Get to know Cactus Plant Flea Market, the streetwear brand revolutionising artist merch and taking the world by storm.
Nike X CPFM
Nike X CPFM
Cast your mind back to 2015, living in a world un-besieged (yet) by years of Trump terror or stalling Brexit talks, with the years’ biggest controversy being a war over a dimly lit blue/black or white/gold dress that, to this day, no one can categorise. Times were certainly simpler, whether it be for politics, the internet or in fashion. This was also the year streetwear’s most fanatic followers, the kind that litter Reddit subthreads and run laps around The Basement at Dover Street Market, deduced exactly who was behind the mysteriously named fashion brand Cactus Plant Flea Market, through a shout-out made in Pharell’s Icon award-winners’ speech at CFDA’s.
You’d be forgiven for assuming this memorable alias wasn’t the name of one of the kookier (and spikier) stalls you’d find dotted along Columbia Road early on a Sunday morning, but if you must know, the brand is one of the fastest-rising labels the fashion world has been watching for the last part of the decade. CPFM has garnered critical acclaim from the likes of A$AP Rocky to Nike, and are showing no signs of stopping just yet. Rarely in fashion do you find figures who don’t enjoy the fame and fortune that come with being behind an it-label, after all, this is an industry entirely built off of face-value glamour, opulence and a primal desire to show off. But seemingly, it’s as if all these things totally deter designer Cynthia-Lu, who has kept pretty much schtum about her meteoric rise in recent years, opting to work under the anonymous moniker and under no circumstance give any interviews. That’s right, 0.
Anyone in the know has already hopped on a collaboration with Lu, and the elusive designer continues to jump from strength to strength with each new t-shirt graphic and innovative shoe design drip-fed to their captivated audience. In a market so crowded with bland brands and uninventive design, CPFM clearly knows the direction they’re headed, navigating the tricky terrain of streetwear with a purposeful, clever, and artistic vision, that, at its core, is just a breath of fresh air.
To help initiate the fashionably unaware to CPFM’s long, long, long list of collaborative gems, we’ve taken the courtesy of listing 7 of the brands’ best collaborations to date. Expect mutated smiley faces from the acid house days, Kid Cudi merch, and even Kardashian Christmas-wear.
The music and fashion mogul has been Lu’s biggest supporter from the jump, and many have noted his shout out to the burgeoning design talent at his 2015 CFDA’s speech: “And to my assistant Cactus, listen to your instincts and the people who see the quality in your differences; you might just make a difference.” Lu was a former intern at Complex, who then joined Pharrell at his label Billionaire Boy’s Club in addition to his multi-media collective i am OTHER. The pair have been on a tumultuous journey ever since, with Pharrell constantly sporting Lu, whether it be on the cover of Vogue or a casual Instagram flex in front of the Eiffel Tower. Lu, in turn, has designed glittery merch for N.E.R.D. (Pharrell and Chad Hugo’s rock/hip-hop group) and also kept her mentor stocked in the latest and greatest of her collaborations. Together, the pair are a creative powerhouse that we simply alway want more from. Maybe in the future they’ll pivot to politics and orchestrate the best-dressed Presidency the world has ever seen.
This pair have been gone hard over the last few months. After collaborating on merch for the singers’ appearances at Rolling Loud and Coachella back in May, the brands most recent endeavour commemorates Cudi’s upcoming album, possibly hyping us up more than any single or video could dream of doing. Sported here by none other than Timothee Chalamet around ComplexCon, glow in the dark stars plaster the cosy-looking hoodie, as if they’d been ripped off your bedroom wall at age six when you decided you weren’t scared of the dark anymore, and repurposed for the rapper himself. “Entergalactic” is spelt out across the hoodie in 8-bit text in a scattered formation while various “Love will ___ us all” lyrics pepper the back. This is CPFM in their prime for sure; refined, glorious and visually superb.
We’re pretty much obsessed with everything this duo comes up with: from those Lego-looking Vapormax with the hodge-podge exterior and colourful soles that look like dishwasher pods, or even the simplistic sock crewneck that nearly caused a family feud between Travis Scott and Kanye West. No matter what they do, capturing the fashion zeitgeist seems an extraordinarily simple task for the pair. For their most recent collection they went totally balls to the wall, up-cycling the huge ‘AIR’ letter embroidery from their Uptempo 96’ trainer onto customisable Air Force 1’s and baggy nineties football jerseys in addition to redoing military-esque olive cargo trousers with graphic retro Nike motifs. Having only been released last month, obviously each piece was snapped up within a matter of hours, so if you’re as obsessed as we are, you better start hunting. Maybe we’ll all get a jersey one day…
Kanye’s collaborative work with CPFM in recent months has been nothing short of prolific. Starting with the ‘ye must be born again’ hoodie during Kanye’s Trump support controversy at the beginning of the year, and ending, most recently, with a whole range of merch for his new album ‘Jesus Is King’, there just seems to be something about the pair that goes totally hand-in-hand. Maybe it’s handcuffs? Kim and pretty much every Kardashian family member, bar Kris and the kids, even joined in on the fun, sporting the brands’ most famous design to date all over Calabasas in recent months. CPFM even designed a long sleeve for last year’s Kardashian-Jenner Christmas. From now on, I think it’s fair to say we will be Keeping Up With The Cactus-ians.
This collaboration dropped way back in April, and is still racking up the big bucks on reselling sites like Grailed and Depop. With a design approach similar to that of what I imagine a pre-schooler on acid would adorn their clothes with, it shouldn’t work at all. But the thing is, it does, so well infact. CPFM implores us to indulge our childish side always, with their fun motifs and out-there typography, but this collection really drives these ideas home. Lu effortlessly brings out the funner side to a scene so fixated on being so serious and cutting edge, reminding how exciting fashion can be.
Actual sportswear, and more specifically, motocross fashion, has been a touchy subject on the runway ever since Rihanna invented racing with her Puma collaboration back in September 2017. The show inspired a whole wave of cheap copies that disappeared sooner than they cropped up, and not since has anyone really been brave enough to conquer this frontier. That was until this year, when CPFM partnered with biker brand Alpinestars to design a complete fit for the Monster Energy AMA Supercross Championship. Though slightly far afield from previous gigs with skate brands like Stussy and Anti Social Social Club, the final product of the collaboration makes total sense. The collection includes a technicolour helmet, boots, a jersey and pants combining the general eye-catching drama of racewear with CPFM’s already manic and striking aesthetic, epitomising that brashy boldness of biker gear in all of its energetic glory.
In the all-American tradition of 4th of July festivities, Stüssy, CPFM and Dover Street Market Los Angeles decided to mark the occasion by creating a limited-edition capsule collection for the most patriotic day in the US calendar. The goal was to put an eccentric and unique twist on classic American symbolism, which they totally succeeded in. Bars, stars and those mutated smiley faces decorate all kinds of vintage denim and even swimming shorts, perfect for the hottest of hot girl summers. CPFM’s signature text embellishments permeate the designs in a way that is perfectly satiating, the exact right amount of cactusness that we wish we got our hands on at the time.