Last week the lovely people at Kudeta invited Richard and Fresh, two of the geniuses behind Zanerobe, to Belgium for a meet-and-greet event. What started out as a bet between two mates, has gradually grown into one of the biggest players when it comes to high-end streetwear. On July 21 they are unveiling their latest project which they describe as a premium version of Zanerobe. I talked to the boys about Project A, their sneaker collaboration with Filling Pieces and much more.
Zanerobe was founded in 2002. How has the aesthetic changed since then?
Fresh: It’s changed a lot. We started out making regular printed t-shirts for about six years and it did really well but everyone started doing it and we didn’t actually like the trend anymore. After that we decided to create the things we really like to wear.
Richard: It was around the time that basics hit the Southern Hemisphere hard, no one wanted to wear printed t-shirts anymore and the trend changed to a more refiined aesthetic and approach. We started thinking how we could be a part of that movement and we quickly understood that we couldn’t just create basics like everybody else but that we had to add our unique touch to it and fabricate products you can’t just get from every brand. What we basically did is take every garment silhouette and changed it twenty percent; add length to it or apply a sport fabric that was traditionally used in the sporting realm of fashion. That’s what gave us our edge over the years. Now we’re starting to play a little bit more in that higher end, luxury kind of streetwear with our top tier label Project A and then Zanerobe falls just underneath that.
You mentioned Project A. You will be releasing the first collection of this new label on July 21. Could you elaborate a bit on that?
Fresh: Project A is kind of the premium version of Zanerobe in the sense that it allows the designers to choose whichever fabric they want. The price doesn’t matter. It allows them to really push forward for what they want to do. No limitations. We’re super excited about Project A and it’s quite different than Zanerobe. We will be using a lot of Japanese fabrics, some special Korean fabrics and we’ve teamed up with Filling Pieces for an exclusive sneaker.
Richard: This new label is all about allocation and exclusivity. Not excluding retailers around the world but just about retailers asking to be a Project A stockist. We’ve only produced 100 to 150 pieces of each garment so that’ll make it quite limited and sought-after. We selected ten retailers from around the world who will have it and that’s it for now. In the future we would definitely like to bring it to Belgium because we feel like the Belgian market would like it because they can really relate to Zanerobe and Project A is a nice twist on Zanerobe using the most premium fabrics.
How did the Filling Pieces collaboration come about?
Richard: I met the people behind Filling Pieces at Liberty Fairs three years ago and I got along with Guillaume really well. We always hung out at the trade shows and over the time we were talking about working together on a project. When the whole Project A movement came about I felt like it was the perfect time to collaborate with them. The problem with sneaker collaborations nowadays is that it ends up being way more than an exclusive collaboration because they produce too many pairs. They say there are only 100 pairs out but in reality there are 100 000 pairs out. We really wanted to keep it to the same realm as Project A which means there will be only 100 pairs produced. The sneaker will be released via Filling Pieces’ website, Mercer Street and a few other select retailers.
The shoe itself is a basic white shoe with a high grade leather outer, a grey back panel and it’s got Project A written on the back really nice and sharp. It’s meant to go with every outfit in Project A. The whole idea is classic, simplicity and a little bit of elegance and that’s exactly what we did with this sneaker.
How do you go about selecting the brands you want to work with?
Fresh: It’s actually pretty organic. If we meet somebody interesting at a trade show we go for beers with them. If we get along great and the brand is interesting we pretty much have a deal.
Richard: With a label like Project A it’s harder because it’s a bit more exclusive and limited but with Zanerobe it’s just all about mutual chemistry.
Are there any Belgian brands you would like to work with?
Richard: I would like to team up with Jupiler because I’m really loving this beer. On the real though, I’ll have to be honest and admit that I’m not really familiar with the Belgian market but I do need to get a better understanding of the European market in general because there are a lot of interesting brands that are on the come up. That’s the whole point of this trip; us engaging with the European market, getting a better understanding and working closely with our distributors. Sometimes we get a little bit sheltered in our own backyard in Australia but we definitely have to keep an eye on what’s happening around the world and what everyone else is doing to be able to create a universal collection.
Check out the lookbook for Project A‘s first collection here.