Don't Talk About The Basement: The Uniform
The Basement is a community. The Basement is a movement. The Basement is a blog, a brand, and the strongest voice in street wear right now. Do not talk about the Basement! The Basement is bigger than you…and me. It’s bigger than all of us (but still including us) and certainly too big to even try to introduce it for this article.
All the magic that happens around this really bad bitch of a collective, consisting of the most awesome and extraordinarily creative people you will ever find (superlatives, SUPERLATIVES!), I will put aside for a future article somewhere else.
Today, I just want to talk about the Basement as a brand and their latest drop, called “The Uniform.” Easy.
Last week, I met Alex, one of the figureheads of this infamous group, in Berlin and we had a little chat about their next projects, steps, and plans. In my eyes, their next release will lift the Basement as a brand up to new heights. I would even go as far as calling this basic but straightly good drop an introduction of a new standard: The Basement standard.
…but let the man himself explain:
Yo Alex, I remember the time when people knew what the streets in New York were wearing, like American Pop and Rap culture used to be the main source for a lot of people all around the world to find inspiration and their next fit. It´s 2016 and the UK has taken over! Why?
That’s a complicated question to answer. I think a lot of it has to do with the authenticity of UK creativity and culture in 2016. I also remember the time when people looked to New York for their cultural and fashion references. Back then, rap music coming out of the US was the go-to for kids in the UK who listened to music coming from the streets. UK genre’s like Grime were in their infancy, and were maligned by UK mainstream media as ‘black’, ‘violent’ and ‘dangerous’, while similar cultural forms coming out of the US were backed by mainstream record labels and proliferated both sides of the Atlantic. This meant that US cultural forms were the dominant exports - we wore what we saw on MTV.
That’s now changed. Grime has gone from demonised to championed, and there is now an air of pride around UK street culture. That shift in attitude has allowed our cultural outputs to flourish, grow and evolve to a place where we are now arguably home to the the most progressive, innovative and exciting street culture in the world.
Talking about UK streetwear a trackie will never be “just’ a trackie. So what´s the big and probably romantic deal behind the ends, the neighborhoods in and around London and a tracksuit?
Tracksuits do have an almost mythical place in London and more widely UK street culture. Seen in its most simplistic terms, the tracksuit is practical - it’s the most comfortable thing you can put on, is easy to care for and is relatively inexpensive. That makes it desirable if you haven’t got a bank account with endless zero’s attached to it - you’re buying one look that is good for all seasons and occasions (apart from maybe weddings and funerals).
In sociological terms, I think the allure of the tracksuit runs deeper. Like Grime music, the tracksuit was (and to a lesser extent, still is) the target of animosity from a generation that were scared of “hoodies” and “ASBO kids”. The widespread adoption of the tracksuit as the seeming staple of young people in 2016 (and before to be fair) is youth rebellion through fashion. Stigmatised by a generation that doesn’t understand or appreciate you, and is making life harder for you...
So let´s talk about your next drop! What´s “The Uniform” for you and why did you guys pick this name for your next drop?
The name comes from way tracksuits have been adopted by The Basement, and by young people in general - they are the uniforms we aren’t forced to wear. Blazers, ties, shirts, trousers and shoes were thrust upon us as youngsters in a bid to ready us for the ‘world of work’ where we would be required to wear a suit, day in, day out. The world has changed. Work has changed. The tracksuit has become the new suit - the daily outfit of choice for young people studying or working in creative industries, commuting daily, leading active lifestyles. It’s also come to be a social signifier; a low-key nod to one another that we are on the same page, on the same team, one in the same.
If you could put all your last Basement releases in an overall perspective, what's different this time compared with your latest drop.
The biggest difference between this drop and the last drop has been the product, without doubt. This is the first time we have ever done a cut and sew collection, and represents an exciting progression for us. We all have a deep love of streetwear, and it was important to all of us that we made the transition from ‘merch’ to actual apparel. To put on a hoodie and tracks that actually fits right because its cut to our specifications, that is high quality, that we have been able to take time to finesse, means a lot to us. As a community of streetwear connoisseurs, I have a feeling that once those that manage to cop get their hands on the new drop, it will mean a lot to them too.
So can we expect even more additions under “The Uniform” tag in the future?
To be honest, I’m not sure. ‘The Uniform’ felt right for this collection, but it wasn’t named that with a staple collection in mind. That’s not to say it won’t happen that we add to the collection under ‘The Uniform’ name, but as with most things we do, it’s been organic and fluid - if it works, then we may well add to it in the future, but if we move on, we move on. Who knows.
How does it feel seeing your brand getting shipped to and being worn all around the world? Do you actually realize what you have started and accomplished already?
This answer will probably seem like a stock response, but we tend not to dwell on past accomplishments. As its the end of the year, some reflection is natural. But reflection is outweighed massively by looking forward and planning for the future. We want to make sure that we continue to build for The Basement. We are a family, and families take care of one another. We want to keep providing more and more for our family, taking better care of our family. Don’t get me wrong, it’s always mad to see someone on the streets of London or Paris wearing something you have designed, but apparel is just a small part of what we are about. The best part is seeing family members help one another, stand up for one another, take care of one another. If the apparel brand can come to be an extension of that sentiment, then that’s definitely an accomplishment we can all be proud of.
I know you guys are into surprises, but can you give us a little glimpse at what the future holds for The Basement?
The amazing thing about The Basement is you can never truly predict the future. Communities, families, people, the world - it’s all really unpredictable. One thing I do know is that we will continue to work as a family to take care of one another, provide opportunities for one another, have a laugh with one another. That’s the brand. That’s The Basement. We have got some mad projects in the pipeline for 2017, and have even started working on 2018, but as you said, we do like a surprise or two (or more).
THE UNIFORM: Get it