by Vivianne Lapointe
THE/END, an edgy new apparel and accessories line celebrating American counter-culture, is the brainchild of Los Angeles-based Cody and Mike Comrie, Mat Mickel and Jerrod Cornish. Inspired by the late 1970s punk scene in the US, the brand's debut collection features premium denim, outerwear, leather, fleece, art-based graphic pieces, jewelry and accessories—all designed and produced in downtown LA. To learn more we recently caught up with Comrie for a quick chat about the team's inspiration, creative process and fascination with Americana.
Tell us about the materials and silhouettes of your AW13 collection.
Basically there are a ton of really great heritage-based brands out there right now, as well as some really great avant-garde lines in menswear, but we felt the market was lacking something in the middle: A US-made men's line showcasing beautiful materials and craftsmanship that retains a certain edge through dark tones, progressive cuts and stark detailing, but piece by piece remains accessible and easy to wear.
Why the name, THE/END?
We took the name THE/END because to us it signifies the beginning of something new coming out of the demise of something old. The end is the beginning, so to speak.
What is your background, and how did you all come together for this line?
Mat and Cody both have formal design training—in graphic and industrial design, respectively—and I actually studied business. However, all three of us have always had an interest in apparel and in design in general, and over the years have worked on many projects where we have been able to use our skills in different areas of the garment industry. Jerrod has been at this for a bit longer than the rest of us—he launched the men's line Corpus back in 2004, which ultimately won the Ecco Domani Award in 2009. His experience in brand-building, design and production has been a huge asset in getting this off the ground.
As far as how we got together, Cody and I—being brothers—have been together for about 29 years. Mat has been one of our best friends since we all met back in Salt Lake City about eight years ago and we have always talked about doing something together, it was just a matter of when the time was right for it all to come about. We had known Jerrod for a while at this point and had done some consulting work for him with graphics and such. We had been fans of Corpus in the past and when the time came to bring on a partner with domestic production experience and resources Jerrod was the natural choice. At this point it is just the four of us handling everything from conceptualization and design, to production, sales and marketing and we couldn't be happier with our team.
Why is it so important for you to be made in the US?
From a design standpoint it was obvious to us that we would need to make the line here. We wanted to be very hands-on throughout the entire process, and be involved in every aspect of sample development and production so as to ensure all of our design ideas were executed according to plan and that quality of construction was maintained throughout.
From an idealistic standpoint, we really wanted to create something that was very American—all of us take great pride in the country that we call home and we genuinely wanted to be a part of creating a quality product that was "made in the USA." In the past those four words denoted a product of superior quality and value throughout the world—we really wanted to show through our offering that US production is more than just a viable option, but a preferable one in the creation of high-quality garments.
What was the inspiration for the first lookbook?
Once we went through the creative process together and the line was completed we all knew what we wanted—dark black and white photography with high-contrast that emphasized the model and the garments rather than focusing too much on the environment around him. We shot in some obscure back streets south of downtown LA, shying away from major landmarks so that really the shots look like they could have been taken in the more run-down areas of any US city. We enlisted the help of Magda Wosinska for the photography and Brad Soileau modeled the collection for us—we are really pleased with how the images turned out.
Why is music so important in your creative process?
The collection in general draws heavily from early US punk style, so naturally we listened to a lot of the genre during the whole creative process and referenced it everywhere, from graphics inspired by old punk-show posters, to the cropped and pegged chinos, to the leather pieces in the line.
We drew specific inspiration from the 1978 Pagans album, "Street Where Nobody Lives", and used the title as the name of the collection. The Pagans were a relatively obscure punk band hailing from Cleveland and their music, in particular the tone and message of "Street Where Nobody Lives", was really in line with the direction we wanted to go with the collection—the feeling of something new and rebellious rising from a beaten-up and broken-down America.