Welcome to the first issue of Energy Transmission. In this monthly newsletter I explore the question “what is the culture of tomorrow?” together with those who are close to the fire. I have conversations with people I crossed paths with, or who’s work inspires me and pair it with stuff we both think is worth checking out.
This month: Mark McGinnis (@markfromtheincorporated)
Mark and I first met at the ComplexCon in Chicago 2019 and kept in contact ever since, which I really appreciate. I very much enjoy seeing his brand The Incorporated Clothing conquer the world one piece at a time. Mark is the 31-year-old Seattle-born Creative Director behind the brand and basically runs it as a one man show. He currently lives in Los Angeles for several reasons I’ll pick up on later, and said that he “has done every single part of running a brand.” He started out folding shirts and hanging hangtags and now makes custom fashion for celebrities like Tylah Yaweh, Don Toliver, Rosalia, Billie Eilish, Young Thug… the list is long.
In his process he makes pieces from scratch or uses vintage denim which he handpaints. His first collection got picked up on by Highsnobiety and was quickly sold in stores all over the world. The Incorporated Clothing was born. Their latest collaboration with “Exchange Program” could be purchased at the Dover Street Market and also got global attention. Currently Mark is busy working on a brand new collection.
When chatting about the current state of streetwear and fashion you can not not talk about Los Angeles. The good weather may be one of the reasons Mark made this city his hometown, but he moved here mainly because the West Coast metropolis has been changing culture significantly over the last decades and became an epicentre of celebrity and influencer impact. They have pretty much taken over the fashion game. “The influencers and celebs took it from editors, buyers and editorial stylists - it’s now more the celebrity stylists and individual brand owners who have the power.” So this new, very international movement, for better or for worse, shifted a lot of power out of Paris and Tokyo and brought it to Los Angeles. Today everyone has a reason to come to LA for fashion. “That was not always the case”, Mark remembers. He started supporting stylists in the city early on, and they began to support his brand which resulted in a bunch of artists wearing his clothing. It’s about connecting with people and never hesitating to reach out. A funny example of how things in LA work is his anecdote: “I met Don C (former manager of Kanye West, owner of R.S.V.P. and designer himself) walking the street, introduced myself, he gave me his number - that would have never happened in Seattle”
So living in this cultural epicentre is what he gets most of his creative inspiration and energy from. “Just driving around the city. Beverly Hills, East LA, to our factories, Mulholland Drive… that’s where I personally go for inspiration”. My head starts painting this romantic image of Mark driving around Los Angeles, watching people’s styles and how they interpret a brands’ new collection. Getting the insights he needs for his new collection this way. The street that really predicted what comes next used to be Fairfax, but the hotspot now moved around the corner to Melrose Ave with Round Two becoming the hub for the youth.
Besides looking at people and their styles he is a “big museum guy”. Let’s hope museums will open up again soon and we will find ourselves strolling around art again. I always get the feeling that artists aren’t so influenced by outside trends. And Mark told me so, too. When talking about watching trends emerge, he said that “the trends do not really affect what I do”. However, he still keeps an eye out on the street and on the gram. Instagram keeps being vivid in pumping people’s outfits into world.
While Instagram is keeping up the pace of people getting fits off, we are still in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are not able to see too many people outside, in bars and restaurants or go shopping in the streets of LA. So this, from a creative standpoint became crucial for Mark. “It’s difficult to make things for the people staying at home. I make clothes for people to be seen and noticed”. He told me that it felt like an inspirational crisis when thinking of what people want during a pandemic. He stated it’s “very difficult to find my creative place in it.” In my opinion, you can not replace the real world connections and sources of inspiration by an endless feed on your phone, so it’s absolutely understandable. And still, the fashion game moves and new pieces keep on dropping. To not dump too many products on the planet, Mark has always tried to produce his collections only using local labor. He also uses deadstock fabrics from local dealers, which are the left over fabrics of other fashion houses who overestimated their needs. So having a sustainability focus is not a bandwagon he jumps on; he truly cares about this and it is essential for him. “It’s built into the brand without using it for communication.”
Lots of brands and their owners are currently looking into ways of turning coolness and the hype factor into making a change, into doing something good. We were talking big movements of the last year and Mark immediately responded with “Social Responsibility” as the biggest movement. Brands began making an effort to get people to vote or to participate in something bigger or more important than their brand, like the Black Lives Matter movement. “It’s the biggest thing in a bunch of different areas”. But as always some brands are pondering on it while others make great moves beyond cheap t-shirt graphics and profit off it. “Like Beyonce putting up a long list of black-owned businesses on her website. She’s really using her platform to empower the overlooked.”
My guess as brand activator is that this, in combination with the ecological factor will be essential to the next generation of consumers: “People are trying to figure out how to mix capitalism with social change - and that’s a good challenge.” This means what we now experience as hype in its current form has to stop soon.
Hype as a concept is not new. “People were hyped about Elvis, about The Beatles and Disco.” Everyone wanted to be a part of it. In Mark’s youth “people wanted SeanJohn, now they want Supreme.” What’s new is that hypes are now used by companies to sell stuff. “The reselling business still grows, which is cool sustainability wise, but specifically luxury brands, the biggest ones, exploit the cool and the hype and turn it into profitable products.” They are charging high prices for cheap stuff and get influencers to wear it. By doing so, they drag younger people into overpriced shopping. It’s an artificial hype invented by supposed taste-makers. “It’s dangerous actually for young people to get into luxury too early.”
Before ending our video-interview I wanted to know what things got Mark excited lately - old and new. So here is a little rundown of things Mark dug into over the last weeks.
The original concept store in Tokyo’s Shibuya district, or more precise: Urahara. Here, Nigo and Jun Takahashi started in 1993 what became Japan’s most influential store, and the birthplace of brands like BAPE and Undercover. Check out this article I found.
For Europeans it’s strange to imagine this, but he was the biggest athlete in the US during the 1990s, after Michael Jordan. Named “The Kid” he had a huge impact on the kids that loved him. He invented wearing your hat backwards for style reasons!
Mark told me that he draws a lot of inspiration from the “Making-ofs of movies”. This one is an indie movie about a guy without a budget trying to make a horror movie named “COVEN”. Mark Borchardt and Mike Schank, the protagonists of both films, even made it to Family Guy. Check out the trailer to this hilarious Behind The Scenes documentary.
70s Rock’n’Roll (Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Bob Dylan)
The 1970s are a constant source of inspiration and creative juice for Mark. Not only the music, but also ’70s movies, movie posters and everything else with that special ’70s vibe.
Recently Mark bought a new camera, the Sony Alpha 7 which got him very excited because he’s doing a lot of his shootings himself. Excited to see the results with this new tool.
“I have no idea, but I give it a shot. I’m both excited and a bit nervous about the fact, that people on a major scale have realised that they have a say in where things are gonna go. They can either care and make that choice or they can just continue living their lives and not care at all.” So, many people have realised they have more power, that they can have a say by voting, by expressing themselves on social media, or by choosing where to spend their money. It’s the purchasing power, and it’s the community organisations, and it’s that they can voice themselves and be heard. It’s the power of individual human beings. One tweet can change a community or a company.
For Mark the culture of tomorrow is caring to make a choice.
Every month, after the interview section, I share with you some things I found on the Internet or in streets, that infused me with good vibes. These are my new energy sources:
This is the first time that a Tik Tok phenomena caught my attention and I cannot not recommend enough to check out the work of Jeris Johnson. Besides being incredibly talented in playing several instruments, he started making his own remixes of popular rock songs. What users then called ‘Nickeltrap’ grew full circle and he landed a feature with Nickelback singer Chad Kroeger. This month the kid from LA released his debut EP with other remixes of Papa Roach and Bring Me The Horizon. So he not only combines 30 years of rock in this thing, but it also shows how much joy embracing a collaboration can bring.
This tool is the visual search engine I was looking for long time ago and I’m sure it will enhance your image search by a lot. The creator explains how this works: “Same Energy’s core search uses deep learning. A seed of 5-20 images are selected by hand, then our system builds the feed by scanning millions of images in our index to find good matches for the seed images. You can create feeds in just the same way: save images to create a collection of seed images, then look at the recommended images.”
I stumbled upon this amazing soft shell jacket lately while browsing the latest gorpcore inspo. It immediately intrigued me with its unique “slash” style and the beautifully crafted looks. Or was it just the really well shot Instagram picture?
The album by the massively, massively, multi-talented bassist, singer and producer Thundercat aka Stephen Lee Burner just won a grammy for “best progressive R&B album” and is a work of music that is really versatile and keeps me playing it again and again. While you’re at it, check this issue of BRICK with his cover story and beautiful editorial. Thundercat is such an amazing person!
I have been running a lot lately. And to get me motivated even on rainy days, I keep on browsing the web for aesthetic running photography and articles. This month I went back to watch Cannes Gold Lion winner “Breaking2” by Nike which is easily one of the best sports documentaries ever made. Watch it in full-length on Vimeo and observe how Eluid Kipchoge questions and disrupts what human beings are able to do. Mesmerizing!