The most tedious aspect of being a tastemaker in the creative industry is the consumer’s need to pigeonhole in order to identify. Thankfully for London born-and-bred fashion designer Carri Mundane, aka Cassette Playa, she’s shaped her craft into a multi-faceted whirlwind of colour and futurisms and garnered recognition all over the world as more than just a streetwear brand. She’s constantly spotted in British Vogue as well as music bible New Musical Express, she’s worked with Billionaire Boys Club, new rave/punk band The Klaxons and most notably, one of the most important people in the forefront of the new music generation – M.I.A. And now she has her own Nike Blazer…
Interview By Safra Ducreay
Who was your favourite Superhero comic character growing up?
If you had the chance to produce, direct, shoot one television episode of your favourite comic book, which one, which series, and which actors would star as the main characters and why?
I have a kinda love/hate relationship with the Tank Girl film, so I’d like to re-shoot it with Chloe Sevigny.
Your line has been categorized as cartoon couture. You seem to embrace it, but at the same time, you’ve incorporated eighties elements, skateboard culture, the rainforest and shamanism into your line. Now, if you were to mass-produce your line for a major chain store, would you see yourself gearing it towards a concept that is more ‘consumable’?
Nope. I have no problem with doing a diffusion line, but I’d never compromise my ideas and I don’t think I would have to. People aren’t dumb. I really respect artists like Keith Haring or Memphis Design. Art that can translate on a mass/pop (cultural) level. I hope that my prints and clothes work on all levels as well.
Your state of mind, your clothing, everything about you is about incorporating futurism. With the rise of social-networking tools such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc., it’s easy to see how these outlets have become power forms of ‘futuristic’ communication for music. But do you think that people get it when it comes to clothing?
Totally! MySpace has revolutionised music in that you can have access to a global audience. It negates the need for a record label or even an industry, that’s a lot of power. It’s the same with fashion too. You can build your own global tribe.
In your opinion, do you think the New-Rave era was a breakthrough for the European market?
I don’t know what to say to that. The whole new-rave thing is kinda jokes (to me). Vacant in retro. It’s just a marketing machine. I have my own machine, and it really frustrates me that what I do is misinterpreted. I guess it was a fun time but I’m more excited about what happens now. The next level – the next generation. There’s a mood of neo-spiritualism and futurism that excites me.
You say that you want Cassette Playa to be a whole experience. Besides the runway, fashion styling, can you tell me of the ultimate experience you were able to create, and did it produce the effect you had hoped?
I recently worked with Nike on a video installation in an in-store in Selfridges London. It was based on the split Windrunner, and was inspired by MMORPG.COM and online gaming. The idea is each Windrunner has its own avatar, so you choose, split and fuse two avatars/Windrunners to make your own ultimate avatar/pixel warrior. You could then download it as a limited edition video ringtone. I designed all the characters and art directed the game and in-store. It was amazing to see the characters 3D and animated; it was also awesome to work on the Sonics (the soundtrack and ringtone were made exclusively for the game by Silverlink).
In a 2006 article you said that you wanted menswear fashion to be more colourful, positive and futuristic. Now, two years later, with the emergence of men’s fashion lines like Billionaire Boys Club, Kid Robot, BAPE and so many more, would you agree that there is a renaissance going on in the market?
Yes! Totally! It’s inspiring to see other brands from the same planet. I’ve been working with Billionaire Boys Club for three seasons now (styling editorials and this season’s Look Book). They really lead the way and I’m excited to see the next level.
Can you tell me the difference between American streetwear versus UK streetwear?
I don’t consider Cassette Playa a streetwear brand, it’s a luxury brand. I think we sit somewhere new – in between high-end and street. I think UK street style is a lot more eclectic, it comes from both the streets and the clubs. Culturally and in music scenes etc., Britain is more mixed/mashed-up and I think that influences things.
I know you say that you don’t consider your line to be streetwear. But has it been challenging getting the rest of the world to see that?
Not really. We have always showed at London and Paris Fashion Week and the mainline doesn’t sell in streetwear stores. It sits beside Jeremy Scott, Raf Simons, Comme de Garcons and Bernard Wilhelm! I’m excited that we can be on these different levels, (for example we were featured in) New Musical Express Magazine and Vogue in the same month! And showing in Paris while working with Nike. Also, our processes are luxury, you can’t really do the digital print and the construction that we do at a streetwear level. And I’m personally very proud to be British and although a lot my references are global, it influences and conditions everything I do.
London is notorious for having a bit of a reserved, even negative energy at times. Do you ever feel that you’d like to be based somewhere else when it comes to producing your line?
London is so multicultural, it has all the inspiration I need but it’s a tough city. It’s important to get out sometimes or it all becomes too much about survival. London will always be my home but I love travelling. I’d definitely move the brand out of London. I’d like to keep on moving – maybe a Cassette Playa world tour!
A lot of things have happened for you since 2006. Does the rapid success make you feel somewhat apprehensive at times?
Yeah, it’s been a little crazy but I’m too busy to think and I’m always looking to the future. (I’m always) trying to keep moving forward.
You’ve worked with The Klaxons and MIA – artists that have infused video-game audio into their beats. How important is it for you when it comes to styling artists, to paint a visual picture through their music?
I usually work with artists who are sonically interpreting the same references as me. We are coming from the same place so it’s easy. I feel weird saying I’ve styled any of these artists, as it’s more of a collaboration. When I’m designing, music is my biggest inspiration. So it’s a flip of that. I work with a lot of grime artists because I really believe in the scene – it inspires me. I got into it because it’s both future and a totally UK sound and because of the energy when you are at a grime rave – it’s like metal to me.
Would you ‘work’ with bands like Crystal Castles or I Hunt Wizards seeing that their beats incorporate the same concept?
I Love Crystal Castles, They Are F U T U R E P R I M A T I V E. So fucking raw.
Can art live without fashion?
Can fashion live without music?
By Safra Ducreay
Check out the Nike x Cassette Playa Blazer here