Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we’re spotlighting an emerging brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion.
Sagittaire A is one of the more mysterious brands to emerge out of the fashion ether, if not the most mysterious. In this so-called “information age,” maintaining some obscurity carries a risk of being lost in all the noise, but in this case, it seems to be paying off.
The designer behind Sagittaire A is an anonymous artist who splits his time between France and China. According to his representative, the designer is male, works at night, is obsessed with art and has a lot of books.
The brand has actually been lurking behind the scenes for 10 years, while the designer has quietly observed the patterns, trends and nuances of the industry. Sagittaire A is a project that combines its creator’s passions for cinema, art, and fashion, with the brand’s debut FW18 collection “Samphrenia” distilled into a one-minute short film, seen below.
The FW18 collection and the short video pay homage to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Starring Jack Nicholson and directed by Milos Forman, the 1975 movie about life in a mental hospital is routinely considered one of the greatest movies of all time. The institutional backdrop of the movie is referenced by the short’s warehouse location.
The design cues are easily identifiable, with boxy cuts, contrast stitching, and a liberal inclusion of ties, while remaining distinctly unbranded. In an era of peak logomania (just see the recent street style drop from Seoul), it’s refreshing to see a brand that can establish a sense of visual identity without relying on a logo.
In lieu of its own branding and graphics, Sagittaire A’s FW18 collection repurposed some of the corporate world’s most recognizable logos instead. Marlboro, Shell, and Mastercard are fixed to the backs of sweaters and jackets, altered slightly with a few stray asterisks and faded color palettes. It’s a power move of sorts, as you realize these powerful corporate symbols, stripped of their context, are just that: symbols.
The rest of the collection gravitates towards oversized silhouettes, exposed patchwork, and unfinished hems, and in one case, a vestigial collar hanging off the back.
Sagittaire A’s representative explains, “We don’t want to talk about this brand in terms of the typical fashion designer who goes to school, starts a label, takes pictures with all the celebrities, and all that stuff. He doesn’t want anybody to have a picture of him. And that’s truly because he is very shy. There is no other reason, there is no marketing strategy behind it.”
In this time of designer transparency and online outreach, Sagittaire A is doing something quite different. The current climate demands not only that we know who designers are, but that we follow them on social media, know their politics and personal beliefs, and ultimately erase the line between artist and audience.
Of course, this kind of relationship can help to keep public figures accountable for their more unsavory antics, but it leaves little in terms of intrigue. For Sagittaire A, there’s a comparison to be made to provocative experimental hip hop group Death Grips, who effectively “deleted themselves” from the internet in 2012. It flies in the face of everything a PR company will tell you, but as the band’s recent resurgence (and due excitement from fans) has shown, sometimes not having a media presence is the strongest way to communicate your message.
When most designers are already celebrities (Kanye West) or have become celebrities by default (Olivier Rousteing, Virgil Abloh), maybe it’ll take a designer who rejects the spotlight entirely to shift the fashion zeitgeist away from oversaturation and over-the-top hype.
Sagittaire A is stocked in IF SOHO in New York, Maxfield in LA, T.N.T. The New Trend in Toronto, L’Eclaireur in Paris, Daad/Danton in Milano and Le Form in Moscow. You can also see them showing at Paris Fashion Week in June.