American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis opened his seminal novel Less Than Zero with the line "People are afraid to merge on freeways in Los Angeles." This book, and the movie that followed, painted the city as a place of disconnection, detachment and emptiness.
"I think it's really been difficult for people to come to L.A and understand it" says Ali Fatourechi, the designer behind Adaptation, the latest label to emerge from the City of Angels' thriving fashion scene. "If you come here and you don't know people, you don't get behind the gates and the closed doors. You never know the things that L.A. really has to offer, and that's why I feel like it's been so overlooked in that sense."
Recently, L.A. has built a reputation as a serious fashion destination. The city's fashion credentials have been solidified by the success of brands like Fear Of God, 424 and Midnight Studios. Francesco Ragazzi's Palm Angels, although based in Milan, takes liberal inspiration from the aesthetics of the city and, let's not forget, Hedi Slimane ditched Paris to move his Saint Laurent design studio to L.A. in 2012 as part of his unprecedented makeover of the house.
Adaptation, whose SS18 lookbook can be exclusively peeped below, was launched by Fatourechi to "speak to L.A. about L.A., from an L.A. insider's perspective." Its designs are inspired by the city itself (Adaptation's pre-Spring collection celebrated the legalization of weed in California), and classic streetwear staple hoodies and graphic tees.
Adaptation is collaborative and makes use of Fatourechi's eclectic network, with input from local creatives and support from high-profile locals like Bella Hadid, who was recently seen wearing Fatourechi's pre-Spring 18 puffer jacket.
It's not just local creatives that are important to the brand; its pieces are made close to home, too. "I'm trying to support the garment industry in L.A. The last five years have been tough" Ali adds. Tough is maybe an understatement, as cost-effective offshoring to Mexico becomes even more tempting for clothing manufacturers. The collapse of American Apparel, a standard-bearer for the city's garment district, hasn't helped either. But for a brand that's made for and by the L.A. scene, support for local production is essential.
An examination of L.A. says a lot about artifice - the cosmetically altered bodies and the fake movie sets - but this surplus of artificiality makes the authentic efforts of Adaptation stand out even more. This need for realness is critical to Adaptation, and in particular the way it draws inspiration from skate culture, a totem of carefree L.A. style.
"I'm not a skater, and I don't claim to be a skater and that's why I went to these guys to ask them to do it with me so I could tell their story" says Ali of his label's SS18 collection, which features cosigns with legendary skate brands Vans, Ocean Pacific and Dogtown Skate Company. The appropriation of skater aesthetics by the fashion industry stretches as far back as skating itself, but by working with icons of skate style, Adaptation does it with authenticity. The brand's skate-inspired garms were celebrated with a recent pop-up at Maxfield LA which included a full skate pipe that legendary skaters Tony Hawk, Bam Margera and Christian Hosoi came through to try out.
The appeal of Adaptation stems from Fatatechi's ability to join the dots of Los Angeles' disparate geography. He harnesses local creatives — previous collections have brought in graffiti legend Saber and artist Matt Mccormick — to create a sense of unity and visual identity not often found in a city that takes at least an hour's drive to get to the next place. "You can't just get lost in the city, because you're driving" says Ali, reflecting on the inaccessibility of Los Angeles to first-timers.
"WELCOME TO DOGTOWN NOW GET THE FUCK OUT" reads one of tees from Adaptation's SS18 collab with Dogtown, an icon of the West Coast skate scene. It's a tongue-in-cheek reference to the idea that L.A. isn't the most inviting city — an accurate reading from a designer who knows the place inside out.
You can shop Adaptation's SS18 collection at leading retailers like Maxfield, Patron of the New, Barneys New York, Gr8, SMETS, Boon the Shop, Montaigne Market, Browns and Harrods. Be sure to follow Adaptation on Instagram too.