@Rais is a well-known streetwear poster for a reason. He’s the resident master of futuristic techwear; taking inspiration from speculative fiction, film, and his own environment. The subject of many admiring Blade Runner jokes, Rais excels at styling avant-garde designers with readily-available brands, and putting his own out-of-time stamp on the results. Here, he talks about what directs his buying and styling.
I enjoy challenges, and one interest that I’ve always had in terms of clothing, even before I took a more dedicated approach to “fashion” was in creating comfortable, disposable and practical looks from inexpensive and readily-available pieces. These looks are not particularly interesting to look at and are definitely not fashion forward for the style-conscious. Nor are the pieces themselves particularly remarkable to be of interest to those who collect clothing for their novelty. Yet these are the clothing I find myself wearing most days. The versatility of being able to work out in the gym with clothing that I can still wear into a bar to meet new friends or that wouldn’t look out of place in a Chinese tea house as I work on my laptop; that I could be comfortable resting in on an airplane and that I could replace at the ready, and rather inexpensively, if my outfit was damaged while being out or my luggage lost on a trip, is all very attractive to me.
It is easy to achieve those aims with a variety of approaches; techwear, one of my hobby styles that I experiment in, is typically robust, allows for extreme activity both in- and outdoors, and has a good degree more modesty than a tank top and gym shorts for casual contexts. But techwear is not particularly socially-inviting, it is actually quite anti-social due to its reliance on the colour black, and it stands out in a crowd communicating to others that you are different, in a way that you want to be left alone. I also find it affected in that on the days when I need to drive, stepping out of my air-conditioned vehicle with its plush leather seats and cruise control while dressed in preparation for the apocalypse seems a bit disingenuous.
This is one of my favourite tech looks. It is high performance, water-resistant, extremely lightweight, comfortable and, outside, at night it blends in well with its surroundings. I take a more activewear approach to this style compared to the typical streetwear aesthetic that many other techwear enthusiasts gravitate towards. Everything here is from Nike, save the pants.
On the other side of the spectrum, my more fashionable, designer looks from Lanvin, Gaultier or Dior can be very attractive in various social engagements but obviously lack the comfort or the durability that I’d want for going to work in each day, particularly if I wished to walk or cycle on my commute, and obviously they aren’t suitable for any kind of physical exercise while wearing them. Thus, these fashionable looks require a sacrifice in comfort and practicality; necessitate that I drive when I go out and also that I pack a second set of gym clothing for exercise in a dedicated duffle bag. I am not sure that I am comfortable with that kind of investment in time each day for looks that I am not overly drawn to.
This look is comprised of a Lanvin linen jacket, Yves Saint Laurent cotton shirt, Prada silk tie and Jean Paul Gaultier polyester-blend trousers.
I took a photo today for this article to illustrate the kind of versatile, casual clothing and look that I find myself wearing regularly. It is disposable, relaxed in fit, and stylistically I’ve tried to find a middle ground between contemporary ideals of men’s fashion and the minimal, athletic futurism I enjoy in my tech looks.
The polyamide bomber from H&M was RIT dyed and the collar and cuffs were cut off and left raw. The light olive tee is from Cotton-On in their “Other Crew” cut and the jogger pants were bought in Namdaemun market in South Korea. The slip-on sneakers are from Muji.
I remember reading a chapter from Gibson’s Virtual Light, where the protagonist, Rydell, went on a shopping trip to a large mall/port called Container City where large freighters from around the world docked to unload inexpensive merchandise stored in shipping containers to a swarming hive of consumers. Rydell purchased a new outfit of cheap basics; I believe it was a burgundy bomber jacket and a few black tees and a pair of jeans. That imagery appealed to me somehow, and even though I was attempting similar looks years prior to reading that book, I still remember and feel influenced by that particular passage with its apt representation of the modern man’s relationship with his clothing and how it has manifested into a practical uniform for the 21st century.