Neil Bedford for Billionaire Boys Club – A Retrospective

o_bdf3635a4fd626fd_000Found an interesting little project in the inbox today in the form of a project between Billionaire Boys Club & streetwear enthusiast-cum-renowned professional photographer Neil Bedford. Following several years of brilliant work for the brand from streetwear’s staple shooter, BBC decided to return the favour with the aptly-titled, ‘Billionaire Boys Club salutes Neil Bedford‘.

For those unfamiliar, Bedford has been into streetwear for longer than I’ve been tying my shoelaces – no great feat, I know, but the point is there’s more to his craft than being able to make stuff look snazzy. Bedford carries a legitimate interest in his subjects and injects his own passion into the photos. Anyone with enough cash can hire someone good with an SLR to make a product look glossy. Passion, however, is not bought, and it’s that level of involvement that provides Bedford’s photos with a considered edge. That, in turn, is reflected by the long list of clientele he has amassed over the years.

BBC’s presentation reflects upon the label’s history and roots – classic college outfits and sportswear. Travelling back through some of their old lookbooks, they revisit some of Bedford’s best photos from the past four years. For shots from the brand’s latest collection, the up-and-coming Luci Ellis joins them in the styling department.

Ellis has been making waves over the past year or so with her photo-editorials for GQ & i-D Magazine, as well as several shoots with the notorious Indcsn. Looking back at some of her work, I feel like she captures a lot of current styles very effectively. A personal favourite is the ‘I’m On One’ shoot for i-D – a raw mix of street simplicity and androgyny. Nothing looks forced or contrived, made possible only by someone who’s really got her finger on the pulse – a bit like Neil Bedford. Good combination, then.

Presenting photos from the current season and beyond, the images effectively divide into four quarters, each providing a different backdrop. For Spring 2013, a simple white backdrop showcases some relaxed styles by Ellis, with BBC’s youthful smart-casual image taking the fore alongside some extreme colour-blocking from Spring 2012.

Meanwhile, a black backdrop shoot from Autumn 2011 presents three ‘battle-ready’ fits for all terrains from the season – colours are toned down and the fits become more functional. Other combinations give nods to classic streetwear looks, such as that wild silver varsity over an all-black ensemble – only as dazzling as it needs to be.

A third, cartoony backdrop from Spring 2010 presents BBC’s renowned ‘out there’ mode, with lots of patterns and motifs on show. Items like the dollar sign-covered shorts and checkerboard pieces are classic symbols of the brand, not to mention sister-company Ice Cream’s trademark drip-sole sneakers.

The shoot rounds off with some action shots from all the way back in 2009, presenting more classic designs such as the Running Dog print and Waffle pattern. Primary colours form the base of each fit, each combination as fittingly bold as the label that produced it.

First becoming aware of BBC the same way as everyone else, via Pharrell Williams and the Bape rush “way back when”, I’ve always known them for being pretty out there. Formed off the back of Pharrell and Nigo’s shared notions of youthful extravagance (remember where the Bape name comes from), it’s easy to dismiss some of their releases as ‘fruity’ or ‘goofy’, but then it’s also easy to confuse immature product with a genuinely youthful identity. Billionaire Boy’s Club is, after all, for Boys.

Over the years, Bedford has managed to effectively capture the brand’s vibrant personality, and whether I would (or could) wear some of the wilder pieces myself, you can’t deny that each shoot is distinctly ‘BBC’. The energy that comes across in some of the photos totally reflects that of the customer wearing it. A lot of brands out there make clothes for young, trendy people that want to look old and distinguished. For young, trendy people who want to look precisely that, there’s BBC, and I feel like the brand’s whole energy is encapsulated perfectly by that last photo with Josh Beech – bright, kooky schoolboy steez. It’s not for everyone, but it’s undeniably precise, and it’s Bedford’s own precision that leaves the viewer to decide for themselves, presenting an image that is 100% Billionaire Boys Club. Enjoy the photos and visit neilbedford.com to see more brilliant work.

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