Heightened Sense® - Future Streetwear from Los Angeles
When I first heard of a brand straight out of Los Angeles, that was mixing anime and manga vibes with underground utopian Mad Max looks and technical features, I couldn’t really picture it. Still, I already knew pretty early that this mix was something I needed to find out about and after seeing the first lookbooks and ideas of Heightened Sense® I was on this. Solid the creative head behind Heightened Sense® created a brand that could easily be described as the perfect brand for the whole Naruto squad going Neo Tokyo.
If you are not into anime, let’s just call it - Future Streetwear with an anime twist.
To talk about this unique mix and the creative life and work in Los Angeles I met Sense for a little interview in West Berlin a couple of months ago:
Hi Solid, can you please introduce yourself to us? Where are you from, what have you been doing till today and how did you end up designing garments?
Hello my name is Solid, I was born and raised in Costa Mesa CA. I currently reside in Los Angeles, moving here over 3 years ago. Since I was young, I’ve always been interested in creation; particularly personal individuality through the expression of our image. I originally wanted to work in architecture, but as paths presented themselves designing garments became more interesting to me.
What is the story and idea behind your brand? With its dystopian vibe it´s definitely not the first thing people will think of when hearing about an exciting Los Angeles brand.
Heightened Sense as a brand was conceived and started in late 2013. The name Heightened Sense was a name given to directly reflect the overall message of my work. A collection of work that fills the gaps left empty or overlooked in the art of garment design. (It’s raw, it’s unpredictable, it’s survival, it’s the resistance, it’s the industry pirates, it’s duality, it’s classless, and it’s everything that isn’t seen).
How do people in LA react to Heightened Sense?
To be honest it’s very creatively competitive in Los Angeles but you have a large percentage of people that are very supportive. Although there are some individuals who do support designers seeking to do something new and innovative, just like everywhere else you also have a large amount of the opposite demographic who only seek to make business out of the art. The same individuals that don’t want to support something new/original until they’re told to support it.
Since Los Angeles is always sunny what does this mean for your clothing, I guess people are hard to amaze with a layered, taped, wind-shield jacket, right?
Yea I always seem to get the “you sell clothing like this in California?” question. But as I mentioned before, Los Angeles does still hold a good majority of people who look for more then just the simple answers to things, especially in the form of art and creativity. Individuality is something always appreciated in Los Angeles.
Do you think that people deep down in the World Wide Web have an easier access to understanding your designs?
Yes absolutely, almost everyone I’ve truly connected with from a design perspective has been through the Internet. The Internet has in a way made our planet seem smaller, closing the distances between our countries and communications between them. The Internet is its own world with eliminated boundaries, especially if you’re seeking information and like-minds/ideas it is somewhere where everyone has a place they can feel understood. This applies to your work as well; once you’ve found the channels you connect/access with you know that what you’re doing has its place, regardless of it being seen/understood around you in your day-to-day surroundings.
When designing a piece, who are the people you got in your mind that will wear your brand?
The majority of people I have in mind most are the people who truly appreciate the art in design and detail, the ones who enjoy the thrill of chasing down and finding something collectible and limited in numbers, people who enjoy being a part of the “covert” underground by having/knowing the coolest shit no one else has heard of yet, people who enjoy being on the other side of the fence where different and anti sit comfortably.
Your pieces remind me of a very futuristic yet dystopian world but could also be worn by a ninja straight from a Naruto episode. Where did you get all these influences and inspirations from?
During my teenage years my influences were carried in to the punk “do it yourself” category, which would be responsible for the numbered “1 off” / “keep each piece unique to itself” design aspect I incorporate in to my work. I do appreciate innovative and futuristic design, but I feel as though the tech route is already being taken by a lot of great designers. I personally wanted to take a route that in some forms was my own and hadn’t been pursued the same way by any others. I have been influenced by anime since I was young; about 5+ years ago I started to revisit the anime world, which in turn convinced me to make my first garment. For example with shows/manga like Naruto I was always drawn most to how cool each character individually looked; I wanted to apply that same concept to each one of my garments. Very small design concentrated collections; each piece carrying its own “character” individuality and sense of thought, nothing to ever be mass produced or easily accessible.
So what are your favorite anime or films and why?
I have been influenced by so many but to try and cut my answer briefly I would say my favorite anime of all time would be Hunter X Hunter, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Samurai Champloo. My favorite anime film however would be Ghost In the Shell, and favorite non-anime film would be Waking Life. Hunter X Hunter is inexpressibly the perfect anime to me in every form; Neon Genesis Evangelion inspired a lot of the direction aesthetically for Heightened Sense; Samurai Champloo however is just a short interesting story w/ some of the most beautiful music in anime history. In my opinion Ghost In the Shell sets the tone for anime to me and was one of the first films to influence my desire to design similar garments in the real world, it was also one of the first anime’s I saw when I was a kid. The recent live-action film had actually reached out to me to design a few costumes but unfortunately due to bad timing and being preoccupied with a separate project I didn’t have enough time to complete all the pieces. On a separate note one of my favorite mentally influential films, would be Waking Life, it always brings me back to the core of what is most important to me above all; Creativity.
You recently been to Berlin and other European cities, what amazed you the most and what will you tell people back home about your most impressing moments there?
My most impressing moments through travel always tend to be when meeting new like-minded individuals and creatives to work with. Seeing similar minds share the same subject from a new perspective due to growing up in a different environment has always been the most fulfilling part. My father is originally French, so having duel citizenship I spent a lot of time visiting family back and forth between Europe and US. However it was my first time in Berlin and I really enjoyed it, such a lively and open city I will definitely be returning back to Berlin soon.
Since the US goes through some shaky and troublesome times right now, how does the political situation affect your everyday life back home?
It’s interesting to me that in the US only recently has the political situation become something “troublesome” to our people; due solely to Donald Trump being elected, which in comparison is a very minor adjustment to what has been going on here for the last couple decades. For myself I have never put my trust in to the enforcement and surveillance of my country nor have I supported its aggressive influence on the rest of the world. Los Angeles is one of the bellies of the beast; this is a mad country with a mad agenda.
It seems like California is kind of it`s very own microcosmos in the US. So what exactly is different compared to the other states?
Yes, and I cant even completely speak on California as a whole. I am only native to southern California; Northern California as well stands on its own. I think what’s different about California particularly Los Angeles is the amount of creative energy that passes through here physically and mentally, it’s a destination almost everyone in our creative field has or its at least on their mind which in turn also directs a lot of energy in our direction. It has a good set working pace but is also balanced by the comfort and openness of the beach and weather.
Solid, If you could choose three pieces you are the most proud of so far which one are they and why?
1.) NP( R ) from Collection: 002
It was the first piece I felt defined the extremity necessary for each and every collection from that one forward.
2.) Tetrachromatic Daydream & Friendly Fire Pants from Collection: Crooked Dragons pt.1
I have to give credit to both these pieces because they together birthed the Crooked Dragons series, a very unique continuous series of pieces in collaboration with the artist T-Rex of T-Rex Global.
3.) +8 from Collection: Blood Type +
This was the first collection from which I created all patterns by my hands, and +8 was my favorite piece. Currently this would be the piece most representative of my current work.
When you look at the entire history of your brand, what changed from its very first days up until today? I guess the learning process never stops, right?
Yes the learning process never stops, but as time passes the overall message will always remain; make the coolest/creatively concentrated garments possible. Each individual item must have my absolute creative all put in to it or it doesn’t get created. However, factors that remain in a state of constant change would be new fabrics, prototyping of fit adjustments, complexity of pattern design, overall quality, and new technology aspects in all areas.
So what can we expect from Heightened Sense in the future?
Things you’ve never seen before.
Thanks a lot for your time and the Interview