Today we’d like to introduce you to Christopher Brandt.
Christopher, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago in River Forest, IL where I attended Oak Park River Forest High School. When I was 16, I began making and selling custom t-shirts with my graphic art and gradually started to offer embroidered hats, printed jackets, hoodies, jerseys and a whole range of streetwear staples with my brand at the time “Absurdity Clothing”.
When I graduated from high school in 2014, I moved to Los Angeles to attend Occidental College where I continued making and selling for Absurdity but I began to recognize that there was a barrier to my progress. I did not have the vocabulary and true knowledge of fashion design to make a brand which was worth pushing so I needed to rethink about my goals and objectives. I decided I needed to study fashion design with an emphasis on sustainability so California College of the Arts in San Francisco became my school of choice.
Fall of 2016, I began attending California College of the Arts. I had never been the greatest student and design school required more work than I had ever done before but I knew that I was studying my creative passion. Needless to say, I struggled the first couple semesters, falling behind my peers in sewing, illustration and presentation. I was always able to create strong conceptual narratives but the quality of the work I was making was poor. It took the entire first year of design school for me to gain any confidence (which would often be stuck down by a single bad critique) but I continued to work harder than ever before.
My Junior year was the first time I began to prove myself as a strong designer and push back against what I had seen as harsh treatment (in reality, it was probably more than fair and an important factor for keeping my ego in check). I had always been the first in my fashion design class to wear the designs I made, regardless of the major flaws and imperfections. I pushed this to even greater heights that year trying to design and make/upcycle as many physical garments as possible for each design collection to enhance the quality and weight of the work I was presenting. I worked and experimented tirelessly, all the while improving my sewing, illustration and presentation skills to where I was able to take part in the Joe’s Black Book competition for 3rd years fashion design students. I ended being one of three students in my class to participate in that competition which required extracurricular work on top of a heavy load of school work. This time was a turning point where my work improved immensely because I was working 60-80 hours per week with all my classes and extra projects.
All that work prepared me for my Thesis collection senior year where we had to conceptualize and create a six outfit collection throughout the entire year (once as samples in the Winter and as fully fabricated in the Spring). My thesis started as an exploration of dangerous cult leaders and the psychology which allowed them to amass followers and create fear within their followers to manipulate and control their lives and behavior. I then made the connection to the dangers of fear and distortion by political and social leaders with the aim of controlling masses and I realized that we as individuals hold a great power in countering destructive thought. My thesis entitled “JOIN US” was a call to action for free thinking individuals to unite to create a better world full to truth and knowledge which condemns fear-mongering and division. Conceptually “JOIN US” is a bit of an abstract idea so I create the character of Alien: Distorter of Worlds who is a malevolent being who has traveled the universe infecting conscious beings with fear and uncertainty for the purposes of ruling through puppet figures and cult leaders. The JOIN US collection became an inclusivity idea aiming to make clothing to fit and be for as many free-thinking individuals as possible. I began with oversized workwear styles which hold an egalitarian context through streetwear and adoption of denim and other workwear staples throughout the world. I then worked to create truly adjustable or shareable items of clothing and that was when the “Big Pleat Adjusable Jeans” were created. The Big Pleats jeans are a wide leg fit with a fully adjustable waist up to 40″ and can be as small as 25″ or less, all done by using the structure of hand pleating, one buckle at each side and straps to tighten at the waist. The JOIN US collection showed on the runway in May 2019 worn by six models, three females and three males, with a range of heights, shapes and sizes.
After graduating in May 2019, I moved back to Los Angeles and began looking for work in the fashion industry. I struggled to find work for a couple of months but in July, I was hired to work at True Religion Brand Jeans as an Assistant Designer for Men’s Sportswear. Coming from a design school focused on conceptual fashion and high-end design, True Religion was a huge shift for me creatively. My job at first was much more administrative but as they began to recognize my work effort and attention to detail, I was able to start designing pieces of the collection. At TR, I worked hard to do the job I was assigned while also diverting fabric, garments and usable material which were to be trashed. I successfully diverted many t-shirt tie dye samples, denim washes, excess fabric, and trims to be used for future projects. With the tie dye t-shirts, I started to screen print them with my JOIN US graphic as well as with the other screens I had made for my thesis collection. Instead of selling any of these printed shirts which I saw as somewhat ethically questionable since I had liberated them from the TR trash bins, I just started to give them to all my friends. The JOIN US idea is meaningless without the input and opinions of other free-thinking individuals. When 2020 began, I felt that it was time to start presenting the work I had been doing as a brand so I put out JOIN US (release one) on February 28th, 2020 which consisted of 9 unique overprinted vintage and deadstock t-shirts with JOIN US and Alien graphics all over along with denim tote bags, sticker packs and a limited edition screenprint.
JOIN US as a concept is much bigger than t-shirts and so with encouragement from my partner and friends, I decided to get my industrial sewing machine and start making my own one of a kind cut and sew/ upcycled garments. This decision came right with the (release one) so the first weekend in March, I bought my Juki Industrial sewing machine and set it up in our apartment in Mar Vista Los Angeles. By the end of that next week True Religion was talking about how we would be working from home now due to the Covid-19 restrictions. I was working from home for TR until I was furloughed in April and subsequently laid off in June. Neither of which have dampened my spirits much, it has been an important time for me being home this spring and summer to focus on what the JOIN US idea has become which is Super Fly Pants.
Super Fly Pants has been my Instagram handle since mid-2019 when I changed it from @CPTNAbsurdity. Absurdity was my juvenile attempt at brand making without any real truth or meaning other than pretentious philosophy and faux wisdom. Super Fly Pants is more true to how I want to world to see me and what I want to offer to those around me. SFP is about not taking yourself seriously while still feeling like the flyest in the room. I don’t want to be the coolest person because of what I wear but rather by who I am as a person! Super Fly Pants is about being uniquely you in a group of entirely unique individuals. I have been releasing pants and other garments for Super Fly Pants since April of this year and I am still creating the identity of the brand. Like all my concepts, Super Fly Pants is not a directly translatable name since what looks good for some is not the same for others. I am just continuing to push my design ethics of inclusion and sustainability because I think that is cool! I think it is amazing for a couple to share their clothes, especially pants and jeans which are so often sized to exclude sharing between bodies or even restrictive of people who often fluctuate in weight. Super Fly Pants highlights what we all can do with the items we already have while creating an alternative to traditional fashion consumption. I want people to think more about what and how to purchase clothing and have a greater understanding of the labor and exploitation of humans and the planet that is so prevalent in the fashion industry. Super Fly Pants is small but I am able to experiment with alternative production methods, testing out the best ways to make with quality and artistic integrity for future large scale operations.
I am now releasing a small collection for pre-sale on my website which will consist of one of kind outfits and pieces as well as made to order cut and sew garments, masks, home goods, accessories and more! I am also trying to hone these methods to be able to share with strategies for at home upcycling and to encourage everyone to be more unique with their style and expression. My greatest fear is to live in a homogeneous world of yes people all with the same ideas, expression and style. I am here to encourage you to be your most super fly self!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I wish I could say it has been a smooth journey for me but that would be a lie. I am hard on myself and expect more than what should be expected at such an early stage of my career.
It is not easy to spend an entire industry and convince people to spend their money differently than they have been taught to spend it. The fashion industry is in need of tremendous change. There are many people at a small scale that are working to create new systems and ethical standards for making and I would consider myself one of them. We are facing an uphill battle but I think if we can all work on being our best selves for our community, our environment and our world, we have the chance of preserving what we know and love beyond superficial style expression.
If I saw more people participating in truly sustainable clothing consumption (more so than just Corporate greenwashing and posturing) I would feel more encouraged than I am today. I think things are beginning to shift and there are more expanded possibilities than ever to support small independent and sustainable brands but I think that shift is slow. I cannot wait for the day when people value handmade and thought-out one of a kind design pieces more than a mass manufactured product.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Super Fly Pants – what should we know?
Super Fly Pants is clothing for the future using items from the past. I am tired of what exists on the market. Big brands copy little brands, fast fashion copies from the runway, new designers regurgitate what they have seen before with slightly new perspectives and then it is all copied again. Fashion history repeats itself and has done forever essentially. I respect, reference and pay homage to fashion, art and design history constantly while pushing existing silhouettes to entirely new places.
Obviously pants are the most important aspect of the brand, I am making staple items such as jeans with new ways to wear and style them. I am recontextualizing workwear, business wear, and streetwear and creating an aesthetic which destroys all preconceived notions of all those categories simultaneously! All of this work allows for the idea and execution of Super Fly Pants to be ever growing and progressing. There is no stagnation with the work I make because it constantly requires new materials and new methods of making and remaking to create each unique item. I am most proud of this experimental mindset because it requires creativity even under difficult circumstances. The Super Fly Pants mindset encourages growth to create your ideal world and I am able to do that by transforming what was into what is now!
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My gratitude for what I have been afforded and for everyone who has guided me and taught me how to be there person I am today. Without gratitude, I would be a bitter person. Without gratitude, I would never have continued making and doing what I do after so many “failures” or setbacks. I am so lucky to be where I am today and I by no means made it here on my own. Remembering that grounds me and gives me perspective and hope that things will continue to be better with hard work and dedication.
- Super Fly Plaid-Fit $850 or $400 for the Jersey Top and $500 for the Adjustable Waist Pants individually (one of a kid outfit)
- Big Pleat Adjustable Waist Jeans $245 pre-sale, made to order
- Adjustable Waist Upcycled Dress Trousers $145 (one of a kind piece)
- Whimsical Allover Print Baseball Jerseys $125 pre-sale, made to order
- Felt Patched Denim Trucker Hats $35 pre-sale, made to order
- Over Printed Vintage T-shirts $45-$55 depending on piece (all one of a kind pieces)
- Whimsical Allover Print Masks $25 pre-sale, made to order
- Website: www.superflypants.com
- Phone: 3124933518
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/super_fly_pants/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Super-Fly-Pants-100602695056548
Tori Nicole, Pinar Sener