INTERVIEW WITH DAVID CASAVANT 2/2
In that way, the word “archive” itself was getting such a big thing in fashion industry.
That's right, because I called it an “archive”. I would say it's “vintage” but many people thought it wasn't because it was just from the 90s or 00s, not from like 70s. It was weird wording for a lot of people, especially industry people in fashion. Also because it’s menswear. Those words were never associated with menswear because menswear still wasn't valued as archive or vintage.
How did you decide to use the wording “archive”?
I didn't really think to call anything, but I just loaned to someone and the credit was “The David Casavant Archive”, and I was like “oh ok”.
Now people do not really call Raf Simons’ bomber jacket in 00s as ”vintage”, but more like “archive”.
True. At the time I think I said “vintage” and I still use both words. I never thought much about it but I ended up with that name “archive” and it was used over and over again next to my name. I guess now it's such a hot word.
Honestly, how did you feel back then to see the market was getting crazier? Like the way pieces you purchased 15 years ago on eBay at very cheap price got more and more valuable every single day, after you started your business and loaning them to celebrities.
I always saw it through two different lenses and I still do, because I was working in fashion with many established people in the industry. I saw through one lens, like young people that it was becoming so big and people were so excited about it. It was like such a thing. And then through the other lens, more established fashion world just ignored it. It was all about new products and you don't really put vintage in magazines. Using both new and vintage just makes more sense to me, so I've always seen it through both and I've had such an issue.……。
Now those people understand more about what you do, no?
I don't know. That's been hard to figure out. But I’m ok. First I collected it because I just loved it and I wanted to have the pieces. It's just out of love. The second thing is the reason why I mentioned my mom. After she died and when I was a little older, I inherited some money from her through her family and I started the business, because it was enough money that I could just like go for it but not like enough to last. So, it's also super personal in that way because it is connected a lot to her and that's why I take some of it way too personally. I don’t really act as a normal vintage store. I started loaning and renting because I had to pay for it. To justify too many clothes I own and figure out a way to make sense. It was never to make tons of money. Most of the stuff I loan for free. I've never loaned to tons of people because I'm worried about getting lost. It's like super personal in that way. And I've never sold too.
Never, not even once. Since the first piece I bought to now, I've never sold anything.
Through your story, I thought you are kind of the same as when you were 13 years old.
I hope so. I make it as a business because I have to, but it's really a big passion project. It is about me, and I don't know how to remove myself from it. So I hope at least doing what I like encourages people to do what they like. When people ask what pieces they should buy, I say what you like, not what you're told is.
Some people know about you just because of your Raf or Helmut collections but I actually know that you are into many different designers, from young ones to established ones. Are there any specific criteria when you buy and collect brands?
I work how you would work if you were a designer creating a collection. I watch movies or go to the library or look through photos. I do a lot of mood boarding to create a whole story and mood through visuals, both in my head and on paper. Different moods, feelings or stories. Then when it makes me really inspired, I want to start creating that world and I start to buy. Like, the suit looks very much like that kind of character would wear in that film.
Also, if I see that was from this collection and they were inspired by this, that also inspires me to want to buy it. I love those connections and knowing why they made it. I like to have just cheap things too. I put them next to the designer pieces and people sometimes don’t know the difference, and I'm like “oh no, that's just from Walmart”. I like to mix random things that aren't even designer or anything. So I don't buy as if I'm an archivist.
What do you mean that you are not an archivist?
I really would say I'm more of a collector, because what I think archivist is almost like a museum curator. In a way you're preserving the pieces and curating them in the way of a museum would. But that's not why I do and what I do. I do it to express my personal viewpoint and vision of what I like. So, for me it's more like curating a palette for myself to use to paint from. And to allow others to use to paint from. I've never bought something because it was a historical piece or important piece. I buy it to create my own stories of my own. I think that is why it's been successful, because it's very my aesthetic and when you see it you know my aesthetic. I guess I used other people's aesthetic to create my own aesthetic by re-appropriating them and putting them together in a new combination.
In order to create your own world, you could buy from everywhere. For example do you buy new collections in boutiques?
I don't really buy new now, but I have. Like Craig Green, I bought his first collection or two in stores.
His first collection was amazing. Are you the one who promoted Craig to celebrities in the US too?
I did not claim credit but when Kendrick Lamar wore it at a Grammy performance a few years ago, it was from me. I've always just been very into music and artists, and I've never seen my favorite musicians as just celebrities. I love their music and it's like a performance art to me, so I've always wanted to contribute to them. Back then they would not loan all those kind of brands to rappers, but now it’s exactly who they want to loan to.
Do you have any specific young designer you are really into at the moment?
That's a hard one, because I don't really know right now. I think there are lots of great people but it’s just a weird time to evaluate things.
True. I was asking you this just because some people might ask you what is the next big thing, next “archive”?
Yeah, they ask and I'm always confused because it’s like we're playing the stock market. But I think it's amazing that menswear is now valued in that way because I always thought of it. When I started this business, an accountant at the time was saying, “well, clothes go down in value”. It was true at the time, but at least I've been hoping and trying to work towards the idea that clothes would be valued in the way, and finally they are now, in the same way artists were.
What are you planning to do next? For example, you recently started “Archive Club” clothing line.
My friend Jacobi had a show for his video and I'm I wanted to make a gift shop to go with. So, a half of the gallery was his video exhibition and then the other half was a gift shop. It was sold as a piece to a collector in Texas who had a whole house just for art. He bought a whole gift shop as a piece and made a whole room dedicated to it in the house. That was funny and ironic because I just made that for fun but it was taken seriously. So I just want to make my own gift shop for fun and that's why I made Archive Club.
What is the idea behind Archive Club?
It was supposed to be a live experience of the archive. My idea was after you see the pieces you could also have a gift shop to go with it, so I made the t-shirts with Raf Simons jackets on them, like when you go to a museum you can buy t-shirts with Mona Lisa on it. Then I made more clothes and playing cards with all the archive pieces on each card.
Like your archive and Archive Club, it’s interesting how people have overreacted to what you were doing.
I do a bunch of things just because it's funny or it's fun but I don't know what the perception is. The Raf community in the world took it very seriously too. I remember when I first loaned some of the Raf stuff to Travis Scott, people online were so mad because they thought he was ruining the legacy of Raf.
What do you think about the future of this whole archive movement? It became so big, but it’s hard for us to expect the designers like Raf Simons and Helmut Lang come up suddenly in next coming years.
This has never been a trend to me. I don't see us going back to fast fashion throwing clothes away after a season ever again. I don't think people ever become that wasteful again, especially young people now. Also on the Internet or on social media, you'll see a runway image of Raf from 1998 next to Gucci 2020, so you don't differentiate them in your mind. I see the line between new and vintage are disappearing, and they just merge together because that's how I think fashion and all kind of young people think fashion.
Then, menswear now is based on the early Raf Simons, Hedi Slimane and Helmut Lang. They really pioneered how men dress now. They're valuable not because Drake wore them yesterday. And it's worldwide. All over Europe, South Africa, Russia, China. In everywhere people love archives. I believe it won’t be gone. It will not disappear.
interview text_ YASUYUKI ASANO