Parisian menswear brand OAMC was founded a few years back by Luke Meier and Arnaud Faeh and has, in a remarkably short time, become an essential go-to for exciting yet wearable pieces that put good design at their core. Frequently blending traditional menswear standbys like slim tailored trousers with technical and utilitarian fabrics and cuts, OAMC looked to the idea of flight for their AW16 collection. Unlike many brands that cite an influence or umbrella concept without really understanding it though, OAMC have fully engaged with both the military and natural resonances of that term flight: diving into military development archives and incorporating the elemental forms of birds via their graphics.
The result? A collection that marries the elegant refinement of classic tailoring with the directional silhouettes and utility touch-points of contemporary, cutting-edge design: quilted down cut into voluminous outerwear, the rouched seam work of the MA-1 flight jacket cropping up in unexpected places, paneled suiting and double faced technical cotton are just a few of the things to look forward to next winter. Dreaming of a cosy AW16 draped in OAMC, we talk with Meier about his inspirations, the ethical implications of military design, and the gorgeous androgyny of vast proportions.
How did you get started on a collection like this: is it an idea, a specific piece that comes to mind, or something else entirely?
There’s no particular formula for this, honestly. It was just an idea that felt interesting because of the various translations. The idea of flight with regard to nature, to man’s curiosity and vigour for flight, to functional design in the military were all interesting departure points for the collection. Additionally, traveling and working a lot in Europe during the past few years has made me distinctly aware of the concept of nationality and movement. Flight, within this context is to me about movement; migration. Sometimes within migration, as we’ve seen so drastically recently, conflict arises. With this in consideration, the symbol of the dove as an icon of peace, was used in the collection and provided a strong link to all the concepts.
Do you see this as a progression of last season (and seasons before that), or is it something very distinct?
It’s always a progression. I learn more, the team learns more. I like creating within a specific concept, but the spirit and vibe of the brand has to be in each collection somewhere. I view collections as snapshots of where we are within a long developmental process. Individual collections have particular nuances and are reflections of what I feel is relevant at the time, but they are all part of the brand’s progression and should be linked, no matter how subtly.
Birds and flight are important in this collection – where do those ideas come through in the clothes?
Nature is always the best inspiration. Always. Be it animals, colors, shapes; nature will be the most important source of my ideas. We hand painted the image of a dove on an oversized reversible down overcoat, we used a lot of real feather down (responsibly sourced) to create some unusual shapes, and we even used feathers as decorative elements in jewelry and attached to garments.
You also researched archive military pieces for this season. Where do you feel that influence can be felt in the OAMC garments?
It was less a research exercise than it was a military language I wanted to work with. I looked a lot at parachute apparatus, jumpsuits, paratrooper garments, and harness strapping and hardware. Using these influences, it was more a process of how to make military colors, constructions, shapes, and details more modern and new. For example, we used a bonded leather panel at the back of a collar as a drawcord tunnel. It looks reminiscent of military jacket collar zippers, but is a newer, more elegant translation of a military design. I utilized many custom hardware pieces that were influenced by paratrooper equipment and also translated them in a more refined way on shoes, cut and sew pieces, and shirts. Probably the best two military-influenced pieces are the Italian wool gabardine Flight Suit and the Compression Boots. They just came out perfectly in that they are aggressive and military in feel, but they have the refinement that I wanted.
You’ve spoken about the tensions between enjoying and utilizing a military aesthetic whilst finding its implications problematic; could you tell us more about this?
A lot of the innovation around us has come from military research and development. Cool, yes, but it’s a bit dark because the point of military development is responsive aggression. It’s all about superiority. What makes military design so compelling is that it’s developed with such an extreme necessity; the design can determine whether someone lives or dies, or if wars are won or lost. In other words, the design and developments have to be fucking incredible, and they are, from a functional standpoint. I haven’t really come to terms with whether it’s ok for us to benefit from these advancements or not, however the reality is that we wouldn’t be nearly as far along if it wasn’t for the exceptional innovations that military research has afforded us.
You often play with combining tailoring with more technical utility wear. Why are you so frequently drawn to that aesthetic?
My designs are authentically what I’m into wearing, and I like the way menswear codes can be combined. I enjoy using fabrics with heavy connotations, like wool suiting or 3L nylon, and then creating new shapes or garments with them.
You’re known for menswear but make use of androgyny and both men and women in your lookbook. Do you feel your clothes are quite fluid in terms of who can wear them?
Most definitely. Sometimes the volumes or proportions look better on women. It’s a menswear based collection, but I feel that the modern approach is whoever feels good in the clothes is welcome to wear them. Men or women, all good to me.
Who is the OAMC consumer – do you have a particular person in mind when you come to a collection?
I design what I want to wear myself. The OAMC consumer is someone who appreciates well made products, as well as the authenticity of the design, and is someone who cares about buying something that they will have for a long time. It’s not about trend, it’s about what’s good.
What’s an average day for you in the studio like (what’s on the stereo/what’s the atmosphere like, etc.?)
There is not really an average day since I’m never really in one place doing the work. I can be working on sketches or designs in Paris, working with our development team in Milan, or in various ateliers and makers throughout Italy. I’m obsessed with music so no matter where I go I will have my headphones on. Recently I’ve been into the Headz compilations from Mo’Wax. Haven’t given those a listen in a while. I also really like Joe Kay and the Soulection guys in Los Angeles.
Lastly, what are your favorite pieces/looks from this collection and why?
My favorite outerwear piece is the Down Officer Coat. I’m looking forward to getting mine and wearing a volume like that in the Fall. It feels like you’re wearing a down sleeping bag, but has an aggressive look and I like this contrast. I also like the pieces we made in the wool jacquard, as well as the Flight Suit. The Paracord Runners are a shape of sneaker that I will wear a lot this Fall as well. They’re a great shape and have exceptional craftsmanship as they’re all bonded and turned without any topstitching, which to me makes an older style look and feel very modern.