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LN-CC talks to Steve Oklyn ahead of the launch of O K L Y N in their store. Please do not be confused O K L Y N is not a brand, a point that Steve places emphasis on. O K L Y N is a collection of items sanctioned for sale that are an intellectual analysis of the fashion industry. The first is an LN-CC collaboration T-shirt, predicting that Angelina Jolie could run for President of the United States in 2024, and, win! The second is the La Societe des Infiltrationnistes hoodie, which references the work of the avant-garde revolutionary organization Situationist International – in particular, Guy Debord's seminal work "The Society of the Spectacle" the collective construction of situations and desires, notions that resonate with the contemporary relationship of youth with social media. Finally an original very rare JIGSAW lookbook from A/W 97-98, shot by Terry Richardson. This acts as a reminder that the fashion industry can breach moral or social boundaries in plain sight, without question.
In this interview, Steve talks candidly about poignant sociological changes that are affecting not only the fashion industry but alternative culture as a whole. He discusses how Google search has altered originality, and, how he perceives aspects of the fashion industry to be financially engineered capitalist experiences under the guise of societal change. Amidst the backdrop of unfamiliar times, look out for more articles from O K L Y N that will be published via LN-CC in response to current affairs.
Who are The Oklyn Family?
The Oklyn Family is an alliance between NOT VOGUE [Steve Oklyn] and APAR.TV O K L Y N creates predictive analysis about art, fashion, and society.
Tell us about the early days; what was your vision when you set out? And have things played out how you expected?
Our teams began independently and joined forces in January 2016. The goal has always been to use critique to infiltrate the control centres of youth culture. The Oklyn Family and our projects are always evolving. We operate with no expectations but are more dedicated than ever to expanding our platforms and projects.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Keep one's life and one's work 100% separate
Please tell us a little bit about each of the ARTICLES that will be launching, and why these are the first?
The JOLIE 2024 t-shirt was originally created in an edition of 12 in Holland/2014. O K L Y N and LN-CC have collaborated on this 2018 edition of 48 pieces. JOLIE 2024 is an example of predictive conceptual journalism. It is a simple idea. In 2014 Steve Oklyn saw past the Clinton political mafia, the Bush political mafia and could see the emergence of the Donald Trump political mafia family. Intellectual prediction is informed leaps of consciousness. In 2014 and even more so in 2018 I believe that Angelina Jolie could run for President of the United States and win. The Trump and the Kushner [Jared/Ivanka and Josh/Karlie Kloss] families are rooted in a narrative that needs to end. Angelina Jolie's history of informed statements and humanitarian work are exemplary. Here personal commitment to gender and diversity are transparent. JOLIE 2024 is a new political algorithm and political narrative.
The LSD INFILTRATIONNISTES hoodie is one of only four made. It was created for the founding members of La Societe des Infiltrationnistes. In the 1960/70's Guy Debord with others formed the Internationale Situationniste group. The Spectacle has absorbed those methods of cultural critique it named. In the 21st Century, the war of ideas has merged with the global expansion of commercial youth culture. The street has become a data universe. When authenticity has become a mood board, and Likes and Followers have superseded subculture, The Oklyn Family are committed to searching for meaning instead of Search.
The JIGSAW lookbook is from my collection. I have been collecting fashion promotional ephemera since 1982. The piece was the promotional catalogue for the Men's Fall/Winter 1997-1998 collection. I acquired it by visiting the store off Bond Street in Fall 1997. Terry's photographs are a perfect mix of Nick Knight "SKINHEAD" and Terry's obsession with aggressive sexuality. Everything about the catalogue speaks to the transgressive. I have never seen another one in 20 years of research. The inside cover contact sheet of forearms and fists is still ahead of the fashion imagery curve.
Tell us a little bit about APAR.TV What is the philosophy behind APAR.TV?
Aurelien Poirson-Atlan founded APAR.TV. The mission is to operate a series of interconnected information platforms. I was interviewed in December 2014 for APAR.TV by Cecile Montigny. In January 2015 I began to contribute to APAR.TV. In late 2017 Aurelien and I decided to join creative forces. The Oklyn Family was formed in January 2018. Our first project was an exhibition in March 2018 in Arles, France. The exhibition was titled: POPULAR UPRISING. The goal was to author a critique of the fashion industry strategy of confusing fashion marketing and art in the minds of still forming young minds.
A lot of articles seem to provoke a reaction, is this the aim?
When you write about fashion with a critical eye and mind, you will provoke a reaction. The majority of writing about fashion especially those articles, dispatches, and reports aimed at youth and young adults what they are experiencing is advertising, not dispassionate reportage. Most fashion coverage is expanded press releases.
What is the main driving force behind the content on APAR.TV?
I think Aurelien has made a strong commitment to publishing the hard critique of art, fashion and its leadership. He has also embraced the concept of conceptual [predictive] journalism. A historical note: Seth Siegelaub an important art world theorist [conceptual art] first envisioned the role of conceptual art principles to impact and alter the definition of journalism.
What are your thoughts on modern day creative and fashion industry compared with 20 years ago?
In the late 1990's there still was the last attempt by the fashion industry creative class to be the alternative counterculture. There is a select group from Rei Kawakubo to Samuel Ross that is positioned by the industry [press] as an alternative, but I do not see that now at all. The term gentrification applies to not the only real estate but also to fashion and the art world. The fashion leadership both collects and promotes through their luxury brand collaborations. I created a term for this which is: A-pop. The "A" denotes [Algorithmic] programming. I wrote an essay titled: KILL THE MOOD which addresses the fact that Google Search and the process of creating moldboards has altered the meaning of the words authenticity and originality forever. Appropriation as a creative strategy has had enormous cultural consequences.
What’s your opinion on bootlegs? What purpose do you think they serve?
In many instances the large bootleg operations are criminal. The conditions of how and who makes those products is criminal. The profits expand those operations. O K L Y N statements have been bootlegged. Our statements are political in nature and not commercial productions. We might produce 20 of a message and print it on a t-shirt. Those t-shirts act as political posters or pamphlets. It has been fascinating seeing kids all over the world make their own version. I admire how they customise the original message into something unique to their lives and thoughts.
There had been a significant shift in designers at the big houses this season, what has driven this change?
Cool factor is always the reason for the change in the big luxury brand groups. LVMH made the biggest moves this year. Kim Jones at Dior Homme did not impress me. The collaboration with the artist KAWS and the jewellery designer Yoon Ahn were all corporately driven decisions geared to the Asian markets. Kris Van Assche as the Creative Director of Berluti I do not see as of any interest to the world's youth. He devoted his time at Dior Homme to explore various forms of club and punk rock expression. Does the customer for Berluti want to be associated with any form of youth culture's past? Virgil Abloh as the Creative Director of Louis Vuitton Homme is the most interesting. I understand Bernard Arnault's motivations behind this decision. COOL = CASH. There is also Mr Arnault's need to make his youngest son [heir] Alexandre visible to the exploding 21st-century consumer. First, he bought 80% of the luggage brand Rimowa in 2016 and in 2017 made Alexandre, the co-chief executive. Then in 2018, the Virgil Abloh X Rimowa collaboration happened. Is this occurring naturally or is Bernard masterminding a greater narrative?
Then there is Hedi Slimane taking creative control of CELINE. I think the total news blackout till the first show this Fall is the most alternative thing he can be doing. Silence and being invisible are powerful strategic weapons. Change is the strategic weapon the large brands have mastered to create the illusion of societal change. Every aspect of the industry is organised around that engineered experience. Change signifies youth and youth is the product of fashion. Swipe right is a code that is perceived as a personal choice and not what it really is: control.
What brands do you think are doing it right?
If I answer what I think the most natural brand in the youth universe is I would say Sean Stussy's S/Double project. I understand what Matthew Williams is attempting with his brand ALYX. I could envision a point where he becomes a creative director at an LVMH brand. The same goes for Samuel Ross of A-Cold Wall*. There is the narrative that Martin Margiela and Helmut Lang started that has become ingrained: the designer as a conceptual artist. Of course UNDERCOVER. Jun Takahashi began his project in 1993 and still can create excitement. I always like to see what Sofia Prantera is doing with ARIES, I think Kering should take note of her. On a personal level, HERMES is the perfect brand. I admire the family's total involvement, it speaks an aspirational language. There is no need for diffusion.
This is the first partnership for you, what attracted you to working with LN-CC?
LN-CC understood that O K L Y N is not a brand and that it is an intellectual analysis of the fashion industry.
What’s next for The Oklyn Family?
We are in a dialogue with an alternative arts centre in Beijing about curating an exhibition for the beginning of 2019. I'm giving a series of lectures at the 433 Institute in Thimphu, Bhutan this Fall/2018. The subject is DOUBT.
August 1, 2018