VICE Video Premiere: Maria ke Fisherman’s Fall/Winter 2013 Collection
As a horde of designers regurgitate trends that were hot back when I was still listening to the Spice Girls, it seems clear that the fashion industry has rediscovered the 90s. But, while those hacks simply rehash old styles, the techie streetwear brand Maria ke Fisherman uses the past as a launching pad for something new and exciting that pulls the zipper pants and mesh we loved from back in the day into a sexy cyberpunk future. Avant-garde bad bitches from all over the globe have started coveting the brand’s wares, including the controversial and trendsetting stripper/rapper Brooke Candy.
Maria Lemus and Victor Alonso launched Maria ke Fisherman in Spain in 2011, fusing Victor’s background in science with Maria’s love for fashion. In honor of them giving VICE the pleasure of premiering their latest fall/ winter 2013 collection, I asked the design duo a few questions via email about what it’s like to create garments so exciting they make girls (and guys) want to twerk on a racecar in a crop top.
VICE: Did you both grow up in Spain?
Victor: Yes we did. Maria comes from a small town in the south of Spain. She was the weird girl at school because she always dressed artsy. She wanted to be a teacher and a dressmaker when she grew up, so she moved to Madrid in her teens to study education and later fashion studies.
Maria: Victor comes from a beltway hood in Madrid, he grew up with the street art movement, and studied science. He never was related directly to fashion until he met me. He has self-taught knowledge in arts.
Where do you usually draw inspiration from for your collections?
We are unfocused people, so we don’t look for anything concrete. It’s a mix of feelings and aesthetics. Our inspiration usually comes after a night of partying, during our hangover. We have to liberate our minds of a lot of trash. We feel this freedom in those morning hangovers.
How did you both first start designing clothes?
Maria: I never saw myself working for any other brand. I have a lot of my own ideas and the thought of developing other people’s ideas makes me sad. I like to do what I like and I don’t mind having to fight for it. Victor and I first met and saw how our worlds fit perfectly. We knew we could make something big together.
Gimme some sun: It’s Skirt Day 2013 in NYC!
The AP Style Guide Finally Deported the Term ‘Illegal Immigrant’
Yesterday, the Associated Press declared that the phrase illegal immigrant was no longer kosher, which is a big deal, since when the AP changes its style guide, newspapers around the country go along with it. Naturally, many people (mostly conservatives) responded to the tiny tweak with howls—and tweets—of derision.
The AP’s reasoning for this fairly mild mandate is that illegal shouldn’t be a descriptor for a person; indeed, “No person is illegal” is a common pro-immigration slogan. “Illegal should describe only an action, such as living in or immigrating to a country illegally,” Kathleen Carroll, a senior vice president and executive editor at the AP, wrote to explain the decision. So you can say, “Chen illegally overstayed his visa and lived illegally in the United States,” but Chen himself is not an illegal immigrant. Nor is he an undocumented worker, or an illegal alien, terms which have already fallen out of AP favor.
Though there are meaty—if often abstract and geeky—debates to be had over language, from the legacy of the N word to rigidly enforced political correctness on college campuses. So far, this war of words has been filled with self-righteous, obnoxious carping about terminology, which is far less helpful than discussing whether it’s wrong for poor people to cross an imaginary line in search of better lives. But at the same time, this conscious word-choice change points at the bigger issue of why 11 million people who live and work in the US are treated as an invading army by so many of their fellows.
Can We Please? – Photos by Ben Ritter, Styling by Annette Lamothe-Ramos
The History of Blue Jeans
Before we had low-rise, straight-leg, skinny, selvage, stretchy, resin-coated, lotion-infused, or mom jeans, there was simply jean—the fabric. The name likely originated from gênes, referring to Genoa, Italy, where sailors wore a twill blend of cotton, linen, and wool that came in a variety of stripes and colors.
Today’s jeans are made from heavier, all-cotton denim woven in a combination of indigo-dyed vertical yarn and” natural horizontal yarn, resulting in the fabric’s white-speckled surface and pale underside. And although the original name for denim came from Nîmes, France—as in, de Nîmes—the fabric was most likely first produced in England.
Once the United States emancipated itself from British rule, the former colonists stopped importing European denim and began producing it themselves from all-American cotton, picked by slaves in the South and spun, dyed, and woven in the North. The Industrial Revolution was largely fueled by the textile trade, which almost singlehandedly upheld slavery. When the cotton gin mechanized processing in 1793, prices, already subsidized by slave labor, dropped dramatically. Cheap goods drove demand, and a vicious cycle ensued. In the period between the invention of the cotton gin and the Civil War, America’s slave population shot from 700,000 to a staggering 4 million.
After the Civil War, companies like Carhartt, Eloesser-Heynemann, and OshKosh slung cotton coveralls to miners, railroad men, and factory workers. A Bavarian immigrant named Levi Strauss set up shop in San Francisco selling fabric and work-wear. Jacob Davis, an entrepreneurial Reno tailor, bought Strauss’s denim to make workingman’s pants, and added metal rivets to prevent the seams from ripping open. Davis sent two samples of his riveted pants to Strauss, and they patented the innovation together. Soon after, Davis joined Strauss in San Francisco to oversee production in a new factory. In 1890, Strauss assigned the ID number of 501 to their riveted denim “waist overalls.” The Levi’s 501 blue jean—which would become the best-selling garment in human history—was born.
Initially, jeans were proletarian western work-wear, but wealthy easterners inevitably ventured out in search of rugged cowboy authenticity. In 1928, a Vogue writer returned East from a Wyoming dude ranch with a snapshot of herself, “impossibly attired in blue jeans… and a smile that couldn’t be found on all Manhattan Island.” In June 1935, the magazine ran an article titled “Dude Dressing,” possibly one of the first fashion pieces to instruct readers in the art of DIY denim distressing: “What she does is to hurry down to the ranch store and ask for a pair of blue jeans, which she secretly floats the ensuing night in a bathtub of water—the oftener a pair of jeans is laundered, the higher its value, especially if it shrinks to the ‘high-water’ mark. Another innovation—and a most recent one, if I may judge—also goes on in the dead of night, and undoubtedly behind locked doors—an intentional rip here and there in the back of the jeans.”
The First Wild One - The Genesis of the Motorcycle Jacket
American ingenuity is responsible for some of the world’s greatest creations. For instance, the cheeseburger is arguably the best all-around food ever, LSD is the epitome of drugs, and the internet is borderline godlike in its scope. The same goes for a garment that has been adopted by crusty gutter punks, beer-gutted bikers, and yuppies alike: the infallible leather motorcycle jacket. This timeless icon of utilitarian fashion came from the mind of Irving Schott, cofounder of a company now known as Schott NYC, who made history with his iconic asymmetrical jacket design, commonly called the Perfecto.
The scrappy son of Russian immigrants, Irving started his career as a patternmaker for clothing manufacturers in the early 1900s. In 1913, he opened a factory with his brother Jack under the name Schott Bros. in the dingy basement of a tenement building on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Irving’s first successful products were sheepskin-lined raincoats, which he peddled from door to door. Like any good business, Schott Bros. began to diversify its offerings, bestowing its top-of-the-line coats with the Perfecto brand name. Inspired by Irving’s favorite torpedo-shaped cigars, Perfecto labels were stitched on all of his best leather and wool-lined outerwear.
Stepping into Schott NYC’s Union, New Jersey factory is like going back in time. They use machines that date back to the early 1900s, employ men and women who’ve been making jackets longer than you’ve been alive, and emphasize quality above all else.
At the time, motorcycles were probably the furthest thing from Irving’s mind, considering they had only recently become commercially available and he didn’t even know how to drive a car. Irving was introduced to the world of boss hogs by a friend who was a member of the Beck family. The Becks were one of the country’s largest Harley-Davidson distributors and published a popular catalog of their wares that was available at motorcycle dealerships across the country. Schott Bros. began manufacturing outerwear for the Beck catalog in 1920, including early iterations of what would become the modern motorcycle jacket.
Up until this point, there wasn’t a single piece of outerwear on the market sturdy enough to be synonymous with riding motorcycles. Wool jackets lacked the ability to protect the rider from the cutting wind at high speeds, and the leather coats of the day were not designed for the hunched-over, extended-arm posture necessary to drive a motorcycle; this was compounded by the fact that wearing either type of jacket on a motorcycle almost guaranteed that anything in the rider’s pockets would be blown into the air while barreling down the road. The advent of the zipper solved these problems and became a key element to Irving’s design.