Interview by Lucas Pantoja
If you’ve been following fashion at all within the past decade then you’re probably aware of the rise, fall, and then rise of the cult clothing brand: Band of Outsiders. Born out of Los Angeles, California in 2004 by Scott Sternberg the brand rose to fame over the course of 11 years before it came crashing down in 2015.
But, as fans found themselves hopeless many quickly rejoiced as the band was brought back together again and relaunched in September of 2016 under a new team based in Antwerp.
This new team made their debut for the brand’s Spring/Summer ’17 show during NY Fashion Week. But after one season the team was let go and in November of 2016 Angelo Van Mol was appointed as creative director.
Angelo is an awarded designer and a 2010 graduate of the Royal Academy of Antwerp who only months after his graduation was deemed the AMFW menswear designer of the year. Having built up skills and experience working on his own brand and for brands on Savile Row, Van Mol is fully equipped to be the designer that brings Band of Outsiders its success once more.
But, don’t be mistaken by all the credentials — although Van Mol is now based in London and has achieved early success in his career he still keeps a casual and genuine nature which shows in the DNA of the brand.
Quirky prints and accessories, charming reinterpretations of garments, and a topped off finish of effortless style seemingly construct Band’s aesthetic. Fun yet relaxed would be one way of describing Band of Outsiders — clothes fit for a comedic and stylish guy like Donald Glover or a young Hollywood cool kid whose demeanor is way too chill.
And while it’s never an easy task to relaunch a brand, under the direction of Van Mol the wheels are turning once more and Band of Outsiders seems to be cruising down the highway and gaining momentum.
We here at TFP reached out to creative director Angelo Van Mol for a chat via phone call, from Milan to London:
Lucas: Your collections are composed of a broad array of garments. In this latest Spring/Summer collection there’s tracksuits, formal suits, fanny packs, and beach hats to name a few of the pieces presented. Is there a specific target that Band of Outsiders is trying to communicate to? If so, who is the typical Band of Outsiders customer in your eyes?
AVM: Well that’s a good question, we’re not actually aiming to reach the typical young person that you might see wearing all of those items yet at the same time they work quite well for us. Also, everything we presented at the show doesn’t necessarily represent everything we are selling. I felt what we presented at our last show was a bit younger and louder than what is actually going into our showroom for sale. But in that spirit, I’d say the demographics of people whom we are aiming to sell to would be around the ages of 23 to 40. Young creatives, artists, graphic designers, and just anybody who likes a garment with a twist.
Lucas: Right, and the collections are really quite fun in my opinion, so I can understand that.
AVM: Yes, well that is something we’re working to implement season after season. Also, the show format is something which we are trying to change. For one show we had five comedians come out and perform comedy acts, and for another we casted professional ice skaters as the models.
Last season’s show felt a bit louder in my opinion because its inspiration was about young boys taking a school trip to Italy. In it being about young boys going on a school trip — it’s likely that enforced a younger look to the clothes. For us, it’s the seriousness of fashion that goes to the other brands, but we’re here to have a good time and just not take it too seriously.
Lucas: I think fashion could certainly use that.
Lucas: Since rebooting Band of Outsiders with the help of your partner (Daniel Hettmann), in your own words what are you doing differently with the clothes and designs being produced than the previous Band?
AVM: To be fairly honest, we don’t really look back to what the old Band of Outsiders was doing. Although Band of Outsiders has a great archive, it’s not a point of reference for us. Originally it came from someone else’s vision and since then the market has drastically changed — so we saw this as a project to start from scratch. What we are doing now comes completely from us. So if what we’re doing sits close to the previous Band of Outsiders work well then great, but if it doesn’t correlate then so be it.
Lucas: I was first introduced to Band of Outsiders by Donald Glover who’s been a loyal customer to the brand for about as long as I can remember. Do you know the relationship between the brand and Mr. Glover, does it go beyond customer loyalty?
AVM: I wish it could, unfortunately we don’t know him personally. But I see he’s been wearing our clothes recently at some of his premieres and releases. We are such fans of his here. And although we would love to be in contact with Donald, diplomacy makes it difficult since his stylist is the one we’re actually going through. Do you know Donald Glover?
Lucas: Personally no, but I’ve been a big fan of his for years now.
AVM: Yes — aren’t we all, aren’t we all.
Lucas: You’re approaching the presentation of your 5th collection for the brand, and with every season it only seems to be growing. Is there a certain vision you have or a particular place you’re aiming to take the brand?
AVM: We certainly are growing, currently we have 14 new stores opening as well as womenswear coming next season. We would like to bring the brand into its own retail environment, to make it sustainable and with a lot of visibility about itself. To make the brand’s statements about something which is fun and easy to buy into, basic but still with a twist. I don’t think the vision should go any further than that. Whatever happens, happens — If it becomes the next big thing, great but if not, well we’re still having a good time.
Lucas: And in my opinion that all relates to the clothes themselves. They have this sense of relaxment and casualness. As you said, just not being so serious.
AVM: I also feel these days that wearing fitted suits and rigid garments just aren’t comfortable, and that what we want is to feel free and relaxed. I think this is the place where we should be going. Also with the contemporary market we find this seasonal and conceptual trip. One season it’s this brand and two seasons later it’s another, but we aren’t looking to be apart of that. For us it’ll always be basic garments with a twist or a funny interesting fabrication.
It’s refreshing to see a brand which has a dark past, take on a cheerful and positive disposition: both the fashion industry and the world could use some of that. Keep one eye open for Band of Outsiders as it continues to grow and further define itself once more. Keep the other eye open on Angelo Van Mol as he too grows and gives more definition to his work.
Check out the Band of Outsiders Spring/Summer 2019 presentation and shop the current Fall/Winter 2018 collection available now at Bandofoutsiders.com.
More articles by Lucas Pantoja.
I’m just a guy from Virginia who enjoys writing about clothes. Currently studying creative direction at The Istituto Marangoni in Milan, Italy.