Fashion that makes art more accessible

by Danielle Demetriou

Special To The Japan Times

It is a sartorial surprise of the most poetic variety. Robert Montgomery — artist, writer, fashion collaborator — turns around, slips off his coat and flips up the collar of his crisp white shirt.

And there, along the outer neckline, the words of a poem shift into focus, each letter neatly stitched in black thread: “The people you love become ghosts inside of you and like this you keep them alive.”

The shirt is a typical piece among the creations of Each x Other, a new Paris-based label launched this month in Japan that celebrates the blurring of cultural boundaries between art and fashion.

The brainchild of designer Ilan Delouis and curator Jenny Mannerheim, the formula is as clean and simple as it is innovative: Every season, a basic capsule collection is created by the core Each x Other design team in monochrome unisex black and white.

Based on this, around half a dozen different artists are then selected to create an artwork that inspires their own capsule collection, fusing high quality European craftsmanship with imaginative art concepts.

The end result is eclectic but consistently grounded by the foundation of the core collection — from a monochrome jacket with splashes of scarlet paint as inspired by an abstract painting, to striped sweatpants echoing the lines of a minimalist etching.

Montgomery, a Scottish artist based in London who is renowned for his “poetry billboards” around the world — nocturnal escapades during which he emblazons billboards with his poems — has been involved since the label launched in Europe last year.

It was, in fact, one of his poems, which concludes with the words “in the fire of each,” that inspired the name of the label. And his poems are stitched inside all of his clothes in the collection.

Speaking at the launch of the autumn-winter 2013 collection in Tokyo, displayed alongside the artwork that inspired the fashion, Montgomery told the Japan Times: “We are using fashion as a publishing medium.

“There are canvasses, there are billboards and then there are clothes. Fashion in this case is the vehicle for the work.

“I like the democracy of it. Not everyone can afford €30,000 (¥3.8 million) to buy a sculpture. But they can probably afford to buy a T-shirt with a poem.”

Other contributing artists include Thomas Lélu, whose dripping slogan paintings with phrases such as “I’M A MAN” and “WE ARE PROTEST” are emblazoned across T-shirts alongside khaki patchwork double-breasted coats and two-tone skinny trousers.

The abstract scarlet and monochrome paintings of Daniele Innamorato, the Italian artist, have inspired paint-splashed leather jackets and silk-screened sweatshirts reflecting his chaotically creative motifs.

With its soundbite slogans, raw-edged fabrics and monochrome androgyny, the entire collection — which retails from around €250 (¥31,000) for a pair of jeans to €2,000 (¥248,500) for a handcrafted artist inspired leather jacket — taps into an aesthetic of imperfect beauty.

Describing Each x Other, which will be sold in Estnation, Barneys New York and Isetan, Delouis, cofounder and creative director, explains: “This is a new luxury brand but it is also a platform for artists and creative people. Each piece of clothing is a work of art in itself.

“We wanted to launch the label in Japan because fashion here is so conceptual. It often tells a story. And we thought our androgynous style would also appeal here.”

Cofounder Mannerheim adds: “It’s pretty new to see a painting in dialogue with a jacket. We are not asking artists to literally design the clothes themselves. Instead, we work with them to pay homage to their artworks with designs they have inspired.”