It seems fashion design, in Lee’s opinion, should work like an elusive dress code in the world’s most notorious club: it’s not as blatant as just dressing in black. Functionality, portability, and texture are what signals affiliation with nightlife, rather than obvious aesthetic cues. “You can integrate [a reference] in a collection and some people will feel the same as you, like they’ve been there as well, but it shouldn’t be on your face, ”he explains. The dangers of fashionable fashion plagiarism, especially when it comes to cooperating with rave culture, is that clothing becomes a highly aestheticized and superficial affiliation, separate from themes of community and empowerment. sound on which the medium was originally founded.
This, according to Lee, demonstrates the dichotomy between responsible and irresponsible design. “Firstly [direct referencing] is a completely unnecessary practice during development and an irresponsible design, but it is also the exploitation of a certain subculture, ”he said, continuing,“ For [the subculture], it’s authentic. They feel that at that moment and they dress in a way that is their own. To make it a mega-trending or super popular bestseller, you kill this cool. People won’t want to dress this way anymore because you, as a brand, have already killed it; you take authenticity out of its original context. And, for me, it’s a very uncomfortable thing to do.
Club culture, despite what the parade trends will lead the masses to believe, is not a costume. It is a living, breathing and changing system of political beliefs and social behaviors that also happens to be represented by a dress code. By protecting the aesthetic parameters of a subculture from appropriation through his personal practice, Lee, whether he admits it or not, betrays his own allegiance.
Right now, Lee is considering virtual fashion shows. Our interview takes place during the last weeks of the confinement of Berlin, and the fate of its industry is still unpredictable. But given the steady increase in e-commerce, along with the waste of foam, plastic and carbon boards that involve editors in town for a twenty minute track presentation, along with rumors of ‘a second wave of COVID-19, a shift to online is certainly the most viable option. Plus, it’s much easier for a buyer to take a screenshot in a desktop folder than it is to scroll through an iPhone video, he adds. For clubbing, however, “you can never get it back if you don’t experience it in person and really immerse yourself in it,” he observes. “I don’t know how the future will be. But I think nightlife is irreplaceable.
Whitney Wei is the editor-in-chief of Electronic Beats. Follow her on Instagram here.