NYC-based artist Daniel Arsham is best known for producing pop culture sculptures that confront us with the prospect of time. His eroded geological art hints at the future and past all at once, so it makes sense that his newly-launched genderless clothing label evokes that exact concept.
Co-founded with Stefano Martinetto, the CEO of business accelerator Tomorrow (which looks after the likes of A-Cold-Wall*, Coperni and Charles Jeffrey), Arsham’s debut brand Objects IV Life reworks objects from the past to stand the test of the future.
The first release, Chapter 001, dropped last week and is a collection of utilitarian ready-to-wear pieces crafted in Portugal and Los Angeles from deadstock fabrics. “Even all of the fasteners have variation because it’s all recycled metal,” explains Arsham. “So not everything is going to look the same.”
Despite being a concoction of reused materials, every piece embodies an immaculate workwear staple. For this reason, Martinetto thinks its appeal will extend beyond the fashion crowd and reach “[consumers] who are more interested in quality, longevity and feeling appropriately-dressed at any time.”
The collection encapsulates the minimalism that had the ‘90s in a chokehold, something Arsham and Martinetto bonded over while having dinner in Shanghai back in 2019, where the idea arose. “I came back home and shipped Daniel a little box with 20 line sheets from Helmut Lang in the ’90s,” says Martinetto, who worked with the designer in the past.
Arsham expects Objects IV Life to resonate with Chinese shoppers due to its “reductive quality” that is not only present but a trademark of his artwork, defining the aesthetic that attracted his now-loyal fanbase of Chinese collectors.
Sold at the brand new Machine-A in Shanghai and IT Hong Kong, Objects IV Life could be a hit in the market — especially considering Arsham’s familiarity with China, having founded the platform Archive Editions, which is dedicated to selling limited-edition sculptures in the country. Yet, he says, due to the homogeneity of consumer behavior and preferences in 2022, the reaction is likely to be very similar in China to the rest of the world, and there are currently no local activations or collaborations planned there.
He appears to have relied on his established popularity and local press outlets to promote this new venture in China, rather than posting about it organically to Weibo or WeChat. Out of all press covering the news, streetwear platform Sneaker马尼亚’s post has currently had the most engagement, proving the crowd in China who are most keen to shop the collection.
Arsham’s streetwear following know he’s not new to the industry, having collaborated previously as an artist with names such as Dior, Ambush, Suicoke. But until now, his approach has always been art-first rather than from a clothing perspective.
“So much of my work is about transforming the way that people feel and the way that they view the world. It’s creating emotional experiences and engaging with them on a deeper level,” explains Arsham. “With artwork, you’re on the outside of it and there’s a limit to how far a viewer might enter that. Clothing is one of the kind of extreme ways where something that has been designed can really alter your mood and the way you feel, both emotionally and physically.”
The concept is intriguing and the versatile designs hold universal appeal, yet time will tell as to whether Arsham will be as strong a creative director as he is a contemporary artist, and if his signature collaborative approach will come to define the label. But something tells us that Pokémon characters might be reserved for the artist’s volcanic ash sculptures rather than timeless carpenter pants and denim jackets.
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