In time for the holidays, Phluid Project, widely known as the world’s first gender-free retail store, has released a collaborative capsule collection with Nicopanda, Nicola Formichetti’s brand. The range of three designs (a t-shirt, a hoodie and sweatpants) represent the first co-branded project between Phluid, which opened in March, and another brand, but underlines the shared values of the two.
“‘Phuck Gender’ is an awesome way to start,” Rob Smith, owner and founder of Phluid told OUT at a launch party for the project in New York. The t-shirt from the line proclaims, “Phuck Gender,” surrounded by hearts to not only reflect the gender irreverence that both brands have woven into the fabric of their DNAs but also to nod to the ~feelings~ surrounding the holiday season. “It’s easy to collaborate with big brands but this felt like the best way to start down that path.”
Here, we talk to Formichetti about how the project came about over the course of five months, the importance of spaces like Phluid and his upcoming projects (yes, we asked about that Lady Gaga residency).
How did this collaboration come about?
I really love the Phluid Project. When I first heard of them and visited the store I was completely blown away. I wish I had something like this when I was little. What it means to all these kids out there is so beautiful; I was so touched. So I really wanted to basically merge our voices and brands together. We wanted to do something, almost symbolic, just really simple to show unity.
This time of the year is when people get together and there’s the holiday spirit with love and all of that so I just wanted to show that. As a brand we really believe in non gender and representation for everybody so it was really meaningful for both of our brands to be together because we believe in the same values
How do you feel about the whole “genderless movement” going on right now?
It’s a cool thing to say at the moment, which is great, it’s good, it’s a start — we just have to keep doing it. Right now it’s just a trend. It’s amazing that this kind of place exists and there should be more and more. This is just a starting point. I’m sure this is just going to be a starting point of our collaboration.
Did you have anything similar growing up?
When I was younger, I didn’t have any money, so I would go to flea markets. I would also basically copy older outfits from magazines and kind of mimic them in a super cheap way. So just shopping at dollar stores and vintage shops, recreating this stuff.
When I moved to London at about 20 I started working at the Pineal Eye. It wasn’t gender neutral but we used to sell a lot of avant garde designers that you couldn’t find anywhere else. So it was very special and this same sort of crowd — sort of the misfits of the world. Now I’m doing really well and I’m very grateful for that but it’s so important for me to never forget where I come from and always be inclusive.
I feel like the “misfits” are having a moment now, maybe more than ever.
I love that. I always cast different races and genders and body types for all my projects, and always have. Today it’s like yes, of course that’s normal. But back then people would look at me like I was crazy. It’s great, I just don’t want it to be a trend of today.
It’s really interesting because I feel like those “misfits” also really sort of made a community on services like Tumblr, and all that stuff is happening —
Oh yeah, they banned porn. What else is going to be on there now? I think K-pop is a big thing on Tumblr, so now that’s the only thing Tumblr has. That’s a big move for them.
Yeah, but I think it’s interesting that we sort of flocked to Tumblr because that was one of the only places where misfits could be themselves and connect to others like them and now there’s physical spaces like this.
Well it’s not just Tumblr you know, but it feels like in the 90s where people had to look for people like [themselves.] You end up creating these smaller, different gangs because we’re not just this one tribe, we have differences. I think it’s just really beautiful we can connect with those differences at this moment.
You’re also working on Gaga’s Vegas residency right?
Yeah, I was just with her. It’s going to be really insane, I love it. It starts just after Christmas so I’m going to vegas to start working with her [this week.]
Should we expect some Nicopanda-branded things as a part of that project?
Of course! I can’t really talk about it much right now, but yes.