Curated by Highsnobiety and presented during the time period formerly known as Paris Men’s Fashion Week, “Not In Paris 2” is our second in a series of bi-annual digital exhibitions celebrating creativity in the age of remote interactions. Head here for the full series and cop our new merch via our online store.
Since it was established in 2016, Liberal Youth Ministry has experienced some pivotal moments of change and growth. The Mexican fashion brand, created by Guadalajara-native Antonio Zaragoza, became an instant sensation for its rebellious punk-informed collections which mixed everything from Aztec influences to '80s and '90s pop culture, and soon became a staple for the forward-thinking and fashion-conscious shoppers of Dover Street Market.
One such devotee is global super star Bad Bunny, who has worn LYM on many show-stopping occasions - most recently for the Latin Grammys, where he dazzled in an all white ensemble, headband included, which was hand-emblazoned with 100,000 Swarovski crystals. “I wanted to create something that when you saw Bad Bunny, all you’d see is him shining,” Zaragoza tells me in Spanish, his Guadalajara drawl crisp over our zoom call.
But despite the brand’s success, Zaragoza and LYM - like the rest of us - found themselves affected by the ever-changing impact that Covid-19 has had on our sartorial choices, purposes, and desires, which has made us contemplate our comfort while maintaining the aspects of fashion that help us show our personalities. Zaragoza wanted to mirror this new world order: “I wanted this collection to be very simple. My past work has been very embellished, and I think the biggest principle of the brand stems from rebellion, the feeling of ecstasy, and, in a way, antisocial behaviors.”
It made him consider how to translate this energy into his new collection. “I began to idealize spirituality,” he adds.
Zaragoza’s path of spirituality took a strong hold during a visit to Los Angeles, where he realized “that in LA and in California, there is this very intense energy towards cults and to the cliché of tackiness-meets-good-taste.” Paired with cult-centric documentaries like Wild Wild Country, Heaven’s Gate, and knowledge of Scientology, as well as music by Oneohtrix Point Never (from Good Time and Uncut Gems-soundtrack fame), Liberal Youth Ministry found its moodboard. “I started to think that the ideas [cults are formed by] and the principles they have are actually quite punk, in the sense that they create their own religions and their own ideologies. From there I began to conceptualize the next collection, called 'Spiritual Punk,' which in my mind would create this 'youth' community.”
The Spiritual Punk community needed a pseudonym behind it, a cheeky move Zaragoza has played with before (the brand used to be called Weimar Youths), so he branded sweaters and bags with the interim name: Spiritual Youth Foundation. “It’s based on this ideology of spiritual punk - which means you can be rebellious but in a philosophical and metaphysical way, and not in a transgressive way, aesthetically, like how it was in the '80s or '90s.”
Softness, comfort, simplicity, and a pared-down color palette (with occasional psychotropic print inspiration) became the infusers for the life of LYM’s collection, which also counts a big new addition: womenswear, designed by Zaragoza’s newlywed designer wife Kenia Filippini. And thus “Spiritual Punk” was born - a compilation of pieces made almost entirely out of French terry cotton jersey that includes sweatpants, emblazoned hoodies, shirts, tennis skirts, jackets, dresses, bedazzled socks, and even a crystal headband that harkens back to Bad Bunny’s shining Grammy fit. The collection creates what Zaragoza calls a “dream yoga vibe,” as shown on the lookbook which accompanies it.
While we’re on the topic of cults, I ask the designer what the principles of his cult would be if he were the head of one. He laughs and says he’s not much of a cult leader, “but what I try to share to people with my clothes is just to feel liberated.” This was awakened in him at a young age, when he spent a few childhood years living in the USA. “I remember that my first approach to fashion [was] walking into the school and seeing all these people, like the groups of the goths, then you have the Latinos, then the skaters, and I was really into rock and roll. I remember realizing that fashion helps you to be free. And that's the message I want to give to people, just to be free.”