FECAL MATTER

The dynamic duo behind emergent brand Fecal Matter want to unmask the fashion industry. Citing the intrinsic hypocrisy of unethical corporations sponsoring images of ‘wellness’, and the elitism of inherited brand prestige, this young band of New York upstarts are reformulating the language of ‘brand appeal’ and creating extremely covetable, original pieces from the cut-up remains of our former idols.

You say that your primary interest in the fashion industry is as a means of raising issues such as child labour and environmental factors. How do you go about balancing such heavy ideas with a wearable aesthetic?

Fecal Matter is a platform we’ve created in order to express our uncensored ideas. We aim to present the alternative and offer something that stimulates critical thinking. This fashion season we’ve created four collections; one for each fashion capitol. Each collection reflects the essence of each fashion week. For example, the New York Fashion Week collection, entitled ‘Sweatshop’, corresponds to the easy marketability and commercialism of NYFW. The focus on child labour and underpaid employment seems to us a natural theme to discuss when it comes to dealing with mass-market appeal.

Specifically for this collection, we are introducing more wearable pieces to the public. We took examples of the big sportswear brands we were dealing with, such as Nike, Adidas, Underarmour and Reebok. All the products they create are easy to understand, approachable and wearable. In the end, this sells. So instead of just offering pieces that are only meant for museums or for visual stimulation, we decided to look at these mega corporations and emulate their recipe. But instead of masking what goes on behind the label, we decided to expose it.

The tension that you identify between brands that “health” and “wellness” and the appalling conditions under which their workers are forced to work has been public knowledge for decades now, and yet we continue to be seduced by the wholesome appeal of sportswear brands. Why do you think this is and what’s the solution?

It’s easier to pretend, and ignore what is actually happening. We blind ourselves from reality because when you are conscious of what is really going on, you realise that our purchasing power as customers is what has driven these brands to use child labour and conditions that we are hearing about. It is our fault for wanting too much for too little a cost – how else would someone be able to construct a t-shirt for $5.99?

Fashion is extremely political but it’s definitely not marketed that way.

 

The reason these brands associate themselves with health is because that is a main concern of human existence. We are manipulated into thinking about health and lifestyle by these huge corporations in order to think about ourselves rather than others. So when you are searching for something at the Nike store, you will forget about world issues and focus on maintaining your own personal health and existence. It’s ironic that sportswear brands represent human activeness and health because those brands represent quite the opposite for those who are actually producing the garments.

We’re not capable of providing a solution but we hope this collection can open up the topic and remind us of the issue at hand. If there is a solution, the customers who are buying into these huge corporations need to realise that their purchasing power is more significant than one would think.

What made you decide to produce individual collections for each fashion capital?

Fashion weeks are a joke to us. It’s no longer about the clothing but more about who’s sitting in the front row, which celebs showed up and what models you were able to get. It’s a circus. But at the same time, it’s a time for connection and expression. Doing four collections, each a reflection of a fashion capital, is a satirical and critical comment on the industry. It’s also a presentation of the range of our products for the Fecal Matter client. We don’t just make cut-up jeans for $50, we can also make you a latex fur coat for $2000, or a simple well-made knit tank top for $200. Each collection is immediately available on our online shop once it is released.

We hope that doing four collections for each fashion capital is introducing something different, encouraging people to step outside of the prescribed box and try something new. The system is already broken, so we cannot continue in the same way. On the contrary, we’re trying to break it even more.

Finally, do you think fashion is inherently political?

Just the simple concept that there can be an editorial photo-shoot for Vogue US in which the goal is to market simple Calvin Klein tank tops, whilst the worker making the tops is getting paid a dollar a day – not even enough to feed their family – is something that’s political in and of itself. Fashion is extremely political but it’s definitely not marketed that way.

photographs and styling 
FECAL MATTER