Stray Rats made its return for the colder months this week, presenting the first instalment of its Fall 2013 Collection and accompanying Lookbook. Making use of their familiar formula of personal perspectives and popular culture, the DIY street label has come through with a concise collection of t-shirts and sweats.
First off there’s a flip of original artwork from A Nightmare on Elm Street, complete with the ‘Man of your Dreams’ strapline in Spanish. The logo has been adjusted to reference Miami’s own 8th street in the heart of Little Havana, a tip of the hat to Julian Consuegra’s roots.
Elsewhere, the ‘Pick Your Queen’ and ‘Pray For Me’ graphics take design elements from punk and hardcore, mixing gritty text prints with simple symbolism to a nice effect.
The ‘Play to Win’ design continues this aesthetic with a lo-fi graphic that uses a simple illustration, while the ‘Who Cares’ tee takes straight punk sensibilities to the extreme. Likewise, the return of the ‘Lower East Coast’ print on a Champion hood emphasizes the raw, DIY elements of Stray Rats.
The uncontested highlight, however, is definitely the PlayStation flip. Stray Rats has released some killer long-sleeve designs over the past few seasons and this one killed it.
Overall, of all the releases Stray Rats have done, this is definitely the thinnest and therefore hardest to speak about. Subtle changes in the website and presentation nod towards a new phase for the brand and Koopz really seems to be pushing the punk elements of Stray Rats now; products are shot on an old white hanger; designs are further stripped down and rough around the edges; there’s an increasing use of text prints and a general incorporation of hardcore artwork aesthetic.
On the other hand, a criticism of the brand has been a lack of progression as far as product quality and range goes and I’ve got to agree; it would be really nice to see Stray Rats coming out with more ambitious releases by now, and at this point the return of Champion hoodies is far from appetising – particularly when the guys had been declaring it ‘the last time’ we’d see them three or so seasons ago.
On the one hand, it’s unlikely that Stray Rats will necessarily suffer for this lack of development – along with Well Fed, the brand has a dedicated following within underground subcultures and it’s likely there will always be a demand for the t-shirts and graphics that brands like Stray Rats put out.
On the other hand, a guy only needs so many t-shirts, and I do wonder if a heavy dependence upon this somewhat basic medium will see the powerful Brand that Julian has built up in such a short time eventually deflating into ‘t-shirt brand’ territory and losing the vital ‘something more than that’ allure that makes it so appealing right now. Yeh, the designs are still consistent and strong, but it would be nice to have something more to say than that at this point.
Looking at the collection, it’s concise, on point and consistent with previous Stray Rats releases, but it won’t stand up on it’s own in my opinion, and I hope we’ll see a few releases over the next few months that will help to bolster the collection – some headwear, accessories and little ‘wildcard’ items definitely wouldn’t go amiss. Otherwise, it’s a safe and centre-field release from Stray Rats and encouraging to see an independent label staying up and sticking to what they’re good at.
Stray Rats Fall 2013 Collection is available exclusively from their online store right now. You can only make purchases if you live in the USA, so any international customers will need to find a friend who lives Stateside to make a proxy purchase. Enjoy.