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BORN SINNER BY ST-DIé

Born Sinner by St-Dié
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BORN SINNER BY ST-DIé



Written by Dan Haze
30 Monday 30th April 2018

Montreal-based brand St-Dié channels youthful disaffection—in their words, “misunderstood youth carried through adulthood”. Their first collection used graphic doodles, ranging from original children’s drawings to humorous depictions of banana homicide. They’ve also released numerous short and intriguing fashion films, Further developing their angsty teen narrative. Their work was featured on Highsnobiety as ''10 upcoming brands to check out from Streetwear: Mastered''

Two years on from their debut collection, the brand's core is about the flourishing of the marginal humankind, presenting an alienated vision of the youth through a jumble of storytelling ideas. We caught up with the brands creative lead Didié to talk inspiration, the fashion industry and what he learned from Virgil Abloh.

 

 

How did you get into fashion?

To be honest, I gotta say this whole project was so spontaneous. I was starting to attend pop-ups and fashion related events when I started college which made me develop some kind of interest for this lifestyle/universe. I scribbled down ideas to maybe eventually start my own brand but it was nothing serious at first. I wasn't totally satisfied with the ideas I had and they seemed out of reach.

Then I found an old drawing I did for my grandma when I was 4 and had the idea of making a long sleeved shirt with these characters printed on it, with the actual signature of my grandma "Sept 00" for September 2000. That was my 1st piece, the Grandma Tee. I noticed that it generated a way bigger enthusiasm than I expected. There was a cool shop in Montreal that wanted to sell the Grandma Tee even though it was my 1st piece, my page had like 100 followers! Considering this I started to take the project more seriously. I was studying social sciences in college at that moment and I genuinely hated it. I actually didn’t know what I wanted to do in life so I guess it was a good timing! I still managed to finish the program while working on St-Dié, then I took an online course called Streetwear: Mastered before going to university. I got accepted into the fashion management and design program at “École Supérieure de mode”  but only lasted a year there. It was driving me crazy, so here I am, crazy but with a lot of ideas.

It actually helped me to understand more about myself and about St-Dié. I noticed that I don’t really like this industry. It’s one of the reasons why it's hard for me to consider St-Dié as a clothing brand right now but more as a jumble of storytelling ideas.

 

Whats your favourite part about designing?

I don’t consider myself as a designer but more as a creative director. I know it’s a catch-all term since nowadays everyone labels themselves as creative director, but I’m 100% assuming the title.

I truly believe my clothes are mad simple, they're nothing like genius ideas. Where I think I differ is in the way I see and interpret all the aspects of the brand. I try to present conceptual projects that are communicated by diverse mediums. I see the brand as a whole. The photoshoots, short clips, the clothes, the collages, they are all different type of visual languages that are related to one vision. I try to connect the dots as much as possible to make sure that everything contributes to that idea/vision. I don't see the photoshoots, videos or collages as promotional visuals for the clothes but as part of the product itself.

Being a one man army generates some huge challenges, but it gave me the opportunity to acquire more than one string in my bow. I think my favourite part was to conceptualize all the stories I’m trying to tell, but also to be able to grow as a creative, a professional and a human being. I started as someone who had never even thought of becoming a creative. Now I make clothes, I do photography, I shoot and edit videos, I design graphics, I’m a DJ and I also got into music production recently! Talent shouldn’t stop anybody from creating. Put it on my grave.

 

What is the inspiration behind this collection?

Born Sinner is a conceptual project aiming to reach any individual experiencing difficulties into accepting pre-chewed ideas. Naturally, the project has a rebellious feel, talking about reconsideration of established ways of thinking and truth-seeking. It’s basically a tale about a social misfit but especially about the inner struggle that some of us may experience. The conflict between the idea of assuming its marginality but to endorse its consequences, in counterparty.

In fact, it’s not even about religion, even though the title may seem confusing. It’s mostly a kind of metaphor, where the sinner is to religion what the misfit is to numerous burdens inflicted by society. We could say it’s a slap to the society we live in, but not in a denunciation perspective. I’m really trying to show both sides of the story. Deep down, we all know what are the main loopholes of this society, what are its weakness. Witnessing them is pretty easy.

The hard part is to really face it. To take another path than the one that’s pre-established has a price and it’s pretty expensive. The easy way would be to conform ourselves to the mold created by the world in which we live in. You know, the perfect family with the heterosexual parents, living in their picturesque suburban dwelling, watching TV every night after their 9 to 5 work shift, following their paved path while taking part of their daily small talk sessions. I’m being very caricatural here, I’m not trying to throw shade at anybody but you get the image. In a nutshell, I’m trying to portray a society carried by fears.

BUT I’m proving them right, in a certain way, on how legitimate and justifiable it is to be terrified by the thought of not following the guidelines that we’re inflicted. Although, I’m trying to show it in such a genuine way that it may seem like it’s worth it. Because it is.


What was it like being mentored by Virgil?

I was taking part of this course called Streetwear: Mastered, hosted by Highsnobiety. Basically it’s an online class aiming to bring your brand to a new level. The teachers were all professionals from the fashion industry, but also press and media workers. Virgil was one of them.

Halfway through the course I received an email saying that I was invited in NYC to shoot a masterclass about brand messaging, which was the next week’s topic. At first I wasn’t even excited about it because I didn’t believe it. I was like “hey I’m broke, I won’t be able to make it to NYC next weekend but thanks”. Then the guy from Mastered called me on my phone. He said “You don’t understand, Virgil personally selected you, we’re paying for everything. Are you in or not?”

I was literally running back and forth in my place while talking on the phone. So I got there, did the masterclass which consisted of 1,5 hour of him mentoring me while being filmed to give example to the other classmates. It was really intimate, really “DIY”. We shot this in one of the camera guy’s living room in Brooklyn. Virgil really took time to look at my ideas, my previous and future projects. He was really interested, which made me feel comfortable since I was so intimidated at first.

This guy is on another level. After like 20 minutes of knowing me and my brand he understood things I didn’t even understand myself. He gave me so many important tips and knowledge, I couldn’t be more grateful for this opportunity. He loved my vision but thought I didn’t use my full potential. The most important thing he told me was to have like 10 different projects at the same time. I earned so much from this course and especially from this mentorship that I didn’t even have time to set everything I learned in motion yet.

 

What do you think he will bring to Louis Vuitton?

I think it was a really good move from Louis Vuitton’s team to select him as their new menswear creative director. I know a lot of people disagree with this because they don’t like Off White, which is a judgment call in my opinion. Because like it or not, Virgil has been one of the most powerful/influential man in the industry for the past years and right now he is more than ever. I mean, the man has a vision. He’s everywhere doing everything. People have to dissociate the person and his brand. Virgil with Louis Vuitton won’t be the Virgil we know from Off White.

LV already did the Supreme collaboration last year which made a lot of noise. Considering the actual enthusiasm around streetwear, especially in the high fashion world, choosing Virgil was a no brainer since Off White’s core idea was to merge both the streetwear and high fashion universe in one brand. Even though my point of view may seem biased considering my admiration for his work, I’m objectively sure he’ll bring an energizing turn to the notable label that is Louis Vuitton and make a huge impact on the future of high fashion. He’ll be able to surprise us.

 

Who do you look toward for inspiration?

I would say that the guys from Atelier New Regime have been a big inspiration to me at the very beginning of St-Dié. ANR is a Montreal based brand. They’re probably the most popular brand here with Dime at the moment. They inspired me a lot because they’re the ones who triggered me to start a brand.

Earlier in this interview I was talking about how I got into fashion by attending pop-ups and fashion related events, well they’re the ones I was talking about. I remember my 1st pop-up experience, they installed some NEW REGIME branded low rider cars with hydraulics and a guy was rapping on its top. They paid so much attention to details in an era where pop-ups weren’t a thing already. They were doing things differently. I told myself hey, I like this lifestyle! Ended up doing my own thing. I still see them as a big inspiration for their work ethics and outstanding hustle.

However, nowadays I try to find inspiration into universes that are not directly fashion related. Music, animes and cinema have been my main source of inspiration recently.


Who are your favourite designers right now?

I honestly don’t pay that much attention to what’s popping out there. I don’t particularly care about it. Of course I can appreciate good ideas and good work and I really mean it. I know that there are so many talented designers out there with a crazy sense of style and innovative ideas, I just don’t pay attention to it. The fact that I don’t see myself as a fashion brand and especially not as a designer doesn’t help too I guess. However, I have to say that Christopher Bailey killed it during his last fashion show with Burberry, last february. I sincerely didn’t even know they were still doing relevant stuff. (sorry for my lack of knowledge and interest but hey what can I say I’m just being honest).

I think he and his team managed to give a very refreshing twist to the brand. They stayed consistent and coherent by preserving Burberry’s essence but also they surprised everyone with a progressive and interesting renewal, without going overboard. They found a strong balance between these two poles and that’s why I liked the runway. It’s too bad it was his last year with Burberry since it was the first time they picked my attention but I’m sure Riccardo Tisci will be able to do something interesting with it.

 

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