Inverting the logic of designing jeans to fit, Los Angeles collective 69 Worldwide cuts garments as wide as the seams will stretch. The unisex line features wildly exaggerated proportions and provocative cutouts, creating experimental silhouettes that are difficult to identify as clothing until they are seen worn on the body.
69 was founded in relative anonymity, avoiding gender identification to make the line feel inclusive toward as many potential wearers as possible and allow for individual interpretation of each design. The line’s models include fellow artists and collaborators, as well as individuals (from babies to senior citizens) and dogs of all shapes and generations wearing the same item of clothing. Smiling, arms outstretched in all directions, the look of the avant-garde becomes approachable and relaxed. Their signature look, an enormously oversized stonewashed denim onesie patched with notebook-sized pockets and held together by confusing appendages, has become a seasonal staple. Recent collections have also incorporated knitwear, with a cardigan woven from rope-sized yarn, as well as objects sewn from denim scraps, including inflated balls and cubes, slippers, duffel bags and carpet-like installations.
For FW 15, 69 Worldwide staged a presentation in Gavin Brown’s enterprise, taking over the entirety of the multi-room gallery in February 2015. Styled in collaboration with DIS magazine, accessories included shopping-mall-style nametags for all models, introducing each with a cheerful, generic “Hello My name is…” and #heelconcept absurd footwear. Instead of a runway show, models hung out in clusters, leaning against the wall, holding hands and braiding each other’s hair, showing the clothes in motion rather than parading past an audience.
The quotidian fabric of these looks don’t diminish their theatrical presence; the self-awareness that comes with taking on such an unusual form is enough to make walking down the street feel like performance art.
by Jennifer Piejko