Everyone wants to find the next hot fashion brand before it blows up. En Noir is that brand.
Head designer Rob Garcia cut his teeth at West Coast streetwear label Black Scale, and is now cranking out quality pieces with meticulous detailing and giving a big "fuck you" to traditional fashion practices. By dropping clothes not pegged to seasons and focusing on made-to-order pieces, Garcia isn't cutting any corners. Whether he’s thumbing through leather swatches for T-shirts or using zippers other brand's can't afford, he's aiming to take his line to the next level. He also knows the value of having good taste on your side — one of New York's most stylish men, CurT@!n$, is riding shotgun for the release of the brand’s debut collection.
With monochromatic T-shirts, Kanye West’s favorite new leather sweatpants, luxe outerwear, and all-over printed graphics inspired by the Renaissance, En Noir’s first collection is a force. Complex got first crack at talking with Garcia and CurT@!n$ as En Noir opens its e-doors today. Read up and remember where you heard about ‘em first.
Interview by Joe La Puma (@JLaPuma)
Rob, you got your start with Black Scale, what was your role there?
Rob Garcia: My position was head designer, so I built out accessories, shoes, bags — and then during the end of my time at Black Scale I helped out with graphics. We built an amazing streetwear brand that was just different. We were influenced by high fashion, and we really made it a point to put that in there. At the end of last year things started to line up, and I told them that I always wanted to do my own thing, not just streetwear. I met some people at fashion week events, I found great factories and great consultants, then two friends who I grew up with were like “we’ll fund your line.” I had to make a decision, and I wanted to gradually move myself out of Black Scale, so I designed everything up until Summer 2012, and jumped into En Noir.
What were the early steps of putting together En Noir?
Rob: At first I did a huge collection of about fifty pieces and wanted to do a presentation — fashion week and all that stuff. I was working with a great factory in Paris: they produced Balmain, some of Chanel, and they produced Kanye’s women’s line. I learned a lot from the factory there and definitely slowed things down, took a couple of steps back, and tried to learn and consume as much as I could and get my fits right, get the silhouettes right, get everything right, and see what the reception would be like.
En Noir kind of falls in the middle of high-fashion and streetwear. What do you think about the current state of streetwear?
You know once Kanye puts his stamp on something the world comes running.
Rob: I grew up in streetwear, it’s always been a part of me and I think it was dope that I was able to learn from streetwear and was able to progress from such a dope culture and dope genre. It’s so set apart from anything else. Supreme is so consistent and an amazing brand. I wore BAPE a lot in the early 2000s, and I think they’ve had a great resurgence. I think they’ve definitely found the right formula bringing the right pieces back. As far as brands I really look up to and respect — I really love Gourmet. They are amazing. The cut and sew line they did was so ahead of the curve and unbelievable. Of course Black Scale, what we did there was amazing. You know Diamond, there are so many. All of them deserve so much respect for setting themselves apart. I also loved what Nom De Guerre did.
CurT@!n$: The kids are what keeps BAPE and Supreme at the forefront. I feel like Supreme does an excellent job at reinventing themselves and positioning themselves as a brand. I think BAPE is getting back to that. They definitely lost track for a minute, but if a kid like [A$AP] Rocky wasn’t wearing BAPE heavily mixed in with other coveted items, then kids wouldn’t look at it like “yeah I’m back on BAPE,” because kids abandoned it for a while. Supreme kind of always had its loyal fan base but I feel like the brands themselves just have to find a way to not shun people, because a lot of brands get cocky and are like, “we don’t want these kids wearing our clothes.” You have to find a way to work with that. Don’t do it in a corny way, but be like “okay cool, let’s make something happen,” like Supreme did with Odd Future. BAPE needs to do something with Rocky to just let the kids know that the brand knows they exist.
What’s the direction of design for En Noir?
Rob: This line was really me designing what I wanted to see in my closet from brands like Givenchy, Rick Owens, and Balmain. I love a lot of the stuff, but honestly some of it can’t be worn off the runway. I was like: “there’s a way to execute those silhouettes and still be able to wear them on the street.” That was it. With me right now I didn’t adhere to the seasons as far as spring, summer, winter and fall. I’m just making pieces you can have in your closet, and you pull them out whenever you want, it doesn’t even matter what time of the year it is. That’s where I was approaching it from the initial stages of En Noir.
Just like Kanye wearing your leather sweatpants in the summer.
Rob: I think it’s cool that things are always being done different within the fashion world more and more each season just because people are adapting to the times. I’m not going to say there shouldn’t be seasons, but I mean fall is releasing right now and it’s hot as fuck. The weather is changing so why be so tied to these fashion calendars? If you got a dope piece then drop it. I remember when Kanye did his first women’s line. He had these amazing ideas that he wanted to get out. It doesn’t matter if you buy it in spring and wear it in fall/winter.