Little Sister New York Presents: “Rebel Clothes,” An Undercover Archive Sale
Little Sister New York Presents: “Rebel Clothes,” An Undercover Archive Sale
- Words Grailed Team
- Date May 25, 2018
Little Sister New York is back with its second event of the year, following its Number (N)ine sale back in March. With this momentum, the New York-based menswear archivists, composed of Scott Santiago and Julian Fetterman, have added Sam Barback to the team. The three have continued to pursue Little Sister’s original mission of collecting coveted pieces and educating its audience on the history of the Japanese brands the team loves. In this latest event, the group is exhibiting and selling 100 of its favorite Undercover items exclusively with Grailed.
The event, entitled “Rebel Clothes”, is borrowed from one of Jun Takahashi’s central mantras for Undercover. Known for his punk-inspired designs, Takahashi has used rebellious themes to pay homage to the artists he admires and to portray his perspective on world events. The underrated label, which has created a cult-like following over the past three decades, has transcended the path of similar streetwear brands to become one of the most unique and mysterious brands in production today.
We talked with the trio to learn a bit more about the collection they’ve assembled and find out which items and seasons they love the most.
How’s life been since the first sale you did with Grailed?
Scott Santiago: Since the first event, things have really been looking up for us. We honestly had no idea that the first sale would be so successful and there was a good deal of risk involved. At the time of the drop, I was actually in the middle of my last midterm. My phone was buzzing out of control, so I thought something was going terribly wrong. I wrapped up the test as soon as I could so I could see what was going on, and it turned out I had a bunch of texts from friends congratulating us on a job well done. It was such a rewarding feeling.
Julian Fetterman: After the result of the last sale, I’ve been even more excited to produce the best representations of the brands we love so much. We got started on this project almost immediately after our Number (N)ine sale. This entire process was a bit challenging for us, having to balance school and other things, but this never felt like work. We’ve been learning so much and have had great opportunities to work with some cool people and create content that we’re really proud of.
Sam, since you’re new to the group, what were your thoughts about the Number (N)ine sale? How did you wind up getting involved with Little Sister?
Sam Barback: I’d previously helped a bit with the Number (N)ine sale, but I wasn’t fully committed. I don’t think I realized how exciting a project like this could be until it all came together. The moment the sale went live, I knew I had to be involved. The Grailed community seemed to be genuinely interested by and appreciative of the work put into the allusion boards, where the references behind some of the (N)ine pieces were visually represented. I wanted to help continue this mission of casually educating the Grailed community with Scott and Julian. I’m also a bit of an Undercover junkie.
Where did the concept of doing an Undercover sale come from?
JF: We knew from the jump that we had to do some type of project with Undercover. The brand is so rich in history and cultural references. It gives us the perfect opportunity to teach about what we know and hopefully get others interested in learning more than what’s told in the average Grailed listing.
SS: Absolutely, this was part of the plan. Number (N)ine captures the seemingly weird realm of ‘90s to early-2000s Japanese fashion, so it was only logical to continue on to the esoteric punk world of Undercover in the following decade. The brand is so rich with references, not only to musicians, but to fellow fashion designers like Alexander McQueen and Martin Margiela. It allowed us to grow a little further from the simpler idea of general Japanese streetwear.
Where did Jun Takahashi reference McQueen and Margiela?
SS: Similar to how Raf Simons was inspired by Martin Margiela’s Spring/Summer 1990 show in 1989, Takahashi was a huge fan of the atelier. One day while shopping in Shibuya, Takahashi simply touched a raw-edge Margiela garment first-hand. It was an experience which apparently encouraged him to reimagine the possibilities when it came to his clothing. The fact that Takahashi was influenced by Margiela is evident in both Undercover’s Fall/Winter 2003 “Paper Doll” and Spring/Summer 2006 “T” collections (among other seasons) with his reconstructive garments made of sweaters and T-shirts.
SB: “T” is also a great example of a collection influenced by McQueen. The theatrical nature of Takahashi’s shows—particularly his women’s collections—are directly influenced by the British designer. Even details, such as the makeup, in Takahashi’s recent shows are reminiscent of some of McQueen’s work. Takahashi often refrains from directly ‘referencing’ his predecessors, but instead takes the spirit of their works and freely allows them to influence him in his own designs.
Tell us a bit about the specific items you’re selling. Whose are they?
JF: These pieces come from all three of our personal collections. Picking and choosing which items to include was a tough process and letting go of any of these items is honestly pretty difficult. We wanted to form a cohesive collection that represents some of Takahashi’s best seasons and include the pieces that we think people will really enjoy. We feel like each and every one of these items is worthy of having its own special event and hope to explain some of the countless references Takahashi has used. This isn’t just 100 items that we tossed together. We truly put a lot of love and care into this.
SS: With love and care comes sacrifice. Anyone that knows me personally would know that I’m inseparable from my favorite pieces, regardless of the price offered to part with them. This was one of the few instances where I had to just say, “fuck it,” and put everything forward.
SB: We decided to focus exclusively on early Undercover pieces, from the brand’s inception through Fall/Winter 2009. Despite the fact that we are only exploring the first half of Takahashi’s legacy with this collection, we had no shortage of pieces we wanted to present; we actually had over 150 pieces when everything was all said and done, but had to downsize in order to have a well-curated selection in terms of both size and category. We’ve included everything from packets of fake blood to vinyl records to beautiful leather jackets.
Of the Undercover collections you guys have represented in your sale, are there specific seasons that you three like best? If so, tell us why.
JF: All hype and prejudices aside, Spring/Summer 2003 “Scab” is the collection that strikes me as not only the most intricately designed, but mysterious and sentimental as well. Takahashi spent hundreds of hours personally ripping, tearing and patching his runway looks that arguably became the best representation of the punk movement since Vivienne Westwood's earlier designs. I love these pieces the most because of their complex detail; I think Takahashi felt an intense personal connection with the clothes while creating them. His younger days as the lead singer of the Tokyo Sex Pistols put him in the position of a young rebel against the system. This was undoubtedly referenced in the 2003 collection. “Scab” came at a time of uncertainty in the wider world, with many theorizing that it was largely influenced by the tragedy of 9/11. Using his talents to mix his musical and cultural inspirations with happenings around the globe, “Scab” came together as an immensely impressive Paris Fashion Week debut for Undercover.
SB: Far and away my favorite of Undercover’s collections has to be “T” from Spring/Summer 2006. Takahashi’s references to the bands he loves are consistent throughout his collections, but this one was different. For this collection, Takahashi developed five fictional progressive German rock bands, around which he built everything from clothes to backstage passes to records. Each band has a slightly different character, with varying logos, motifs and slogans. In addition to creating merch and band tees for this collection, Takahashi even used scraps of these tees, which he then sewed and patched together into other pieces—like the Klaus leather rider jacket.
SS: Fall/Winter 2004’s “But Beautiful” is, by far, one of the most comprehensive Undercover collections to date. Takahashi has never cut corners with any aspect of his brand, and that was shown in the letters between Undercover and Patti Smith to get the collection going. He was an avid fan and kept in contact with Smith as a pen pal throughout the production phase of the collection, especially so he could have permission to play her music. While the music played, each look in the show turned out to be designed after her iconic style. As if this wasn’t enough, Takahashi also incorporated the works of artist and sculptor Anne Valerie Dupond to add yet another layer to the designs. The buttons and stitching of each of Dupond’s works were already inspired by Smith.
What’s different about this Undercover sale compared to the Number (N)ine sale?
JF: We took a lot of the feedback we got from the Number (N)ine sale and took this event a step further. We’re telling the story that accompanies each and every item Undercover item. This was extremely important for us to do and to get right so that we could pay our respects to Undercover as well as spread interesting and accurate info to the Grailed community. We also decided to run with some ideas for our lookbooks that were a bit more conceptual. We couldn't be happier with the outcome. Things will only be getting better from here!
These lookbooks are pretty different from your first sale. Are there particular references behind them? If so, explain.
SS: We wanted to do two separate lookbooks, similar to the first sale, but wanted to differentiate them even further. I went into one of those weird YouTube wormholes of early 2000’s music videos and came across “Guilty Conscience” by Eminem and Dr. Dre. I remembered the feeling of seeing that video on MTV Jams when I was young and wondering how the 3D effect could be done. I’ve had this old Nishika N8000 3D camera laying around since 2014 and it hasn’t seen the light of day since I purchased it, so I thought “why not?” We set up at Clockwork Bar in Manhattan and got the first lookbook done.
JF: We knew that for the second lookbook we wanted to do something inspired by our childhoods. Thinking back on what we wore as kids, we thought about how we had no idea that we would be living and dressing the way we do today. Our tastes and styles have changed and grown along with us. We’re wearing these clothes to represent our personalities in ways that we would have never expected. From here, we thought about how cool it would be to create something of a retrospective of us as kids wearing what we do now. We met Oliver (who happens to be Scott’s girlfriend’s younger cousin) and thought he’d be perfect for the shoot. We offered him a box of Oreos and a Brisk iced tea and he was on board.
What’s next for Little Sister?
SS: I think it’s very important for us to continue to explore new ways to publish creative content. We have a few things in the building stages right now (including some charitable work) that should continue to push the boundaries of these events.
JF: We want to continue to pass on what we’ve learned about the designers and collections we love and produce content that carries the conversation further. I’m hoping more and more people reach out to share feedback and ideas!
SB: More jawns.
3-D Film Photography: Scott Santiago
Model #1: Tony Lee
Model #2: Oliver
Digital Photography: Meghan Hancock
Product Photography: Mitchell Louis
Production Assistant: Cedric Gambill