Under the Radar is Highsnobiety’s weekly celebration of upcoming talent. Each week, we spotlight an underground brand that’s bringing something new to the worlds of streetwear and fashion. 

“I think we challenge conformity, tradition, and gender norms,” says Spencer Badu, founder of S.P. BADU, a Toronto-based brand that focuses on wardrobe staples designed for longevity. The clothes aren’t attached to any particular trends — no logomania here — but every garment is unisex.

The label is led by Badu, who does nearly everything at the company bar the styling and photography. “Everything really started from my bedroom,” he tells us. “I was playing around with my ideas, making patterns, and teaching myself how to sew. Then I decided to go to fashion school to major in apparel technology.”

The pieces are wearable, but S.P. BADU isn’t just for anyone. Regarding his inspirations, Badu mentions designers such as Rick Owens, i.e. the kinds of designers who can build a cult around their clothing. He’s also influenced by architecture, which explains how some of his designs get their structured shape.

As the brand’s SS19 lookbook shows, Badu is looking to destabilize the idea that certain clothes are for men and others for women by showing every look on both genders.

“Everything we make is based off a unisex size chart,” he explains. “For us, comfort is a big focus as we incorporate both masculine and feminine elements, whether it’s color, proportion, details, or the cut.”

The SS19 collection (styled by Bobby Bowen, below) features graphic tees, paneled pants, all-in-one jumpsuits, tailored suits, shiny black track pants and jackets, cross-body bags, pairs of sleeves, and bombers with details such as backpack straps and hidden pockets.

The FW18 collection (below), which is available now, includes black brush twill jumpsuits with contrast stitching, red spiral jeans with a dilating popper pattern running up the leg, and cropped canvas jackets.

As conversations about gender continue to grip the zeitgeist, unisex designs, brands, and stores are creeping into the mainstream. As one Highsnobiety writer examining the rise of genderless brands put it recently: “The aim of genderless fashion is to break free from the gender restrictions codified in the clothes we wear. To put it simply, designers are seeking to give consumers the freedom to explore what they want to wear without worrying that their choices say anything about their sexuality or gender.”

Badu’s brand is part of the movement’s vanguard within streetwear. Speaking about any potential backlash against the idea of genderless clothing (and there’s a fair bit, especially within the streetwear community), the designer is sanguine. “I don’t think any of the resistance is on purpose,” he says. “New ideas take long for people to accept.”

S.P. BADU’s FW18 collection can be shopped via the brand’s webstore.

For more about genderless fashion, here is what New York designers are saying about the phenomenon.

Words by Max Grobe
Associate Fashion Editor
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