For many of us it’s hard to imagine taking a substantial enough break from bickering with our siblings to start a successful fashion label, but that’s exactly what the boys behind Namesake did. The LVMH Prize-nominated brand was founded by thick-as-thieves brothers Michael, Richard, and Steve Hsieh, and has since its very inception honoured the concept of ‘family’ – their dad Tony always wanted to work in fashion, so they’re also doing it for him.
That said, it’s not just about blood ties for the brothers. Namesake has built strong foundations by also celebrating the idea of ‘chosen’ family and amassed a close-knit community of collaborators across the creative sphere. So deep rooted is this idea, that the label literally sews meaningful, familial messages into loads of the clothes they send down the Paris runway.
Now, the Hsiehs have decided to get some of the extended Namesake community members involved with the creative side of things, and invited four artists to illustrate what family bonds mean to them. Joining the Family Matters programme for AW23 are Brazilian artist Ode, LA-based creative director and photographer Barrington Darius, Namesake model and photographer Aymane Alhamid, and photographer and creative director Khalil Ghani.
According to the brothers, each had a blank slate on which to put their own spin on the AW23 collection, and the results were wildly varied. Alhamid’s was particularly poignant, with the creative capturing a kid alongside a father or older brother figure at dusk, the little boy’s sleeves and trouser legs trailing down his sides and onto the ground.
“I’ve always been the lonely kid in my family, and I’ve always wanted my people to be proud of me,” he explains of his shoot. This kid in the photoshoot is trying to impress his family just like I was. Family is really about transmission and I wanted to show the fact that as the youngest you really look up to the oldest. I had the chance to portray my dad and my nephew, and pay a tribute to my family for everything they’ve done for me so far.”
Darius, meanwhile, headed back to the Los Angeles neighbourhood he grew up in, landing on the basketball court with older generations of his family members. “Growing up in Watts I was so aware of my surroundings. It led me on this journey of self-discovery and discipline,” he says. “I found my voice, my walk and my rhythm through basketball, in this very gym, along with my family. On a good or bad day, I could tell you who I am and why I am here.”
Like Darius, both Ode and Ghani also headed for places they consider ‘home’, with Ode heading to Itajubà, Brazil to “exorcise old memories and create new ones”, and Ghani ending up in his second home of Amsterdam. “There’s a certain calmness and vibe I love there,” he explains of his connection with the Dutch city. “I was hoping to capture something peaceful, like a blanket – that feeling in-between sunshine and rain.”
Click through the gallery above for a closer look at the project.