Monday, October 25, 2010

FLuXuS is of the Moment.

By Laura Medina

FLUXUS' founder & CEO, Martin Paquette, in the knit cap.

The word, fluxus, is Latin for "to flow."

The clothing brand, FLuXuS, is also a zeitgeist, German for a spirit, a thought or a feeling reflecting the time it exists in that moment or era.

This could not come from a more unassuming guy, such as Martin Paquette.

An offspring of the garment industry and art fan, he was searching for that right name for his new company three years ago that it has to be so right for the moment of the times that will remains timeless, Mr. Paquette rummage through his old art history books looking for the right name.

That's how he fell upon FLuXus, Latin "To Flow," as in to flow with the times.

"When I studied art history, I read a lot of books on Fluxus ten, fifteen years ago. Then, came back to me. Alright, FLuXus, this is it!"

As a garment veteran who sees brands come and go with trends like the tides, "We adopt the trend. We are not married to the trend because when you put your name to a trend, when the trend is over, you're over."

This is it-FluXuS, recognize a trend then go with the times.

FLuXuS is also a name of an art movement in the Sixities (Beck's grandfather was one of the artists), where they use it as an attitude.

The emergence of FLuXuS, the clothing brand, coincides with the arrival of "Mature Goth."

Stylesight's trend tracker, Nina Stotler, reports on the new, evolved gothic style where depth in intelligence and romance with a subtle textures and a simpler silhouettes replaces the ostentatious bling and aggressive sexuality of the previous decade.

Martin's grounded philosophy in providing sophisicated, avant-garde clothes in quality fabrics and tailoring for all ages in affordable price points in locally available stores goes against what Ms. Stotler says, "fluffy consumerism" and frivolous disposal.

Martin describes his brand more as a collective of artists based on mutual respect than a company..."The name, FLuXuS, forces us to collaborate."

When he and "Project Runway Season Three" winner, Jeffrey Sebelia bumped into each other two years ago, they talked and shared a same vision.

Paquette, "He came. We crossed path. We talk. Wow, I'm looking for someone to design the line and take it to the next level. Bring it to where I like it to. He saw it. He brought it. We did a collaboration. We jump into it. Jeffrey is so natural, so talented. Really, make it happen. Boom! You have a designer, let's do it!"

To paraphase Nike, "Let's F*ckin' Do It!

Last year, they did a collaboration. Now, Mr. Sebelia is on board for one year, this year, as head designer.

"Especially Jeffrey and I, we pretty much got the natural side of things...The collaboration, the exchange between Jeffrey and I...we're strong because he brings in the cut, the choice of fabrics, the design side of it. I find a way to create a formula to find a balance to keep it within the range of price point."

Paquette likes the idea that they are bringing haute, avant-garde contemporary wear with Sebelia's haute streetwear-meets-Goth sensibilities to the masses in fine gauge knits at agreeable double-digit prices in mainstream locations, bringing quality streetwear to the people.

Paquette is all about making fashion a leveled playing field. To him, couture is dead. "Couture is over back in the nineteen-forties. YSL said couture is over. I am Pret-a-Porter. The low-end is exploding right now. At the end of the day, we are figthing to bring back the middle class."

He, Sebelia, and the collective make sure they do not skimp on quality.

"Quality is no excuse to raise prices. When capital is in, there's a break in point. If you go too cheap, you gotta cut corners or export manufacturing to China." They keep their manufacturing in Los Angeles.

Supplying cutting-edge fashion at cutting-edge prices is a good exercise, "Staying at $100, you stay creative. You use your brain. Find the right balance. Not spend too much money within a classic looking, stylish in quality...You don't need to spend a thousand bucks."

FLuXuS' current collection reflects the Mature Goth in the comfort of fine gauge knits, leggings, draped cowl necks, extended hoodies, draped tops, cowl neck tunics and cardigans and asymmetrical tanks in sheer knits for layering then topped with a stretch trouser or a fleece motorcycle, crop jacket.

Put them together and the new Goth silhouette comes out, the billowy and the flowing paired with the long and the lean in serious black and gray with calming neutrals of beige and cream.

Paquette calls this versatile for day and night, comfortable enough to move and stylish to be confident. Ms. Stotler calls this, "Flowing Minimalism."

The minimal, matte textures in draping knits are what he calls timeless.

"The material can be worn all day, everyday. Classic Look. Go out at evening. Go out to the beach. You can add that Rock n' Roll look."

"This is always our mission, keep it versatile and polish as possible."

The FLuXuS style in the middle, between the couture artistry of FLuXus conceptual sculptors.

As for just happening to reflect on a current trend,..

"I've seen a lot of companies do that; and my mission is to guide us to adopt trends and make it our own...Yes, we look at trends then take a snapshot of it then follow it with our own instincts. Fifty-Fifty, Fifty percent instinct. Fifty percent trend..."

"I'll tell you one thing about trends...We also can feel social trends in the apparel business. One thing I notice in these dark times, with the recession, we can see that, I am surprised people want to became spicier. They may not want to spend as much but they want something spicy. That spice. It's great for the fashion business,"-what Ms. Stotler call a demand for something edgy and different.

As for how and where people wear FLuXuS, "Medium satisfaction means going out to a party and buying a piece of clothes, less on big house, big things, big items."

As for launching a brand or a new style in uncertain times, Paquette sees opportunities..."People are retreating and retracting gotta embrace it, adopt to it, find a way to make it in dark times."

As for bringing product to market, FLuXuS' product development and delivery as is minimalist as its aesthetics,

"Vertical set-up...We have all our machines. From top to garment in-house. All our warehouse and retail are in the city as well, so freakin' exciting for us."

They use their retail shops scattered in mainstream neighborhoods-they bring the fashion to the people-as experimental labs where I can test and see if a design will fly or not.

"We can wake up in the morning, let's make a pattern, let's cut sample, let's approve at the end of the day, let's ship it to our retail stores, let's test it...Sales, let's bring in a line."

Sarah Sanchez, Head of Visual Communications.

FLuXuS is more than just a clothing brand for Paquette. It goes beyond being a garment company. For him, it is an organic collective that grows and evolves, like the namesake.

"In the end, I like art, sculpture, music. I like mix like a big to mix it up all and get crazy. I love art."

He not only uses their retail stores as laboratories to test new designs, but also a place to exhibit and display talent, "Blending commerce with creativity."

"I've been pushing my guys to find painters for our retail stores to exhibit. Brand is now trying to affliate with deejays. Build a network of artists which FLuXuS is trying to build, international network of artists."

For his expansion plans, "Start it on a block then take international."

Reinforcing the collective, Sarah Sanchez, Head of Visual Communications, says the clothes are very artsy, very comfortable. "Pretty much anyone can wear it." They're affordable,fun, and comfortable, "Fits into everyone's wardrobe, regardless of your style. Transition from night to day."

She was one of those artists whom Paquette selected, "Worked with Jeffrey and Martin for a year and a half. Worked on their first retail store in Larchmont. From there moved to Visuals. Now, Head of V.C. department."

Sanchez not only styled the two mannequins's ruffled couture newspaper dresses, she does every single window and the grand opening of their Santa Monica Place shop.

FLuXuS is a collective where everyone participates.

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