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We included BLACKMERLE in our #UTR20 best brands of 2018 because of the label's fresh approach to techwear, experimental fabrics, and boldly futuristic silhouettes. Last week, the brand made its European debut at a Paris Fashion Week showroom, where founder Terry Shin talked us through his FW19 collection.
"The aim is to make people dress however they want, to get out of the box because everyone kind of dresses the same nowadays," Shin told Highsnobiety. "I want to do that in three ways: you can interchange, you can detach and attach, or you can combine two items into one to make something new."
That interchangeability is key to BLACKMERLE. The sleeves in the FW19 collection can be unzipped to create a gilet-style top or replaced with the sleeves of another garment. Clasps can be connected wherever there's an attachment for one (and there are a lot), while military-style pouches can be fastened to pant legs for more storage. Even the scarves have zips on them, so they can be wrapped around jackets, mimicking a classic flight bomber shearling collar.
BLACKMERLE FW19 also deploys a special waterproof waxed fabric that allows the wearer to scratch marks and scuffs on the surface of the garment. In fact, it's encouraged as another way to subtly change an item's appearance. And the best part is the scratches are impermanent. "Just iron them out and then they're gone," says Shin.
The title of the collection, "UNNAMED," comes from a resistance to painting the brand with any kind of prescribed identity. Defining BLACKMERLE would limit it. It's not all multi-functional techwear. Some of the pants are almost formal, with a fine gray check created using a contrasting combination of wool and nylon to give the trousers a multi-textured aesthetic.
Elsewhere in Paris, the modernization of Jil Sander shows no sign of letting up in FW19.