NEEDS&WANTS: A Synesthete’s Critique
NEEDS&WANTS features a small and aesthetically minimal, yet off-kilter collection (literally) of beautiful four-season outerwear. From varsity stripes to sheepskin luxury, you have our attention, Mr. Brown.
PROLOGUE: Rooted in the ideal that “less is more”, Toronto-based Sean Brown debuted NEEDS&WANTS in 2013 with the intention of solving the constant struggle between material necessity and desire.
Reducing design to a perfectly minimal balance of functionality and bewitchery takes both an incredible understanding and respect of what works, with just the right amount of risk and intrigue. But Brown has managed to do both. Despite the obvious stylistic influence of vintage varsity jackets on his work, the self-declared anthropologist also uses this influence to tap into the root of thrift culture. He respects that well-made clothing should be carried on, building stories upon stories, and riffs off a vintage staple, the varsity jacket, to do so. In focusing on a piece that stands the test of time, Brown uses material and construction to nuance these jackets in a way that feels magical. Specifically, the magic in his pieces are the stories we see in them, which is only made possible by their starkness. Brown allows his designs to be well-constructed canvasses of necessity, with enough minutia to trigger the projection of our own stories and idiosyncrasies, thus making them appealing. Desire is a funny thing.
SCENE 01: The Ivorystone Varsity Trench is a wool portrait of Newfoundland dunes in November.
A balmy morning blanket muffles your ears with its salty palms, enshrouding your presence in a dense shell. Your steps are heavy, as if every grain of beach pleads for a quick return — only to be met a moment later with a greedy, sinking embrace. The wind is biting, and you remove your fists from the quilted caves at your hips to wipe the sand from your jaw. Something about that ribbed cuff provides a fleeting familiarity, and you allow yourself the luxury of dwelling in that memory for a moment. A gull shrilly vies for attention, snapping your focus abruptly to the present before tracing your route down the beach. Morning sun works diligently to burn off the evidence of its absence, carving out a single stone lighthouse to your left.
SCENE 02: The Cherry blossom satin souvenir is defiant in its simplicity, with a history as rich as its irony sheen.
Cue Yakuza rookie of the year. Cool evening air meets slicked summer asphalt in a humid haze, diffusing evening lights into a warm luster. The closing signs travel and drip down the tonal stitched satin on his back, broken only by the maple length of the Louisville Slugger slung across one shoulder. Tonight, the air is strangely still, amplifying the soft collapse of packed clay beneath the rubber waffle soles of dirty converse. You watch that familiar gait as he slinks around a chainlink fence, dragging the pillowy flesh of all but one of his fingertips over each woven steel wire. A shadow is rolling a cowhide ball between his palms, as his counterpart cooly unzips the taffeta lined Sukajan and sways his left arm like pale sakura in the night breeze. Whispers argue yubitsume is the secret to his stellar swing, but even the bold dare not ask. The branch pulls taught and cracks open the twilight.