NAMESAKE’s latest collection for the Spring/Summer 2023 season is titled “LIFEGUARD.” It captures a precarious yet ultimately life-affirming chapter in the journey of brotherhood between the brothers. In this collection, they open up the insecurities of dysmorphia and anxiety towards self appearance. Uncertain diagnosis, unassured identity, external apathy and internal criticism led one’s struggle to another’s hardship, which pushed and impels to transform the dichotomy into fashion.
Since the breakdown happened in New York for Michael, while Steve was in transition to moving into Los Angeles. The brothers see an unique yet contrasting relationship between New York and Los Angeles that can merge into something new. Here, the Y2K aesthetics of New York meet the lifeguards of ‘70s-era Venice Beach and the insouciant sportswear of Rucker Park in the 1990s—where the careers of basketball legends like Wilt Chamberlain, Julius Erving and Allen Iverson began. The influence of the slightly unnerved, self-referential works of Andy Warhol and Spike Lee are also apparent throughout, building on their tendency to evoke the disconnect between the creative mind and society at large.
In line with the theme, optical illusions reign supreme: fabrics that look stiff are soft upon the touch; what seems thick is in fact precariously thin. Boxy tees are overlaid on ruffled, baggy pants; and pieces made of hidden beads mimic the pockmarked appearance of acne-affected skin. These mimic Michael’s unstable mindset during that dark time, evading categorisation upon first glance and initially appearing blurry and unclear.The brothers continue to play with “alternative visions” in fabrics, utilising their research on novel textiles and traditional techniques as ways to express ideas and stories. Deadstock striped weaves, inspired by the pattern of beach lounge chairs, fade in and out of being; combined with technical fabrics that have been hand-painted and dyed by Japanese artisans to achieve a rust-like effect that amplifies the feeling of murkiness. These contend with the layering of 3D deconstructed graphics to create a sense of instability.Continuing the brand’s ethos in upcycling, the brand has also developed new fabrics that incorporate recycled elements from sources as diverse as safety glasses, industrial ash, and pineapple residue.
“LIFEGUARD” brings us into the darkness of mental struggle but simultaneously illuminates with the power of family ties and team bonds. One’s self-perceived defects and flaws spiralled until another’s constant denial gradually shifted to acceptance and became the former’s lifeguard. He protected him, but passion saved them. In the end, the collection’s trying to evoke and raise awareness towards less self-judgement and more acceptance towards each other. Our stories are our textures and we feel them with love.