Makers of “the most copied pants of the decade” (according to Arena Homme Plus’s Millennium round up), late 90s era maharishi provided perhaps the best filling for a denim jacket and Nike Air Rift sandwich: the embroidered baggy trouser.
Trademarked as Snopants®, oft confused for cargo pants, the style was beloved by a generation and helped promote Hardy Blechman’s label to ‘Streetwear Designer of the Year’ at 2000’s British Fashion Council Awards.
While the style continues to sell today, the idea that it is the label’s only contribution to the industry is likely enough to make Blechman wriggle his nose in annoyance, as one would expect from the founder of a label enjoying twenty years in business.
Moreover, Hardy’s real interest lies in camouflage – he is, confirms G-Shock’s Head of Marketing Tim Gould, “the world’s authority on camouflage" (a certain Blechman edited ‘Disruptive Pattern Material: An Encyclopedia of Camouflage’ helps) – and it’s the height of such passion that has much to do with the print’s reign over the fashion industry today, not least in streetwear.
Most recently he has used this infatuation for collaboration, working primarily with timepiece producers G-Shock. It’s this combination that sees Clash atop a camo-covered bus just off Brick Lane, sat opposite the man himself, bedecked in a red felt hat.
“I think they approached us because the brands have a lot of symmetry,” he suggests of the hook up. “We both make a real focus on durable products that last the test of time and we both have a similar attitude to product that is developmental.”
It’s the third time around for the pairing, and one that has previously proved a success, hence the repetition. While Casio takes care of the watch’s functions – of which there are numerous, as anyone who’s studied their watches even briefly will know – Blechman coats the product in the season’s standout print; new technology has pushed he boundaries of such practice for 2014.
The designer continues, “You know, you’ll recognise a G-Shock – you might not recognise the exact generation or whatever – but you’ll recognise it, and the same is true to some extent for maharishi, so there’s a lot of obvious crossovers.”
This isn’t the label’s first partnership – and with the aforementioned 20th anniversary taking shape this year, it’s unlikely the last – but it sure does make a lot of sense, for both parties. But why is it so important for Hardy to share in this way?
“I don’t know, on a few levels I guess we kind of want to connect, and it’s kind of complementary to get approached by other brands. So, in my case, I don’t think I’m going to ever make a maharishi watch, so if I’m going to have an opportunity to have a hand in the creation of a watch it’s going to be through collaboration.”
Collaboration he adds, is used in one of two ways: “Either to make products that I wouldn’t ordinarily make, or to use the collaboration as a vehicle to express concepts that I’m really interested in, one of those is using camouflage in a non-military context.”
The global presence of G-Shock he remarks, is of course much greater than maharishi’s; Facebook stats currently stand at 9,752 likes for the latter and for the former, 656,932, while Gould adds that the brand has sold 87 million watches in its 31 year existence.
This latest watch – the GD-–X6900MH – is an honourable member of the Pacifist Preppers: Part II The Lunar Effect ‘family’, a.k.a. the SS14 collection, in turn a continuation of AW13 which granted the second G-Shock collaboration.
The watch’s print is called ‘DPM: Lunar Bonsai’ and as Hardy explains, the collection is concerned with Viktor Schauberger and energised water: “Using energised water and being concerned with planetary positions, especially the moon’s position. I’m intrigued in the moon’s effect on me and my friends, on my wife and the planet. The fact that the police in England have to put out 30% more police during the full moon because there’s going to be an increase in the violent crime rate? People go nuts, it’s lunacy.”
He concludes, “I’m just amazed that while we have a word in our vocabulary like lunacy, people don’t particularly connect it; howling at the moon and werewolves and stuff, it’s just become the thing of theatre and people on’t seem to really take it seriously.”
This focus on a specific concept can draw parallels with more contemporary designers such as Christopher Raeburn and Matthew Miller, so how then does the man who initiated such an iconic garment, maintain relevance today?
“Maybe I don’t? I suppose I still – as I did 20 years ago – try to make product that I need primarily; first and foremost it’s for me. I’m always growing and changing, nothing ever stays the same, so as long as I maintain a focus on doing that, ensuring that I make what I want now, hopefully, my needs are shared with a lot of other people.”
Words: Zoe Whitfield