INTERVIEW: GUNS GERMS $TEAL
Best friends and creative team, Smiley Stevens and Philippa Price, are the two designers behind one of the most bold and exciting menswear lines out there, Guns Germs $teal. Coming straight out of LA, a city that continues to struggle to find its own style identity besides tees and jeans (at least for mens), GG$’s innovative, bravado brand of dope, forward-pushing items are a much needed breath of fresh air. Just don’t call it streetwear. It’s menswear on a higher level. In a matter of two years, the brand has gone from a small accessory line to a complete clothing line that is now beloved by major artists like Kendrick Lamar, 2 Chainz, and Haim. Currently, the label is getting ready to debut at New York Fashion Week in early September.
Smiley and Philippa, both former models, share their excitement as they chat with LAC to tell us more about their FW13 collection and the future of the brand.
LAC: Ok, so you both met at a birthday party in the Lower East Side of NY. What connected you two?
GG$: Our height. We were both like, woah you’re awkwardly taller than everyone else here, cool, me too … let’s be friends. But we realized pretty quickly we shared a creative connection that exists on a different wavelength. We’re Soul Sisters.
LAC: What eventually brought you to LA?
GG$: We both grew up here, so after college (mostly because we were broke) we moved back to LA. We still miss the grind and the energy of New York, but we know we wouldn’t be able to be doing what we’re doing if we had stayed out there. Besides, nothing beats L.A. weather. Mentally I don’t think we could handle the stress of starting a business on top of handling a New York winter … or a grimey New York summer for that matter.
GG$: Has LA changed the way in which you perceive menswear – would you be designing different items had you stayed in NY?
GG$: Our designs are whole heartedly and organically a product of the unique vision that the two of us share … I think this would be the same no matter where we were. We weave an eclectic range of experience and influence into each of our pieces and don’t consciously design with a certain type of person or trend in mind… in fact we try our hardest to stay away from that. Generally speaking, men’s style here is not exactly the best, but I think in that sense, being in LA has enabled us to really focus on developing our own style that remains true to the root of our vision.
LAC: Let’s talk about your new collection. It has an impressive amount of elements that work so well together. It was difficult to describe it. I almost came around to calling it “conceptual sportswear.” How far would I have been?
GG$: Exactly as you say, we layer so many different elements and influences together in our designs, that our “style” is almost impossible to define. It’s funny because people have been trying to define our brand since we first started, and I don’t think we’ve even figured that out ourselves yet. Yes, this collection could definitely be described as “conceptual sportswear” but we wouldn’t say that defines GG$ as a whole … just wait till you see what we have coming for Spring / Summer 2014.
LAC: So what then would you say defines GG$ as a whole?
We don’t believe in definition–definition is what has divided people for the entire course of human history. The only thing our collection defines you as is confident.
LAC: What was the concept behind the collection?
GG$: For this collection we focused on the concept of the uniform. We explored everything from military uniforms to astronauts, sports uniforms to royal regalia, even the idea of skin as a uniform. We expanded our interpretation of the term “uniform,” focusing on the idea that even personal style over the past century has become a uniform, used to identify you with a certain division of our culture. We blend elements from all kinds of subcultures, creating our version of a universal uniform.
LAC: Since showing the collection back in February at Project Las Vegas, what has been the feedback?
GG$: We’ve received really great feedback from those who have seen the collection … it’s only just available to the public this week so we’re excited to see the reaction. We’re particularly excited about the pieces we created with our amazingly talented friend and photographer Brianna Capozzi. We used a few of her photographs on the neoprene sweaters in the collection which thus far have been everybody’s favorite. Combining her bold images with our neoprene silhouette created a really unique optical illusion when worn as clothing and we’re excited to see how people interpret that.
LAC: How does the collaboration dynamic work between the two of you and do you ever wonder if guys will really dig what two ladies are creating?
GG$: Day to day, Philippa handles most of the design while Smiley manages the company operations. The way we work creatively is very organic. One of us will come up with an idea, and the other will add a new dimension, and we will go back and forth until we reach something next level. We’ve come to trust our combined aesthetic so we don’t really worry about what guys’ reactions will be … when we both agree on something there is no question… we just know it’s TIGHT.
LAC: For what kind of guy do you make your clothes for?
GG$: A guy with confidence. There couldn’t be anything more attractive than confidence (PLEASE NOTE: confidence is NOT the same as arrogance).
LAC: Out of a long list of celebrities that already wear your items who would you say best exemplifies your line and who else can you see wearing your clothing?
GG$: That is such a hard question. It’s pretty much impossible to pin it down to one person… our pieces have already been worn by such an ecclectic range, from Kendrick to Rihanna, and of course our girls Haim and Brooke Candy. They are all people who’s individual movements we respect and who we feel are leaders in this verging culture movement of our generation… I think that in itself is what best exemplifies our line.
LAC: You went from making accessories to menswear, any plans on creating more womenswear?
GG$: Oh just you wait… clothing is just the beginning for GG$. Right now, we are really focusing on our mens collection but like we said, we have come to realize that we have a strong following of women who wear our clothes. With that in mind we have definitely been focusing on developing more unisex pieces and fits. You will see this in our Spring 2014 collection which we are getting ready to present at NYFW this September … in two weeks actually. Fuck!
LAC: Finally, when and where can we get our hands on the new collection?
GG$: We are launching the collection this Thursday at 424 Fairfax in L.A., and by the beginning of next week the collection will be available in a few select retailers around the world –
US: 424 Fairfax / American Rag / Extra Butter
UK: Browns London / Machine A
JAPAN: Nubian / GR8
The lookbook was shot by L.A. photographer Adri Law.
Photo of Smiley Stevens and Philippa Price is courtesy of Diane Abapo / SUSPENDMAG.COM