Cassette Playa is an international uber-label, synonymous with outrageous prints and contemporary design techniques. Streetwear meets couture in the dynamic, complex and cutting-edge world of Cassette Playa. We spoke to Carri Munden, the brain and creativity behind the brand, about her upcoming menswear collection, her design process... and her obsession with Game of Thrones.
The UK's love of streetwear is at an all time high, yet most people still think of it as a niche market, not associated with global, luxury fashion. Do you feel you're bridging the gap between the two areas?
I definitely feel like I fit somewhere in between, the cut and shapes in my collections are classic shapes, often influenced by streetwear but the fabrics, processes and prints are subversive. It’s also the choice of these fabrics (silk, merino wool, cashmere meltons) and processes like digital print and laser cutting that make Cassette Playa a luxury brand. Performance sportswear is just as influential to my design as streetwear - especially football, motorcross and boxing.
I don't think streetwear is a niche market though and I also think that it does have a strong connection with high end brands and luxury fashion - just look at Givenchy menswear, or Rick Owens, who also both take inspiration from street and sportswear. And of course Jeremy Scott's successful diffusion collaboration with Adidas.
London has such a strong new generation of menswear designers and many of these also take similar references from street and sportswear - Martine Rose, Shaun Samson, New Power Studio, Christopher Shannon, Katie Eary, Mathew Miller, Alex Matterson, Aitor Throup. I’m so proud of London right now.
Your clothing is known for its mental colour palette and a serious mash-up of patterns. You seem to clash traditional tribal prints with a 90s techno vibe. What brought you to using this combination?
I listen to a lot of metal, thrash, grime, drone and southern hip hop - pretty dark and aggressive music but I love colour + print! I’ve always been drawn to cultures that instinctively use colour - Africa, India, South and Central America. Even the way we wear colour in the UK is very interesting. I also love the internet! Style is communication and the way we communicate now is digital.
Style is also a projected self - an avatar! My work explores this – I’ve used circuit bending, data moshing and Augmented Reality in my work, I also make 3D models and CGI then print them 2D as repeat prints or graphics. My aesthetic is that of Myspace, Blingee and I guess more recently Tumblr - an overdose of stimulus, colour, graphics, symbols and information. It’s a pretty intense aesthetic but a considered one ;)
You can see all these mad faces and figures hidden in pretty much all of your stuff. Is this something you've always wanted to include, or is it a design feature that's naturally developed?
I love animals, monsters, psychedelia, graphic novels, skate and surf culture, cyber punk, science fiction. I guess the faces and characters I create come from there. There are always faces in Aztec, Tiki, Native American and African art that I have referenced for collections too.
When I started Cassette Playa I would talk about 'cartoon couture' - this idea of becoming a character when you put on the clothes. I still like that concept - like how an Amazonian hunter wears a jaguar skin to absorb its power or a Celt wears woad in battle.
Up until now your clothes have been considered unisex, with more of an androgynous vibe. What challenges did you face when creating a womenswear line?
Although I do menswear, I show and sell on a womenswear schedule - I show in London and do showrooms in Paris. But starting a womenswear line is almost like starting over – it’s a totally different and actually more competitive market. I knew I had a female audience it was just about working out which direction to go.
Do you feel more of an affinity with designing menswear, or unisex clothing, as opposed to womenswear?
I love both and I wear both - I kinda dress like a boy 50% of the time. Actually right now I’m more enjoying the challenge of designing womenswear, especially when I get to see some of my favourite ladies wearing it: Nicki Minaj, Amber Rose, 2NE1, Venus X and Iggy Azealia!
What's the feel behind your menswear line for the upcoming 'London Collections: Men' shows?
SS13 is based on an ongoing residency that I am doing at Weltkuren Museum – Frankfurt’s Anthropology Museum. I’ve been researching male initiation rituals in the Amazon and Oceania, and looking for connections in UK subcultures and teenage experiences and rites of 'manhood'. I’m showing a video piece as part of the 'London Collections: Men' digital schedule.
The luxury fashion world can appear daunting and incredibly elitist at times. Do you enjoy the hype and hubbub of fashion week?
I’m not gonna lie the fashion industry is competitive, political and pretty fucking relentless but actually London fashion is quite a tight network, all the other designers are very supportive of each other. I’m pretty introverted but fashion week is always exciting and I love seeing friends that are stylists, buyers or from magazines. I love catching up and once my work is did - party. I don't do sales in London so I can let go a bit, where as Paris is serious work - although I have a lot of good friends there too.
You've clothed M.I.A, Klaxons and These New Puritans, as well as having megastars Lil Wayne, Nikki Minaj and Rihanna wear pieces from your collections. Who would you love to collaborate with next?
I'm currently working with my friend and artist Twigs, we just shot a video. I wanna dress/husband Riff Raff, Amir Khan, Tom Hardy and Waka Flocka Flame. Females - I want to dress/wife Porcelain Black, Grimes, Yolandi vi$$er and the UK female boxing team!
Plus I’d love to design costumes for Khaleesi 'Mother of Dragons' I'm obsessed with Game of Thrones! She’s a total babe, but her costumes suck! "What-is-dead-may-never-die".
You can see Carri’s latest collection for Cassette Playa at the London Collections: Men, on June 17th at the Hospital Club. For more see londoncollections.co.uk