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IN CONVERSATION: PROCELL

 

Launching on September 13th, exclusively for LN-CC, PROCELL takes over the installation space with a three day pop-up in the London store. In an interview with us, Brian Procell and Jessica Gonsalves, describe how modern youth have discovered beauty in the flawed nature of the bootleg counterfeit culture, and ironically so has the high end fashion houses. "Seemingly everyone is on the same page and wants that undeniable in-your face-logo aesthetic."


 

PROCELL is a destination boutique in the Bowery neighbourhood of downtown Manhattan that carries a unique mix of vintage streetwear, sportswear and designer ready to wear. For over a decade PROCELL has sourced vintage inspiration for many of the industry’s top fashion designers and brands.

The collection that’s being profiled at LN-CC explores bootleg fashion and the counterfeit designer culture that was dominating urban city street style worldwide in the late 20th century. Counterfeit culture is an undeniable part of street culture, and today, mainstream fashion looks to the street for inspiration each season. This vintage collection is a time capsule demonstrating the originality of items produced in a pre-mobile-internet culture. Focusing on the 1980’s & 1990s - PROCELL's selection is a snapshot of the historical relationship between the aspirational demand for luxury sportswear and the artistic license that delivered it to the masses.

Today bootleg fashion is infiltrating the luxury market with brands such as Gucci counterfeiting their own product and selling it back to you; this culture is as relevant then as it is now.

The pop-up will be available at the LN-CC London Store only from Friday 14th September - Sunday 16th September.

Tell us about PROCELL?

We are more than just a shop - we have the store here in NYC and its sister space next door where we host events and a private archive for designer reference.

Brian - "To make a concept last, it must be THE reference, which has been my case. And when this concept starts to spread, you have to stay one level above everyone else."

What's your inspiration behind the store?

After working behind the scenes for several years doing design and reference consulting we noticed that many stores' approach to vintage was stagnant and out of touch - it just wasn't connecting with modern youth. We opened the shop to showcase and highlight the subcultures and vintage pieces we found interesting and relevant.

Tell us about the early days; what was your vision when you set out? Have things played out how you expected?

We opened up the shop before many vintage shops had an Instagram account. We didn't expect social media to have such a dominant influence on the industry. With that in mind, we began to use our t-shirt collection as a tool to communicate our taste level and grasp on fashion trends without broadcasting the entire contents of the store. This allowed us not to be as transparent as other vintage stores that regularly use their Instagram as a catalogue of what's in the shop - our approach protected us from other stores copying precisely what we had in store while simultaneously driving people to go to the shop and discover what was there.


Many of our current private clients understood what we were doing. While we often meet people through the shop, they realised that there was apparently much more to what we did than our Instagram account. For other dealers that is all they have. Throughout the years this strategy has proven very valuable.

What's been the craziest moment so far?

it's all crazy but amazing at the same time - because running your own business is extremely hard work. Everything we do is organic - we don't have an agent or a pr company, and so we never know what call we're going to get. As the years have gone by our brand continues to gain global recognition which has lead to more projects and opportunity. Our schedules reflect that - sometimes we feel like we're living in a movie - shuttling between so many projects it almost seems unreal.

Why do you think people are obsessed with Nostalgia?

Nostalgia plays are part in what we do but it's not the primary driver behind our curation. We don't think of what we do as nostalgia or rooted in nostalgia at all. Obviously, people remember certain items or campaigns OR remember wanting an item and not being able to get it but we firmly believe that the items we curate resonate today because they are unique, interesting and stand on their own.

What are your thoughts on modern day creative and fashion industry compared with 20 years ago?

All of the issues the well-respected designers (thinking Dries Van Noten, Alaia and Maison Margiela) dealt with back then are the same now (hectic schedule, fashion as a business, profitability vs. creativity etc.) but then amplified tenfold because of the mobile internet and apps like Instagram. We would be doing the same thing regardless of the changes in our environment, but there is just a lot more bullshit to get through.

What’s your opinion on bootlegs? What purpose do you think they serve?

Bootlegs democratize luxury brands - from a big picture perspective we think, as with anything, you can't say that's a wholly good or bad thing. Bootlegs from the era that we focus on are like folk art - they represent a snapshot into the freedom and creativity of artistic license. Most of the bootlegs we have in our collection harken back to the golden of era of hip hop culture which has now evolved into the mainstream global pop culture.

Why do you think the luxury fashion houses have embraced the idea of the bootleg?

Bootleg culture is an undeniable part of street culture. For many decades, luxury fashion houses have borrowed from the street as a source of authenticity. Ironically fashion houses today are harnessing the authenticity of the vintage bootleg's original impact, cache and brute honesty. As modern youth have discovered the beauty in something so flawed, so has the high-end fashion house - seemingly everyone is on the same page and wants that undeniable in-your face-logo aesthetic.

What attracted you to working with LN-CC?

To PROCELL, ln-cc is a visionary retailer and platform where everything is deliberate and curated meticulously - we approach vintage in the same way, and so this partnership is a perfect match for our London debut.

What's next for PROCELL?

We are bringing PROCELLoverseas, and that is something that is very interesting to us. Look out for activations and pop-ups in Europe and Japan.