Tuesday, March 26, 2013

AnyForty Makes A Five-Year Statement

Five years ago, AnyForty opened up shop in London with the hope of inspiring the UK streetwear scene with various artist collaboration projects. The original idea began a few years prior when Alan Wardle received a pirated cassette tape of NWA's Straight Outta Compton when he was 12 years old.

It was the original cassette that begin his obsession with U.S. hip hop culture. It became especially prominent after he picked up his first full-time job. It was costly to stay current with big brand names.

"I’ve had a 13-year design career behind me. Ten years in editorial design, working for magazines such as Max Power Magazine, PlayStation and Computer Arts Projects," he told SQ magazine last year. "The last two years of my life have seen me balancing AnyForty alongside freelance work."

Hearing Wardle say it, it wasn't easy. It took him some time to work into design. And even after scraping together enough money to attend an art and design college, it was a few years before he really took in what his professors were trying to teach him. Before that, he says, he was a dickhead.

A new line of AnyForty streetwear is sharp this spring or summer.  

Few people would say that about him now. In fact, the newest line of designs being displayed at AnyForty does something that many streetwear concepts do not. They transcend hip hop and start to encompass a bigger indie scene, with shirts that play to punk and rock as much as hip hop.

The crux of the concept is simple enough. AnyForty put out a 12-series collection of designs (two of them as in-store exclusives). The designs were purposefully bold as a celebration of its five-year anniversary. According to the AnyForty team, it is all about the blood, sweat, and hard work.

Some of the designs that stand out include an ode to Greek mythology by Vanilla BCN. According to Rick Nunn, they wanted to join Escher with Greek gods to makes truly memorable shirts. The art is powerful, which is why it is included as the hero shot above.

Although the entire series of twelve is worth checking out, two more standouts from the collection include another by Mr. Gauky and another by Niark1. Both designers have considerable talent, and their involvement with AnyForty is appreciated because it makes art accessible.

If you have never heard of either artist, Niark1 is Sebastien Feraut, a French graphic designer based in Paris. He is equally comfortable with computers and brushes, making crazy universes and geometric shapes. The AnyForty pick is a favorite.

Mr. Gauky is somewhat the same, an artist who seems comfortable doing it all. He takes on jobs that range from illustration to 3-D modeling. Although he spent much of his youth on a skateboard, he eventually turned his character art into a career after one of his friend's mothers (an art teacher) convinced him to pursue an education in art and design.

Other designers that stand out in this collection include Tom Mac, Richt, Mr. Bowlegs, and iLK & Gorey (among others). All together, it makes a statement for streetwear in that it takes it well beyond its hip hop roots and right into modern art.

AnyForty Makes A Five-Year Statement At 6.5 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.

As a long-time fan of European streetwear that is less likely to be found stateside, I have a special appreciation for the artists highlighted at AnyForty. In some cases, they have taken a style that began in the United States and made it their own (if not global). It's part art, part fashion, and always smart.

You can find most designs from AnyForty at Urban Industry, with the exception of in-store exclusives. For everything else, visit the shop direct. With the exception of the Blood, Sweat, and 5 Years design (which is an anniversary shirt), the balance of the collection is a striking mix of art from some remarkable artists around the world.
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