“I think being young and naïve means that you’re not necessarily aware of the rules."

“I think being young and naïve means that you’re not necessarily aware of the rules that are meant to be followed within an industry,” Josh Reim explains, “therefore you come out of it with a different take on things.”

Aged just five when Julian Casablancas and co’s debut LP dropped (16 for the release of ‘Comedown Machine’), the 19 year old has just previewed his SS16 collection; the fifth under his own name label.

To put this into context, Alexander Wang, oft cited as the industry’s benchmark for young fashion designers, was 24 when he released his first full womenswear collection; Shayne Oliver was 18 when Hood By Air began dispatching T-shirts to friends. Reim is a month younger than Tavi Gevinson.

“The older you grow the more you’ve learnt and the harder it becomes to do this,” he continues of the influence of his youth on his work.

Graduating from St. George’s High School in his native Montreal in 2013, he produced his first line for SS14 that fall, while all pieces continue to be made locally. Any suggestion that the city might inform his brand however is quickly quelled, as the designer asserts: “Montreal doesn’t inspire me. If anything, my work is a reaction to it. What has influenced me the most are the people I’ve surrounded myself with, my parents, and my upbringing in general. My memories.”

Exhibiting the free spirit of Aries and the artistic sensibility of Alex Mullins, with an awareness of brand identity not dissimilar from Shrimps and a nod to Gosha Rubchinskiy’s fluidity, he claims an attraction to the Jean Paul Gaultier designed costumes of Peter Greenaway’s 1989 feature film ‘The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover’, elsewhere confirming an affection for “old Brooks Brothers stuff”.

“I’ve always been into fashion,” he says, “I always liked getting dressed and I always took pride in choosing clothing for myself that I found interesting.” Today this interest extends into gender neutral dress – the brand is unisex, and the five look books have featured both men and women, though so far it’s been an either or situation.

This season the designer’s girlfriend Sophie plays model. “It made it a lot easier to work because we didn’t have to worry about scheduling and planning ahead,” we’re told. “I’m always with my girlfriend and I’m always with Jetro (Emilcar, the photographer), so when the clothing was finished we shot it the next day. Using my girlfriend as a model also made the pictures more natural, and more personal which is what I’m trying to do.”

“Whenever I work with friends who I don’t really see often it’s hard to get to the point and the ideas can get lost. Jetro and I have built this bridge of understanding and so the ideas grow really strong, quickly,” he offers of his partnership with Emilcar, responsible for the bulk of Reim’s imagery including AW14’s ‘Bad Music For Good People’ look book, the AW15 campaign and those pictures above.

Inspired by elite North American social gatherings – and pictured around a classic white colonial lakeside home – the new collection boasts skate inspired cotton tees, housewife appropriate slacks, silk PJs and a multi-coloured stripe and grey oversized fleece; a four-linen button-down shirt displays the designer’s more jolly credentials with balloons embroidered on the chest, while elsewhere said pyjamas hide a monogrammed pocket.

This collision of themes and references is similarly apparent via the label’s .com space, the portal for which contrasts intense colour detail shots alongside monochrome portraits of the AW15 models. It’s a strong visual introduction for anyone just coming across the brand; a slick greeting, which, given the digital identity of his generation, shouldn’t surprise.

“I made it part by part, I knew all the small things I wanted to have – a black and white portrait of a friend in the middle, my handwriting, a rainbow changing background, etc – and it just came together and ended up looking beautiful.”

“I want to create a world of my own,” he adds later, when quizzed of the label’s future, “I want to make clothing that is living and breathing.” With intentions to present in London, reportedly, and growing support from European press, plus shoutouts from Twitter –“Josh Reim is the future. Of designing. Clothes”, “WOW JOSH REIM IS MY NEW FAV DESIGNER!!!!” – there’ll be plenty of time for all of it, no doubt. 

Words: Zoe Whitfield

joshreim.com

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