Namesake. Collection Autumn & Winter 2023/2024 Silk Road.
Confronting and solving problems is a painful process which most of us attempt to avoid, yet through this process of endurance, tenacity is born.
Via crackling WiFi connection, NAMESAKEs Creative Director Steve Hsieh reflects on the horrors he endured at a fraudulent Buddhist camp at the tender age of seven, whereby a cohort of youth under-went abuse and labor with cries for help only to echo off the gates of injustice. We can only understand happiness when theres grief, we can only find peace when weve been through the waves, Hsieh mutters. These mental and physical scars are hurdles to overcome, hurdles he's ridden over with his brothers by uncovering traumas. These personal anecdotes set the foundation for NAMESAKEs AW23 collection.
With each jump of a hurdle, the discipline of equestrianism comes to mind as a metaphor for lifes journey. Horse riding is one of the oldest forms of commuting. In the Han dynasty, horses became associated with the dragon and were assigned supernatural qualities such as the ability to fly. In poems and relics, the horse continues to represent peace, victory, and in the Hsieh family: tenacity.
As riders in life, we think we are in control; however, our unexplored fate and future are actually dependent on where the horse decides to take us. Hsieh continues, our ability to stay on the horse depends on how we adapt to the journey through awareness and mindfulness, all while carrying the baggage and treasures that life has dealt us along the way.
Riding their life journey through sports, the Hsieh brothers recalled developing this mentality through the ethics of basketball. Flicking a ball through the net may seem easy, but the game surrounding this action stems from teamwork, training, and self-discovery. These qualities champion NAMESAKEs AW23 collection, where tales from Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant run through the ebbs and flows of garments.
Pulling from the fringes of literature, art and film, the lessons learnt in companionship via Stuart:
A Life Backwards is meddled with the meaningful choices seen in Jared Leto-fronted sci-fi film Mr. Nobody or the struggles of ambition in 1994 sporting-doc Hoop Dreams. The balance of opposites continues to be a recurring theme in NAMESAKEs design language. Like Philadelphias Fletcher Street Urban horse riding v.s. polo horse riding, the Hsieh brothers are also outsiders of the Fashion Week landscape, underdogs with qualities of patience and diligence, reflecting on the meaning of fate v.s. destiny.
The layering for the cooler season embodies the coating of life lessons. The exploration in washed techniques are synonymous with the unfamiliar territories weve all trailed past. The extended and improved accessories collection; a nod to the seeds left along the road for others to arrive at their own meaning of tenacity.
These narratives are seeped into various techniques: from micro-knifing leather, hand-painted leather, multi-layered cracked leather, debossed herringbone leather, glitched laser effects, and washed acetate textiles. Experimented on Y2K Ura-Harajuku souvenir jackets and LA Lakers NBA championship leather jackets, these canvases tell tales of those who triumphed atop old gymnasium wooden floor panels or fallen from horseback.
Weaving techniques are continuously explored through semi-sheer fabrications that are translated into winter outerwear. Kvadrat upholstery fabrics and special embroidery plaids with wide hues of yarns create vibrant shifting colors. Basket raschel and debossed eco-leather create a new vision for NAMESAKEs horse-riding varsity team. Elsewhere, shirts can be worn as dresses and pants can be worn as tops, driving a new narrative to the context of clothing.
Kobe's Mamba mentality of trusting the process with relentlessness, resiliency, fearlessness, passion, and obsession when adorning the number eight on his back, is used as a cue to redefine NAMESAKEs version of formalwear and Ivy League outfits that their elders loved. Casual garments can still have a formal feel, like basketball heroes can have tormented pasts passes. Hsieh says when reflecting on Kobes own personal struggles. Flexibility is key, if improvement is the goal.
Bright and delightful palettes are emphasized this season to reflect the mirage in life. What seems to be delightful and pleasing often carries a heavy, more somber underlining. Pop soft colors such as Carmine Rose, Angel Falls Light Blue and Roasted Cashew earthy tones combined with gothic-inspired graphics reveal the dark side of the story, the side that remains unknown, private, and personal.
This season, NAMESAKE enters the realms of bags and headwear. Staying true to its DNA, jersey-bags, trophy-esque vanity bags, and Harlem-inspired paneled hats are designed to blend youthful basketball elements with classical details together. Highly-crafted eco-leather handbags and headwear for a multi-generational household are new conversation pieces for the runway.
Kobes Mamba Mentality runs rampant throughout. The runway soundtrack (features the basketball icons farewell speech) is transformed into bespoke headwear crowns crafted by Chilean sculptural artist Alberto Vitelio. Rounding out each look is a new version of the Skater Boot, a hybrid of references that stem from subcultures the Hsieh brothers grew up on.
For the runway installation, NAMESAKE continues its collaboration with Alberto Vitelio whose infatuation with nature and objects transforms the collections theme into rigid notions of beauty; a Trojan Horse reinterpreted into a centerpiece for the runway. The sculpture is part-ornamental, part-modular, and can be restructured into seating.
Led by the sporting spirit and Y2K aesthetic (that birthed the brands unapologetic energy) without forgoing function, NAMESAKEs AW23 collection represents the courage and determination needed for success.
As the saying goes, if life is a journey, then getting through it is half the battle.
Text and Photo: Press Namesake.