introducing phlemuns new 'nonbasics'
Durag PHLEMUNS, sunglasses Bonnie Clyde, blazer - PHLEMUNS custom, pants James Flemons vintage archive.
Nonbasics is the new line from James Flemons, taking the conceptual, high fashion aesthetic of his main line, Phlemuns, and distilling it into something easy to wear. As you might have guessed from the name, however, it’s not like this is just some graphic t-shirts — the decidedly not basic line involves metallic jackets and pants, spacey hoods, and cutaway tops. “The Nonbasics side is providing a year round kind of staple for people,” the designer says, if your staple is looking really sick. Below, James styles both his lines to show you what that means, and tells i-D about why he felt it was time to explore what a more sustainable way of designing looks like.
What changes are you looking to make at Phlemuns, with the Nonbasics line?
Trying to create something a bit more accessible has been my main goal overall. Something accessible for both consumers who are fans of Phlemuns, and something accessible for me, as a creative person.
The Nonbasics side is providing a year-round kind of staple for people, at an acceptable price point, that feels a little bit more exclusive. It's not so crazy with trying to grasp the high-end prices, but you still get the feel, and the vibe, it's not like you’re walking in to get something that thousands of people around the world are going to have on.
And it’s more sustainable?
Mixing all those worlds together, and being eco-friendly. We don't sit on inventory, we don't just have stockpiles of clothes. Everything is made to order so that we're not sitting on all that waste and if it doesn't really sell that well, we can put that fabric into something else like a custom thing. We’re trying to cut down on waste, and be creative and come out with new ideas.
So you’re taking a conceptual, eco view on the diffusion line.
That’s always kinda been a view of mine, of taking a conceptual, very conceptual idea and making it more tangible and a little bit more straightforward. You have that element of extra and fashion, and a little glimmer of something but its still relatable to your world. And I always worked with classic silhouettes so, it feels familiar but then there's this extra little something, like "Oh! This is a new thing for me" or "I've never seen this before."
It also feels very LA, where you’re based.
Yeah, it is interesting that for many years I didn't really think that there way a connection to me being from here and based here to my clothing that I make. Then in recent times I've realized it does have such an influence. LA is a very casual, laid back kind of place.
And also a place so dictated by the car.
Oh my gosh that is so true. My car has been kind of out of service for the last couple years and I've been driving since I was 15. So I'm so used to driving and having my car is a part of my identity, my everyday routine. It was weird not having my truck. With three pairs of shoes in it, two extra sweaters and another pair of pants. Your starting the day thinking about the evening, your thinking about all aspects of clothes you might need throughout the day.
What were you like when you were 15?
I mean, I wasn't always as confident as I am now. Especially when it comes to the way that I dress and being a black male. The perception and also the reception that you get as a black male from society, expressing myself the way that I do. So my car was my safe space. Even if I was leaving the house. With my parents or something, even though they would be very open to me just being whoever I wanted to be, I was still treading water. I would go to the gas station with my toned down outfit and then I'd get in the car [and change] and then get to my destination.
Where do you work?
I have been working in my living room for five years. And finally, as of two months ago, I moved into a space. And I've been in there 5-6 days a week just cause we're so busy! It's cool seeing everyone being responsive to it. It’s really fun to just find an outlet to be really expressive.
Finally, tell us a bit about the images you’ve shared with us.
I love imagery, it’s been one of my favorite things to do. Having the outlet of the clothing brand means I’m able to produce images. I've always collected and had a crazy filing system since I was in college, of just magazines editorials. I got really really crazy about it and it’s always been a big part of my interests. And it’s been fun to create not just specifically for releases. Just to have nice, beautiful images, that share this point of view of mine.
Photography Jordan Douglas
Styling James Flemons
Styling Assistance Autumn Randolph
Hair and makeup Ebony Francisco
Model Ebony Francisco