Most fashion creatives know the drill; campaign and editorial shoots are usually closed sets with a strict no-social media policy until launch day. Maxwell Osborne decided to upend that notion with a new AnOnlyChild denim capsule collection, forgoing the insiders-only campaign shoot approach by throwing a summertime bash on a steamy mid-July New York afternoon.
FashionNetwork.com joined the festivities and spoke to the designer about his unique perspective on a collection debut.
Held at the Neighbors BK, a Greenpoint Brooklyn studio adjoined to residences co-owned by photographer Max Papendieck who shot the campaign. The event dubbed ‘Summer Studio Sessions’ —which included DJ sets, a pop-up store, food vendors, domino tournaments, cigars, and free tattoos—culled together the Jamaican-born designer’s universe of fellow brands and friends who joined in the block party-style event.
In a nod to one of the most famous denim campaigns, a set was erected to recall the seminal 1995 Calvin Klein jeans but with a spin. “All of our ads are always shot in homes or apartments, but the idea here was to poke fun at it,” Osborne said of the retro living room-inspired set.
The party-slash-photo shoot was as experimental as working with the upcycled denim.
“We work with deadstock fabrics. So many things come together to put a collection together. It started with playing with the fabrics, washing them, and testing treatments. Next, the silhouettes inspired the shoot concept, and then we wanted to open it up to the people,” Osborne explained, adding, “We did a press day recently, and the idea to talk about the brand came up more as people were curious. I am always in the studio in my own bubble, but it made me think, why not let people see the behind-the-scenes? Why is it always shut off,” the designer wondered aloud.
The denim collection highlights include high-waisted carpenter jeans, signature wide-leg pants, a cup-less cropped bustier, a pleated mini skirt, a fitted deep V-neck denim shirt, and a bandana-style denim bag that can be worn multiple ways, another inventive way to use the fabrics scraps according to Osborne.
“We work backward, letting the denim inform the design; what does it look like and how is it talking to us,” he said, offering a styling directive to the set stylist Marion B. Kelly II.
The pieces on set survived the distressing and bleaching process, as some fabrics were damaged along the way.
“We know it’s American denim, but we don’t always know what it’s made from, so you don’t know how it will respond to the process,” he explained.
The current collection is limited, but more deadstock can be sourced.
“It may be better quality, or it could be worse. They may not be the same, but that makes it feel special,” he said.
The distribution details of either DTC or exclusive retail partnerships is still in the works. The collection will be offered at a lower price point than the brand’s signature bonded needle punch silk and denim styles.
Starting at 1 p.m. and continuing to 8 p.m., the expected 800 expected guests caught a behind-the-scenes look at the campaign shoot. While cordoned off by yellow tape and foam core boards, the set was visible with Papendieck’s unedited images projected by screen to curious onlookers capturing images for their social media.
“It’s an open book today. I never showcased a collection via a live photoshoot. Normally you want privacy, but this is like Andy Warhol’s factory,” Papendieck said of the confidence-reliant set-up, adding, “It’s running smoothly; it’s just a little hotter than usual,” he said motioning to the garage door open to allow the flow of the party spill into the parking lot.
The mingling guests enjoyed complimentary cocktails, listened to hourly DJ sets (one of which was by Dao-Yi), and a performance by the Brooklyn United marching band.
They also had the chance to peruse racks at a pop-up selling AnOnlyChild seasonal merch, Krewe sunglasses, Bobblehaus genderless sustainable clothing, Capicu, and trucker hats by Savant Studios, a brand that participated in a similarly styled event last summer hosted by Made NY, which is dubbed the original fashion disruptor event. The Party, Food by Thank You For Coming, and Rocky’s Matcha offered refreshments.
Outdoors, a garden cigar parlor hosted Civil Pleasures Nicaraguan cigars, a new brand that Osborne invested in that has a less intimidating approach to hand-rolled tobacco for enthusiasts and beginners.
“You don’t have to feel like an idiot buying them either,” Osborne quipped, adding, “It wasn’t just to hang out but to come together and show people what you do. It’s a place to discover.”
Still, the mood of a summer gathering prevailed. “It’s always been a family affair. At AnOnlyChild, we always say it takes a village; you are alone, but you aren’t because we have each other.”
Besides, it got the designer out of the design room and visibly enjoying his work.
With a spring 2024 collection in the works to be shown in September, the respite may be brief without a glamorous holiday.
“I just look through everyone’s Instagram as they vacation in Europe while I am in the office. I will take a break someday,” he said, excusing himself to greet guests and proceed with the next press interview.
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