A Closer Look: 11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi
A Closer Look: 11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi
- Words Amardeep Singh
- Date March 30, 2016
Browsing the Grailed marketplace for pieces designed by Boris Bidjan Saberi quickly communicates a few notes to the viewer. Firstly, a lot of people on Grailed wear BBS—at the time of this writing, there are 30 different pieces that have been created or bumped up in the past 24 hours. Secondly, BBS has a prolific output—no two pieces on the first few pages are the same. The German-born, Barcelona-based Saberi isn’t defined by any single piece, as are many of his contemporaries. Instead, his overall style of design has landed his brand comfortably in a realm of fashion co-inhabited by such esteemed designers as Carol Christian Poell, Rick Owens and Ann Demeulemeester.
Upon learning that both of Saberi’s parents were involved in fashion industry when he was younger, it becomes less surprising that his designs and techniques are as unconventional as they are. Studying fashion design in Barcelona, Saberi created his first label ‘U Can Fuck W’ during his first year at university. Primarily an accessories line focused on applications with metals and leather, Saberi would later go on to start his eponymous label in 2008. In the years since, Saberi has established BBS as a black-heavy collection focusing on the use of high quality, natural materials and artisanal construction. He also emphasizes the use of complex dyes and fabric treatments to create particularly unique pieces of clothing.
While the BBS main line appears to be Saberi’s primary focus, in 2013 he launched the streetwear-leaning “diffusion line” 11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi. Viewing the two collections side by side, it’s apparent that 11 appeals to a wider target demographic than the main line, and deliberately so. “It works for a younger audience, and even for the mainline BBS consumer it's great for more casual wear. The technical garments in particular really appeal to everyone in the sense that you can have a very effective raincoat or winter parka, or backpack for that matter, and still look good,” the BBS NYC team told us. In the same way that BBS can be viewed as a high fashion, form-bending line that’s akin to Rick Owens and CCP, 11 can be summarized as a high-end, technical streetwear label more in line with a brand like White Mountaineering. 11 however is much more monochromatic and has much higher visibility, both metaphorically and literally thanks to 11’s generous use of 3M reflective accents and detailing.
11 stands out from its peers though and doesn’t quite fit any of the existing sub-genres of menswear that you’d try to place it into. The closest would probably be somewhere near what’s known as “tech ninja” or “goth ninja” in internet nomenclature. The former places 11 alongside brands like Acronym and Arcteryx Veilance and the latter alongside brands like Julius and even BBS mainline. Neither of these categories acknowledges 11’s high level of continuous experimentation though, and ignores the fact that the label has a more conceptual narrative than most “tech ninja” brands, and a more streetwear feel than many “goth ninja” lines.
The 11 line finally has a New York home in what feels more like a speakeasy than a shop, just a couple doors down from the mainline BBS store. A large, appropriately black and white 1,500 square meter basement houses pieces from the latest Spring/Summer 2016 collection, as well as select pieces from older collections. The artful balance between the interior design and the clothing design is easily noticeable. The space “was designed with the thought of repurposing industrial elements, to create a futuristic yet minimal design that complements the technical and graphic nature of the clothing,” according to the BBS team. “We worked as a team to integrate the utilitarian elements of the existing space, highlighting them to the point where they become part of the design and aesthetic.” Currently unfinished, yet open for business, the space should be fully complete and more overtly open later this year.