One of the most exciting brands coming out of Paris is ICOSAE, a no-frills design collective offering an underground approach to the landscape of Parisian menswear. The collective consists of Valentin Glemarec, Florentin Glemarec and Anthony Hor who have been working together to combine various elements of inspirations from skate parks to techno clubs since their debut in 2013. The results are collections that are energetic and modern yet fallback into quality French tailoring, breathing in a fresh wave of timeless clothing for today’s generation.
The three of you come from a background of graphic design and multimedia, so how did the idea of creating collective ICOSAE come about ? What drew you to designing menswear?
It was quite natural, we wanted to make clothes, it’s one of the best ways to group all these arts, whether in the prints, or through communication, or photography. With menswear, we can combine all these mediums into one, and create garments that we ourselves would want to wear.
We have seen your distinctive style that plays on reinventing classic tailoring since your very first collection. What is your approach to creating garments for the new generation of men?
Our great grandfather was a tailor in Brittany, at a time when there were not many of them. We’re also influenced by skateboarding, and at the skate parks there are two sides, those who dress more like rappers and those who dress more like rockers and on the rockers sides, they often wear ripped jeans and a jacket that looks classy but also street. For us, our approach is very structured to our own bodies, and that’s best achieved with good tailoring. We don’t want to fall into classic tailoring, we want to revisit it and make it more comfortable, easy to wear. We have pieces that are more complex but are still easily wearable like our four-armed trench coat, it’s a unique piece but it works.
In the past, you’ve experimented with deconstruction, asymmetry, geometry and graphic elements in your previous collections. How do you find your inspiration for each new collection?
At the end of every collection we always take the time to stop and discuss and look for a new theme that we want to explore and then we start researching and mixing our inspirations. It could be something very modern, like our next season’s theme will be quite modern. Since Florentin and I were at the Louvre, we also look at the old masterpieces that still inspire us, we look at the works of masters like Poussin, Rembrandt, but we add an urban and underground element.
Can you tell us a little bit about your latest AW2016 collection, “Take the Cash and Run”?
For this collection, there’s not really a specific theme or a story that we wanted to tell, there’s an inspiration behind it, but it was more a philosophy, a dynamic and an attitude that we wanted to put in the spotlight. That’s why you can see the ICOSAE embroidery with a hint of anarchy. It was a collection of spontaneous garments and we weren’t aiming to tell a particular story
Does new technology play a big part in your creative process?
When it comes to high-tech textiles, I think that there are brands out there that use them really well, like Iris Van Herpen, and it’s not really something that we’re looking to do, we’re more interested in the tailoring and creating our signature style.
We could easily see your clothes worn in skateparks ou in an underground punk club. Who are the men who wear ICOSAE, and who are you designing for?
It can really be anyone. When we see our clients, they can be either people who like fashion, or people who aren’t that into fashion but enjoy our clothes. We have pieces that can suit anyone, that are a bit more technical, for those who know more about them, but we also have pieces that appeal to a wide public that are easier to wear. Our target is quite large.
Where can we find your brand?
Now we are stocked in NY, Dubai, London and Tokyo.
Why do you feel that it is important to make clothes that can last for generations?
For us, we find it a bit of a nuisance having to change your wardrobe every six months, for example we have some pieces from our very first collection that were hand sewn and some of them we still continue to wear. It’s more for their structure and not their prints because we feel that prints can go out of style easily. As we go on, clothes evolve but something that we really try to keep in our style is a well-tailored cut, like on a black jacket that is well-made, it becomes a piece that we can keep forever.
When you’re not working on your brand, what do you enjoy doing?
Sleep (laughs), skating, taking walks, taking photos, and making some music too.
What are your thoughts on the current state of menswear fashion in France?
I think that right now it’s developing really well, designers are being a bit more daring, taking more risks. For example, when we see Dries Van Noten and the work that you can see on his garments, it’s been taken to another level and I think that menswear has become more interesting than womenswear, whereas before womenswear had more interesting results. Now I feel like we’re exploring more in menswear and it’s become more exciting. The menswear collections especially last season were really well done. We look forward to see what’s ahead, but we will also take part in it.
What can we expect from ICOSAE for the next collection?
We can say that the clothes that were more complex last season will become the basics of next season. We will also be doing some collaborations with other brands, and maybe some other projects in art and music. We’ll see.(laughs)
By Charin Chong