Having launched the label a few years back as a response to an increasing demand for premium quality clothing and the signaling of a new phase for an iconic brand, Erik Brunetti’s FUCT SSDD has continued to go from strength to strength. Taking Fuct’s original ‘fuck you and the horse you made me build’ ethos, Brunetti created a new brand that channels pure American culture, with manufacturing taking place in Japan (Quote Brunetti: ‘Because the Japanese do it better than the Americans’).
SSDD’s popularity has grown over recent seasons, particularly with the release of the retrospective monograph by Rizolli that chronicles Fuct’s 20-year legacy. SSDD has returned for F/W13 with a collection entitled ‘A Denial’ that continues to play with the brand’s Stateside locale but also takes things closer to Brunetti’s own Seattle roots.
Accompanied by a lookbook starring a disheveled young man with blonde hair, it’s pretty clear that the inspiration for this season is the frontman of Nirvana, Kurt Cobain. Iconic pieces from Cobain’s wardrobe have been lifted and reinterpreted for SSDD’s latest collection and the result is definitely worth a look.
Subculture staples like flannel shirts and ripped denim place the collection firmly in the Grunge era, whilst other pieces take directly from the singer’s life – most notably the ragged green cardigan that he wore at the MTV Unplugged sessions.
Other pieces take their cue from the wider spirit of the period, such as a green flight jacket with a back print that reads ‘The End of The Innocence’, alluding to Don Henley’s classic song about being ‘poisoned by fairy tales’ and the failure of ‘happy ever after’.
Beyond the lookbook, the collection contains several pieces that expand upon the subject. A chain-stitched service shirt sports the nametag ‘Floyd’ across the left chest, its subtle reference being completed with the shirt’s back graphic. Likewise, a windbreaker jacket in matte black sees iconic graphics from Nirvana’s first album reappropriated for SSDD, complete with the ambiguous quote marks. The highlight of the collection for me, however, comes in a hooded sweatshirt that is ornamented with a poignant reference – Verse Chorus Verse. Simple, subtle and powerful.
Taking a step back and considering the collection as a whole, it was a somewhat bold move for SSDD to channel so much of Cobain’s spirit into what will surely be deemed a commercial (/ corporate/ exploitative depending on where you sit) venture. Many will remember Cobain’s own conflict with his elevation as ‘the voice of a generation’ and the effect it had on his own psyche. I can remember reading notes about the release of Nevermind in which Cobain staunchly insisted that the album only be released on cassette; one of the singer’s many attempts to stem what he feared to be the commodification of his art and, by virtue of his total immersion therein, his self.
It’s no surprise, then, that comment sections have been bubbling over with people quick to scorn SSDD for what they see as ‘pissing on Kurt’s legacy’. It’s a sentiment that I can understand completely, but there were aspects of this collection that made things really interesting to me.
Firstly, Kurt Cobain died on April 5th 1994, almost twenty years ago. Whilst it pains me to admit it, there is no doubt in my mind that we are going to see a shitload of tributes and celebrations to the singer in many forms. To put things simply, there are going to be much worse violations of Cobain’s philosophy next April, and anybody who thinks this is the ultimate crime that could be committed against the singer should wait for the stream of tea towels, beer stools and Limited Edition Fender Jag-Stangs we’re going to be forced to endure in 2014.
Secondly, the release of the Fuct monograph has seen Brunetti taking a reflective look at the brand, going so far as to declare the book a ‘swan song’ for the original Fuct brand. As staunchly anti-establishment as he was back in 1990, it’s worth remembering that Brunetti comes from a similar school of thought and continues to battle against conflicts of creativity and commodification today.
Thirdly, Nirvana was from Aberdeen, Washington and is tied to the Seattle grunge scene with ropes made out of concrete. Brunetti would have been 26 when Cobain died – one year younger than the singer himself. It’s likely that Cobain was a prominent figure in the young Brunetti’s life. Isn’t it possible that Cobain symbolises something to Brunetti that the rest of us might have missed?
Isn’t it possible that the mythical narrative of Kurt Cobain that so many of us have absorbed through media representations and perpetual nostalgia isn’t the whole story? Isn’t it possible that Brunetti was there alongside Kurt spiritually, as two young guys coming from Washington in a world of capitalism and market-forces? Perhaps Cobain symbolises something to Brunetti that many of us might not be able to understand entirely. Maybe the history is more than the stuff we’ve been taught to remember.
I don’t know, but I thought it was fucking cool to see a contemporary symbol of the counter-culture tipping his hat to one of the guys who originally embodied that ethos and gave so many of us that spark that said ‘you don’t need to fall in line’. That’s me though, that’s my Cobain. To me he always symbolised something that helped me to understand that a lot of the time you won’t be understood. If we’re going to be honest about things, I’m pretty sure we all have our own Cobain. Neither side is sacred and no one wants to win. Enjoy.
The FUCT SSDD Fall/Winter 2013 collection is available from stockists in Japan now, and is appearing in international stockists as we speak. People in the UK should keep their eyes on The Goodhood Store and Peggs & Son for imminent deliveries. Until then, you should check out Uniforme.jp for more pictures of the individual pieces. Enjoy.