Catching up with Some Ware

Art, Catching Up, Read
05.10.2016
Some Ware, a new Los Angeles based label birthed by Brendan Fowler and Cali Thornhill DeWitt, has steadily been attracting attention for the past year over its fresh approach to producing clothing, events, and records. Before Brendan and Cali started Some Ware, Brendan built a strong reputation for, among other things, his work running ANP Quarterly with Ed Templeton, which is a photo magazine published by RVCA, as well as his performances as BARR. Cali, who’s been well known for years in the art/music worlds, recently found himself in the mainstream spotlight for his work designing Kanye’s Life of Pablo merchandise. The two of them come together to put out the line that is Some Ware, which is best described by the manor pieces are released. Each item receives a catalog number, whether it’s shirts, events, records, even the Tumblr, and the project is really just the compilation of these pieces. By awarding each piece equal significance in Some Ware’s catalog, the two emphasize that they’re expressing their art equally through the mediums while steering clear of idealizing certain drops or past releases. Once a thing has ‘happened’ it’s a part of the catalog, and that’s that. Stylistically, Some Ware plays off each of Brendan and Cali’s idiosyncrasies while taking advantage of how complimentary each of their styles are. Last week I met up with them at Brendan’s studio to talk about the history, focus, and future of Some Ware, which just had its first series of shirts drop at Union. someware2 someware4 Nick (NB): How did you two begin working together? - Brendan Fowler (BF): Well I guess our first collaboration was on a sticker from 2014. That was before it even had a name, the sticker just happened for fun. Cali was working on WSSF, making punk shirts, and Vague Reference (VR) was a label I’d just started doing and we’d put out an Odwalla88 record. And I heard they were going to stop making eggshell stickers in America. Basically, these things, you can’t remove them, they fall apart, it’s rad. I found a place that was still making them and said to Cali. “We should do an eggshell sticker, just to do an eggshell sticker.” And after that we did a thing together, a WSSF/VR Pop up, during Step and Repeat Performance Art Fest at MOCA. This woman, Emma Reeves, an OG who did MOCA TV and used to be the photo editor for Dazed, invited us to do it. Cali DeWitt (CD): Yeah just with like Election Reform (one of Brendan’s other projects) and shirts I had made at the studio. BF: So yeah, we had Cali’s punk t’s, another thing by our friend Sonya, and a curated segment by Center for Style, from Australia. It originally it was this succession of things that were less framed that led us to the Purity record really brought it all together into Some Ware. - NB: What was the Purity Record? - CD: So I’ve had a record label before. And I said I would never have one again. Well when I saw Purity… I immediately was like, “We have to start a record label to put out Purity’s record.” I guess I just thought it was important enough and I wanted my hands on it. BF: What’s really cute is Cali said (to Purity) “If Brendon and I start a new label, can we put out your record?” And I wasn’t even there which is rad. And the next day he said to me “Hey, so I think you’ll be into this… let’s start a new label to put out Purity’s record. I offered them ‘we’.” Purity and Odwalla88 are friends, so there’s just kind of this mix of a scene of young music oriented people. So yeah that was the first thing, actually, to do the records. CD: To do like a gentle record label, gentle meaning like one release every year. I grew up buying records, and I still buy records and records still feel special to me. BF: There’s something about the objecthood that feels nice. And that’s the thing about the garments too. The clothes thing is cool because it’s affording us the occasion to collaborate with other friends’ clothes things, and that’s been really fun. Like Tremaine and Acyde, who do No Vacancy Inn. The clothes thing is a really neat way to work with others. Rokit, also, those are the homies heavy. CD: We’re doing a thing with Rokit. BF: So yeah, the shirts are just another way to work with other people. And we have a bit of a format. Like the shirts are only XL long sleeves organic. - NB: And why’s that? - CD: A lot of our friends only wear XL. I only wear XL. And a lot of our friends who only wear XL, some are very small. Like it doesn’t matter. So yeah, I like it. It might take a while to catch on in other places, but that’s what we like. BF: And seeing everyone go through the same lens is fun. You see petit people and shirts are giant, and they look right, or others where the XL barely fits them, any smaller and it’d be too tight. Then the organic thing, that’s what I tripped on about the idea. I’d started Election Reform, and part of that is a recycling aspect. I trip on the idea of making more stuff in the world, and this is a way of doing it in a way that might make a precedent for something good. The garment industry is gnarly, it’s so big. So much fabric is being made and produced, if we can contribute positively and also set a new standard. Plus, it’s a nice feeling shirt, to top it all off. - NB: So as far as the inspiration for the shirts go, does a lot of that come from art you’ve made in the past versus following fashion? - CD: Well a lot of it comes from following fashion. When we were in Paris for fashion week, it was like shows and exhibits we’ve been to. You said it well Brendan, basically someone wants you to check out this jacket they spent 4 months working on. Which is not that different than someone who wants to have you at their studio to show you a painting. So I wasn’t confused in that, I understood. I’ve always like clothes, so it’s not hard for me to look at them and enjoy them. BF: It’s really about physicality. We both think a lot about the body, and people in space anyways. So clothes make sense. If you’re already thinking sculpturally about bodies and histories, clothes are natural. CD: Also clothes are one of the few things you can control when you’re young, how you dress. It’s one of the first things you can use for an identity. Walking into school in 5th grade, and you’ve got something ‘wrong’ on. Wrong to your schoolmates but right to you, it’s a lesson in a lot of things. Like I started wearing a green leather tie in 5th grade because I wanted to wear a punk tie. But it was a big deal, like why are you wearing a tie? - NB: So along with the shirts and records, how do the events come into the mix? - BF: Because Purity is totally a live thing, the parties came naturally. It’s community. We’re all friends and doing this stuff. Events are, for us, a way to make an occasion just because LA is so diffused and giant and huge. So we’re making an occasion for people to come together. The idea of the parties is to really make a moment. CD: And I love LA, and you love LA. BF: So much. CD: This is my favorite city. I love it here. And it’s weird to continue loving it, and love it more. I’ll be like “I love it here even more than before!” and I’ve been here since I was like 3. BF: I feel the same way. And Some Ware isn’t about LA necessarily, but it did grow from this one moment. But I think also it’s a way to engage other friends not from LA, and other people we’re psyched on. Like that thing with Tremaine and Acyde, that was the first time we’ve ever setup a party because friends were coming from another place. And I think we’ll do a lot more of that. - NB: Has getting into Union and other stockists been a goal for you? - BF: For me, totally. I was into Union when I lived in NY, so when I moved to LA in 2002 I was pretty juiced on Union. I’ve always thought it was so dope, and way it’s gone and the legacy as well as the people that work on it. The cool thing is that all the first places our stock is going we have personal relationships with. Like Gr8 in Tokyo is our friend Kubo’s place. And our friend Haruka’s place, Big Love records in Tokyo, it’s just major. Which is kind of funny that that’s the only record store so far because it’s ostensibly a record label, but the records haven’t come out yet. And then Norse, in Copenhagen, which is related to the gallery where Cali shows. CD: Yeah, V1, one of the main Norse guys is the owner of V1. BF: Yeah so it makes sense. Then Slam Jam in Milan, which Cali’s tight with, and done a lot of stuff with them. Very positive, all the places so far have been very squad related. The project is very fam. We also want to keep it really nimble. To me that’s why I feel like it’s an outgrowth of the shirts Cali did. I feel like you’d always be like 2 weeks before, “I’m gunna make this shirt, it’s a Grace Jones thing. And it’s going to look like this” and then you’d make it, and they’d come out, and they’d be gone, and it would just be an idea that happened. - NB: What’s been some of the most rewarding aspects of the project so far? - BF: Just seeing them in the wild. CD: Yeah I saw a couple in Italy, that was rad. Like two wild ones in the street. BF: Instagram is funny for that. People will order them, then tag it and it’s sweet. CD: Yeah seeing it on a stranger. BF: It’s a neat way to engage the thing. And so far, we’ve just been selling them off our site. So seeing them at Union is a great extension, and really encouraging. I feel fortunate. I think for both of us it’s an art project, it’s an extension. someware3 someware1 Looking around Brendan’s studio, it’s obvious how Some Ware developed as it did. A self-described hoarder, Brendan’s filled the space with textiles, art projects, and who knows what else until it feels almost like a nest. Some Ware’s catalog is a reflection of this moment in their careers that Cali and Brendan find themselves now, where they’re interested in sharing their collaborative ideas and work, while continuing to support and be a part of the community that’s inspired them and grown around them. At the end of the day, the clearest thing is that Some Ware can’t be pigeonholed as a record label or a fashion line or series of events, it’s a catalog of this moment and everything involved in making it. You can now hop the Some Ware collection here. Text by: Nick Bishop Photos by: Sam Massey (@samxmassey)