Exclusive: Advisory Board Crystals for Grailed
Exclusive: Advisory Board Crystals for Grailed
- Words Lawrence Schlossman
- Date April 11, 2017
Nothing gets us excited at Grailed quite like the opportunity to align with a brand we truly believe in, so you can imagine our excitement when our friend Remington Guest approached us regarding a potential collaboration with the line he runs in conjunction with his girlfriend Heather Haber, Advisory Board Crystals. A modern family operation of sorts, Advisory Board Crystals, or Abc. for short, is the rare brand that combines both unique products with a robust message. Abc.—already stocked at Colette, Union Los Angeles, and Bergdorf Goodman—is on the rise and we relish the opportunity to share their story here. Below is our conversation with Remington that breaks down where Abc. has been and where they are going, culminating with the exclusive debut and sale of our collaborative run of 10 one-of-one tees focusing on the concept of "future grails." We hope you guys love it as much as we do.
Product photography by Jackson Ray.
Editorial photography by Chris Fenimore.
Can you explain a little bit about what exactly Advisory Board Crystals is? With such a laser-focused brand and concept, you sure make a strong first impression on someone just finding out about you guys from something like this exclusive sale on Grailed.
Abc. is many things. It's a project of processes while simultaneously a love story. Its core function is rooted in the conceptual idea of the contemporary iteration of a crystal shop inspired by the needs of the modern human. Really, in a way, Abc. is a study on "je ne sais quoi."
That's true. In the last year, we've had an organic strategy of exclusives that have lead us here. Divine timing is a core theory and phrase for us which actually (finally) pulled Heather and me together and in turn Advisory Board Crystals. It's an incredibly accurate term for this drop.
I think the relationship with between you and Heather is really interesting on both a personal and professional level. Obviously, you guys aren't the first romantic duo to ever become a design duo or vice versa. If you feel comfortable discussing it, can you explain how you guys met, started working together and how your relationship informs Abc.?
It's funny because in a way it feels to us as though we are the first. We met in an Uber pool—again "Divine Timing." We realized rather quickly how many times we had just missed each other. Cities, events, we even lived in Silver Lake at the same time and didn't know it. Heather actually interned at Band of Outsiders on the West coast a few years before I became involved with them. Even the night we met, I got out of the car without getting her information and only happened to run into her again later that night. It's truly hard to explain all of the moments and overlaps, things that take place to this day. It's something that surpasses any tangible possibility of making sense.
We know we were destined to meet and meant to be together. Advisory Board Crystals is rooted in our love story and expands throughout a variety of references Heather and I share. One of the first things we ever did together was me taking Heather to a crystal shop where I bought her a lepidolite. The pieces continue to fall into place allowing for an almost seamless work process. We definitely read each other's minds.
Let's talk about this project—Abc. for Grailed—in particular. Calling anything a "future grail" is quite the lofty endeavor and puts a lot of pressure on the final product, in this case, the capsule of 10 T-shirts you put together, but there was a serious methodology that went into everything here from selecting the blanks used to the specific graphic flips. Can you break down everything that went into the tees that are for sale today?
The terminology "future grail" intrinsically reflects the conceptual nature of this exclusive more than directly stating this product will be an iconic item. It's a literal and figurative play on that idea.
Our approach for this collection relates directly to this question: What does an "Abc. x Grailed" exclusive mean and why? Starting at square one, we looked at what "Grailed" is. To us, it's a marketplace for the most iconic, in demand, and rarest pieces. We utilized a multi-layered approach as it was the only way to achieve the result we were looking for.
We've noticed there's been this upward trend of concert, tour, and band T-shirts in the last few years. We think it's somewhat funny how often someone will be wearing a band shirt wherein they don't even know who the band is and/or have never even listened to them. Additionally, seeing some brands recreate these shirts and sell them at a premium. Our approach to this trend was satirical in a sense. We liked that there was an opportunity to mock the trend, while at the same time, in a way, give in to it.
With the way these shirts are designed, they don't actually represent any of the bands or tours. They're "Abc." We love few things more than the anonymity of Abc. Everyone is familiar with "Abc hardware" or "Abc nails." Maybe even "Abc printing." "Abc" is almost a blank canvas of sorts for names. It means everything and nothing while still representing a foundation of sorts.
In short, we searched for the most "grailed" vintage band or concert T-shirts and recreated them with the acronym "Abc." These shirts do represent certain feelings and ideologies, as they are recreations of specific shirts. Or are they? Maybe in the future, these vintage shirts are the originals.
We were able to truly cement the future vintage concept with the closing of American Apparel. We saw an opportunity—again, "Divine Timing." With all of their stock now converting into deadstock, we decided to use American Apparel tees as the canvas of choice. The mixture of these shirts often being used for concerts, the fact that they are newly deadstock and vintage, and that they all come from Los Angeles resulted in what we feel is the perfect symphony of details. We spent a full weekend driving around to AA stores in Southern California to source the right colors.
As with anything that is truly rare and to us, grailed, you won't find a size run. You're lucky to come across the piece at all. For us, concepts have to make sense. That is why we are only releasing one of each T-shirt. After we selected the shirts, they were finely distressed by us. That doesn't necessarily mean tears and rips but maybe just a slightly stretched out collar. Then they were washed using two processes. After they were printed they were washed again.
Outside of this project, you guys are already stocked at best in class retailers like Union Los Angeles and Colette, and even have an exclusive collection, Abc. Lab, that just launched with Bergdorf Goodman. What's it like running a relatively youngish brand in the hyper-competitive world of menswear? Is there added pressure now that Abc. is clearly picking up steam?
It's something we tend to not think about. Partly by design and partly due to the fact that we tend to isolate ourselves in our studio. It's our creative space, not just our work but our life. There is no separation between the two. There's always the pressure to grow and of course turn any brand into a real business. There is a lot of thought that goes into where we are sold, and how much we sell. I always hated when I would try like hell to get a Nike release for them to only re-release the same shoe in huge quantities later. This ties back to striking the right balance. For Advisory Board Crystals we believe there is a point at which it stops growing, in the physical sense. Because we want it to. Once things get too big, they lose the authentic nature that got the brand to where it is. Traveling and going to most stores can feel almost sad at times with the total globalization of product. Add e-commerce into that equation and from a consumerist perspective, why leave the house? We work hard to launch exclusive and immersive micro drops (like this grailed exclusive) throughout the year.
Pricing is important in the marketplace, but also to us personally. We believe in giving the consumer more than what they pay for. Most people don't work in fashion, let alone start their own brand so it's hard to understand everything that goes into making a garment, whether a seemingly simple T-shirt or a cut and sew garment. Virgil Abloh explained it best with his McDonald's fashion health comparison.
You just touched on a lot of reasons why the fashion industry is changing. In a certain sense, all industries obviously adjust to the times and modernize, but with fashion, specifically, that comes with a unique set of challenges that can often be as daunting as they are exciting. On that note, what gets you and, by extension, Advisory Board Crystals, excited for the place fashion is currently in and where it's going? Are they any brands and/or designers you look up to? Trends you love right now? What's inspiring you as of late?
We get excited by the amount of opportunity that exists. It can be easy to look at the marketplace and view it as oversaturated and incredibly competitive. But, when you look deeper, you can see the over-saturation truly occurs within the spectrum of surface level products. The circle of brands doing amazing and authentic things while pushing to do something to move things forward is actually very small. When it comes to trends, I can’t say that we are particularly concerned with them. For us, to stay truly authentic and be a brand that does something truly exciting, we need to forecast beyond a trend. We come from an art and design background so we naturally have a certain perspective on the process of creating. Of course, we have certain people we look up to, for their way of thinking and the things they have done. Chris Gibbs and Union, Sarah Colette (happy 20th), James Jebbia and Supreme (how can you not?), Rei Kawakubo and Adrian Joffe, Kim Jones, Virgil Abloh, and Scott Sternberg, to name a few.
Anything else you want to touch on or share with the Grailed community?
Something we'd like to touch on is our approach to product. Our ideology is the perfection of imperfection. Products can feel very soulless today. Garments are produced in such large quantities and everything is exactly the same. We always discuss how we both used to be extreme perfectionists, personally and in our previous work. There is a process that happens when you reach a certain point that allows you to let go of perfection, in a way. We feel we have come to that point and now the imperfections, those that show "the hand" in the work, is something Heather and I have embraced from the start of Abc. It's a sign of the process. It's the same idea as an artist that leaves the pencil draft lines in the under painting. That's not to say that we don't strive for perfection, it's just in a slightly different way.
A lot of what society sees today is taken for granted due to the over availability of information. Whether it be a beautiful photograph, T-shirt, or a painting. These things aren't just materialized into being. When you stop to think about it, how difficult some of these objects are to produce—you start to appreciate the process. We love an inconsistent stitch, an ink mark, slightly off-center graphic. You can in a sense feel the work that went into that garment. For us, we prefer to have physically touched as many of the pieces as we can and instill a sense of bricolage into every idea, concept, and sample as they all originate in our studio.