An Interview with BWGH
Photos: Julien Soulier (first one) & Ludovic Zuili.
The young Parisian duo behind the clothing brand BWGH (Brooklyn We Go Hard) reveals an innovative marriage of fashion designs and photography. OOO had the opportunity to ask the cofounder, David Obadia, a few questions about their collective.
OOO: Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your parter Nelson, when and how you founded BWGH?
BWGH: Nelson Hassan and I, are the two founders of the BWGH structure. Even though we were thinking about creating our own label for some time before that, the project only started to materialize in May 2010.
OOO: Considering you are based in Paris, what is it about the Brooklyn scene that resonated with you in coming up with the title? Or is it simply a tribute to the glory of Jay-Z and Santigold (which would be equally valid)?
BWGH: It’s simply a tribute to the artistic and cultural scene that Brooklyn represents, the birthplace of mainstream and underground, a combination BWGH tries to embody.
OOO: You and Nelson call yourselves “Les plus New-Yorkais des Parisiens” (Most New Yorky Parisians). Had all of you been to Brooklyn before, or was it more of a transatlantic nostalgia? If so, how would you compare it to Paris?
BWGH: Nelson and I have been to Brooklyn many times before, and it’s actually there that it all started for the both of us. To compare New York to Paris, I’d recommend you read the book « Paris versus New York » by Vahram Muratyan. It’ll be far more instructive than a tentative comparison in my own words.
OOO: The brand is actually still quite young, and yet you’ve been recently been picked up by Colette and did a collaboration with Opening Ceremony. How can you explain your rapid success?
BWGH: Working with stores such as Colette or Opening Ceremony is really a dream that we would have never thought to come to true so early. Our recipe for success so far, i’d say has simply been a lot of work and energy expending, but also a stroke of luck.
OOO: Is the “American Dream” something you’ve compared to this trajectory?
BWGH: Talking about an « American Dream » would be a slight hyperbole I think. Making a living from our passion at only 22 and 21 years old is such an incredible thing, and yet we acknowledge that we still have a lot to learn from in this business.
OOO: Clothing aside, BWGH is not simply a brand but rather an artistic collective comprising of designers and photographers. What do you see as the relationship between fashion and photography, and what are you doing about it?
BWGH: The idea was to create a truly different label that would also resonate with us. BWGH is therefore a novel fusion between fashion and photography, which reflects our desire to gather artists in a homogenous collective. Starting a brand that can be referred to as « cultural minded » was always close to our heart, and that’s why we also launched an 84 page magazine in association with our friends from Snatch, to combine fashion and culture.
OOO: In your philosophy you cite Jean-Luc Godard, “La photographie c’est la vérité et le cinéma c’est 24 fois la vérité par seconde” (Photography is the truth and cinema is 24 times the truth per second). How does this notion, or the innovativeness of such a brilliant mind as Godard, correspond to the brand?
BWGH: According to the screenwriter Phil Alden Robinson: « Goddard has changed the way of writing, directing, shooting, and editing. He hasn’t only reshaped the rules. He ran them over with a car and backed up in reverse to make sure that they were well dead ». Reshaping the rules, crushing them and following your instinct to promote artists by combining fashion and photography in order to avoid predictability, is what we want to be defined as the most.
OOO: Likewise, your blog displays an abundance of references to various American pop culture icons: Basquiat, Biggie, Michael Jordan to name a few. Do they serve as inspiration at all in your design process, or are they just elements of the BWGH mindset?
BWGH: Basquiat, Biggit, Michael Jordan are only artists or athletes that we’re fascinated by, but more generally those who inspire us are the people who surround us, and the energy that they convey.
OOO: How do you go hard?
BWGH: That’s my little secret…
OOO: Which artists are on your radar at the moment? What are you listening to?
BWGH: Artists like Mos Def, ASAP Rocky, Erikah Badu, but also classics like Roy Agers and Gil Scott Heron
OOO: Back to Godard, could film be a presence in the collective’s future?
BWGH: The idea behind our structure is two-edged, with on one side a true clothing company with the development of a high quality collection, and on the other hand an interface that tries promote its artists as much as possible. Videographers? We’ll see.
OOO: You’ve graduated from exclusively selling t-shirts to a fuller capsule collection…what’s next?
BWGH: Offering collections progressively more qualitative, improving slowly but surely, whilst trying to promote new, unknown, and yet extremely talented artists.
OOO: Any lasting words for our readers?
BWGH: And you Out of Order readers, parlez-vous français?