from warsaw to new york with streetwear brand misbhv
Ahead of brand’s debut at the NYFW, we spoke to Natalia Maczek of MISBHV about the boredom of the avant-garde and the shallowness of luxury.
MISBHV are the leading lights of Poland's streetwear scene, they've risen from the streets of Warsaw to international acclaim and respect, whilst still maintaining their East Bloc edge and Post-Soviet cool. Known for their post-punk take on streetwear, that melds 70s attitude with graphic boldness, Misbhv have caught the eye of Rihanna, whose worn their pieces, riffed on David Bowie in their collections, and are now preparing to take New York Fashion Week by storm.
You've worked with Rihanna,collaborated with exclusive Dutch boutique Ansh46, had great international press... Now you've just announced that you're going to take part in NYFW! How does it feel? It must be great.
Thank you! We try to work hard on projects we believe in. Doing a presentation during New York Fashion Week is a huge challenge and we have devoted a couple of weeks to prepare everything. After four seasons focusing on men's silhouettes we feel that we have already created a world in which "our boy" can move freely. We believe that we can progress only by pushing our boundaries and leaving our comfort zone. That's why we have decided to take part in NYFW not with a male, but female silhouette, and not with the strong graphics we're known for, but with something very minimal. Our presentation will take place an hour before Alexander Wang's show. We realise that we're putting ourselves next to top players, but the press and buyers are very excited about our presence in NY and we can't let them down.
What will you present?
Our spring/summer 17 collection is very abstract and personal at the same time. It's a fantasy about a 17-year-old girl from a 2000s disco, where youthful naivety and freshness mix with raw aura of techno, and nostalgia blends with modernity. We listened to this one song, called Age Of Love, a lot while designing. If there's one song to embody our collection, this is it.
NYFW is a great honour and a chance to grow, but on the other hand it's also a new stage and challenge. Can you keep your streetwear authenticity in the fashion spotlight?
Our approach to each product is the same: we always do what we like at the moment, what we think is appropriate. We try to stay true to ourselves, to always remain authentic. Honestly, spring/summer 17 feels like our most "liberated" collection.
Are you becoming a luxury brand? In August you opened your first boutique in a prestigious location, in the Vitkac luxury department store in Warsaw, where you can buy Louis Vuitton bags and Gucci dresses.
Misbhv right next to Gucci is in our opinion an expression of Vitkac's modern approach to business. It makes sense when you look at the broader picture of fashion right now, and the changing landscape of fashion in the last couple of years. "Streetwear" five years ago was anti-establishment fashion. "Streetwear" today is Off-White and Vetements. This is the new streetwear, grist to the mill of the system. Avant-garde and luxury are not incompatible anymore; they are energies, which complement each other. Avant-garde by itself is boring. Plain luxury is shallow. The interesting stuff happens in between.
Much of the press surrounding MISBHV emphasises the fact that you come from Poland. Do you think that your success is partially driven by the Eastern European trend? Do you feel related to Gosha Rubchinskiy, Lotta Volkova or Demna Gvasalia?
Naturally we operate within a similar aesthetic. All the people that you've mentioned are connected: they reject polished beauty, work with wardrobe elements stemming from streetwear, use pop-culture motifs...
Your last few months must've been hectic. How do you challenge yourselves now?
We feel that the road to presenting at NYFW has taken not months, but years of hard work. This is our biggest professional challenge up to date and we don't contemplate what's going to happen next. Now our main goal is September 10th, we don't think further than that. Challenges that will come after, will be inextricably connected with the reception of this presentation and collection.
Text Basia Czyżewska
Photography Nicole Maria Winkler dla Misbhv