“This is game control” says Scott Sternberg, his voice rising above the din of 6th avenue traffic passing us while we sit in his bespoke Band of Outsiders studio on wheels, its glass walls giving NYC a look inside the designer’s fall 2013 menswear collection, and into his rarified mind.
Inspired by the notion of urban utopia, maps, globes and architect Oscar Niemeyer’s Brasília, Sternberg is showing his newest menswear collection by sending two models, Matt and Miles, on a scavenger hunt throughout Manhattan. There’s a different look for each clue, and the hunt is being livestreamed throughout the day.
The hunt started this morning in the lobby of the Ace Hotel where, through a megaphone, Matt and Miles had to sing the national anthem. Miles was docked points for not being able to find the Ace. “I’m not cool like that. You guys are like ‘I go to the clubs.’ I’m married,” he says. Miles changed into a Cavalry twill polo coat, cotton chino shirtjacket and cuffed pants, as well as a hat, gloves and scarf. Soon, he and Matt would be off again, with only the following clue to guide them:
“Growing up it is likely with these blocks you did play / And now it is time to be kids for a day / Snap to it in color and if things go your way / you’ll leave with a version of you good enough for display.” (They had to go to the Lego store and create miniature versions of themselves with the blocks; upon return, Sternberg would judge his favorite).
Even if it’s not the intention, Sternberg’s innovative presentation is a challenge to every other brand. “As you add more dimensions to this stuff–time, video–it becomes less interesting to put models in clothes and have 100 people come see them. That’s fine, but why are we doing that? What’s all that effort for? People are going to see the same images on Style.com or Fashionista anyway,” he says.
Of course, these kinds of out-of-the-box presentations are kinda Sternberg’s thing. He previously showed livestreamed his menswear collection on one model in a Parisian shop window for 60 hours straight making it the “Longest Show Ever.” And don’t forget the time he staged a mock West Side Story Jets v. Sharks style battle at Pitti Uomo. But he backs up these stunts with well designed, well received clothes. And this year is no exception. This season, he’s layered elements of business attire, sportswear and workwear into each garment. So his “Reefer Coat,” a green wool overcoat, includes knit details, softening up the traditional style. The sweatpants that Miles was putting on, they included a knit trim, and were actually chinos.
Business, work and play are needed to properly build an urban utopia. “I liked this idea, building a city from nothing,” Sternberg says, again referencing Niemeyer, but warning that the inspiration should not be taken too literally. “It changes every season, but you want to get further and further from literal stuff,” he says.
As Sternberg touched up Miles’s scarf and the boys readied for the next chapter in their twee adventure story, I wondered if he’s worried about alienating the traditional fashion crowd. “Listen, there’s a contingency of the fashion community that wants to see a runway show with techno music and lights and darkness and the Dark Lord of Fashion and that’s great; we’re not going to hit them anyway.”
“We’re creating imagery. At the end of the day. What I do is design clothes,” he continued. “And it’s gnarly. I’m getting down and dirty with the buttons and the thread and the eyelets. I’m a clothing engineer and designer and all that. But when it comes to presenting the clothes, you’re presenting an indelible image that creates desire. Period. That’s what an ad is. That’s what a show is. The question is, what can I do for 12 hours that has hopefully more of a lasting impact?”
Watch Miles and Matt on their scavenger hunt right now. Has Sternberg’s unique presentation made an impact on you?