We get to know the guys behind brave and bold label 8DIX.
If you ever get weary of fashion’s air-brushed predictability, London-based label 8DIX might be the brand for you. About as far from the standard industry fare as you could imagine, Luca Marchetto and Jordan Bowen combine boldly unapologetic design with a playful punk spirit: no surprise given that Marchetto worked for the Godmother of Punk herself, Vivienne Westwood, while Bowen has seven years of experience at milliner Stephen Jones.
It’s a potent marriage of style and substance, and the label has proved popular, growing in output during the last three years from a few graphic t-shirts into a comprehensive collection of ready to wear pieces: including 8DIX’s signature product, the best selling Happy Knee jeans, as well as plenty of intricately designed pieces such as the samuari dress, festooned with straps and cut in a progressively un-gendered shape. What’s more, the imprint is international in scale, having shown in Berlin (where they launched their line) and LA, as well as on their home turf in London. With their SS17 collection coming soon, we sat down with the boys to talk rebellious energy, the joys of Berlin, and just where that name comes from – clue: it’s not quite as dirty as it sounds…
8DIX is much more than a standard fashion brand isn’t it: could you tell us a little bit about how it got started?
Luca Marchetto: I think people look at us with a bit of curiosity, firstly because of the name 8DIX, which doesn’t actually mean what you think, it comes from the name of the artist Otto Dix. The double meaning was just a happy accident but we ran with it. At least you don’t forget us!
Secondly, I think it’s because of our product mix; we sell printed jersey sweatpants, ready to wear fashion pieces, slogan t-shirts and hand blocked hats. 8DIX is a look and is very personal to us as we only ever make clothes we wear. That’s how the brand started. We wanted to take the things we wore every day and give them purpose.
Your political ethos is also essential to the brand’s identity: talk to us about that?
Jordan Bowen: Political is a bit of a dirty word, especially within the realm of fashion. We’re not making tshirts telling people who to vote for. Fashion for us is not about escapism and it’s not about running away, for us its about coming face to face with life and what it means to live in London in 2016. These are tough times and politics is more extreme than ever and a fashion brand is a perfect vehicle to express how we feel. Maybe that’s why people call us punk even if we never touched a safety pin.
You showed your AW16 show at Berlin Alternative Fashion Week. What attracted you to BAFW and what were some of the ideas behind that collection/show?
L: We decided to show in Berlin because it felt like a true homecoming for the brand. Otto Dix was the German painter who inspired us to create a brand together 3 years ago.
Berlin is hedonistic and there’s a greater sense of freedom there and the young designers are supported much more from its vibrant start-up community.
We named the collection HEIMAT which IS A WORD WITH NO ENGLISH EQUIVALENT, IT KIND OF MEANS HOMELAND BUT IT’S NOT, IT’S WHERE YOUR INNER SELF FINDS ITSELF. WE CREATE THE WORLD WE’RE LIVING IN. The show was a mirror of the society and the times of today. We mixed Rihanna with Donald Trump while the models came down with high tech nylons and fine tailored suits wearing wood and figurine accessories and that’s where we launched the RTW collection.
When you start on a collection, where do you begin and what influences you?
J: We always start from art and the things we love but then we’re faced with the reality of having to wear it and that’s when things get interesting, that’s when we start a crazy 2 months of analyzing everyone and everything that people are wearing. People at the bank, commuters on the tube and at the girls on the check out at Tesco. By then the idea that we started with seems to get contaminated by life but it always works out better like that. Designing is a process and goes through a million small decisions every day. We really believe that if you end up with exactly what you sketched that first day then something’s gone horribly wrong.
L: Jordan has an unwritten rule about making clothes which I love; He always says if it’s too much for Tuesday morning then move on. I like that, it keeps things real.
Some of your most recognisable pieces are the Happy Knee jeans. What’s the story behind them?
L: I know!!! We’re as happy as the knees! I think we found our Chanel nr 5. Everything started from my knees! I know it sounds nuts. I tattooed smileys on them years ago and discovered pretty early on how happy they make people as I would get pointed and smiled at on the tube when I wore shorts. When we were designing the trousers for the show I thought ‘let’s put them on as a joke’ really just to take the piss but we would have never imagined the reaction we got from them. As a brand the aim is always to try and conquer the audience with a product but those Happy Knee Jeans actually make our customers smile and we couldn’t be happier. Every morning we wake up with a new picture of someone’s smiling knees somewhere round the world.
Your favourite piece from AW16?
Well there’s tonnes to love, obviously, but I reckon it’s got to be the orchid print. Everyone owns a floral piece and we wanted to reinterpret that idea and make it something that makes people think. The journey we took to get there was fascinating, we wanted to represent something beautiful and fragile that gets destroyed by man.
What can we expect for SS17…any clues?
L: Lots of pizza
Is there a particular person you have in mind when you’re designing?
J: We always start outside of fashion to find who inspires 8DIX. It starts at street level but not in that cliché graffiti skateboarder kind of way. The best characters are the ones out after dark, that thin layer of eccentrics that roam the city.
I’m always compelled by the mistakes people make with their daily outfits. A lot of designers I know have major style icons pinned on their boards but we just printed out the picture of Big Daddy (Henry), our handyman in his ‘work clothes’. Today he was wearing amazing tailored trousers in shiny polyester, a vintage tshirt with God Save the Queen and a dirty old trilby. It was a masterpiece of cheapness but he’s got great taste. Oh and by the way…Big Daddy is the name of his drill and he’s very proud of it!
Describe the 8DIX customer?
Who are some of the brand’s pin-ups/all time heroes?
L: Caravaggio, Dante and Fabrizio de André (sorry I’m super Italian) and I really respect Miley Cyrus and her stance on animal rights which is fundamental to the brand.
Lastly: Why ALL CAPS EVERYTHING?
L: I always wrote with caps since I was a child but just for aesthetics. They look better! It’s only when I moved to London that people were really confronted by it so it obviously felt like a perfect way to communicate for our brand! It’s like walking through life with your shoulders back and chin up and that’s exactly how people perceive it.