Where the runway meets the street

German creative publication 032c recently scored a rare interview with notoriously press-shy fashion genius Raf Simons, covering the designer’s reclusive nature, disdain for social media, and the future of the fashion industry. Cop the print magazine from the 032c online store for the full piece and check out some choice excerpts below. Raf enthusiasts should head over to the Highsnobiety Crowns 2014 to vote for the Belgian mastermind in both Most Relevant Brand and Best Collaboration categories.

How does the Raf Simons brand relate to you?

If I could be completely anonymous, I would. But, these days, it’s not possible anymore in fashion. Since working at Jil Sander, and especially since Dior, the whole thing is very global and exposed. It’s over-the-top exposed and communicated. And that’s not me as a person. It’s also not my brand. We don’t advertise. We simply put our clothes out there. I am very proud of it. I know for a fact that our business comes from press, journalists, and clients believing in the brand and not because they are obligated.

Internet media has really changed the way we pay attention to clothes. Is the constant Tumblr of images and cultures a threat, or is it an opportunity?

I’m not so interested myself, but I am interested that other people are interested. I have a huge disinterest in technologies that accelerate cultural speed. Immediately, they make me uncomfortable. When I think about the speed images are consumed on Tumblr it’s already not my thing. The way communication goes over the Internet is not my thing. I can’t be positive or negative about it. But I’m fascinated by what society is becoming, and its evolution. I am watching the behavior more than the thing itself. I am not going on Tumblr to see what is going on. Not in my interest. I am more interested in mystique and romance, what’s difficult to find, aesthetics that are not in your face. When I think about images, naturally I am more attracted when I feel there is certain meaning, when someone is trying to say something. You have to investigate. You are prompted to investigate and understand, more than merely consuming the image. It’s how you judge looking at everything you see. There are things you immediately know are surface, and other things the opposite, and I’m more interested in the opposite. When you find everything so easily, you don’t look deeply anymore and you don’t investigate anymore. And you get bored.

Tell me about how fashion is completely fucked right now.

I keep wondering how far it can be stretched. In a way I don’t want to judge things, but I have the feeling that lately, other designers in my situation dealing with the same pressure, slowly but surely are starting to talk to each other. The nature of fashion is to not connect because we’re all in competition. But I have the feeling something is changing. I wouldn’t say we’re taking care of each other. But we’re opening up to each other, which, after 20 years, is unprecedented. It’s proof of a serious fear, in all kinds of ways, about where the fashion world is evolving. It’s us discussing together for the simple reason that it’s only us who feel what it is: spitting out creation and emotion and connecting to a huge professional structure.

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