Whether fashion can be considered art is a constant debate among practitioners on both sides of the divide. There may not ever be real consensus over the matter, but that has not deterred Surrender from presenting fashion as art. To augment its status as Singapore’s premier outlet for street style, the store has put together a display of nine one-piece-each-only jackets, the DRx Romanelli X Cali Thornhill De Witt Capsule Collection for Surrender as evidence that art is very much alive in street wear.
And they are priced like art—S$4,750 each, a sales person told us. Well, that may not be so staggering if you consider the price of a Gucci denim jacket embroidered with flowers, butterflies, and birds: US$4,950. Who are Surrender’s collaborators to daringly ask for such a handsome sum?
DRx (Darren) Romanelli is an LA-based designer and marketing wunderkind associated with the 2014 revival of the New York sneaker brand British Knights although his shoe collaborations go back to 2010 when he paired with Converse to amp up the Chuck Taylor All Star And Stripes. Those familiar with Japanese street wear may know Mr Romanelli as the designer behind Sophnet’s F.C.R.B Collection, also known as Football Club Real Bristol—only thing is this club is an imaginary one dreamed up Sophnet’s founder Hirofumi Kiyonaga. But so credible and legit is F.C.R.B Collection that Nike has an on-going collaboration with the brand. Interestingly, Surrender had been a stockist of both Sophnet and F.C.R.B Collection, which may explain the rather cliquish approach to their merchandising.
Cali Thornhill De Witt is a Canadian who was relocated to Los Angeles when he was three. As a teenager, he was linked to Courtney Love’s band Hole after touring with them. And has largely been a part of the music scene in LA, having worked for Geffen Records and, later, his own record company Teenage Teardrops. He has also directed music videos and designed album art, and is known as a “cult artist”, with works that seem to mirror skate life and lean heavily on text, such as “Crying at the Orgy”: an all-round, multi-tasking creative type. But the largest feather to his cap was designing the wildly successful merchandise for Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo tour. Unsurprisingly, both he and Mr Romanelli are friends.
The jackets, therefore, have a whiff of the hotchpotch perspective of US West Coast music, fashion and art scene (which Hedi Slimane was—notoriously?—smitten with), calculated to be visibly and achingly cool. All reversible, they are made from different clothing, or what the original Maison Martin Margiela Artisanal called “found pieces”. It is not clear if these are used clothes, but if they are, it is not surprising: Mr Romanelli is, as Hypebeast calls him, “the mad scientist of vintage clothing.”
Each of them—from hoodie to blouson—sports a white letter painted conspicuously on the back and they come together to spell the name of the store. Hence, the nine. Placed together, they do make a rather compelling installation piece. But are they really art? We leave that to you to decide.
Photos: Galerie Gombak