The Lucid Collective’s ethos is to outfit the current man in timeless attire. We talked to designer Chlöe Swarbrick about their brand and place in New Zealand Fashion.
When did The Lucid Collective start?
We started in 2012. It was a reaction to the feeling that there was something lacking in the market; there was too much hype and too little substance.
Are there any stores?
Our main method of sales presently, both locally and internationally, is through our online store www.thelucidcollective.com. We have two stockists: Mercer in Wellington, and Wanderer in Christchurch.
What can you tell us about the latest collection?
The name of the collection alludes to the cycle we engage in daily with our clothes, and attempts to play with the idea of longevity or
endurance, and quality. In producing it, we focused on a base palette of grey, black and white, all in New Zealand cottons. Some have chosen to characterize what they were trying to do with the drop as creating clothing that men care about so much that they follow the care label. We wanted to play with finer details when creating long-lasting, timeless, well-fitted pieces. This drop that commitment manifests itself in mother-of-pearl and wood buttons, fabric choice, and YKK zips, alongside the subtleties of tailoring.
What are the inspirations for the design of the clothing?
Everybody in the team has different inspirations. The Internet is a huge resource, as it not only encompasses all of mankind’s knowledge up until this point, but also continues to self-perpetuate.
Our Creative Director really digs Charles Bukowski, he was the first writer they’d ever read who swore. The brashness and individualism (sans the alcoholism) of his writing is one of the intangibles that probably translate into our garments. In that vein, so too do the spiels of Muhammad Ali, and the self-deconstruction-reconstructions of Descartes (Cogito Ergo Sum). Architecture is another one; we’ve got a few photographer friends who semi-legally find their way into abandoned buildings. The way light shifts across a space through the human-constructed windows, without the aid of artificial lighting provides a rather poetic inspiration. Art, too. All of it, from toilet doors to the street to the gallery. Anything produced with intention.
Oh, and our Head of Design recently watched Wes Anderson’s ‘Grand Budapest Hotel’, and became fixated on the colour orange.
Has their been any events involving The Lucid Collective?
This year we decided we were going to do Fashion Week. However, we didn’t have the several k buy-in handy, so decided to get a little bit more creative.We’ve got ties to the art world; we’ve got multiple friends who are artists, and collaborated with two of them last year for our ‘Art, Etcetera’ show at the now defunct Method and Manners Gallery and now Carwash Gallery.
Subsequently, instinct told us to put the fashion show in an art gallery. Our clothes would be the art, and we’d get some models as the frames. We wanted the garments to be living, and breathing, and dissected, and criticized by a live audience. And so the Cold Wash Show at Gow Langsford Gallery, Lorne Street was born.
What is your view on New Zealand fashion and The Lucid Collective’s place in it?
New Zealand is a hotbed of activity. Auckland is a rapidly developing city. Our country prides itself on the icon of the
the icon of the masculine, sporting, stoic rugby player and farmer. Only in the last few decades has the country really wiped the sleep from its eye to realize the undercurrent of creativity. All of that lends some explanation power as to why we’ve got so many extremely talented creatives. Whilst mainstream society shunned the value that creatives and their craft had to offer, the ones who had a burning passion continued to pursue it, despite the lack of external motivation, be it money, popularity, appreciation etc. Between a rock and a hard place, after spending hundreds of hours grinding away in the late night and early morning between their jobs that paid the bills, that cliché diamond emerged.
We’ve got people who are great at what they do because they got to where they are despite all odds. The fact that New Zealand is so geographically isolated to the rest of the world also fosters a rather collective, unique viewpoint on most things. We’ve got a nation of 4.5million in a country nearly double the size of England. We’ve got space to experiment, and fail, and produce dope things. Fashion is a big part of anyone’s life, regardless of whether they consciously think about it or not. At present, society dictates that we clothe ourselves, and most of us are more than willing to comply.
What we clothe ourselves in does say something about us, because it represents a whole lot of decisions made to get to that aesthetic, which we think is why it’s so interesting that the past decade surfaced a trend of trying hard to look like you hadn’t tried hard to look the way you do. Back to the question, though: New Zealand is becoming more in line with international fashion and styles since the widespread adoption of Internet use. Blogs, in particular, have been a driving force for seeing kids in different continents grows up with the same aesthetic.
The convention of the ‘bloke’ is being dismissed; catering to your appearance is easier than ever, and individualism is on the rise.
Lucid’s ethos is to outfit the current man in timeless attire. We don’t limit ourselves to the New Zealand fashion scene, because the scene in itself is not limited to New Zealand. We never intend to place ourselves in any kind of stylistic box, but to continue growing and producing quality wares.
What are your views on the style at the moment – 2014?
The Internet has bred a new kind of culture unlike what we’ve ever seen. All at once, every single subculture, ideology and trend is popular, dependent on where you look. Things are moving more rapidly than ever before, and it’s an insane space to work in. More than any other time in history, anything is cool if you can pull it off with style. It helps if a street style photographer was present, though (laughs).
We found a magazine in the studio the other day that said purchases of gym gear are now far overtaking the purchases of gym memberships. Such a trend definitely speaks to the utility and comfort inclined mindset that a lot of consumers are coming to adopt. Fashion is no longer pain – it’s ease, and style.
What’s next for The Lucid Collective?
What does “Illegitimi non carbourundum” mean?
‘Illegitimi non carborundum’ is bastardised Latin for ‘don’t let the bastards grind you down’. We began as a very, very small outfit, and had to expend a lot of effort in our first two years trying to make a quality, aesthetically pleasing product, alongside getting some form of publicity for that product. We realized very quickly that good products simply don’t sell themselves; the marketplace is swamped with every other guy peddling stuff that is cheaper than yours,
but will fall apart in the first few washes. Those guys somehow manage to yell loud enough to sell out. It’s a very disheartening process seeing that kind of thing happen, when people buy an advertisement without considering the soul or design process within a product.
Anyway, the phrase was essentially picked up because we figured it was a more polite motto with the expletives in another language – we kind of liked the fact that language was dead, too – and it kind of served as a daily reminder that we need to keep in the creative mindset, not the competitive one.
As soon as you turn completely competitive, you’re working on a much more mundane plane than the creative one, and we think you’re much more inclined to burn out without much integrity.
Lastly, what does the name The Lucid Collective mean?
With regard to the name, many of us on the team are perfectionists, so there’s significant intention behind why ‘The Lucid Collective’ was chosen. Each word has a specific meaning, and when we were first tossing up this name between a few others, it became a forerunner due to the perfect symmetry between the three words and the three lines of our tri-bar logo.
Interview by Leena Park