Even some of the most hardcore fashion fans hadn’t heard of Luke Meier before last week, when it was announced that he and his wife Lucie Meier would become the new creative directors of Jil Sander. Up until that big reveal, Luke had long been considered an underground influencer, having spent eight years as the designer of Supreme, where he was essential in establishing the aesthetic and iconography that remain synonymous with the cult streetwear brand today.
He left Supreme in 2014 to launch his own label, Over All Master Cloth a.k.a. OAMC, which he describes as a “new luxury for men.” For Meier, that translates to sourcing premium European fabrics for high quality collections that still capture what’s happening in the streets in real time. Luke will continue to grow OAMC while diving into his new role at Jil Sander, where he will collaborate with his wife Lucie, who boasts an impressive resume of her own including previous stints designing for Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, and Dior. They will each bring their unique strengths and perspectives to the German brand, and will unveil their debut Resort collection in June.
Here, we caught up with Luke to discuss the future of Jil Sander, OAMC, what he learned from Supreme, and much more:
You were creative director at Supreme for a long time, what did you take away from that experience?
“I was always interested in fashion and Supreme on a sociological level. I find the power of culture to move product fascinating. I was at the brand during a period when design was about music and that was very evident in the clothes. It wasn’t about making a beautiful jacket because you wanted beautiful jacket. It was about thinking how to make clothes that reflected the times. In that way, Supreme stemmed out of New York’s downtown world. It had nothing to do with a fashion calendar. More than anything else, the biggest takeaway was making what you think is relevant and interesting. That’s when you can feel real authenticity in clothes. After that, the business kind of takes care of itself. Supreme is much bigger and a different animal now, but to a certain degree it still sticks to that same strategy. I think it operates in a cool zone because it’s not on anyone else’s clock.”
In many ways you’re responsible for the brand’s cult streetwear status.
“Again, that stems from what was happening in New York at that time. From the early to mid-nineties up until the early 2000’s, Supreme was very small. The timing of the Internet and social media changed everything, but before all of that, you had to be on the ground to see what was happening. The off-calendar approach and aesthetic naturally came out of that.”
Coming from that background, what made you decide to move to Europe and start OAMC?
When you’re working on creating products, you start to get more and more interested in the manufacturing process. That inevitable progression leads you to European fabric. In the early days of Supreme, we would use all kinds of European and Japanese fabrics so I started to ask the questions—where, how, and why is fabric different? A lot of the time, Europe puts product first and then tries to understand the cultural motivation behind it second. When I moved over, the idea was to do something from my own, very non-European perspective on a quality and luxury level that’s only possible here [in Europe].”
Do you find it difficult working within the constraints of the fashion calendar?
“A little bit, but I understand it and I think there’s a rhythm to it that can be beneficial to the way you think about a project. It’s about setting up your company in a way that can satisfy the needs of the calendar. That means planning what you want to achieve in the the next three years, rather than having three months to make a collection and scrambling to come up with a new concept every time. I think you’re in a tough spot when you don’t have a real goal or point of view. For me it’s been fine. I guess I’m quite good at scheduling things and managing a lot of moving parts.”
What’s your long-term vision for OAMC?
“On the practical side, OAMC is getting better, and more doors are opening for us as a brand. I’m worrying less about whether we can execute certain things and focused more on making those things actually happen. As far as goals, my top one is to open up a universe for people to really see what we’re working on. It’s difficult to explain the brand in 360-degree totality because we don’t have a retail store or a place online that shows the entire collection. Even if we did, an online platform wouldn’t do it enough justice. You really have to see the collections in person. The medium-term goal is to have an environment where we can represent a full collection. The long-term goal is to create a whole OAMC universe.”
Social media and e-commerce are having a palpable effect on the way designers work. Do you feel a sense of urgency or pressure from that?
“I understand it, but I don’t care about it, to be honest. No matter what’s going on around you as a designer, each collection needs to be beautiful. If somebody says a piece doesn’t look great on their iPhone screen, it doesn’t matter to me. That being said, I think there’s a question of how collections are presented online. You have to make sure each look is styled and photographed in the right way. There are ways you can communicate with photography that make a collection look alive, as opposed to making it look flat and dead. In a way, it’s up to the medium to get better rather than the onus being on designers to create something sparkly and shiny to make photo opportunities work.”
A lot of buzz around OAMC classifies the label as ‘luxury streetwear.’ Would you agree with that description?
“People try to figure things out in a very simple way—they love to throw around terminology. I consider OAMC new luxury for men. That’s the goal in my head. I think the term ‘streetwear’ is a loaded one these days. It’s changed from the initial idea behind it. I don’t really know what it means now. If you think about fashion in general, it’s always looking at the streets. Does streetwear mean a sweatshirt? Does it mean a certain kind of sneaker? It’s a little bit ambiguous at this point, and I think the term belittles the talent of the people that started the actual streetwear movement. If you look back at what someone like Sean Stussy was doing in the 1980s, that was extremely creative. It’s almost more creative than some of the high fashion that’s happening right now. As far as OAMC is concerned, I don’t care what people say or what they call it. I just want them to look at what we’re making.”
You and Lucie come from very different design backgrounds. How do you intend to collaborate and interpret Jil Sander’s legacy?
“Both of us have been really influenced by Jil’s work for a long time. I think we share a similar vision about what good design is and what makes a good reference point. We’ve been together for over 15 years and share a long dialogue about aesthetics in general. As far as the synergy of opinion and our direction with Jil Sander, it’s very straightforward and very clear to both of us. Some of the references or ideas I bring will be a little different from Lucie’s, but I think that’s where the interesting gray area lies. I’m actually very excited for that part of this role. Whenever you work for another brand, there’s always a DNA and a pre-existing language for you to incorporate intelligently into what you’re doing too. Jil Sander already has a point of view and it’s our job to interpret it.”
From your side, how do you intend to transpose your personal perspective into the brand?
“I always approach my work with my own personal taste in mind. In that way, I don’t ever fully separate myself from the customer. I don’t think about what that person over there might like versus what I think looks good. At Jil Sander we’re working on the men’s and women’s collections simultaneously, so I think it’s going to be autobiographical to a certain extent. There’s the brand DNA to consider, too, but my main strategy is to think about what I like and what I know Lucie really likes. That will be the true litmus test for all of the collections that we put out.”
Your first collection will be shown in June for Resort 2018. Why did you opt not to show in September?
“We have a concrete idea of what we want the first collection to look like, so it’s important that we have enough time to get it ready comfortably. September felt like perfect time to take our ideas public.”
Scroll through for an exclusive glimpse backstage at OAMC’s Spring 2017 show, styled by Francesca Cefis and photographed by Bruna Kazinoti.END
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createdAt:Fri, 14 Apr 2017 20:07:55 +0000