Fashion

EXCLUSIVE : BYRONESQUE TALKS CANDIDLY TO ROUGH.

03/06/13
Cuba Charles

 

 
BYRONESQUE prides itself on being the first online e-commerce who combines editorial solely dedicated to high standard original vintage. A  mission Byronesque is on to revolutionise the vintage culture. For Byronesque, it's time to quilt the fakes and the world of fast fashion. Byronesque.com gives you a feel of authencity of designs that pushes ones imagination and thoughts to true style and creativity hence this interview...
As a way of introduction, can you tell the ROUGH readers what BYRONESQUE is all about and how it started? 
Byronesque is a combined editorial and e-commerce website that treats designer vintage fashion with the same progressive creativity as contemporary fashion magazines and boutiques. Although we are a site dedicated to vintage fashion, we consider ourselves to be in the contemporary fashion business It came from a personal frustration about the banality and homogeneity of fashion and how ‘vintage’ has become an abused marketing buzzword misappropriated by faux-vintage brands, thrift stores and resale boutiques.
Despite its growing popularity, the vintage fashion industry is out dated and difficult. Vintage stores are scattered around the world and poorly merchandised, on and offline, and the experience is an unsophisticated, and uninspiring rummage, marketed around clichéd retro imagery. For a sophisticated online fashion shopper, the ‘you never know what you might find’ associated with buying vintage is a frustrating and unrewarding experience.

We provide a discreet and carefully edited selection of authentic vintage apparel and accessories from retailers and private showrooms around the world, that consumers, stylists and designers, who rely on vintage fashion for inspiration, would otherwise not have easy access to.

Ultimately, we exist to challenge fashion and popular culture mediocrity and push people’s imaginations, so we don’t all look the same without adding more waste to the planet. Our editorial pays intellectual homage to the lives and minds of the most important people in fashion history, and the vintage we sell is edited from a growing network of the best vintage stores and private showrooms from around the world.

Right now the dominant culture is ‘fast’ and I wanted to slow it down and create something better, something polarizing.

Fortunately so did our creative director, Justin Westover, and so here we are.

 
What is your sense on fashion in the 21st or 22nd century? Do you think it's getting better as time goes on or it's just getting way too commercial?
There aren’t any subcultures anymore. It’s easy for people to dismiss fashion as being frivolous and superficial (frankly most of it is) but when you look back at some of the most seminal subcultures in history, how people dressed played an important role in shaping identity, attitudes and beliefs. You only have to look at teddy girls, mods, punks, skinheads and new romantics etc. They all had a point of view and you were either with them or against them. It created diverse groups that creatively inspired each other – it’s how subcultures morph, bifurcate and grow.

But fashion has become so driven by ‘corporate profit first’, that it’s hard to be really inspired anymore.

We just launched “Out of Hand”, a campaign about the current state of the fashion industry that features thought-provoking quotes by some of our cultural heroes.

• “It’s getting out of hand”- Ian Curtis
• “Buy less, choose well”- Vivienne Westwood
• “Your future dream is a shopping scheme”- Johnny Rotten
• “I never think that people die, they just go to department stores” – Andy Warhol

Of course, Curtis wasn’t originally speaking about the fashion industry— it’s from his 1979 song ‘Disorder.’ But placed in the context of Fashion Week, the complete line from the song, ‘It’s getting faster, moving faster now, it’s getting out of hand,’ perfectly describes our point of view as a vintage retailer that promotes authenticity and originality over the mass market consumerism and ‘fast fashion’ that dominates the industry.

Designers are under pressure to create too many collections each year, only to be copied in mass quantities by the high street. The pillaging of vintage archive looks and designers' ideas has become the accepted order of business, when we should take inspiration from the people who did things better the first time around and create something authentically new. Instead, we're going around in fast creative circles rather than making progress.

Fashion week should be a privilege. Only for the most creative, inspired minds. Who push our imaginations and challenge today's overly commercial fashion mediocrity. We created #OUTOFHAND for the fashion troublemaker’s.

The campaign runs from New York fashion week to Paris fashion week.
https://www.byronesque.com/editorial/number-outofhand-fall-fashionweeks-2013#1


 'The Back Room' service on Byronesque is exclusively for which kind of designers. And are there any criteria put in place to advocate who qualifies? 


“The Back Room” is a paid for subscription for fashion designers. Our initial research told us that very creative, avant-garde fashion designers, and stylists, who don’t follow trends, are massively underserved online.

The best vintage stores and showrooms have a ‘back room’ where they keep their really special pieces. Often these items aren’t for sale but are an important source of knowledge and inspiration for designers.  A subscription to ‘The Back Room’ gives designers unique access to inspirational vintage and editorial content, without having to invest significant amounts of time and money on research and travel.  

As a subscriber to ‘The Back Room’, designers get:
- First refusal on all new items and private sales before anyone else
- Rentals on special and rare items
- A dedicated collection of inspiration pieces for designers only
- Exclusive design specific inspirational editorial content
- A growing archive of beautifully photographed vintage items
- A service sourcing items from our growing network of global retailers based on a specific design brief

We’re not driven by trends—that b2b market is very well catered to and Byronesque is a complementary service not a replacement to that market.

The difference is that while most trend sites report and forecast mainstream trends our editorial and product inspiration is based on hidden or forgotten subcultures told in a very contemporary way and designed to engage design teams, not the marketing or sales departments. They have very different needs.

Our writers and the people we feature on the site did things better the first time around. If we haven’t been inspired or surprised by a story or item then we won’t run it or sell it. We’re not concerned with reporting what every else can see, we’re a creative solution and our priority is to inject creativity back in to the fashion industry by supporting real designers.

It’s my hope that we will provide directional designers and stylists with the inspiration and tools to be the next fashion troublemakers, because without them the fast guys will win.

We don’t knowingly sell Back Room subscriptions to fast-fashion brands.


In this day and age it is really hard to come by quality fashion statement pieces that is not mass produced, so where does Byronesque find these vintage gems to sell. 

We partner with vintage retailers and showrooms around the world that share our sense of style, that only deal in authentic, 20 years or older vintage and who have unrivaled access to private vintage sales and auctions. We’re tapped into a pretty impressive network of vintage experts— it’s what inspired our personal shopper service.  If you’re looking for something in particular, or an item isn’t your size or has already sold, we’ll do our best to find a similar item. Obviously everything we sell has it’s own unique story, so we can never find the exact same item, but that’s why we wear vintage.


 Is fast fashion something the masses have been brainwashed to adhere to? What is your take on that? 

We live in a culture of fakes and fast fashion that is dominated by big business and mediocrity at the expense of quality and creativity.

We’ve been conditioned to expect things faster and cheaper and it’s spiraling out of control. If you can buy a complete outfit for £5.00, someone somewhere is getting royally fucked.

Not only is it morally wrong its killing creativity and the planet.

When was the last time you had that moment when you knew you had witnessed something important in fashion history that is ‘future vintage’?

I’m going to come out and say that democracy isn’t good for the fashion industry, on many levels.

To that end, we launched Byronesque with a fashion film called “The Common Herd”, inspired by the imposed herd mentality of George Orwell’s “1984,’ and the 19th century poet, Jens Peter Jacobsen who wrote about a “company of melancholiacs,” “a secret confraternity…who by natural constitution have been given a different nature and disposition than the others…that wish and demand more…than that of the common herd.”  

The film, directed by Simon Burrill and featuring an original track written for us by New York band, The Black Soft, depicts clones in blue overalls, similar to those worn in Orwell’s “1984”, and wearing red masks to emphasize the anonymity of contemporary culture.  

‘90s super model Eve Salvail literally tears the herd a new one, while wearing authentic designer vintage that is available to buy exclusively on Byronesque.com.

https://www.byronesque.com/editorial/the-common-herd-featuring-eve-salvailmusic-by-the-black-soft#1


What is your definition of a quality vintage piece. And what do you look out for when presented with one? 

Authentic vintage is 20 years or older—we’re establishing the first global standard for authentic vintage fashion that is defined by the design quality, craftsmanship, provenance and heritage of a piece. The designers and designs we carry have had a significant impact in fashion history.

There’s a misnomer in the industry that ‘just because it’s old, it’s good’ which isn’t true and it’s why people often look like they’ve stepped off the set of a period drama. Other than the obvious quality standards, we look for items that aren’t easy to date and can easily be worn with contemporary designs—we provide style notes for every item we sell.

Our head of merchandise, Renee Bejil, who is also the owner of The New World Order and who closed his store to sell exclusively through us, has been working with design teams for years and has a brilliant imagination for how designers could be inspired by something that our customers might not wear now but could be next year.


How fast do you see Byronesque as an e-commerce site grow as the years go by and what does hold in store? 

The response from retailers has been really positive and we’re adding more partners than we first anticipated we would this early on. As we expand our inventory, we’ll be adding a broader priced range of items as well as rare used fashion and culture books. We’re also about to start offering rentals to designers and stylists of special pieces that our retailers don’t want to part with as well as ‘Future Vintage’, a selection of rare archive pieces that aren’t quite 20 years old, but important enough to collect now.

‘The Back Room’ is personally important to me and I’m excited to launch it this year, and you can expect our editorial content to grow in line with our e-commerce business.  

It is afterall the future of fashion.


 

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