Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent brought to you by Avión Tequila. Each week, we’re spotlighting an emerging brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion. Short-sleeve shirts have undergone a transformation over the last few years. Various designers have taken the men's wardrobe staple to places you'd never expect: half-and-half cuts all over the place last year, and then there's all the sheer transparent fabrics from FW19 and beyond. Here, we're exploring the silk shirts from Endless Joy, which is less of a fashion brand, and more of an art project, from founder and UK artist Stevie Anderson. Anderson – whose CV includes past work as a cobbler, postman, barman, and call centre staff – developed his label following his years working as an artist in Bali, which had a profound affect on him, "depending on where your head and heart lie and what outlook you hold, Bali is going to have a monumental effect on you" says Anderson, "whether it is a dark or light experience, it is bound to impact your spirit and life as it seems to bring the spiritual to the material."
Anderson began applying his spiritual perspective to the material world, quite literally, when he begun Endless Joy, 'I found myself disillusioned by most of the crap out there and I stopped buying clothing for a few of years as I couldn’t find anything with both aesthetic value and substance," says Anderson, "personally I’m not interested in walking around with a logo on my chest acting as a billboard for a faceless corporation, if I’m going to wear something close to my heart I would prefer it to have a deeper meaning."
Of course, the art-you-can-wear trope is nothing new - its the axis which Sterling Ruby's new brand revolves around – but in the case of Endless Joy, there's less emphasis on commerical interest, and more on just simply wearing something that can tell a more authentic story, and in Anderson's case, he looks to some of the oldest stories – from ancient mythology – and folds them into our questions about modern life. Each shirt features an original artwork from Anderson, spanning graphics of shamanic rituals, biblical snakes hiding in an all-over jungle print, and a depiction of Balinese child-eating demon queen, Rangda. It’s certainly a conversation starter, as Anderson noted when he first began wearing his own designs.
"You may notice elements that are inspired at times by other artists/cultures, for instance the artwork on the Hanuman shirt is a nod to Picasso’s Lino-Cuts and Hanuman is a figure and deity from the Hindu Ramayana; my jungles have been influenced and inspired by Rousseau, but after years of study I’ve twisted and contoured his line, taking that which initially sparked my interest to develop a language and archive of nature — that speaks to my own temperament." Right now, Endless Joy's production takes place in Bali, using an eco-friendly printer and eco-friendly fabrics such as 100% silks, 100% tencel, eco-friendly rayons, lyocell linen and water-based dies. Anderson confirms that "to offset any environmental impact, for every shirt we sell, we plant a tree and have pledged to give a further 5 percent of our profits to charity."
The first collection was launched in Paris, before nearly selling out in the first few days. More recently, one of the shirts, the “Paradise Lost”, was picked up by lead guitarist from Metallica, Kirk Hammett during a recent live performance in San Francisco. "Being an old school fan from back in the day - It was a surreal moment to see my artwork alive in that arena and moving about a stage. Kirk is a great musician and artist and he brought the piece to life with his showmanship and talent. It’s been a very humbling and exciting experience to see people from all walks of life resonating with the artwork." In the our current socio-cultural climate, mythology has taken something of a back-seat. When faced with a crisis, it's not really our first instinct to turn to a beloved ancient myth for guidance. Perhaps the deification of celebrities and brands has taken over this, but we should consider reversing it, "myth sheds light on existence, our psyche, struggle for survival and the human condition" says Anderson, and his designs explicitly lay bare all the complexities of being a human being, with all the confusion, violence, and ecstasy that comes with it. You can buy Endless Joy via the official website.
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