Since 2011, LA based clothing brand NVRMND has made a quick ascent into streetwear from the beginnings of screen printed t-shirts. The label will be debuting a new collection of denim for release later this year, one that pays special attention on blurring the line between gender. Titled ‘BETTER DAZE,’ the collection is showcased in a captivating new video which we are excited to premiere here on Milk Made. We chatted with label founder Andre Bato about the new collection and how his line of denim is warping our ideas of gender before our very eyes.

If you could describe your brand in a sentence, what would it be?

The thoughts keeping you awake when you’re trying to fall asleep.

Who is the ideal NVRMND consumer? What are they like in your mind?

This is an interesting question, mostly because no matter what you do, or how hard you try to define who should be wearing your clothes, once your designs are out in the open it’s somewhat out of your control. It’s up to the "X" demographic to embrace you rather than it being the other way around.

What is important for me is allowing the clothes to connect the brand and the consumer. When I design, the focus is on how the garment can translate a specific feeling or concept as it evolves form an idea to physical product. What I put up on paper usually comes from a specific emotion that resonates with me, a personal experience, or even a sound really. Ideally, my consumer is someone that can grasp, and hopefully relate to, those feelings that are embedded in the end product through imagery, materials, and shape.

Your apparel is marked by a sense of measurement, in part due to the numbered codes that are quite prevalent on many of your items. What inspires that?

Each design is a derivative of experience. However, I’m a firm believer that blatancy has the potential to put art into a box, in addition to depriving the audience of the freedom of interpretation. I’m not trying to indoctrinate anybody. It is not my place and I don’t want it to be. But I do have things to say, and the brand and its visuals as a whole are my outlet. And so establishing a common ground aesthetically, from color palettes to shapes to semi-universal language (numbers, units of measurements) allows the message to register more subliminally instead of it being in your face.

What incited you to begin designing?

I’ve always liked to draw and I started at a very early age. The Italian side of my family has been part of the fashion industry for a while in one way or another, which definitely had an impact on my overall interests. Merging the drawing with the fashion happened pretty organically, especially during my early teenage years. That’s when I started conceptualizing what my own clothing line would look like, taking drawing for drawing’s sake and turning it into drawing with clothing as the end goal. Nothing turned into physical clothing until many years later, but this is where it began.

Tell us a little bit about the upcoming ‘Better Daze’ collection…are there specific things that inspired this new line?

“Better Daze” is a denim capsule collection comprised of imported denim, custom washes and custom printing. There are two pairs, a stone washed blue and a straight black, which have a very slim and tailored fit. The jeans are inspired by classic five pocket denim, but have accents that push them beyond basic jeans.

There’s screen-printed typography in two places, which contains ulterior branding and logos, and a short phrase: “The immaculate yet flawed perception of the luxury of fulfillment.” This conceptually is just a reflection on the struggle of feeling personally or emotionally fulfilled and the reality of that representation. “Daze” is what we reach out to feel that fulfillment, be it money, a promotion, love, sex, thrill, or anybody’s idea of fun or success.

Then there’s an evolution of the phrase “I’ve had better days” to “BETTER DAZE.” which represents the assumption that the more filler you have, the more fulfilled you will be. In a way most of us are constantly looking for that instant gratification, and once we get it, it fades away just as quickly is it got there. It triggers a cycle where we end up always looking for more, almost obsessively. Taken all together, I’m playing with a few different ideas and thoughts and regurgitating them onto a pair of jeans, but they all compile into one set of emotions and the one vision that is “BETTER DAZE”.

The video for the new collection is very intriguing…where did that concept come from?

I got the idea for the video when I was browsing through vintage ads from the 90s, specifically Bruce Weber’s work for Versace Couture women’s denim in the second half of the decade. He managed to capture a very feminine and delicate image among the very “macho” face that represented Versace back in the day. I wanted the video to be delicate, and given that gender boundaries are getting less and less defined in fashion— think models Andreja Pejic and Boychild, or unisex designer Rad Hourani—I decided to use a female model. I wanted to capture this point in time and the excitement and disorientating nature that comes along with it; we don’t really know what’s next.

With all of this in mind, the result is a girl as the face of a menswear brand with her beautifully delicate features and a wounded hand; along with a looping foreign conversation with unrelated subtitles portraying a completely different environment. These are all aesthetic choices, without any sort of conventional meaning or intended resolution. However, I believe that the video is a more accurate depiction of life than most of the commercials we see on a daily basis, selling us fabricated realities. Often, things are just the way they are, as weird as they are, and sometimes that needs to be embraced.

You’ve mentioned that gender ambiguity plays a role in the new collection…does this apply to your work as a whole? Can fashion exist without gender?

This is actually the first time I dabbled with gender roles. Can fashion survive without gender? I think so and it’s been tapped in successfully before, YSL did it with Le Smoking, and then women wearing suits became high fashion. But design will always be inspired by body features on each end of the spectrum. There are things you can do with the female figure that you can’t really apply to a one of a man and vice versa. I think what will be beneficial eventually is to not consider it as the only two possibilities and two completely separate entities, but acknowledging that there is a middle ground where the two can meet and exchange from one another.

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