the model and designer upcycling his old school clothes
Taking inspiration from his upbringing in Buffalo, New York, model and designer Audi Bizzare riffs off the town’s preppy fashion scene with his with upcycled school hoodies and T-shirt collection.
A model wearing BIZAR. Photography Audi Bizzare
Buffalo might not have quite the same legacy in the arts New York City does, but that’s not to say it hasn’t made a meaningful contribution to both. When Cindy Sherman and Robert Longo met at Buffalo State College in the 70s, they formed a scene of avant-garde artists that later would become celebrated in the upper echelons of NYC’s art scene and beyond. Around the same time, artist and filmmaker Tony Conrad joined the media studies department of State University of New York at Buffalo, and became embedded in a movement of game-changing video artists now collectively referred to as “Buffalo heads”. More recently, Central Saint Martins graduate Edwin Mohney -- whose designs have been worn by Beyoncé and Donald Glover -- returned home to Buffalo to open a studio, using the city’s local thrift stores and supermarkets to source the materials for his.
Model and designer Audi Bizzare is the latest designer to take inspiration from Western New York and its humble beauty. Growing up in Buffalo, “a strange, unique city that hardly comes up in discussion of the arts”, Audi wanted to pay tribute to the city’s education system and its obsession with preppy, collegiate fashion. Learning the basics of design at 15, when his grandmother taught him how to modify his clothes, Audi enrolled on a two-year fashion design course, graduating last year. The first collection from his label BIZAR, entitled “School Day” is made entirely of upcycled school hoodies and T-shirts. “I wanted to incorporate creatives like myself in high school, with the non-creatives who played lots of sports and got really good grades, unlike myself,” Audi says after the show. “Duality plays a major role in my life and reflects my designs. So in the duality of the ‘jocks’ and the ‘rebels’ I created ‘School Day’.”
How does Buffalo as a city, and your upbringing there, inspire this collection?
Buffalo is a persistent influence in my life, and as well in my work. It’s a city of lost hopes and dreams. Not many artists get out of Buffalo and become successful with their art because it’s a very small, forgotten city that doesn’t have a huge artistic impact on the world. So to change that It takes a lot of motivation and hard work, and that’s what gives me inspiration; I came this far I cannot go back.
My upbringing in Western New York was heavily impacted by high school and college sports. In my town and community, sport was everything. Most kids would wear their high school sports T-shirts and their favourite colleges while I was wearing clothes I made myself. So with my designs I try to incorporate not just my personal style but more so take the traditional look of my classmates and make it my own unique creation.
My decision to choose the town’s education system [as my system] began while I was first traveling Europe and Asia. I gained a new perspective on people when I did. When I came back I realised how unique Buffalo youth are. Many are just like a lot of people in the artistic world, but their voices are much less heard throughout the process.
How do you source the garments?
For this collection I sourced all of the garments from over 10 different thrift stores located in Buffalo and its surrounding towns. I also reached out to different classmates and friends directly, for their old high school and college clothing. Some of the models wore a part of their own high school shirts, while still being recycled to my own creation.
What’s the rest of the creative scene in Buffalo like right now?
Right now there is a small but impactful creative scene here in Buffalo with music. Mostly small hip-hop and rap groups. There’s a rap show almost every week. Home to the Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo has an important art scene as well. There are a lot of creatives here, but making it to the next step and getting out is the hardest creative objective.
Growing BIZAR as a label is a big ambition. I have always wanted to do more than just altering clothing. As a model I have gained tremendous information and insight directly through people in the industry. Without this knowledge I don’t think I would be where I am right now. My first show really tested my capabilities and I learned if I truly want this in my life I must fully dedicate all my time and attention to it.
This article originally appeared on i-D UK.