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.
Undercover: Reconstruct, Relax Magazine, 2002
In 2002, Undercover made their debut in Paris Fashion Week and asked Yoshie Tominaga to shoot some photos for the invitation card of their Spring/Summer 2003 collection, 'SCAB'. Driven by a desire to also shoot documentary-style their debut fashion show, Tominaga suggested this idea to the magazine 'Relax'. Her request was accepted and she was given the chance to go to Paris for a coverage tour. The pictures featured are some of those taken by Tominaga on this occasion. In 'Relax' No.70 (December 2002), part of her work was published with words on her experience alongside a lengthy interview with Jun Takahashi by Skate Thing. The insightful interview takes the form of a conversation where Jun reveals many secrets about the collection. He notably discusses the challenges he had to face, the fashion industry, crust punk, the show, and the subsequent reactions. Tominaga shot on many occasions for Undercover, creating a firm bond between her and the label. In her book 'The Shepherd' (2008), she had the following to say about Jun (who she refers to as "Jonio"): "At Paris Fashion Week, Undercover seemed to be a stranger of the sophisticated fashion industry. The staff do their jobs just because they love making clothes and respect Jonio. The hand-sewing operation continues day after day even though the staff gets completely burnout. I thought the way Jonio leads other staff to the forefront of the world's fashion is just like a shepherd conducting his sheep."
Yohji Yamamoto: 6.1 The Men Catalog, 1991
Yohji Yamamoto Pour Homme, Autumn/Winter 1991-1992 was presented on two different occasions: the first took place in Paris at the Yohji Yamamoto headquarters on February 3rd, 1991, while the second took place in Tokyo on June 1st, 1991 as a joint presentation with Comme des Garçons titled '6・1 THE MEN'. Similarly, Comme des Garçons Homme Plus, Autumn/Winter 1991-1992 was first presented in Paris on February 1st, 1991. This catalog came with all the invitations to 6・1 THE MEN. It contains a few pictures from each Autumn/Winter 1991-1992 Paris presentation and you can, in order, Phillip Butcher, Charles Lloyd, Denis Hopper, Don Cherry, and John Lurie. Interestingly, the picture of John Lurie comes from an editorial for the Spring/Summer 1990 collection by Brian Griffin for SIX No.5/1990. What's more, while Inoue Tsuguya designed the catalog for 6・1 THE MEN, he is also behind the SIX catalogs and many more iconic Comme des Garçons visual pieces.
Yohji Yamamoto: AW91 Advertisements, 1991
For Yohji Yamamoto, Autumn/Winter 1991-1992 'non-collection' constructed from wood and tin foil, the designer approached Peter Saville directly to devise a campaign. For the men's collection, Saville came up with what you see above. The full story behind it can be found in an article from Document Journal by Hilary Moss: Saville recalls, "I was told, 'Yohji would like you to do a series of communications without models, without clothes. Just look at the collection and make an abstract response to his work.'" The men's collection proved easier to interpret. "In '90, I was into photo libraries, so I paired statements with images of cars and swimming pools, as you might have had in a regular ad. But these indicated the 'wrong' things, like 'A Guide to Never-Never Land,' and 'This Was Tomorrow,' to relay the sentiment of, 'Something’s gone awry, hasn’t it?' And Yohji liked it." Yohji’s distributors were horrified: not only were their own advertising predicting the end of their industry, it didn’t even feature the clothes. By contrast, Saville tried multiple responses to the womenswear collection before sending Yamamoto the inspiration they eventually used—photographs of Fasching, an ancient northern European carnival. "Yohji doesn’t want to give you a brief. He does his bit and he's gone, which, of course, is brilliant, yet is also an enormous responsibility," Saville says. "Yohji can't say he doesn't like what you've sent him because he approaches you as an artist. He's done his work and you're an artist he likes, and you've done your work, and it's not incorrect—but if he doesn't feel it, doesn't connect with it, he won't use it." Game Over arrived during what Saville and Yamamoto identified as a dystopian moment: "It was a questioning of what was happening."
Interviewer: Casino Riv