If you were somehow unfamiliar enough with the London fashion scene that you’d never encountered the work of David David, née David Saunders, a primer in his background certainly wouldn’t help much. Saunders is best known for a whirlwind rise to prominence that began with a job as head sculptor in YBA Tracey Emin’s studio, stumbled into a fashion line that won him a coveted spot in London’s Fashion East runway show, and now entails an obligatory mention of fans like Kanye West, Agyness Deyn, and M.I.A. each time it comes up in conversation. It’s not that it’s much ado about nothing — we were huge admirers of Saunders’s line by the time we ended up in his flat last February, a block away from our favorite London boutique Darkroom — but all that star power conveys very little about a charmingly blithe collection consisting of a handful of wearable silhouettes festooned with hand-drawn kaleidoscopic graphics, except maybe how he ended up with it in the first place. “I fell into fashion by accident, really,” Saunders recalls. “It was just a process of who I was living with and what parties I was going to. I started making hand-painted t-shirts for myself, and people” — presumably the right people — “would be like, ‘Where did you get that from?’”
David David didn’t become a proper label until Saunders — who had studied fine art at Chelsea College and worked as a gallery tech before graduating to Emin’s studio — fell into the crosshairs of a fashion PR agent, who tried to sign him as a client before he even knew what his endeavor was meant to become. “It was completely ludicrous to me,” he says, because he still considered his t-shirts art; some took 6 hours to paint, others took several days. Slowly, though, as he began digitizing his pieces for production and the buzz around them grew, David David became the kind of brand that collaborated with Fred Perry and Henry Holland, was stocked in Dover Street Market, and commanded full-page coverage in the likes of Vogue UK, not to mention expanding to a full range of garments for both men and women. When we visited Saunders earlier this year, though, he was actually in the process of pulling the business back to its roots, focusing more on the core t-shirt line and looking for ways to buy himself time to return to his personal practice. “That’s the main goal for this year,” he told us. “I still draw all the time, but it quite often feels like it’s for work rather than part of my artistic process. It would be nice to work as an artist and then most likely put that work back into the company, but to at least start completely as an artist. I’m quite looking forward to that.” Check out this slideshow of photos we took inside Saunders’s home, then head over to his personal Tumblr to learn more about his point of view.
Since graduating from London’s Royal College of Art in 2006 with a master’s degree in womenswear, Eudon Choi has had his graduate collection picked up by the fanatically worshipped Dover Street Market, been a senior designer for Savannah and Sienna Miller's label Twenty8Twelve, and been called a “fabulous individual” by our favorite throwback men’s fashion mag Fantastic Man. All of which makes his decision to move to London in 2003 — after having already completed a master’s in menswear at Yonsei University in his hometown of Seoul — seem like a pretty good move. “London, and womenswear in particular, just felt like a place where I could be more experimental,” says Choi.
Christian Wijnants attended the fashion program at Antwerp’s prestigious Royal Academy, and upon graduating, won the Hyéres prize, the Dries Van Noten prize, and a coveted assistant spot in Van Noten’s atelier. Then, two years after starting his own line in 2003, he banked 100,000 euros as the winner of the Swiss Textile Award, beating out Giles Deacon and Charles Anastase. “I never thought I would even be nominated,” Wijnants told i-D magazine at the time, before proceeding to watch his collection trickle into all of the world’s most respected boutiques and department stores. He was just being modest, of course — the man has unmistakable talent, especially when it comes to his imaginative textiles and knits — but there is something surprising about his success, when you think about it: In a country whose fashion scene skews towards all things experimental, nonconformist, androgynous, and/or dark, the cherub-faced designer is known for both his colorful, feminine aesthetic and his charming geniality. He’s almost too perfect to be cool.
When Mason McFee and Jessica Clark decided to name their new company Crummy House, referring to their own charmingly ancient one-bedroom rental in Austin, Texas, it was mostly out of admiration rather than denigration. Sure, the paint is cracked in places, the garage has an uneven dirt floor, and in the winter, the cold night air blows through with no regard for shuttered windows. And it was a bit of an inconvenience when, two months after they moved in, an old tree fell directly onto McFee’s car. But with two desks in the living room, a workshop in the garage, and the kitchen basically converted into a studio, the house has become a kind of creative haven for the couple — a getaway from McFee’s responsibilities as an art director at the ad agency Screamer, and Clark’s as a graphic design student at Austin’s Art Institute. They spend weekends making art there, side by side, and with Crummy House they’ll start their first true collaboration.