Connecting and nostalgia – a conversation with Alexandre Matiussi

At the apogee of postmodernism, for the first time fashion was welcoming the public to create content together. Co-create, exactly. Today this modus operandi shows a further development: brands increasingly cooperate even with each other and generate a sort of hyper-brand, albeit for a limited amount of time, a holistic synthesis of two different identities more powerful than each of its parts taken separately. Vetements and Gosha Rubchinskiy are the most blatant examples. Joint venture and co-production: this is the operating protocol by now. In the years when sharing is the necessary premise to the existence of the experience, the same is true for the creative process. The choice mostly focuses on the sportswear and street style icons of the 90’s. Sometimes this procedure seems rather melancholic and it is curious that the designers most embracing it, as if they are trying to bring back a time gone by, are those belonging to the last generation who lived the final moments of the analogical era. This is what Alexandre Matiussi talks about. For the Fall/Winter AMI collection – the brand is the anagram of his initials and the last letter of his surname, but it also means “friend” in his native language – he worked jointly with Eastpak on three exclusive models now available in selected stores. He, who often when designing feels like cooking, says that nostalgia is the ingredient that the American brand has brought to his kitchen, while AMI contributed to the project with a sprinkling of retro pop.

How do you feel these kind of collaborations enrich your work?
As a designer, I think it is an interesting exercise to merge your aesthetic with another brand’s heritage in order to create a hybrid product that can really have a positive response from the market. It is not an easy process, as the outcome needs to remain true to both ethos. But it is a challenge, and of course something that tests you is always enriching.

How do you usually choose the ideal partner and how did the idea of this specific collaboration come up?
Choosing the ideal partner is always very natural: if I feel a positive energy and it makes sense from a product point of view, I know straight away it is going to work. Everything falls into place naturally. When the opportunity came up for Eastpak, there was no hesitation. This brand for me evokes a sense of nostalgia: I’ve always had an Eastpak backpack, ever since I was a boy – I even tried to dig up an old photo of me wearing my Eastpak as a boy at school, but unfortunately my mother seemed to favour photos of my face rather than my back. It is a shame! – and seeing it on the AMI catwalk is an evolution of that relationship, a sort of coming full circle.

You worked on few iconic Eastpak models. Why did you choose these three?
I like the versatility of these models. They can be worn by who is really into style, or who approaches fashion from a more practical point of view.

The backpack is deeply rooted with reality and the everyday life. What did fascinated you the most about this object?
It wasn’t so long ago that the backpack was still being mostly used as a school or as a sport accessory, while it really entered the fashion sphere only very recently. Thus, it is intriguing to develop a product during this process of ‘democratisation’. AMI is also a brand that is firmly rooted in reality: it is about real guys and what they want to wear. I find most of my inspiration in the streets, from what people are actually wearing. So it made sense to work on a product that is part of their everyday life.

How are you going to wear these specific ones and how do you imagine others to wear them?
I ride a scooter around Paris so they are perfect for that. The Oversized Banana model started out as an image piece but I think I’m going to use it everyday because it’s actually really practical. As for other people, I designed it so that they can find their own style with it. Either a guy in a suit, jeans or shorts could make it work. I also didn’t think of a specifically men’s collection – or with the distinction between men and women. I just designed something I liked and that I find cool.

Which is the most precious thing you are going to take away with you from this journey you embarked on with Eastpak?
Bringing the energy and ideas of two brands together is a very cool thing. Connecting, collaboration: this is the way forward.

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