Crossing lines and breaking boundaries is nothing new in the creative community—in fact, it's largely what the industry is built upon. Communications designers become brand engineers, painters design textiles and ceramicists dabble in industrial engineering. However, few manage to bridge so many fields quite like Études Studio. Founded in 2012, with offices in both Paris and New York City, the collective publishes its own books, drops high-fashion menswear lines that are continually critically acclaimed and operates a full-service creative agency for hire—all with just six employees. Following a successful Paris opening, today 21 May marks the launch of the brand's first stateside pop-up shop at 254 Broome St in NYC.
Though the brand might have roots in France, just be sure not to call them French. "We don't consider ourselves a French brand, we're not really from somewhere in particular, we're from the world," says co-founder Aurélien Arbet. This globalized aesthetic runs throughout the brand's work. An eclectic melange of influences is apparent in their menswear line, with graphics that call out the European Union flag and dabble in Shanzhai (a Chinese term for "knock-off") artwork.
One of Études' strong suits in the fashion game is their patterns—while many are designed in-house, often the creative team selects an artist they admire. "This season we worked with Manual Fernández, a painter from Madrid," adds Arbet, "We used two of his pieces from 'Broken Gradients' to create all-over prints and woven fabrics." Though technically menswear, the cuts and styles are androgynous and border both high-fashion and streetwear, hinting further at Arbet's affinity for blurring lines of creativity.
In terms of the cross-over between working in fashion along with running a creative agency and publishing books, for Arbet, the difference in work helps both sides of the business. "Everything we're doing is about experimenting," Arbet says. "It's all very complimentary—when we're working with a client it's a good opportunity to work on a project that's something we usually wouldn't do ourselves." Working on agency-side projects for clients like Adidas, Bloomberg and Le Coq Sportif balances out the practical deliverables with creativity. "To work as a creative agency is about being naive around a subject," adds Arbet, who notes that he and his partner Jérémie Egry started out as creatives-for-hire and only later entered the fashion world.
Their latest pop-up shop is more an exploration of creativity than it is about creating a retail environment. "We really want to create a whole environment and concept around using different media, it's not necessarily focusing only on one thing," Arbet tells CH. The store acts almost as a metaphor for the brand's approach to creative work. The store's lower level acts as the studio's office space, while upstairs displays the brand's work more like a gallery than a store. "It's about mixing ideas and seeing how that can work together and what it can create, this idea of hybrid composition," says Arbet. "That's why the notion of space comes in, you can create a full experience." There's an artistic relevance to the store's location in SoHo, a neighborhood that has changed dramatically in the past few decades from peripheral industrial zone to the center of style. According to Arbet, "We're inspired by cities, the way they change, different cultures come in and make a place grow and change."
Check out the full line of Études Studio's latest collection as well as their line of photography books at the collective's website. Stop by their new pop-up (open through 21 June) at 254 Broome Street in NYC for the full experience.