69 is the Anonymous Designer You Need to Know
Across the country, a designer cloaked in anonymity is hard at work on their newest collection. The brand is called 69—after the designer’s Cancer astrological sign and not the sex position—and they have become a denim cloaked underdog in the fashion industry. For their newest collection, fabric samples reach beyond the staple denim that has become synonymous with the brand and a live-streamed show based in downtown Los Angeles was planned in lieu of a New York Fashion Week show. Though the designer refuses to unveil their identity based on a fear that personality would overshadow the clothing (see: almost every major designer), a number of celebrities have been spotted rocking last season’s collection including a denim-clad Rihanna.
By now, the collection has been re-streamed, analyzed, and celebrated. Forever it-girl Chloë Sevigny watched from the front row while wearing pieces from the SS16 collection. It’s been a hit on and off the Internet but you wouldn’t know that from talking to the designer or checking out their cute handrawn 69 cartoons on the brand’s Instagram. Weeks before models walked the runway and partied in the new collection, Milk‘s Chris Thomas sat down for a phone call with the mysterious designer and talked unconventional models, gender neutrality, how shitty LA has become, and the cult classic Weekend at Bernie’s.
Is denim going to continue being a big influence in the line or will you be moving in a different direction?
We’re doing new stuff and I don’t want to give away anything but it will definitely be different. Since the whole denim-on-denim look has taken off so much I think that Sixty Nine is partially to blame for that. [Laughs] We want to do some different stuff because we don’t really want to be part of the herd now. Not that we are going to stop doing denim obviously, but we’re just going to be doing new things.
Your clothes are extremely oversized and feature a lot of dramatically ballooning silhouettes. What drew you to that look?
I’ve always wanted it to be pretty liberal in the sizing just so that more people can feel like they can wear it. It’s psychological because people will be like, “oh this thing is big but it says extra small!” I’m also just really into transitional clothing. You can wear it in several different scenarios; you can sleep in it or you could go to a premiere in it. You can move in it when it’s not so form fitting.
For your promos and photoshoots, you use models that are incredibly diverse in terms of race, gender, and size. Is it difficult to find a range of diversity in modeling?
Definitely. If I had my way it would be much more extreme. Most of the time I’m forced to use my friends but sometimes we do street casting and it’s worked out. That is just a lot of work—especially if you don’t have a budget. It would be great to have a budget for models because I could go up to some random person who looks really interesting but doesn’t model and say, “hey here’s a few hundred bucks now model for me.” [Laughs]
The fashion industry and casting agencies are starting to cast nontraditional models but the process is very slow. How do you feel about the industry’s move toward nontraditional casting?
There’s a huge market for it now and I hope that it does become the norm. I hope it isn’t a trend. It’s definitely trending but it’s not reflected in any of the mainstream shit ,and it’s all about mainstream shit. We know something will actually change when Vogue has a fucking normal person on the cover and not a celebrity.
“We know something will actually change when Vogue has a fucking normal person on the cover and not a celebrity.
Your anonymity is a really unique aspect of the brand. Is it difficult to remain anonymous in such a social digital age?
The only instance where it’s not easy to remain anonymous is when I’m meeting someone in person. I’m not a freak about it or anything but I don’t want anyone to focus on my image or my identity at all. It’s not conducive to the brand and I’m personally not interested in any sort of notoriety. People always attach their own opinions to an identity and it’s such a precarious thing. I like for people to have a connection to the work. By remaining anonymous, it’s more for the audience to make the clothes into whatever they want them to be.
You moved from New York to LA to create your fashion brand. What do you like more about LA compared to New York?
Uhm, well that’s a hard question to answer now because I want to leave LA. [Laughs] Because people are moving from New York and San Francisco to LA.
Ok, I’ll tell you what I did love about LA. I loved that it was always sunny but there wasn’t a constant threat of a drought. The cost of living was reasonable and getting around wasn’t that difficult. Now there’s triple the amount of traffic so it’s hard to get around in any timely or calm fashion. It’s hot as fuck so you feel like you’re getting sunburnt all the time. At the end of summer it’s particularly bad because it’s so hot and now I have a car that doesn’t have A/C. There are all these things going against LA right now and to be honest, this place is really just my office.
So LA is over for you. Where is your next move?
I’m moving to Berlin next summer with a friend. I won’t be moving the business or anything. It’ll stick around and it’s going great but I need to move. Perhaps that’s a transition place because I never in my wildest dreams thought of moving there. For years people have been talking about Berlin but I thought that sounded gross so whatever, and it will be a part of this huge event there so why not?
I feel really locked in here and want a change of pace and to start enjoying my life. When I’m here I can’t even think about relaxing because I’m in work mode. I have no interest in a social life here—not that I don’t have one. I just don’t really care because I’m just working all the time.
“By making cartoons for the brand, it makes it even more fun and approachable. I started to sprinkle it into our social media but get ready for a flood.”
If you could do wardrobing for any movie, what genre or concept for a movie would you be into working with?
Oh my god what a great question because that is my dream. All I can hope is some awesome director reads this interview and is like, “oh chill they want to make costumes.” I guess some kind of futuristic sci-fi movie would be good. I don’t really care as long as it has a good story, I would be down for anything. I think I’d be good with wardrobe in general if I wasn’t crating original costumes. I’m into telling a story with clothes. One of the most powerful things you remember about a movie is the wardrobe. It really does set the mood.
Speaking of storytelling, what kind of story are you trying to tell through your new collection?
I’d say if I had to say what inspired this collection, it would be Weekend at Bernie’s. [Laughs] I’m also an illustrator so I draw a lot and I’m going to start incorporating a lot of that into the branding for the next collection. To me, that’s the next step in really making it for everyone because people do pay close attention to the casting for the brand. By making cartoons for the brand, it makes it even more fun and approachable. I started to sprinkle it into our social media but get ready for a flood.
Check out 69’s website here
Photos by Christine Hahn