Area: A Cool New Brand to Save Us All?

Maybe I am cranky this fashion week. Maybe there is a tinge of fatalism wrapped up in the thoughts that construct the sum of my mind. Maybe I have discovered that after 13 seasons, I’m no critic at all, that for me to be interested in a fashion show, I must feel a sense of personal investment, a hankering for proprietorship. Or maybe, just maybe, I’m sick of waiting for the dust to settle, of feeling like I am living my very own Groundhog’s Day inside of an industry that I am so obsessed with, that I care so much about, but which I see unraveling.

I don’t want to complain for naught; if I can save whatever the fuck needs saving, I will! But if it won’t be me (I have some ideas, but I need everyone on board), maybe it will be the new designers sprouting like errant chia seeds across New York City, providing a don’t-give-a-fuck perspective that is untainted by the now-broken old house tradition, which others (myself included) just can’t unsee. This perspective respects good design, but its real talent is in creating personality.

There’s a brand called Area, it’s been around for four years. It debunks my theory about only caring for fashion when I want to own it myself because while Area does not speak to my personal aesthetic, it excites the hell out of me with its bright use of color, lurex, obscenely large earrings and the way it is styled down to the rhinestone-adorned mules, up from the weird-ass braided crowns, perched atop the models heads. There is a nastiness about it — a we’re-just-having-fun energy that bleeds from the clothes. But this energy is more than that: it’s personality. It exists among the houses of Eckhaus Latta and Maryam Nassir Zadeh and Copenhagen’s Saks Potts and perhaps most famously, it is a totem of the new Gucci.

This is now the world we live in. It’s not enough to make nice, or cool stuff; you’ve got to bring another stake to the table, something the younger people can absorb. From what I can tell, our newest talent gets that brand-building has changed, that exclusivity is passé, inclusivity is the new VIP and for a label to really matter, it’s got to do more than just say stuff or make stuff or do stuff. It’s got to offer an emotional stake, a sense of community, belonging, a personality you can aspire to wear for yourself.

Photos by Simon Chetrit; follow him on Instagram @simonzchetrit.

Leandra M. Cohen

Leandra M. Cohen is the founder of Man Repeller.

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