How Each x Other is using collaboration as cultural change

When Ilan Delouis walked into Jenny Mannerheim’s Galerie Nuke in 2011, he was totally taken by this phrase, made into a sculptural piece that was on view in the exhibition “Fire of Each Other.” The show featured the work of Robert Montgomery, a conceptual artist who uses poetic text and installations in his pieces.

THE CITY IS WILDER THAN YOU THINK AND KINDER THAN YOU THINK. IT IS A VALLEY AND YOU ARE A HORSE IN IT.IT IS A HOUSE AND YOU ARE ACHILD IN IT, SAFE AND WARM HEREIN THE FIRE OF EACH OTHER.

Inspired by this sculpture, Delouis could tell Mannerheim shared his own artistic philosophies and told her that night in the gallery he wanted to start a fashion brand with her. The next evening, the two talked and shortly after, the Paris-based art and fashion brand Each x Other was born. Mannerheim, who had worked in art direction and publishing for years, never expected to launch a brand of her own, though Delouis already had a successful brand, Faith Connexion, under his belt. One month later they were presenting their first collection, which was quickly snatched up by the likes of Net-a-Porter, Colette, and Barneys New York.

Though their initial meeting was spontaneous, the brand has been carefully thought out and planned. “What we wanted to do was to try to give a meaning to fashion,” Delouis says, to infuse high culture into a space they felt was not influenced enough by poetry or philosophy or literature or art.  Especially not in the age of fast fashion where, as Mannerheim says, you can still feel the machines on the clothes. For Each x Other, there was no art in that, and that was a problem. Rebelling against machinated fashion, Each x Other choose to make use of fine natural materials and a sharp attention to detail as they produce clothes that have an ongoing, forward-thinking appeal.

For Pre-Fall 2018, released at the beginning of this year, that forward-thinking nature was channeled into garments speaking out against President Trump’s proposed wall between the United States and Mexico. Though the entire collection was inspired by both Frida Kahlo’s Mexico and Patti Smith’s travels there as described in the latter’s memoir M Train, three pieces in particular comment on current state affairs in the U.S.: a brightly colored motorcycle jacket and a white sweatshirt bearing the phrase “NO WALLS BETWEEN US” and a cropped sweatshirt reading “LA POESÍA ES LIBERACIÓN.” The phrases were originally developed by regular Each x Other collaborator Robert Montgomery for the Mexican government’s “Proyecto Paradiso,” an arts project aimed at “sharing contents that link us together, thus highlighting shared ideals and values ​​that enrich us as humanity.” Using the phrases Montgomery created, the garments too become part these ideals and  stand up for the brand’s beliefs–the necessity of closeness in times of physical and ideological separation, how poetry can set one free–and thereby take on the same role art itself has most often taken on: one of protest.

It’s only fitting, not to mention extraordinarily of the moment as fashion often aims to be, given how inspired by art Each x Other is as a brand. How could they not use their own work to speak out against ideals they detest, that pervade not just American but global political thought? In Mannerheim’s estimation, people want clothing today that has meaning, and in this respect Each x Other delivers as it looks toward cultural change and infuses a spirit of not just rebellion but hope–like the symbol of peace depicted by the white doves on the LA POESÍA ES LIBERACIÓN sweatshirt–into its garments.

Another of Each x Other’s hopes for the future is to make clothes that live in a genderless space. “I mean like, who wants to go to a women’s store and then go to a men’s store? It’s outdated,” Mannerheim says. “I think the future of retail is that they’re totally in the mix as much as they can [be].” Similarly, the brand is perpetually inspired by, as Mannerheim says, “rock icons and women and androgynous men.” She cites again writer and musician Patti Smith, a style and creative icon known for her love of finely made clothes unspecific to a particular gender. The look, Mannerheim says, is purposely undone, meant to preserve a creative spirit unlimited by the confines of tradition while still paying attention to quality.

Each x Other’s Resort 2018 collection stays true to this muse while returning to Montgomery for inspiration. “Robert’s work is very contrasted about the society we’re in right now where everything goes so fast, and we come from where everything was so slow,” Mannerheim says. In this way, she says, the collection is somewhat nostalgic. Classic items are updated with contemporary twists and follow a fairly neutral color palette of white, black, and blue with a pop of silver: motorcycle and silk bomber jackets are deconstructed; white jeans and jackets are printed with poetic text in Robert Montgomery’s hand. “When you see collection from collection, it’s like all these poems, they really talk about life and they’re quite deep and they bring awareness of Robert Montgomery and of the brand,” Mannerheim says. “You get touched on a deeper level.”

Delouis and Mannerheim also see the brand as a way to democratize art, collaborating with artists to produce smaller, limited edition collections that promote their work and make it available, consumable to a larger portion of the public than perhaps collectible art usually is. For example, when publisher Jefferson Hack’s book We Can’t Do This Alone: Jefferson Hack the System came out last year, the brand produced a series of limited edition t-shirts printed with artwork corresponding to the book, like the phrase ’A Cultural Resistance Movement’ printed in thick, black letters on a white tee, and ‘If You Can’t Afford It, Steal It’ printed in a black rectangle on another. Since establishing the brand six years ago, Each x Other have an archive of over 30 artists they’ve collaborated with, like Maripol, Jeremy Kost, Alizé Meurisse, Yi Zhou, and more.

The artist collaborations often happen outside of Each x Other’s traditional runway presentations—they’ve presented their collaborations at Art Basel Miami and even took over Colette to promote Montgomery’s work—so the brand sees itself as a publishing house of sorts. The Spring/Summer 2016 collection was a collaboration with legendary French designer Jean Charles de Castelbajac, and the Resort 2017 collection prominently featured the images of photographer Alessandra D’urso. Moving forward, Delouis and Mannerheim hope to have a store of their own—“a fashion store slash art library and gallery,” Mannerheim says—where they’ll be able to sell their own clothes as well as items from their ongoing collaborations.

Six years in, Delouis and Mannerheim continue to see Each x Other as an opportunity to bring poetry and even cultural revolution to young people in the form of clothes and art, perhaps in ways this demographic hasn’t experienced before. “In art you have a free space. Art is not politics, it’s not business, it’s not fashion, it’s a free space for ideas and thoughts and philosophy,” Mannerheim says. “Each x Other has this feeling in it of it that’s this kind of hope for the future.”

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