Back in the early-2000s Kitson-and-Von-Dutch era of debaucherously trashy fashion, there was—king on a rhinestone throne—Christian Audigier’s Ed Hardy. The Michael Bay of fashion, Audigier’s severe, bedazzled skulls and blood-red hearts with “Love Kills Slowly” scrawled across the front defined a certain era.
Now, in this period of revisiting these brands from both viewpoints of nostalgia and design (maybe it wasn’t so bad, maybe it was actually beautiful?) Ed Hardy is back. In an excellent reappraisal of the brand, High Snobiety even proclaimed that the audacious label invented streetwear.
David Teitelbaum and Akiva Alpert of the emo-nostalgic label Rose in Good Faith couldn’t agree more. The LA-based streetwear brand, started in 2016, is about to release a collection with Ed Hardy that pays tribute to Audigier’s designs, having done something similar with JNCO last year. “Haunted by nostalgia” is Rose in Good Faith’s Instagram bio, and while it’s a fitting phrase, the architecture of the collection also feels of-the-moment.
COOLS chatted with Teitelbaum and Alpert about the upcoming collection, which will be dropping exclusively at Nubian in Tokyo this month, hardcore shows, and the genius of Ed Hardy’s marketing psychology.
COOLS: Tell me about the background of Rose in Good Faith.
David Teitelbaum: “We had an Instagram modeling and marketing agency—this was three years ago—and it was growing really fast. We learned a lot through the process, but we had an investor who didn’t do well with this world. Akiva and I were working to do a clothing line offshoot for the company we were building, and it went sour very fast because [the investor] couldn’t handle it.
“So we said, ‘We’re out of here. We want to do something cool, we want to rise up in good faith. We want to make beautiful clothing and have a lot of fun and get out from all that treacherous crap.’ We started Rose In Good Faith and it’s been growing rapidly since.
“We found our way in by revamping nostalgia brands and [asking] how do we reintroduce them to the marketplace. How do we renew something that’s been done before and still has the emotional resonance? How do you renew it for a modern audience?”
That’s something I think about a lot, these nostalgia brands that come back and how they re-market to a younger audience. How do those collaborations usually come about?
Akiva Alpert: “Growing up, a lot of my perspective was rooted in the hardcore music scene and post-hardcore scene of the 2000s. There’s this idea of keeping a foot in the present and keeping a foot in the past so you can maintain an experience trajectory.
“JNCO was a brand we started with last year, and it was this idea that—I do believe in paying homage to the source—rather than just trying to reinterpret. Truly saying, ‘OK, JNCO was an innovator in this space, how do we collaborate with them to make something more innovative?’ They gave us full faith in the product. They gave us full faith in everything that we were doing. We just reinterpreted it solely as Rose in Good Faith.
“It was the same thing with Ed Hardy—approaching them with a concept and saying, you know, allow us the creative liberty to innovate. That trust is paramount, and that’s been what’s propelled these collaborations. They’re rooted in nostalgia whereas our core collection, as it evolves, is more so rooted in a lot of very personal life experience.”
How would you describe Rose in Good Faith’s aesthetic to someone who wasn’t familiar with the brand?
Alpert: “It’s so difficult to qualify because I definitely like the terms ‘edgy’ and ‘aggressive’ as it applies to anything. I toy a lot with the idea of violence as a keyword because I think violence applies to a lot of aggression, but not necessarily the act of committing physical violence. So this idea of angst, as it applies to your teenage years, and as you grow up, you still live with a lot of these anxieties. It’s kind of this manifested aggression.
“A lot of maximalism, aggression, edginess, rawness—these are terms I would use to describe Rose in Good Faith. But you’ll also see a lot of color, a lot of familiar nostalgia.”
What made you want to collaborate with Ed Hardy?
Alpert: “I think there’s this notion of what’s dope and what’s not, and I think there are no divisions. I think they’re such a fabrication. Ed Hardy is such a nuanced and equitable brand, that regardless if it’s positive or negative, it still has a pretty dope connotation in my mind.
“In wanting to do the most, it made sense coming off of JNCO to say, ‘We’re going to go crazy and outrageous. Let’s go back to the source, let’s go to Ed Hardy, and let’s do something that nobody else would touch.’ I think people have this preconceived notion of what Ed Hardy is, but forget it! Let’s talk about what could be.”
In general, even from just a design standpoint—people treated Ed Hardy like it was this over-the-top, tacky thing, but also, maybe it was kind of beautiful? Do you feel like people are reevaluating it in that way?
Alpert: “The maximalism we were seeing in streetwear was obviously influenced [by Ed Hardy]. Proof positive of this is when we did JNCO, there was this article that inspired me. It said something like, ‘JNCO is back, but don’t buy them from JNCO, buy them from Balenciaga.’ I was very interested in baggy fits at the time, and I said, no, I think working with JNCO is paying homage and also being authentic.”
“The same thing applies to Ed Hardy. Why reinterpret this idea when you can innovate on top of what was actually authentic in the first place?”
Teitelbaum: “They pioneered modern streetwear—it’s very Nietzschean, time is a flat circle. They really pioneered this streetwear-meeting-contemporary-fashion for a long time, and that’s propelling the market forward right now.”
How did you combine what you knew you wanted to do with the Rose in Good Faith aesthetic while also meeting what Ed Hardy is?
Alpert: “I understood Christian Audigier was very influenced by rock ‘n’ roll. His frame of reference throughout his life was the Rolling Stones; my frame of reference has always been hardcore and death metal. In thinking of that Rose in Good Faith contribution, I referenced the artwork to see how they could be elevated, to see how they be more maximized. If rhinestoning was the fault, let’s go with Swarovskis. How do we change it up and elevate it even further to take it to a new level of crazy?
“I certainly understood there was a streetwear nature to Ed Hardy, but, being that the design process was entirely done by Rose in Good Faith, it was a matter of saying, ‘Okay, let’s make the most complicated and crazy structures we can and combine those with Ed’s original artwork.’ But the caveat is, we’re not gonna play the cool guy, it’s all about the Audigier years. It’s all about authenticity. That was the defining moment of Ed Hardy as a whole. It wasn’t simply the artwork, it was his knack for over the top.”
What have people’s reactions been to the collection so far?
Alpert: “I think they’ve really vibed with it. We’ve gotten a lot of accolades from people. I think people can relate to either a) how crazy it is or b) the positive memories that they’ve had throughout that nostalgia.”
Teitelbaum: “And the quality. We do everything downtown so all the fabrics are made downtown, knit downtown, everything’s constructed by hand downtown. Even the weight of the T-shirts is so specific and so reminiscent of a worked-in, lived-in band shirt. Same thing with the outerwear. We use this four-ply silk which is sumptuous and really, really nice, and even the hoodie material is this super-heavy material.”
What can people expect from the collection?
Alpert: “I would definitely say they can expect the most heightened reality ever in a collaboration with Ed Hardy, the most extreme vision of what Ed Hardy can be as it applies to Rose in Good Faith.”