Richie Boyens - Clothes I've Made

Richie Boyens - Clothes I've Made

ID Fashion Week Designer Profile

Last week i met with Richie Boyens, a Dunedin-based designer who started the brand Clothes Iíve Made, which is being shown in the capsule collection at iD. With Richieís ambiguous design choices, combined with the use of various floral, striped, paint-speckled and tie-dyed fabrics, and his latest intention to reinvent the puffer jacket (about time someone did this) somehow his collection is coherent, structurally flawless and completely wearable. Not really a typical designer, having had no institutional fashion education or qualification, Richieís story is fascinating and awesome. Born and raised in Hawkes Bay, Richie then spent some time in Wellington (getting inspired and not going to University), before moving to Dunedin six years ago to start what is now a creative, collaborative, and totally progressive brand.

I was initially going to do a really constructed interview over coffee at a café or something, but when I found out Richie had a studio space opposite my apartment, I naturally assumed it would be more appropriate to go there instead. I didnít really know what to expect out of a designerís studio because Iíve only really spent time in artist studios, but it was by far one of the coolest studio spaces Iíve been into. There was art on almost every wall Ė rolls of material, couches, half a mannequin, a shaky worktable, an old sewing machine, and there was even a piano; it was literally like walking into a saloon-style studio (featuring fashion) and I totally never wanted to leave. He was cool, the interview was fun, his studio is insane and his work is a creative mind blow-up of mad design skills and cool images.

How did CIM start? Give me all the raw details!
Well ... Iíd been working at Void for a while and then, when I moved to Wellington, I did a couple of years at Leviís. I never went to Uni, there was too much shit to do in Wellington. Then I started working at a café, paying for all my sewing stuff, and I kept seeing everyone wearing the same clothes and it was just annoying. So I lived with another designer in Wellington and he was cool, and his work was cool, so I moved back down here and picked up Mumís sewing machine and just started going for it.

I really like your studio space, thereís heaps of weird and cool and interesting things in here. That half mannequin in ripped jeans in the corner Ė can you elaborate?
Yeah, I made those pants in October 2010. They were the first pair I made. I didnít have an over locker and I just wanted some cool pants. It was literally like ... Mumís sewing machine, typically excited male ... rushed in with material, cut it out using Vivids, pretty much broke every rule in the sewing handbook, if there is one; then started attacking them trying to figure out how to hide seams without the over-locker. Yeah ... I quickly realised the extent of my skills werenít as adept as I had hoped they were, and when I put them on (they were almost finished) I put an elastic band on them, and the crotch was all wrong and inverted and too low and I walked like a fucking duck. But, as it turned out, that disaster turned into a passion to go harder ...

Most NZ designers are based in Auckland or Wellington. Do you think that being based in Dunedin has an impact on the way you design or the way you run CIM?
In terms of fashion in Dunedin, it rules and itís changing all the time and Iím just doing it my own way. Iím really inspired by my environment, though. Environment is definitely influential. If I go somewhere like Invercargill Iím probably not going to wear these floral silk pants.

Can you tell us a little bit about the signature of CIM. Do you have a certain customer or character in mind when you put together the collection or do you design for yourself?
I started making clothes for me so all the sizing is real different from universal sizing, itís a lot more tailored. Yeah, up until now, itís been totally motivated by my friends and the people I hang out with, but itís kind of cool when random people just come into the studio and ask for something off the bat.

Describe the general process you go through to design and realise a piece of clothing?
Weíll just sit down and have a discussion and decide what fabrics weíre going to use, discuss an idea type-of-thing. When I have an idea itís like a little explosion and then I just sort of pick parts of it to pull it back together the way I want. I donít stick to any design process ... I just create a general process of thought.

What artists did you draw your inspiration from, for the iD collection?
Jarrod McHutcheon, Ben Edwards Ė basically everyone on these walls. Itís so cool because each style is all street art and the colour palates are often quite similar to our clothes. As art, it describes something totally different than it would as an article of clothing. Mondrian was a big inspiration, too, I think.

I fucking love Mondrian. How did you transfer your inspirations into your designs?
Colour palate was a big one. And symmetry Ė it has to look good on every angle. Itís like playing with Lego, trying to piece it all together to make on time.

What can people expect to see from you further into this season?
Hip-hop, design, Ď80s and Ď90s colour. My designs came from when I was a kid. PVC jackets, stripes on your sleeves, itís just a full expression of who I am Ė itís a structured set and Iím pretty stoked about it.

What is your view on the symbiotic relationship between fashion and art?
Fashion and art Ė thatís a hard one. If someoneís like, thatís a cool painting, Iíd love to have it on a top, but thatíll never happen; fashion allows you to do that. But I also think people can always hang their paintings on the wall, and in a museum Ė as ďart.Ē But as soon as you put it in public sphere, it becomes fashion or a trend. Fine art influences fashion, but fashion is far more physical than art. Art is more emotionally invested, I think. I donít know. It all just looks good.

Eco-fashion is a thing this year at iD. What do you think of eco-fashion?
Eco and fashion donít go hand in hand because of the way the fabric is made. They pick cotton for ridiculously cheap and it goes into this massive chemical process where the organic cotton is sprayed with herbs and pesticides, and itís just not good for the final look of the garment. Sometimes it looks stiff. But itís awesome that there are still designers that go to that extent to keep things environmentally friendly.

What do you think makes a quality article of clothing?
Iím into using fabrics that are locally made. If I was going to use leather, or something, itís cool to be able to say its made in New Zealand. The wool weíre using now is yarned by my old boss. It smells like it would on the sheep.

Why donít people appreciate the detail, design and quality of high-end fashion?
I think it comes down to who you are as a person Ė you canít really generalise that kind of thing. Some people arenít educated in fashion, per se, and some people just arenít interested ...

If I told you I wanted you to make me something, would you?
Iíd say ďyes,Ē because I like a challenge. The most challenging thing is about getting over how the other person will think. But you have to just trust your own judgment.

What do you wish people would understand about working in the fashion industry?
For me, the whole fact that I have done this on my own has been one of the best things for me as a person. I was always stubborn as fuck, and I still am. But Iíve learnt so much. Important things like how relationships need to be Ė friends and business ones Ė and just not feel ashamed or scared to express who you are. That sounds really cheesy but itís so true. Knowing I have support from other people has been huge. I really appreciate all the help Iíve had. The people we have met and dealt with could not have been more inviting and helpful.

Iíve also learnt a lot about myself by putting myself on the ledge. Iím so happy doing this and I put every cent into it. Iím kind of poor, but I fucking love what I do. You have to be careful not to jump into something without the right intentions otherwise itís so transparent. I donít know if itís a bad thing or a good thing. Fashionís weird, Iíve noticed that once it gets past the design it goes into this mad media frenzy and the perception of success kind of changes. If youíre just printing your artwork on t-shirts to make money thatís fine, and that might make certain people happy, but that doesnít make us happy. Itís just about finding a good balance and a way to do what you love at the same time. People need to appreciate the work people do and the craft of it.
This article first appeared in Issue 6, 2014.
Posted 7:01pm Sunday 30th March 2014 by Hannah Collier.