This is what Barbara Sánchez-Kane is doing during quarantine
The innovative designer tells i-D about making the 'Mexican uniform' camp, her art practice, anxiety and her alter ego SOLRAC.
Photos courtesy of Sanchez-Kane.
The first time I met Bárbara Sánchez-Kane, we were in the lobby of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, surrounded by architecture that straddles the line between the uncanny and the familiar. The lobby was a jumble of ostentatious design fixtures -- neon-illuminated bars, imported marble covered in venetian carpet, complete with fake balconies. This felt like an appropriate place to meet the young Mexican designer behind fashion label Sánchez-Kane, whose designs are themselves uncanny in many ways, merging luxury and camp -- cheese grater heels, a high-end leather sack with a plastic bag clip as the clasp, a kink harness with a measuring tape in the holster.
The clothes that Sánchez-Kane makes are a brilliantly bizarre antithesis to the ubiquity of streetwear designs that dominate our feeds -- genderless, tender pieces that blend clothing and art. What has always struck me about Sánchez-Kane is that it stands in direct contrast to the mainstream queer aesthetic that infantilizes with pastel colors and glitter, seemingly devoid of sex. Instead, Sánchez-Kane embraces what she calls macho sentimental -- “a human of any gender that is no longer denying their impulses.”
If you scroll through their feed, you’ll notice that the models in many of the photographs are also untraditional. Sánchez-Kane chooses people who span gender presentation, race and age, and while that isn’t necessarily new within fashion, she drapes them in clothes and provocative adornment, somehow turning them into living sculptures. In this way, her work arguably queers fashion, blurring the boundaries so that you’re unsure of what you’re looking at. With many of us engaged in a collective reimagining of the world at this time, art plays a significant role in providing a blueprint and Sánchez-Kane’s work represents what can happen when we occupy the ephemeral.
Over the last few days, Sánchez-Kane and I had sporadic discussions over WhatsApp about her design process during lockdown in Mexico, the importance of using your body and how her identity informs her work.