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Pierre Kaczmarek founded streetwear brand Afterhomework in 2014 when he was just 15 years old. Two years later, Elena Mottola joined the team, and they’ve gone on to consult for Converse and designed the new PSG shirt with OFF-WHITE and Nike for the World Cup.
Recently, Afterhomework became the youngest nominee yet for the 2018 ANDAM Prize, the prestigious fashion award whose winner will be announced June 29. Whitewall sat down with Kaczmarek last week in Paris and talked about inspiration, streetwear, and the advantages and disadvantages of youth in the industry.
WHITEWALL: How did you start Afterhomework?
PIERRE KACZMAREK: At the beginning, it was founded to be an artistic label of friends interacting and helping each other, so the collective would be like an ecosystem. After time, it became difficult to manage everything and I learned that you can’t handle a project alone, you always call on people from outside, you collaborate with artists, and so on.
WW: What inspires you and how does that translate into the clothes you design?
PK: It’s everyday observations, it’s not a long-term study. It can be something random on a stranger in the street. My loved ones inspire me a lot, too. I have a friend in Italy who always wore a towel around his neck. We made a t-shirt with a towel on the shoulders that sold very well. There are no rules. The inspiration can come from a movement, from a shadow, from the fold of a coat. That’s why we work a lot with the movement of the fabric with elastics, stripes, etc. I do not like when the clothes are too static.
WW: How do you divide the tasks with Elena?
PK: It’s a brand, it’s a business, and today I consider myself more of an entrepreneur than a fashion designer. At the beginning of the season, I draw 50 boards and then I rediscover them months later. Elena manages the studio, the instruments, she has the technique in terms of sewing.
I’m much less part of the creative process than before, it’s a shame, but I’m not frustrated. It’s nice to have beautiful clothes on the runways, but I want my clothes to be worn. So, it’s the price to pay and it suits me. Those who don’t keep their feet on the ground are those who do not work. There is nothing very glamorous in what I do in my everyday life but it is essential.
WW: Do you think that your age is an asset or a disadvantage in fashion?
PK: At first it was an advantage because it was good for storytelling: it was my axis of communication and it interested the press enormously. Now we are the youngest ever to be selected for the ANDAM prize. Margiela and APC won the award in the late 1980s. It gives us credibility but otherwise, it’s complicated. Sometimes we work with people who have more experience than us and it can be delicate to direct them.
WW: What do you think of the role of Instagram in the success of a brand?
PK: A brand cannot succeed if it’s not on Instagram. We put a lot of money in the photos, the image is very important. Today, some brands consider their image to be as important as the products itself.
WW: What do you think of the abundance of streetwear?
PK: People have now tasted comfort, and I do not think there will be any backtracking. If today you can trade a pair of shoes that hurt you for a pair of sneakers, you do it! It seems logical in 2018. Fashion will surely not go back, or we will go even further, with even more crazy pieces! We never look at past collections—only look forward to innovate and be as modern as possible.
WW: The brand is very present in Japan and in Italy, but not in France, do you have a reason?
PK: It’s a question of culture and behavior. Italy and Japan have a real fashion culture and are willing to spend a lot of money on clothes. They give a lot of importance on how they’re dressed and always want to have the cool outfit. There is a high demand of streetwear in Japan and my goal would be to open a store in Tokyo one day.
This article was put together with the help of Isaure Loysel.