Conceptual art is hitting the runway with designers dreaming big off of their art history backgrounds like Craig Green. Green’s new mens line features ropes that bind, sculptural headdresses of wood planks that obscure the models faces forcing anonymity, and playful uses of light and dark conceptions that make his creations seem very much like moving contemporary installations blurring the lines between fashion show and art exhibit.
The concept of Berlin based, Front Row Society is so brilliantly simple – Designers create a design for a new fashion product, submit it, people get the opportunity to vote on it, the design that collects the most votes gets produced. We, as the consumer get to have our voice heard, as well as being a integral part of the creation process; a new designer can have the freedom to create without constriction and gain newfound attention for their work.
With this new approach to fashion, Front Row Society has added themselves to the new crop of innovators that are spreading creative democracy across artistic communities worldwide. The sweet spot? They may be based in Berlin, but they do ship internationally.
We caught up with the Founder, Florian Ellsaesser to talk about what Front Row’s got brewing up in Berlin.
First things first, I heard you guy threw a killer bash during Berlin Fashion Week. Tell me about Drop the Needle….I saw some of the video footage – that night looked fantastic.
That night was amazing. We wanted to host a collaborative night to introduce ourselves to Berlin. Well known Berlin creatives came and each played a 20 minutes DJ set, so we had creative directors, artists, bloggers, stylists, journalists come and DJ the night. It made it super dynamic and really fun! We had a painting station where everyone was painting on our plain canvas bags, so it was super interactive and collaborative, like our brand. It was a packed house too, which was awesome!
Wanna, see what went down? We’ve got video from the Drop The Needle party here.
What’s the fashion climate like in Berlin right now? And what place to you see Front Row having in it?
There is a lot of inspiration in the city and it attracts an incredible amount of creative talent. The city is still reasonably priced, although this seems to be changing. Berlin is really a fantastic place to be! I think Front Row Society could not be there without the city. We are a colorful bunch of people from very different backgrounds and we all come from different countries, the USA, Canada, Portugal, Italy, the UK and France and Berlin – that’s me J. The City inspires us every day. I don’t think Front Row Society would have been possible anywhere else.
Berlin attracts a lot of artists. If you make a fresh start one of the main challenges is to establish a distribution and to produce the right quality and according to good labor standards. This is where Front Row comes in. The idea is that any artist can be in the Front Row. You can submit your artwork to our online design challenges, and the community will decide what will go into production.
We then pay the artists a share of the revenue or they can choose a lump sum. Hopefully, we will be able to produce more and more artworks over time. The challenge is that there are so many great designs, and that we can currently not produce all of them. Eventually, as the word about Front Row spreads, we want to be able to produce all of them. We really want to move towards a collaborative community, rather than contests, and this requires that all great designs win. We also promote the winning artists with a video and our “I created this” hang-tag, which tells the story of the artwork and the artist behind it.
I know what I have my eye on…but what are some of your favourite products from Front Row?
I love the “Berlin Impressions” handbag. It was the first handbag we produced. The Artist is Rebekah Ginda, who came from the USA a couple of years ago and lives in Germany now. Rebekah visited Berlin and hand drew her experience of the city afterwards. I love to look at the drawing and to discovery Berlin in a fresh way. I also love the “Elusive dream” scarf, from Stefano Popovski. Stefano is an artist from Bulgaria and living in Spain who has developed his techniques for many years. “Elusive Dream” is a very elaborate artwork that represents Stefano’s signature – fractal art. I think it took him more than a week to convert the vector graphics, into a design that could be printed. The artwork is very intricate and each time I look I have the feeling that I am discovering something new about it. I also like the N E O N clutch by INES Feirerra a lot. It reminds me of the electronics music scene and clubs in Berlin, which I am a great fan of.
What I love , is that for every product sold, 1 euro goes to support the Ethical Fashion Forum.
Front Row is community based. Hence we want to give back to the wider community that is involved in fashion. The Ethical Fashion Forum seems to be the ideal partner for that. They step in for a more sustainable fashion industry and better working conditions for people employed in the fashion industry. They support young designers, but they also run special projects in the countries where fashion is produced. They have for example collaborated with producers in Africa and India to make sure that farmers and factory workers have sustainable livelihoods and that their children can benefit from education which prevents an endless cycle of poverty.
Want a chance at seeing your design realized? Well, the next open submission for FRS is March 1st – 15th, 2012.