Proving to be one of the most exciting new presences in fashion since their inception in 2012, Études Studio is a multidisciplinary collective focusing on menswear design, art book publishing and creative content. Document contributor Max Hirschberger sits down with co-founder Aurélien Arbet to discuss the Studio’s practices, influences and development, followed by an exclusive feature of their Spring/Summer 2016 menswear collection, photographed their studio and at the Public Art Fund’s “Image Objects” exhibition at City Hall Park in Lower Manhattan.
As Études is a multidisciplinary design studio, there seems to be a crossover between the graphic, artistic and fashion design work. How would you say one influences the other(s)?
I would say that every facet of the studio tends to overlap in some way, at some point in time. As we work as a collective, we all have different backgrounds: from fine art, fashion and graphic design. Through this, there is always a conversation where we are all bringing an interesting element to the table and bouncing things off one another. In return, the final product is a manifestation of our minds and respective creative practices all meshed together. Since the beginning, that was our entire concept; to not be known for doing just one thing, but rather, a fluid entity that produces what we feel expresses and represents us the most.
Since the beginning, that was our entire concept; to not be known for doing just one thing, but rather, a fluid entity that produces what we feel expresses and represents us the most.
Études works with a specific artist each collection to produce custom textiles. How does the collaboration influence the final collection?
The theme of the collection tends to influence the artists of whom we choose to collaborate with. We search for artists who have a direct conceptual relationship with our decided theme of the collection. With our N°8 collection, we collaborated with Swiss artists Linus Bill and Adrien Horni, both whom provided us with artworks that we were able to collage and physically apply to the garments. Through that process, there was a collaborative reinterpretation to create something new and experimental.
For this collection (Spring/Summer ’16), the artistic reference was a bit different, utilizing artist David Weiss’ “Up and Down Town,” book as reference for the overall aesthetic and styling, rather than for textile use. Can you explain this progression?
David Weiss’ illustrated book Up and Down Town served as a starting point for the concept of the collection. Weiss’ freeform and poetic drawing style led to a deeper exploration into the lifestyle of the Parisian flâneur and poet. From there, to bring a more contemporary reference, we investigated the ’90s skate culture in New York. All of these different references had the same red line running through them, which was this idea of ‘Up and Down Town’ and freeform movement through the city.
Can you speak about the development of the company, artistically?
In general, we are always striving to do what is contemporary and relevant for the time. Through various arenas of practice, we have allowed ourselves to grow artistically. With the opening of our flagship store, we broke the rules of the stereotypical retail store and treated it as a space to curate various collaborative works that we feel best represents our current artistic state. For fashion, with our decision to do a runway show, we were able to experience the notions and challenges of live presentation and performance. Through all of the components of a runway show, I feel we are able to see the concept of the collection come to full fruition. We didn’t realize how involved in the fashion world we were until we presented our first runway show, which as a result, opened new dimensions and artistic outlets.
How would you describe the Études customer?
Someone who is seeking to express themselves through contemporary dress with an interest and respect for contemporary art and design; who dwells in cultural epicenters. I think the best word that describes the Études customer is curious. Since we have multiple facets of the brand, people sometimes know us for one thing at first, which leads to a discovery of the other things that we do. It is very rewarding to see someone who may know us for our books find their way towards our fashion, and vice versa.
What is the story behind the signature “Études blue?”
When we started Études, we felt that there should be a defining color that people could associate us with. We have always been drawn to the color blue, stemming from our artistic backgrounds and appreciation for Yves Klein. For us, it feels just as atemporal as black or white. It is a color that could easily be overlooked, perhaps neglected due to its ability to feel overpowering, but we saw that as an opportunity to redefine how people feel about it and to bring it into the everyday wardrobe.
Do you have any upcoming projects you’d like to discuss?
We are currently working on our next collection which will be introduced in January 2016 during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris. We are also producing a few new books that will be released by the end of 2015. There is also the ongoing effort to expand and grow in New York and the US in general.
Many of the photographers’ work you publish have an innate diaristic quality. How would you say that relates to the larger design practice/aesthetic at Études?
I feel that we are engaged in the same commentary as the artists we choose to work with. The work that these artists are producing is an interpretation of what is happening in our contemporary society. By combining all of these stories, we are composing not only the story of our editorial line, but also the story of a generation.
Are there any specific artists that have inspired the work at Études or say, the company’s design process as a whole?
There aren’t any specific artists per se, but rather artistic movements such as the Bauhaus, or the Situationists. We were inspired by their avant-garde ways of working as a collective to produce contemporary art and design.
What do you see for the future of Études?
To grow within the multiple projects we have currently, as well as continue to explore new outlets for creativity.