by Janine Stankus
Regular dudes strolling around Brooklyn with a couple of 40s, snapping pics with their iPhones—that may not be what you'd expect from a formal photo shoot, but that's exactly what streetwear brand Moss was going for with its Fall/Winter 2012 lookbook. The photographs, featuring Das Racist members Dap and Heems as "models," were shot on location exclusively using Instagram for the iPhone 5.
"Our goal was to create a departure from most streetwear lookbooks these days, which we feel have become overly styled and too glossy in recent years," says Moss founder Shahed Serajuddin. Streetwear is all about the fusion of fashion and lifestyle and is heavily steeped in urban culture. By avoiding high fashion superficiality and mimicking the methods that streetwear followers use to document their own lives, Moss has crafted a brand image that is accessible to its audience. "I feel that our fan base gravitates to what they find more authentic," Serajuddin adds.
Similar logic applied to Serajuddin's choice of models to rep his brand. New York natives Dap (Ashok Kondabolu) and Heems (Himanshu Suri) are the founder's former high school classmates whose hip hop careers have blown up over the past few years. The pictures were shot at various non-descript locations throughout Brooklyn, starting with Dap's back yard, where quirky props set the casual, tongue-in-cheek tone of this series.
Though some of the shots are playfully posed, most of the pictures present a candid look at Moss gear in its natural habitat. The crew is pictured hanging out on corners, chilling in parks or peering out across the East River. Backdrops shift from gardens to graffitied walls to Ed's Corner Grocery store and, finally, the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. "Most of the locations were unscripted," says Serajuddin. "We would basically just pull over on the sidewalk to spots we thought looked cool, or if we were hungry for some chinese food."
While many lookbooks are designed solely to showcase product, Serajuddin chose to treat his as an independent, creative project designed to reflect the aesthetic of his line. Moss derives inspiration from '90s New York culture and pop art, incorporating customized tribal patterns that are massively popular in streetwear. The photos feature seasonal additions to line including sweatshirt versions of the Snow Globe and Alphabet City designs on Dap and new iterations of the brand's popular Moztec Jacket, which Heems wears in several of the sidewalk shots.
Tribal patterns, varsity jackets and retro motifs are pervasive streetwear themes that the brand has chosen to embrace. "Our goal is to break street culture down to its roots and celebrate these elements via pop art like Warhol did," says Serajuddin. "Critics have commented on designs like our 40-Bottle and Spray Can T-shirts by saying, 'Oh, I've already seen that before,' but they're missing the point."
Moss is all about celebrating the accessible culture that exists at our fingertips. While Warhol celebrated objects of modern mass consumption, Moss pays additional homage to contemporary products of mass cultural production—namely, the portable technologies that have turned us all into potential artists and influencers. The unconventional approach to this shoot has apparently struck a chord with streetwear fans, whom Serajuddin says have responded with an outpouring of positive comments. For more information on the label visit their website.
Photography by Gary He of Insider Images