Founded in 2004 by former fashion editor Ninette Murk, Antwerp based initiative Designers Against Aids teaches young people “the importance of safe sex using elements from pop culture.”
In its first decade this has translated through to the fashion industry as T-shirt heavy projects with the likes of H&M, Katherine Hamnett and Marc Jacobs; for the past four years a key focus has been the now annual Eastpak Artist Studio.
For the 2014 edition, contributors to the Studio have proven perhaps the most exciting yet, with names such as Walter Van Beirendonck, Christopher Shannon and Jean Paul Gaultier adorning the line-up.
“I think HIV awareness seems to be at an all time low, people are so blasé now the treatment is better,” offers Shannon of his reasons for signing up. “I’ve seen firsthand the effect the virus can have on people’s lives and it’s not something anyone would choose. If awareness helps cease the spread of the virus then I think it’s essential.”
Not exactly new to the fold, the Liverpudlian designer collaborated with Eastpak on accompanying capsule collections for five seasons from SS10 up to SS12, offshoots from his initial relationship with them while still a student at Central Saint Martins.
“They helped me sample some bags for my final collection,” he says, “I found them such a supportive team to work with when I didn’t really know what I was doing.”
And he’s eager to pick up the partnership again, describing it as ‘one of the best collaborative relationships’ he’s experienced, he adds: “I always liked how they pretty much let me do what I liked, there seemed to be a natural tempo between us. I’m really proud of the work we did, that I still see being ripped off!”
Softening, he explains that he (also) still sees 'so many' people out and about with the collaborative pieces. “Nice that people get so attached to them. I don’t even have one!”
Given such fondness (his words), participating when Artist Studio came knocking seemed like a no brainer, similarly, echoing SS15’s teen spirit on the white Padd’d Pak'r that arrived at his studio was a pretty straightforward response.
Using the same screen that afforded his 90’s inspired wares a bedroom walls vibe, the rucksack bears a rough quality, almost anarchic in its approach; “We also printed the dust bag which is super nice as it’s massive,” Christopher enthuses.
Aside from his own, the menswear-cum-womenswear designer (he recently made the latter debut; all sports fabrics, oversized frills and typical Shannon edge), confirms he’s a fan of Tim Coppens’ utility themed bag, as well as finding Gaspard Yurkievich’s patch laden edition a fun choice.
As per Eastpak Artist Studio tradition, all 16 bags will be available to buy from auction as of World Aids Day, which falls on 1st December.
See the full list here.