Archive Fashion Scans and Fashion Memes with Etienne of My Clothing Archive
It comes as no surprise that Archive Fashion has risen into mainstream consciousness in recent years; look no further than the celebrities and musicians flaunting 'Archive Clothing' and the meteoric presence of Archive Fashion memes, to name a few. However, one aspect to this fashion genre that is considered by many as underground is the act of archiving, specifically the act of researching, documenting, and showcasing the history of the brands we've all come to know and love. Only a few in the Archive Fashion scene have gained a reputation for themselves through such endeavors, one being Etienne, also known as My Clothing Archive.
From the meticulous research conducted on brands such as Yohji Yamamoto, Comme des Garcons and Junya Watanabe, to the showcasing of scans taken from rare magazines, Etienne has truly curated a world of his own. As a way to share his passion for such knowledge, he has generously provided us with a wide array of scans to be showcased on our website.
In commemoration of this contribution, we have come together to provide a 2-part feature article to get a peak into the world of Etienne and to delve deeper into several of his scans. Make to sure to check out all of his contributed scans for ARCHIVE.pdf here.
How did you first become involved in Archive Fashion?
It's actually really simple: I was buying clothes, and then I became interested in finding out more about their history. I was looking for pictures of the clothes I had, and eventually hit a wall because I realized that there was nothing on the internet of these things during that time. This is why I started doing more research and began buying magazines that had the information I needed to understand the clothing better. And every time I was like, "Oh, I could dig more into this. Let's try this magazine, and this book, and this magazine." It's very spectacular, and here I am now.
When it comes to my first in-depth research, the first thing that comes to mind are the Issey Miyake Olympic uniforms. That's how I started doing more intense research, because at the time I had the IS sports sweater that was for the Olympics. I was really curious. First I looked into the Issey Miyake Olympics, then I continued to go deeper. That's kind of how I started when it comes to all of this. Even now I refer back to this because I learn new things about it each time, such as finding new footage. I even discover new info about it and also own one of the uniforms made for the Olympics now.
Every few months, I learn new stuff about everything. That's why I often go back to these things, because there is always new information emerging. It feels like you're constantly solving a piece of a puzzle. But even more than that, it's like you're bringing secrets from the past to life into the present.
What are your thoughts on how the Archive Fashion scene has changed? Which direction do you think it's heading in?
I think people are better suited to Archive Fashion now compared to just a few years ago. There was absolutely no foundation a few years ago, less structure. Now it's much easier to find info on clothing as well as identify them, and because of that there are now better foundations. I feel like it's reached the mainstream market. It started with Grailed, and now the more detailed pieces have reached the market with Raf Simons as a prime example. Also with the other rendition that came within the past few years. It's a good example of how Archive Fashion is taking more importance.
What are your thoughts on fashion memes and fashion meme culture?
I was actually talking with Meme Saint Laurent on my podcast about the importance of memes when it comes to internet culture and the way we see clothes and how we approach clothing. I would say that with meme culture, there's a sense of meme pieces in a way. Pieces of clothing, especially in America, need to have a certain standing. They need to be recognizable in a certain way. Almost funny or meme-able in a sense. Even when it comes to pieces of clothing, I feel like people choose pieces that are meme-able in a way, because they're recognizable. They're part of the "mainstream" in terms of how people can easily identify them. A great example is the Geobasket by Rick Owens, everyone knows about the Geobasket. It's meme-able, it makes it something. But even if you go with things that are maybe less funny, I still consider them meme-able. For example the Raf Simons Parka with the side belt. The thing is, those can be considered meme pieces as well . Same thing with Yohji Autumn/Winter '91 leather jackets. They're part of the mainstream understanding, the mainstream knowledge of fashion.
What have you been working on recently in regards to My Clothing Archive? Are there any projects that you're currently pursuing?
I'm posting a bit less on My Clothing Archive’s Instagram account because I'm trying to diversify the type of content I’m putting online. I felt that posting on Instagram wasn’t enough or that it was limiting the stuff I really wanted to do. Because of that, I decided to expand a bit further. For example, with the podcast that I invited you on. The podcast is more about creating conversations that are maybe less formal, and also explore subjects that I wouldn't necessarily approach on an Instagram post or on a YouTube video. For all of these reasons, that's why I'm diversifying.
I'm also in university and I'm graduating soon. That's why I have less time to deal with everything I want. Once summer comes around, I'm going to spend more time making videos and putting out more content. I recently got back all the tapes for the Yohji shows too. A lot of these tapes are of the '80s and '90s shows of Yohji. Because of that, I just got them digitized. I'll post them on YouTube eventually, I just want to release them properly. I don't want to post them and have no context. I want to put proper references and information. Also, for releases, I want to release my own thing related to it as well. For example, maybe doing runway reviews or a live review of everything on Instagram.
What are your long-term goals for My Clothing Archive and for yourself? Are you looking to go deeper into the fashion industry?
Well, my intern and I are currently repurposing My Clothing Archive as more of a center and a portfolio when it comes to the research I've done so far. I'm also trying to go into consulting because I feel like the background knowledge built up could be useful. It's not just about the stuff I know or the stuff I researched, it's also about the things that I know exist or that I know I could explore.
SCAN DEEP DIVE
Issey Miyake: Posters 1987-1998, Weekly Asahigraph, 1998
Here are some of my favourite posters published between 1987 and 1998 from the long-standing collaboration between Issey Miyake, Irving Penn, and Ikko Tanaka. Since 1987, Irving Penn has been in charge of photography for the posters of Issey Miyake with Ikko Tanaka doing the graphic design. With their 12th collaborative work arriving in Spring 1998, this group of 3 talented individuals had once again collided, constantly exploring new dimensions in fashion, photography, and graphic design. For Issey Miyake, this series in Weekly Asahigraph was a unique opportunity to reconsider his "clothes" starting from the late 1980s as he began to get swept away by the world of fashion. The team of the magazine interviewed Miyake in Los Angeles and notably asked him about the history of the posters, all of which could only be seen in the Issey Miyake stores during their specific season.