3.31.2013

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH ffiXXed

To bring fresh and relevant creative talent from all over the world is one of the pursuits of this blog. So, I'm very ecstatic to introduce to you guys ffiXXed. It is a collaborative art and design project founded by designers Kain Picken and Fiona Lau in Berlin back in 2008. Since its inception, it has remained mobile, moving from one city to another. At the moment, it has found its new home in Schenzhen, China while maintaining its offices in Hong Kong.

ffiXXed focuses on producing a ready-to-wear unisex collection alongside a wide range of art and design related activities. ffiXXed also challenges the conventional way of dressing by providing wearable alternatives. All ffiXXed garments are proudly manufactured in-house at ffiXXed studios, located in Wutong Village at the foot of the Wutong Mountain in Schenzen, China.
Before anything else, how did you come up with your label's name "ffiXXed"? What is the story behind it? 
There’s no story, really, it was quite spontaneous. At a certain point, we needed a name and this is what we came up with. I guess the double f came from the same double f in Fiona’s email and at that time Kain was working on a series of large scale X paintings, so that's the XX reference. Some people have noted that the names could refer to having no fixed location or meaning, or the idea of repairing something, both readings we quite like. Tell us something about the brains behind this conceptual brand. 
ffiXXed is a collaborative project in every aspect, and in many ways it’s very personal. We are both coming from different backgrounds, Kain in art and Fiona in fashion. We’re interested in different ideas about how to approach production and consumption in contemporary culture, what can be said and done with clothing and the whole framework of fashion as a tool. From the beginning, we wanted to imagine our work with fashion as part of a broader creative output. 
What is the general style philosophy of your brand? 
We are always concerned with the "everyday". ffiXXed is very much a response to our own changing environment, both on the level of style but also in terms of more cultural and social elements. To generalize, we would say ffiXXed represents new and unexpected forms of trans-functionality for everyday basics that address, transcend and stimulate a variety of social and domestic situations. 

The name of your latest collection is "Inevitable necessities". Explain the concept behind this. 
We we’re thinking about how new objects or products become integrated into our lives and often become thought of as necessities, and the whole cycle of production and consumption that relies on this. We wanted to think about different ways to appropriate these productive cycles and introduce new material elements into the collection. We also wanted to engage questions of the body within flows of global movement, work and leisure and how more and more of what we wear must adapt to changing lifestyles. Many of the pieces in this collection are oversized with free-flowing silhouettes but still retain some aspects of formality. What do you think are the most inevitable pieces from this collection? Any personal favorites?  
We wanted to explore some new materials and different ways of working, so we experimented with wooden balls commonly used to make breathable car seat covers, refashioning them into wearable garments. The massager vest is definitely one of our favorite pieces from this collection. 

How do you typically start doing a collection? Is there any particular ritual or routine (like painting, traveling or going to museums) that you undertake? 
We don’t work so thematically actually. On a certain level, each collection is an elaboration of general themes that continue to work within. There’s no real routine, specific ideas can come from anywhere. Sometimes it might stem from another project we’re working on and sometimes we don't really know what it is until the collection is almost complete, and this keeps things interesting for us. 

Which is more important for you? Process or the final product? 
Although certain processes are important, we’re not at all process-driven. So definitely, the final product is our primary concern. Why do you think unisex pret-a-porter clothing is becoming more and more popular? Do you think this is a good sign that we have reached gender equality? 
We don’t think you can so easily equate gender equality with a trend toward unisex clothing. But one of the interesting things about fashion is the way it can, on a very personal level at least, challenge the way we think about the body, identity and subjectivity. Of course, this is a highly fraught area of discussion, which is bound up by questions about commodification of identity etc.. 

What made you decide to move both your office and production entirely to China after living in big cities like Melbourne, Berlin, New York and Hong Kong? 
Our office is still located in Hong Kong, but the decision to move our studio to Shenzhen followed our desire to establish an in-house production facility. We we’re dissatisfied with the separation between the design and production that was being presented to us, we wanted to develop our own working model, to become more integrated and involved in the whole design process and production. We we’re also really curious to learn more about the situation in China, to understand what is happening here. Although Shenzhen is not necessarily the most developed city in terms of cultural history (as a city it’s only about 35 years old), we we’re excited by the feeling of uncharted territory and what is actually happening here now, and the possibility of what can happen in the future. What are the pros and cons of operating over in China?  
The obvious advantages for us are access to manufacturing technology, skills and materials. There are also many economic advantages for companies in Hong Kong. We felt that here we have the right mix of economic freedom and creative space to develop the kind of situation we wanted. The disadvantages are that we can sometimes feel somewhat isolated here, so it’s important for us to travel regularly. We have also had to learn a lot about how things are done in China, and figure how and when we should adapt to this and when we should resist. 

Special thanks to Kain and Fiona for making this interview possible. You guys are simply amazing. I truly believe in what you guys do and I'm really excited to see what you guys have in store for us in the future!

For more info about ffiXXed check out www.ffixxed.com.