The brand’s SS18 collection is inspired by a mother’s quest to survive Stage 4 Breast Cancer
Hanging from a silver rack in the offices of contemporary streetwear brand Control Sector is a white shirt with unusual shapes on it. Short sleeve, button-down, and printed with amorphous swirls and blocks, its airy fabric swings gently even in the air-conditioned office. These inky structures, they look familiar.Control Sector co-founder and Creative Director Maxwell Amadeus saw these particular images for the first time in a CT scan of his mother’s body. Diagnosed with breast cancer, the swirls reported her illness was in stage 4. As an act of solidarity and positive energy, Amadeus dedicated the brand’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection to her, to generate strength for the woman who raised him and inspired his fashion career.
Amadeus created this particular collection of Control Sector’s now-signature modern minimalist streetwear using his mother’s favorite colors, like deep purple, and icy blue, the color of her eyes. The CT scans of her cancer were turned into an all-over print. Denim pieces were handpainted on the back, a salute to the time mother and son spent together painting clothing when Amadeus was younger, one of the inspirations that drew him toward clothing in the first place. Another factor was that she and Maxwell’s father embraced a punk look when they were younger, Amadeus says. Wearing vintage Comme des Garçons, Burberry, and thrift pieces from their native London, their style always inspired him.
Control Sector developed in 2013 when Amadeus and brothers Adam Thomison and Luke Deenihan formed a partnership after meeting at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York a few years earlier. A former pro/am snowboarder—a lifestyle heavily influenced by streetwear culture—Amadeus met Deenihan in the menswear program. Thomison, who would become co-founder and Director of Operations at Control Sector, was studying production at the time. Thomison and Deenihan noticed a gap in the market they wanted to fill, one for contemporary streetwear with luxury touches at an accessible price point, and the concept of Control Sector was born shortly afterward. But in addition to Deenihan’s streetwear background, the brothers needed a menswear specialist, too, and Amadeus, who had also interned at Tim Coppens, was brought on. Deenihan has since left the company (amicably, for health reasons), but Thomison and Amadeus have continued cultivating a contemporary aesthetic that’s both style and substance. Their brand is sold around the world, and has even led to a collaboration with rapper Fetty Wap.
“Max and Control Sector in general tends to lean toward very minimal,” Thomison says. “How can you make something really interesting and unique while still being minimal?”
“It’s a matter of making each piece specific and different but still keeping it wearable and practical and not too over the top,” Amadeus says. “Even though a lot of [what I] do is minimal, there’s still a lot of detail and complexity to it as well.” Take, for example, a parka from a previous collection with all manner of stash pockets and ventilations and fur and a brick-red Japanese fabric (“There’s nothing minimal about this,” Amadeus laughs); or a white jumpsuit for Spring/Summer 2018 which can be unzipped into a separate jacket and pants; a fur jacket with suspenders inside so you don’t have to keep putting it on and taking it off. “I like to think of new ways to make clothing,” Amadeus says. “New seams, new silhouettes, new shapes, new fits, so it’s not just taking what’s already there and throwing a logo and a graphic on it.”
A CT scan as a pattern and colors inspired by a mother’s eyes are nothing if not new, and artists use their media of choice to tackle troubling issues every day. Combining new ideas with issue confrontation, as Control Sector does, is where true invention happens. There’s a sense of healing in generating work that seeks to solve or address a problem, whether that work is sculpture, painting, writing, or even fashion.
“I feel like positivity can overcome anything. I really do believe in mind over matter,” Amadeus says. “I [designed the collection] to show my mom I do care about her and I feel like the more people that see and the more people that feel the same way that I feel about it will give her strength internally to overcome it.”
Design, no matter the medium, is often personal, but it’s not necessarily autobiographical. So while Amadeus’s usual inspirations come from pop music or politics—another of the brand’s collections, “Children of Never,” featured photography collaborator Paolo Massimo Testa’s images taken in New York of protests after Trump’s inauguration—this time he was thinking entirely about his mother. “I think when someone that you love gets sick, you start to think about what really matters in your life and at the end of the day, friendship, family, love are the only things that really matter,” Amadeus says. “So it was nice doing the collection that way because I wasn’t worried about anything besides making something that my mom would be proud of me for making.” The collection debuted this past New York Fashion Week with Amadeus’s mom in the audience and she was very happy with it, Amadeus says. A percentage of sales from the collection will go to Unite For HER, a charity dedicated to helping with women with breast cancer maintain emotional and physical wellness, as well as a GoFundMe account to support her journey back to health.
“I 100% believe that my mom’s gonna beat [cancer] anyway, like it’s just gonna happen,” Amadeus says. “I feel like [the collection] gave her even more strength.”
See more of Control Sector’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection on Instagram.