This 21-Year-Old Designer Is Changing The Streetwear World
Shane Gonzales of Midnight Studios counts A$AP Rocky and Off-White's Virgil Abloh as supporters.
BY MILES RAYMER | Apr 26, 2016 | Fashion
In a roundabout way, the inspiration for Shane Gonzales's buzzy Midnight Studios brand goes back to Tony Hawk Pro Skater. The video game was the 21-year-old designer's first exposure to punk rock, and his first entry into skate culture, two obsessions that would eventually bring him into contact with streetwear. A week after high school, he moved to L.A. to start interning for Russ Karablin's venerable streetwear brand SSUR. Sure, he packed orders and screen-printed T-shirts, but he was also picking up some of the fundamentals of running a label (if not exactly the kind of technical education you get with a fashion design degree). When he started Midnight two years later, he says, "All I really knew was how to print T-shirts and embroider hats."
Printing up shirts and selling them through platforms like Depop got Midnight rolling, but Gonzales soon started reaching further. His S/S15 "Something Else" collection, with its eccentric twists on menswear staples–a striped sweater with sleeves that hang to mid-thigh, a traditional denim jacket silhouette stretched into a trench–was the first indication that he could actually pull it off.
Punk, and in particular the deconstructed style Vivienne Westwood dressed the Sex Pistols in, has been a guiding force. "Vivienne Westwood was my first inspiration," Gonzales says. "The whole do-it-yourself aspect of it, kind of taking everyday clothes and throwing paint on them or random prints or cutting them up and ripping out sections—that's where I became fascinated with the whole style."
Gonzales is still rooting his styles in rock subcultures that blew up before he was born, but the speed at which retro trends come and go these days has kept him moving. "The whole punk style, that's pretty popular right now," he says, "so I'm trying to figure out a way to keep that relevance, but I'm also trying to explore different subcultures in the rock scene." His A/W16 "Adored" collection draws its inspiration from the late-'80s Madchester scene, where punk collided head-on with burgeoning UK rave, resulting in beat-heavy guitar rock like the Stone Roses song that "Adored" is named for, as well as a distinctive oversized silhouette. "It's a lot of oversized clothes," he says of the collection, "but I still put a punk twist, an edge to it. I make everything slimmer and darker.”
Midnight unveiled "Adored" at a Paris showroom earlier this year, around the same time Virgil Abloh was sending models down the runway in vintage shirts that the two had screen-printed, cut down the centre, and reassembled with mismatched halves. Abloh, who's managed to make the leap from streetwear to haute couture with his Off-White line, has been "teaching me things here and there, mentoring me for awhile," Gonzales says, but he didn't know beforehand that their collaborative pieces would be featured in one of the most-watched shows of Paris Fashion Week. "He took them with him to Paris and I didn't expect to see them on the runway. It was pretty cool."
Another big supporter has been A$AP Rocky, who prominently featured a Midnight Studios shirt in his 2015 video for "Lord Pretty Flacko Jodye 2." The two were linked by Rocky's manager Chace Infinite, who brought in Gonzales to help on creative direction for his album At. Long. Last. ASAP. "He just kinda called me one day and was like, 'Hey, you have flight to New York in four hours.' I just got up, got my shit together, went to the airport not knowing what to expect, and then ended up at Rocky's New York house and started talking, going back and forth on ideas. It just went from there, really."
Rocky ended up bringing Midnight Studios in under the umbrella of his AWGE creative group. "I feel like AWGE is a creative company," Rocky writes in an email. "AWGE is a place for all inspired people. Midnight fits in because Shane is incredibly talented. I like how he takes the London punk and Belgian Raf [Simons] inspired aesthetic and makes it his own."
"It's been really crazy," Gonzales says of his short time in the spotlight. "It feels like time's been going so fast. I'm just trying to catch up and find my place and keep progressing, but at the same time not move too fast." Right now he's filling in some of the gaps in his fashion education, with an eye towards future runway shows and maybe even a women's line. The hardest thing for him to learn so far has been how to keep his creativity in line with the fashion world's schedule: "Designing something a year ahead of when it's actually going to release and still being pleased with it is one of the things I'm struggling with right now," he says. "I change my mind all the time.”
From: Esquire US.