After making it their life mission to explore the intersection between style, art, design, music, and politics – and harnessing the creative energy rife in 90’s Berlin – Joerg and Maria Koch now find themselves running one of the coolest publications in the world: 032c.
The magazine, which provides in-depth analysis of convergence culture, has manifested into a brand and apparel line which has firmly cemented itself into the cultural zeitgeist. Having collaborated with everyone from Gosha Rubchinskiy to Alyx Studios and worn by rappers like Yung Hurn, Gunna and Rich The Kid on a regular basis, the brand has never been stronger.
The apparel line is now so popular that the publication itself is now seen as an afterthought for many of the clout-hungry consumers buying their in-demand clothing range – not that it bothers the Kochs in the slightest. They're making serious money off their apparel, which in turn introduces the consumers to the magazine, a process which Joerg labels "beautiful self-cannibalisation".
Their latest sell-out apparel line came courtesy of a collaboration with Bayern Munich defender and former Berliner Jérôme Boateng. A cult magazine and World Cup winning centre-half might not seem the most conventional of connections, but in big old 2018, it’s a collaboration which actually makes complete sense.
The collaboration is named ‘BOA17’. Fusing his nickname “Boa” with his squad number (17), the ‘BOA17’ capsule blends the worlds of football and fashion into a unisex collection inspired by his favourite things: dogs (especially his pitbull, Ivory), hip-hop, camouflage, and the colour baby blue.
Speaking to Complex at Bread&&Butter by Zalando – The Pop-Up of Style and Culture – Maria and Joerg spoke to us from their Berghain-inspired installation to explain the rise of pop culture events, why the collaboration with Jérôme came about, and how football has become so intertwined with fashion.
COMPLEX: What do events like Bread&&Butter, and their growth in the last three years, mean to you? Especially with the rise of large-scale events run by magazines like ComplexCon and Hypefest, etc...
Maria Koch: ComplexCon was the pioneer – and you guys materialised that part of the industry in very visible terms: the whole notion of drop culture, and lining up somewhere under one roof, creates a really big energy.
Joerg Koch: And that energy is kind of sexy for us.
For a Complex audience that may not know enough about who you are, could you explain what 032c is all about and what your aims and core values are with the magazine?
Joerg: The magazine originally started in Berlin, and created as a fanzine out of this project space. That project space was exhibitions, parties etc. and really thrived on the Berlin energy of the 90’s where everything seemed to be possible.
The idea initially was to do a magazine which really showcases the new fashion system – a new gen of designers such as Raf, Hedi Slimane… it wasn’t, like, old Karl Lagerfeld and all these dusty designers. 032c was interested in exploring the connections between architecture, politics art etc for that fashion system.
Over the years, it was a mixture of stupidity and ambition which went on and developed into a proper magazine about contemporary culture. I think because, back then, Berlin was a cultural laboratory, we were one of the first people to feature “culture”; not just feature art, history, politics, literature, but all of them together.
Back then when I grew up reading The Face, Dazed, i-D – they were pioneering fashion, style, music, and cinema – whereas nowadays, all these things inform each other and are mixed up.
So in that sense, 032c is about living in your own time, and trying to capture what it means to be alive. Why we stay fresh is because we really want to transform the magazine every once in a while a change what it really is and means.
What’s the process been like in getting 032c to where it’s at now?
Maria: Work, and a lot of time! We devoted a lot of honest work towards what we were really, really interested in. We invested a lot of time in nous.
Joerg: We were interested in investing in time, not capital. Time means, you’re not mood-boarding. We’re not mood-boarding about boring stuff, we’re always developing on stuff that we’re interested in. No short-cuts. That’s the quality of the magazine in a nutshell.
We designed a small capsule collection with fellow Berliner and German soccer player @jeromeboateng, celebrating our love for dogs. 🐾It will be exclusively available at @breadandbutter, Aug 31 - Sept 2 at Arena Berlin. 💫 CREATIVE DIRECTION Joerg + @maria_koch PHOTO @jonas_lindstroem STYLING @marcgoehring #jeromeboateng #032c #breadandbutter
A post shared by Joerg Koch/ 032c (@032c) on Jul 23, 2018 at 8:29am PDT
How did the original link up with Jérôme Boateng come about?
Maria: Our friends knew some of his friends, and they introduced us to him. He visited us with some other friends...
Joerg: I wasn’t there, so I wasn’t around to fuck it up…
Maria: Yeah so I was just sat in our living room with Jérôme’s friends and we just talked, we vibed really well – he’s such a cool guy. We agreed that we should work together right there, and then two years later, Zalando came up with the idea to showcase it at Bread&&Butter.
What do you think about footballers becoming more aware of magazines like yourself and football becoming intertwined with fashion?
Maria: I don’t think it’s just footballers, it’s all athletes. They are much more connected to the music industry and this produces a different kind of ‘swag’ between the two realms. These two scenes, in particular, inform each other more than ever before. That’s why soccer players are much better dressed, it’s because they’re better informed. They used to be uncool, but sporty dudes in the past, but not anymore.
The collaboration is another addition to your rapidly expanding apparel arsenal. Does the magazine influence the clothing or the magazine influence the clothing?
Maria: It’s symbiotic.
Joerg: This is why we do the fashion apparel line - it's suddenly become bigger than the magazine itself - but that’s great! It’s self-cannibalising. That’s a beautiful thing. If there’s kids coming up and they’re not aware there's a magazine, then they approach us from a different perspective. So whatever it takes to translate the idea of 032c – whether it’s a t-shirt, a magazine, a book – or an interview with you!
A post shared by Joerg Koch/ 032c (@032c) on Sep 15, 2018 at 3:42am PDT
What was the cover that you enjoyed hosting the most?
Maria: It would have to be Frank Ocean…
Joerg: She’s really into celebrities…
Is that why you’ve gone in a very Kardashian, Kanye, Travis Scott direction?
Joerg: I mean there’s so much more to us as a magazine than just celebrity culture. But we were always curious with these to see what they were like. Now that we’ve done the prototypes of Kardashian / social media influencer-heavy covers, so we want to try and explore other avenues for us to progress as a publication.
You’ve gone from being an underground magazine to very much on the forefront of popular culture. Was that always your intention or has it manifested organically?
It manifested organically as we’re interested in understanding culture. So when you’re interested in understanding culture, you have to go to things like ComplexCon, or Bread&&Butter. I really believe in making yourself complicit to it, and not to be passive or against it. If you like the stuff that’s gonna be there, don’t hate on it, there’s no point in being snobby about phenomenons. Be open, take it in and then make a decision as to whether you like it or not.
Bread&&Butter by Zalando present exclusive collaboration with leading cultural platform 032c and Jérôme Boateng: BOA17, a unisex capsule collection exclusively available on breadandbutter.com – Zalando’s new shopping hub for selected streetwear and exclusive product drops.