Editors’ Pick: Yaku Stapleton Collabs with Designer Louis Presencer and Techwear Tailor Rory O’Sullivan

The fashion world has long enjoyed collaborations where two parties turn their creative ideas into reality. Fashion designers are now embracing new fashion technology and learning digital prototyping to transform online concepts into identical physical products. And it looks like the power of digital prototypes will continue to influence designers and collections for decades.

Image Yaku Stapleton

The intersection of fashion and technology can be found via a new collaboration between designers Yaku Stapleton, Louis Presencer and Rory O’Sullivan along with MSCHF, an American art collective based in Brooklyn, NY, in a new line of basketball wear. The collection finds the balance between virtual expressions and the physical world.

The collab also weaves in another critical aspect of modern fashion, sustainability. Stapleton and his collaborators are embracing sustainability by utilizing existing fabrics and recycled materials, aiming to redefine fashion with new values that can shape the industry’s future.

In an interview with Fashion Reverie, the designers talk about the collaboration, what brought them together and why they’re excited about digital fashion.

Image courtesy of Yaku Stapleton

Fashion Reverie: This technology is something that not many people have seen before. How did this rise in digital fashion come about?

Louis Presencer: I feel like digital fashion is slowly being seen in mainstream fashion but there isn’t a bridge yet that allows for people to interact with the medium. I think that augmented reality in tandem with digital fashion feels like the natural direction for digital fashion, which I have been exploring in my own work, building art experiences that showcase digital garment design alongside the final, physical garment.

FR: Can you give us more of an understanding into the technological aspects of this collaboration, where you turn a digital product into something physical?

Yaku Stapleton: In establishing my practice, I had numerous ideas to bring to life. However, the pandemic restricted the realization of these designs in garment form. A tutor recommended using Marvellous Designer (a cloth simulation program) and CLO 3D (virtual fashion design software) to actualize the 1/4 scale designs I had created in my room. This marked the initial integration of digital tools into my practice.

Rory O’Sullivan: I’ve been using CLO 3D and Blender (an open-source 3D computer graphics software tool) to digitally model concepts that align with my brand, Mura Studio, effectively conveying surreal ideas integral to my work. Over the past year, I’ve constructed an alien world around my designs, offering viewers insight into my creative process. Sculpting alien characters in Blender and transitioning them to CLO allows me to design garments tailored to these creatures, maximizing the synergy between the two software applications.

Image courtesy of Yaku Stapleton

FR: Why do you think digital fashion is important and what are the most important applications of digital fashion?

Yaku Stapleton: Digital fashion is important as it allows access to the arts. Previous barriers within information as to how to make your designs meant that you had to be in specific places, or areas, or have specific education to be able to create within fashion.

Rory O’Sullivan: It’s a valuable tool, especially for new designers without a full studio setup, condensing various workspace tasks onto a screen. Learning it from home through online tutorials on platforms like YouTube is a convenient approach.

Beyond accessibility, the efficiency of these tools stands out. Pattern cutting and alterations that would take a day can be completed in a quarter of the time due to the software’s intelligence.

FR: How would you describe your combined design aesthetic/style, and do you think this is the beginning of the rise in digital prototyping being included in fashion?

Rory O’Sullivan: Working with Yaku has shifted my design theory perspective significantly. Collaborating with diverse designers, each with unique backgrounds and skills, facilitates constant idea exchange. Meeting Louis on the first day, who shares profound knowledge in CLO, was surreal. As a collective, we’ve seamlessly integrated our skill sets, forming a distinctive design process applicable across projects.

Louis Presencer: Working with people who see design in the same way I do was beneficial. With Yaku allowing us to really experiment digitally, I found myself in scenarios where if I had an issue, I could turn to Rory to get the answer and vice versa.

Image courtesy of Yaku Stapleton

FR: Can you describe your design and creation process when working on this MSCHF project?

Yaku Stapleton: The project initiated with a focus on the shoes, shaping the entire concept around them. Our exploration involved dissecting the lines and using them merely as a reference for the garment shapes. Conceptually, in collaboration with the MSCHF team, we deliberated on the presentation of the shoes.

 It was unanimously decided that emphasizing the pumps on the shoe was paramount. The conclusion reached was to craft looks in ascending size and intensity, mirroring the idea of the shoes being pumped up.

Rory O’Sullivan: Working on the MSCHF project was exhilarating. Being familiar with their dynamic approach to ideas, we recognized the potential to sustain that energy through digital design, resulting in something extraordinary. Upon receiving the project brief, Louis and I delved straight into work, swiftly visualizing garment ideas for the concept. The learning curve was substantial, with Louis introducing me to advanced CLO techniques and crafting vibrant animations to showcase the clothes in action. This allowed us to push boundaries, aligning perfectly with MSCHF’s penchant for going over the top—showcasing how digital design seamlessly complemented their style.

Image courtesy of Yaku Stapleton

FR: Are you planning to produce more physical garments based on your 3D designs through this digital prototyping technology, and would you ever explore the possibilities connected to the metaverse/VR and fashion happening right now?

Yaku Stapleton: For me, while digital prototyping is useful for concepting, my practice benefits a lot from my understanding and interest in physical form, shape, and textures. This means that an understanding of pattern cutting and how to realize the shapes and textures that I’m interested in within the fashion context is often more important, and often digital solutions to creating work negate my desire to realize projects that work in the real world. The transition to “real” is also a task, and sometimes, that process can take longer than if you were to approach the pattern in the “real,” physically.

Regarding VR and the metaverse, I’m interested in bringing people together and I’ve enjoyed the moments in my life when I’ve gone into worlds that are based online through RPGs (role-playing games). These kinds of complete quests feel a lot more immersive to me than the metaverse, which feels like it often ends at just being in a particular space and there’s nothing beyond that. I think the metaverse is a good start, but for it to live up to and challenge the spaces that have come before it—it still has a long way to go. As a result, I’d like to explore these critiques within my own attempts to create and present fashion digitally, so that it feels more like an RPG. Focus less on the clothes, and more on the space that these clothes would exist in and the things you could do within that space.

—Ryan Salfino






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