Yesterday I had the opportunity to head over to Milk Studios and check out the Band Of Outsiders F/W 2010 presentation with a few friends, some new and some old. I would be lying if I said I wasn't extremely excited based on the simple fact that I am a huge fan of BOO and its designer Scott Sternberg. Most people already know Sternberg's success story, but for the uninitiated: Scott was a Hollywood agent that quickly grew tired of all the L.A. bullshit (the dumb stuff we see on Entourage?) so he decided to make a dramatic career change and went into fashion. What started as a tiny brand has quickly grown into something much bigger thanks to skinny and small everything and the requisite editorial/celebrity endorsements. Band Of Outsiders makes some seriously great left coast prep. It's kinda like the younger, cooler brother of Ivy League style who now lives in Los Angeles and is auditioning for parts. I've always been so pumped for what BOO does (even if it doesn't fit me well), but last night my high expectations finally caught up with me.
Now I don't want to make it seem like I hated the showing, the collection or anything like that so I apologize if you're reading this in your head with the voice of a hater. Ultimately though I did leave Milk Studios bummed and uninspired. Despite the "new" pieces, some of which were actually quite good, things felt decidedly stale. I don't ever want Scott, and subsequently Band, to stop being itself, but there has to be a tipping point eventually. A brand's identity is one of the hardest things to establish in this industry and Scott should never forfeit what he has steadily built from the ground up. On the flip side, a brand's identity should never be a hindrance to the collections it produces. There is a distinct difference in the overall identity of something and the various identities of the little pieces that make it up. If you had showed me pictures from every fall collection from Band all jumbled up there is no way I would be able to differentiate any of it. There is no way I could even pick out everything I saw just 24 hours ago. It all runs together so well and that's actually what bothers me about Band Of Outsiders. Where are the "themes"? What is "fresh"? You tell me.
It's tough to claim that the running cohesiveness of a brand can stifle it's own success, but that's what I feel might be happening. I'm afraid Scott is smothering his brand by refusing to step even an inch outside of his comfort zone. A F/W collection inspired by goth or something, and this is just a hypothetical, might not get you all the positive press or buys you are used to, but it will at least let things breath for once. It's like the old adage says, "take a step back to move forward".
With that out of my system I can talk about the stuff that I actually really loved about F/W 2010. I know Angelo has already touched on this, but I can confirm from my first person account that certain outerwear was on point. Keeping with Band's aesthetic, the mood was light and retro. The blue parka with color blocking was possibly my favorite piece in the entire collection and took an iconic Americana piece we have seen so much of and gave it a gnarly, 80's surfer twist.
Besides the impressive outerwear, Scott showed some serious formal wear chops. His trimmed, yet relax take on the tuxedo is something that many guys my age would kill to have in their wardrobe. In fact, with formal gear this youthful you could probably get away with wearing it as a suit. If I had a dinner jacket as good as this I would probably eat at places nicer than Chipotle and Firehouse Subs.
Some of Band's footwear also blew me away. Besides the Sperry collaborations we have all seen (new red, white and blue soles this time around) Scott designed brand spanking new "saddle oxfords", which struck me as a very European take on classic footwear oft-identified with America. It was an interesting take that paid off as these kicks were seriously badass.
My final thoughts can be best summed up as follows: Band of Outsiders is still a great brand with a great designer, who has some cool stuff for F/W 2010. Unfortunately, last night it was resting a little too comfortably on its laurels and, in turn, choking on its own hipness. S/S and a quick Heimlich can't come soon enough.