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How to layer dopely: Stockholm Sauce edition
Our Legacy's Jockum Hallin on their new Armani collab, giving people what they don't know they need, DIY-hardcore capitalist-swine mindset & more
Welcome to Blackbird Spyplane.
The B.L.I.S.S. List — our comprehensive guide to Beautiful Life-Improving Spyplane Staples — is here.
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Peep our list of the world’s 35 slappiest shops, where Spyfriends have added a ton of gems in the comments.
— Jonah & Erin
Our Legacy: co-founded in Stockholm in 2005 by designers Jockum Hallin and Christopher Nying, they make some of the planet’s confoundingly illest clothes. We say confounding because the designers navigate deeply paradoxical terrain: somehow executing splashy “fashion” moves that are extremely rockable !!
Erin & I have long loved what they do. Their lookbook styling alone is a master class in Mach 7+ layering, with mad lessons and principles for how to dress cool that you can extract and extrapolate upon (even if you’re wearing zero OL)… Case in point:
On a quick glance you might say, “Blackbird Spyplane, these cool beautiful professional models look dope in these nutty-a** outfits, but what’s that got to do with me??”
Above are four FW23 looks and below are four SS24 looks. What Erin and I f**k with here on a root level is the “happy accidents” ethos that all the looks embody. Above left, a 13-eye boot hits right at the bottom of a pair of cut-off jeans — and one boot tongue flops down to create a rakish little asymmetrical “cutout” effect. A zip-front knit hangs from the same dude’s neck like a cape, but rather than reading as “extra,” the effect is fundamentally human-scale — it feels like the kind of confident, insouciant styling choice that an actual person with sauce makes while moving through the world in a garment.
Neither Erin or I ever wants to look too done. So we like how, in these outfits, a garment that feels “finished” will be playfully undermined by its close proximity to another garment that feels “rough.” Or how, over and over, they disprove the rule that says you shouldn’t layer a cropped piece over a longer piece, a tight piece over a bulkier piece, a small piece over a big piece. Similarly, they’ll put a loose-gauge knit over a denim jacket… they’ll mingle the matte and the shiny… they’ll style collars a little bit askew and blur gender codes (is man in the big brown double-breasted suit below rocking pumps??) with the exact same “sprezzatura” energy.
These are fits that look like a bunch of different vintage- and thrift-store finds tossed together: Coherent and unruly at once, they’re combinations of garments that seem to have originated in very different contexts and yet were destined to LINK AND BUILD together in a way no one saw coming — because OL designed the garments in question to hint at a clash while actually harmonizing proportionally, texturally and chromatically (read our explainer on Tonal Swag if you haven’t).
“We don’t like to make things too perfect,” Jockum told me recently. “That’s an old cliche, but yes — you want great garments, but if you feel they’re precious, then you won’t actually wear them.”
Sometimes it’s tempting to unimaginatively copy a lookbook wholesale: to let a designer dress you. But the message of the OL lookbooks boils down to something like, “a swaggy person grabbed a bunch of new and vintage favorites from their closet, threw them on without much consideration — and killed it.” In that way it’s a call to use your own imagination, because the implicit sell is that an OL piece will be versatile & “collaborative” enough in its DNA to meld with, and juice up, the rest of your wardrobe — and the real takeaway is that you can go into your closet & do the exact same thing with what’s already there.
Join our Classified Tier if you haven’t yet. Blackbird Spyplane is a reader-supported contemporary miracle, so we keep some of our best material behind the Recon Curtain. —Jonah & Erin
Speaking of collaboration —
Our Legacy is extremely good at it. We’re not alone in saluting the ingenuity, wit and care they’ve put into their various Stüssy capsule collabs — something worth celebrating at a time when fashion labels crank out lifeless collabs constantly on some rote “brand synergy” autopilot s**t 😴😴😴.
This Friday, OL is dropping a capsule with none other than Armani, through their “Work Shop” sublabel. Jockum oversees Work Shop, which was created as a way to not just archive but actively re-imagine and re-work old, unsold OL pieces. For the Armani collab, Jockum and his team dug up and tweaked old Armani designs going back decades, using deadstock Our Legacy fabrics, deadstock Armani fabrics, and re-created Armani fabrics the originals of which had been lost to time…
So the other day I (Jonah) was stoked to chop it up with Jockum about this & all manner of other cool s**t !!
Blackbird Spyplane: How did the Armani thing come about? What was your pitch to them?
Jockum Hallin: “It wasn’t our pitch to them, it was them coming to us. Long story short, Milano is a very important city for us — we’ve built a network of friends over there, people who know the city and have their tentacles out, and one thing led to another. This is with Emporio Armani, a slightly more experimental line, but when they came to us we started fantasizing about merging all the different worlds in the Armani universe. Because when you think about Armani you think of so many different things — Mr. Armani starting it, working in movies, dressing the American Gigolos and Casinos, the ‘90s heyday vibe with the beautiful Emporio suits, and then Armani Jeans, which was its own phenomenon. We didn’t look at one era, we looked everywhere — we just wanted to bring things into our world: OG Armani pieces we blended with current Our Legacy silhouettes and ideas.”
Blackbird Spyplane: With the Work Shop x Stüssy stuff, you went to warehouses in California, digging through deadstock Stüssy fabrics from way back and making new pieces with them. Was that the m.o. with Armani, too?
Jockum Hallin: “Yeah, we were digging up archival Armani garments, grails of ours, and telling them, ‘We wanna do our version of this jacket,’ and also we were looking into their fabrics, like, ‘What are you sitting on?’ I’d say half of the collection is vintage fabrics — they have all these amazing semi-sporty boiled-wools, fabrics with peached touches, fabrics with texture. Then maybe 25% is us using Our Legacy fabrics. And the rest is us finding a little bit of an old Armani fabric we loved and reproducing it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Back in 2012 Our Legacy did something really interesting. You’d established yourselves as a successful label for “elevated” menswear basics — Italian-made stonewashed jeans, thick sweatshirts in nice washes, patch-pocket linen-cotton button-ups and Oxford cloth button downs, etc., etc. But you temporarily pulled the plug and did this metamorphosis into a much wilder and looser aesthetic.
A lot of guys go to clothing of the kind you were making because they want to look “nice” without drawing a ton of attention to themselves. But you pivoted to shiny materials, sheer fabrics, crazy prints — basically, sexy s**t that requires a boldness and adventurousness to wear. You pulled it off, and took what you were doing to a much more interesting place, but it seems so risky. What was the conversation like inside the company? Was it a business necessity? Was it, F**k it, we’re bored, let’s push everyone’s comfort zone?
Jockum Hallin: “Creatively, we’d been put in this niche of ‘menswear’ brands. When you’re coming up you’re just happy that people like what you do, but after a while you start to feel restricted — people are expecting you to do certain things, and you feel like you’re almost becoming a ‘heritage brand.’ That wasn’t it for us. We wanted to say, Let’s do a zip-up shirt in a fake leather for a guy, but it would feel like, Oh, we can’t do that. Christopher was the driving force behind that leap of faith. We needed it — and maybe our customer needed it and didn’t know it.”
Blackbird Spyplane: I asked you to share some cherished possessions, and the first thing you sent over is an old Mr. Chow’s napkin, signed by Andy Warhol. This is a gorgeous dirty napkin, d*mn!
Jockum Hallin: “Obviously Warhol’s one of our time’s biggest geniuses, in terms of practice, but also theoretically — his ways of ‘creating’ something that’s already there by taking it into his world. A lot of his art I wouldn’t put on my walls, even if I could afford it. You know, I wouldn’t hang a Marilyn at home. But this napkin tied it all together for me. It comes down to the question of, is this art because he signed it?
“And then there’s layers behind that, where you can romanticize about this world of artists and movie stars hanging out in New York: Warhol, or one of his friends, used it at dinner, and at the end of the night he signed it and gave it to his friend Sylvia Miles, who hung it in an acrylic frame over her fireplace for years, until she died. I bought it from her estate, and I put it in my kitchen. There’s still soot on the bottom of the frame.”
Blackbird Spyplane: Finally, you also sent over a pair of Fugazi tees. What’s the story with these?
Jockum Hallin: “These are bootlegs, I think from the late ‘90s, but the tags are cut out so it’s hard to say. I got one in a store and one from a dealer in London. Fugazi is my favorite band, they had incredible, unmatched ethics, they never charged more than a couple dollars to get into their shows, they stayed independent, they never sold out — and of course they never made any official shirts except that one that says, ‘This is not a Fugazi t-shirt.’ I grew up listening to hardcore in the ‘90s, and so there’s a DIY hardcore kid who is still in me who despises the capitalist swine that is also me, who needed these shirts and paid top dollar for them.”
Blackbird Spyplane: It’s hard to keep it real on the level that Ian MacKaye did — probably even harder these days than when Fugazi was together. But is it possible to carry any of his values into your work with Our Legacy in actual material ways? Like in terms of identifying something f**ked up about the clothing industry and actively doing things differently, even if it’s quote-unquote bad for the bottom line?
Jockum Hallin: “There’s so much wrong. But one thing that came to mind just now is, with the Work Shop line, sometimes when we don’t have deadstock fabric on hand that suits a project, we dig through wholesale deadstock vendors and find crazy good stuff — like Loro Piana level, but it costs nothing, a couple euros per meter. When we get those fabrics in, we don’t charge the price we could charge for the collections — we make the cost much closer to what we paid for the fabric. The others will pull my leg about it, like it’s a socialistic approach to luxury clothing. But Ian Mackaye would say you shouldn’t charge more than a few dollars for our records, or our shows, it should stay accessible — so maybe that’s a way of channeling him.”
The Our Legacy Work Shop x Emporio Armani collab comes out this Friday, Nov. 17.
Peace to James Harris for sparking our beautiful Spyfriendship with the Joker.
Our interviews with André 3000, Jerry Seinfeld, Tyler, The Creator, Nathan Fielder, Emily Bode, Matty Matheson, James Blake, The Kid Mero, Daniel Arnold, 100 gecs, Salehe Bembury, Andrew Kuo, Oneohtrix Point Never, Michael Stipe, John Wilson, Sandy Liang, Héctor Bellerín, Ezra Koenig, Action Bronson, Mac DeMarco, Evan Kinori, Danielle Haim, Steven Yeun, King Krule, David Grann, and more are here.