#TBT – ADAM KIMMEL
It was back in the spring of 2013 when American designer Adam Kimmel announced going on sabbatical after delivering a ten years and 18 menswear collections. On this #tbt we look back at this uber talented American designer re-visiting his interview for Hercules 7 together with a portfolio of iconic photographer Jim Krantz.
Adam Kimmel resembles what one might imagine his biblical namesake to have looked like: dark, unkempt hair framing the tanned, unshaven face of a thirty-something medium-built man. There’s nothing obviously remarkable about the man or his clothes – they seem normal, the paradigm of the everyman. But in life, as in art (and Kimmel cares deeply about art), the simplest surfaces betray the most complex inner workings; or, as country western singer and cowboy favorite (Kimmel also cares deeply about cowboys) Lynn Anderson sung, “Still waters run deep.”
Kimmel’s references are thoughtful, his clothes exquisitely detailed and constructed yet refreshingly un-hackneyed for a designer with his type of conceptual bent and his academic roots.
Before one delves into the socio-philosophical mechanics of Adam Kimmel’s brand, one must note the man’s mission statement: “the key to menswear is comfort and quality and soft beautiful fabrics help achieve both.”
Drawing from the past means a certain amount of reinventing and revision of already existing garments and styles. So when does reference become imitation and how have you been able to avoid this in your creation of garments that reference the past so closely? Kimmel explains, “I try to make each piece of clothing to be one of a kind. I do draw silhouettes or fabric styles from my inspirations that I feel resonate with my contemporaries. In order to reach my contemporaries, I need to tell them a story that feels familiar. Men like to shop for clothing they can relate to. I tell a story with the collection that my customer can relate to.”
Along with narrative come characters. Kimmel animates the clothes in his shows and lookbooks by using rough-and-ready ‘non-models’ of dramatically varying ages and body-types. The seemingly average looking men make a statement. Since the turn of this century, we’ve seen Hedi Slimane’s rocker waifs and a new healthy, slightly toned, almost preppy look. “I like to use real men to show the versatility of the fit of my clothes,” Kimmel says pragmatically, “I am not opposed to using professional male models though. I think I started by inviting friends over and i t just became a fun challenging way to do it.” It all made for a good way of relating to the customer, who is more like the American contemporary artists Kimmel works with on various installations than the club-hopping models from the Eastern block. “That could be me,” one pleasantly thinks when browsing through Kimmel’s award-winning slip-cased look books, rather than “I wish that were me.”
Kimmel’s references are recent enough for him to work with the original source of his inspiration, mixing his fashion with someone else’s art to create a multimedia spectacle. “It’s more acceptable today to be a multimedia artist or designer and I think that’s a great thing. Multimedia artists are the future,” says Kimmel. So for his Ferus-inspired collection of spring 2009, Dennis Hopper collaborated as Jim Krantz, the original Marlboro Man photographer did for Spring 2010. The novelty of all this is that the results can and have looked at home in both clothing stores and contemporary art museums.
“I design for men who want their clothes to feel classic but that have an updated fit and look,” explains Kimmel, who has not gone for the tighter silhouette in recent years. The fit of Kimmel’s clothes has remained, in his eyes, “American.” The honest ‘I am what I am’ sensibility of the clothes has charmed both sides of the Atlantic, aided by the fact that the clothes, though of American conception, are made by skilled European tailors with luxury fabrics. Thom Browne created an American brand with a European sensibility; Kimmel’s American brand is for the optimistic American man (and one day also woman) who is just that, through and through.
HERCULES MAGAZINE ISSUE 07