the man, because the woman doesn’t understand it so much. We are at a time when the woman wants curves, marking waist, chest; then everything that is unisex will not fit, because the lines are straighter. Therefore, although we sometimes think that man is still much more restricted, we believe that this is not the case. The new generations don’t have any problem, you see kids in the subway wearing make-up, with fingernails… with things you haven’t seen in 20 years.
H – I believe that even three years ago all this was not seen… that it has been very recently.
44 – It’s been like two years ago: nails, makeup, hair, skirt….
H – Maybe it was all because of the trap (laughs)…
44 – (laughs) We don’t know where it comes from, but yes… The other day we were talking to a friend who when we started the brand, things started to move. I think we just left at that moment when things were happening in a city like Madrid, which many times we thought Madrid was less than London or Paris, and it’s not like that. We travel and you realize that there is not as much difference as we think.
H –I think – in fact – we underestimate us in everything, don’t we?
44 – Totally. We always throw stones at our own roof, because in the end you realize that you don’t, that you go out at night and there is color. You go to parties and you see looks and people with an identity… that, in the end, in cities as big as Paris, it is more difficult to find.
H – Talking a little bit about your collections, I see that you always make that fusion of tailor and street culture… Why do you always keep the fixation on that?
44 – I think that’s where the character of both of them comes in… I’ve always been attracted to tailoring, but I also think that it’s become trapped, that we don’t like young people because we see it as classic and old. If it is renewed and turned upside down, I think there are many ideas that can be developed and taken advantage of. For me that mixture is the key to our brand. We have to look for that intermediate point between the street and the tailor, and I think that the result is what identifies us very much.
H – We are going to do as a historical tour of the brand, tell me about the transcendental consequences (which I’m going to set in these three points) that have meant for 44 Studio.
When you present your first collection in EGO.
44 – It was all a surprise, because we didn’t plan to make a mark from the beginning. The collection was to be a capsule for the store. It was the first, and consisted of 7 garments. But in the end people responded very positively: press, friends and sales. We never thought it would work that fast. Besides, the day after presenting it, it was already on sale, being one of the first to do so.
Nomination for the Vogue and NEO2 awards
44 – I mean, everything’s exciting all the time. The surprise of Who’s on Next -the last month- surprises you by the fact that without being so thoughtful, we are positioning ourselves in a fairly fast way; that they believe in the project. And then, the fact of continuing with the project, which -sometimes- the sale is hard, is an effort, it’s a lot of hours… and to see that you are recognized in some way gives you a push to continue and follow. In the end, NEO2 supported us from the start. We have been followers of this magazine since we were young, so you are excited that the magazine you bought bet on you, and that the first prizes they celebrate count on you too.
H – You have just presented the’ Mr Wilde’ collection in Paris, have you had the reaction you expected?
44 – The truth is, we didn’t expect so much. In the end, when we go to Paris, we go in buyer mode, then you see that there are thousands of brands, lots of people… and we are a new brand, we had never done anything outside and it was complicated that in the end people went to see it. In the end we were surprised because a lot of media came, characters that for us are icons and, who were there to support us, the truth is that it was crazy.
H – After the recent cases of Valtonyc, ARCO and Fariña, do you think that there is 100% real freedom of expression in the fashion world? That you can create and express what you want without limitations?
44 – I think that any product you want to sell is a little restricted, because we can’t forget that it is a fashion brand that sells clothes. So, creating a very aggressive polemic is complicated. But there are times when the opposite happens, that this controversy can make you visible and make your brand works. It’s risky when you want to raise something that comes out of the norm, and may have a polemic; that when you’re very consolidated can be easier… that Rick Owens take the guy with the penis out, nothing happens, but when it’s a new brand is no longer the same. It is then difficult to approach total freedom in the fashion world. I think it is quite free, but we cannot forget that what we want is to sell the product, so that is where this restriction comes in.
H – What do you want to achieve with your firm in the future? Or what you’d like to do that you haven’t done yet.
44 – The first thing is to have international sales, hence the presentation of Paris. Launch the product and start to be known outside Spain, because Spain is a complicated market in fashion. We are very used to low-cost and introduce a new brand in Spain with the complex that we have that everything from outside is better than what is done here is complicated. So, the next step is to solidify the brand by having more points of sale.
H – Are you guys on any projects now?
44 – Right now we don’t have a closed project, but we would love to do a thousand things: from creating objects to creating a house line.Take our world to other sectors that do not have to be just textiles. In the end, it’s an aesthetic vision that reflects your own world, so we thought it might be interesting to collaborate with a design or furniture brand in the future. We are also seeing options to collaborate with other brands, perhaps sports. The fusion at the end seems interesting to me: entering a world that is not yours, adapting and being able to mix it… I think they are stories that motivate us quite a lot.
web | www.44studio.es