8IGB blossomed in the 18th arrondissement of Paris about five years ago. Ruben Bissoli was the designer who seeded the community clothing brand to dress the new generations and liberate and/or update their contemporary dress codes.
The brand, inspired by the skateboarding lifestyle, embraces fluid aesthetics and sews anarchy at its heart through the slogan “I don’t match“. Its pieces, based on graphic parodies and double-meaning slogans, dance arrhythmically between decadence, sex, post-internet irony and bad taste. It is all this merge that has really attracted the collective gaze. At least, the look of the renegades who advocate self-expression and cancel normativity.
We have a virtual conversation with Ruben Bissoli to get to know his ever-expanding creative universe.
VT: 8IGB was born out of the desire to un-corset fashion from its rigid structure. How do you liberate fashion through the brand?
RB: I try to do it by getting inspiration from unattractive or unexpected subjects. I don’t think all fashion it’s rigid but for sure big brands have constraints due to their established target and strict income goals to reach. A young brand like 8IGB still has the freedom to experiment and have this very easy and direct approach to inspiration and design. As a young brand, 8IGB has many constraints and limitations in terms of budget, notoriety, presence on the market but I think this is actually helping liberate more creativity and ingenious, and it’s also more gratifying to transform paper into silver than gold into gold.
VT: Tell us about the 8 Impasse Grosse Bouteille building, which gives the brand its name, and the utopian philosophy that surrounds it.
RB: 8IGB it’s actually the name given to the building where I lived (and where is now 8IGB’s office) it was a micro-cosmos where age, status, class, origins did not exist, every person living there was sharing everything but above of all, it’s a friendship story. I did not know anyone when I moved there and in a few months, the inhabitants of the building became my huge family.
At that time the 8IGB soul was not defined yet, I had the chance to see 8IGB’s birth and growth. When I told the 8IGB’s “family” I was about to create a brand we all had the same idea to call it 8IGB, the slogan community clothing was added to express the support I had from the group.
VT: In your brand we can see how you could follow in the footsteps of designers like Gosha, who dressed the skater community through irony. What references has Ruben Bissoli drawn from to create his creative identity?
RB: Yes, Gosha gave me the courage to express more what my real taste was and also to better accept where I come from, a small village far from cities and glamour in the middle of the industrial part of Italy.
I think that my 1st source of inspiration and creativity is my childhood, I grew up with pizza and cartoons, hahaha. Of course, I might be inspired by designers I love like Raf Simons, Demna Gvasalia, Martine Rose… But what makes my creativity it’s the need to recreate atmospheres I sensed. It’s a very difficult exercise because atmospheres are made of smells, visions, feelings. I don’t know if it’s always visible but one day somebody, trying on an 8IGB shit, told me: “It’s not exactly my style but I don’t know why when I look at it, it makes me feel happy the same way when I was at my grandmother’s place preparing a cake”, that day I knew that I reached my goal.
VT: One of your first jobs in fashion was in the design department of Balenciaga. What codes can we identify from that experience in your current designs?
RB: It was a long time ago and I was very young and immature but I think I learn a lot about volumes and the importance of graphics and colors associated with the right shape.
Balenciaga has always been a dream for me, I loved it with Nicolas Ghesquiere, I adore it now with Demna and above all, I admire the work of big master Cristobal. I don’t know if Balenciaga’s style of that time is still visible on 8IGB but for sure It encouraged me to believe that “Less is more but well done it’s even better”.
VT: Your community pieces dilute normativity to drink from ugliness or “bad taste”. Why do you think that this aesthetic current of “renegades of fashion” that Rei Kawakubo started is still so present, and connecting so well with the new generations?
RB: Of course, for me, it’s not ugliness nor bad taste it’s just different and more interesting, I think we need to escape from normativity because it’s something that erases our own personality and smoothes out our precious differences but to do that we need more courage.
I think each decade has its renegades of fashion, after few successful years of what I call “the establishment: famous established luxury brands” we always need some new and fresh designers to take the scene attention: fortunately (or unfortunately for designers because that will increase the competition) lately we have an explosion of new young interesting brands that make the fashion system more various and bring in new identities, aesthetics, and messages. I hope it will continue this way even if I felt a big regrowth of customers’ interest for the big established brand after the pandemic, probably because the situation made the big more powerful and the small weaker or alas disappear.
I would like to take the opportunity to launch a call to people who love and buy fashion: “the existence of brands like 8IGB and other young brands it’s thanks to your interest for them, so don’t buy clothes to belong, buy them because of their design, their message, their crafting; only that way young brands will make the difference and can have a place in a fashion moment where the Hype and must have imposed by the marketing don’t even let us the time to think what we really want.”
So, to answer your question: yes, it’s very important to continue promoting this alternative aesthetic because “normativity and conformism dangers” are always around the corner.
VT: What role does sex and Matt Lambert’s erotic universe play in 8IGB?
RB: Matt Lambert is an example of a series of photographs I really admire like also Nan Goldin or Martin Parr… they have in common the will to find the raw truth and intimate essence of people, of course, sex represents the highest moment of intimacy where people show their most hidden sides.
The sex side of 8IGB was more visible in the first collections but it’s always there in a more subtle way, the brand it’s exploring each season new and different feelings like fear or anxiety but also positive ones like inclusion and love.
VT: In your latest proposal for the SS22 season entitled “Corn Face” we can appreciate that genderless, deconstructed and playful aesthetic with which to embark on a nostalgic journey. Could you take us a little deeper into the episode and tell us about all the artistic stimuli that make up the collection?
RB: Corn face collection was a collection full of different inspirations, I was actually scared at the beginning not to be able to combine all of them in a clear way but in my mind, it was making sense. I wanted to recreate a very personal summer atmosphere, when I was a young teenager and didn’t plan anything during summer and the only things I had to do was to ride the bike in the corn or tobacco fields and impatiently wait for the night to come to get scared with my beloved horror movies.
To recreate all that atmosphere I needed several characters like Tom Sawyer imagined through Hy Hintermesiter illustrations aesthetic, Pippi long stocking for the more “feminine” part of the collection and of course the perfect horror movie/novel Children of the Corn.
To present the collection I decided to make a short movie (directed by Jean Baptiste Pouilloux) which recombines some of the codes of old horror/psychological movies inspired by Stephen king’s novels.
VT: Streetwear death has been announced for a few years now, but it still presides over the system. What do you think about it? Are we moving on to another screen where streetwear will disappear?
RB: Yes, we are clearly moving to another screen but I think what it’s really dying is the fact to separate streetwear from normal fashion, it doesn’t make sense anymore to have a separate word to define what actually every brand does (some more, some less). Streetwear will never die because it became our everyday uniform so we will probably call it differently but the soul will be always streetwear.
VT: During the five years that you’ve walked and experimented in fashion with 8IGB, what has been the most exciting for you?
RB: I always said “I will never have my own brand, I don’t want” and then one day 8IGB decided to come out almost in spite of me, what pushed me was the need to communicate my vision directly to people without filters. The most exciting aspect of having a brand is to create something that comes from you but at the same time is not you and has its own life and I observe it interacting with people and what’s people react to it, making it grow little by little. Going back to horror movies it’s like a Frankenstein concept but with a much more positive response even if also having a brand can be scary sometimes… hahaha.