Today saw the return of one of the big success stories of 2013. As outlined before, Cav Empt (C.E) explores concepts surrounding post-structuralism and modern digital culture to create bold, futuristic clothing. The brand stepped quietly onto the scene in 2011 and has since garnered huge levels of attention, particularly in the past twelve months.
Having employed the likes of D Double E and Zomby in previous lookbooks, the brand continues its use of British creatives for its latest video lookbook, with Actress both modelling and providing the soundtrack.
Familiar motifs return for 2014 such as unorthodox use of graphic prints and materials, whilst the brand’s outerwear and constructed pieces become evermore developed. Alongside the brand’s trademark Ziggurat and Pre-Cog graphics, we can see new graphics that build upon concepts of simulation and reality. I especially like the ‘Everyone is a Replaceable’ graphic; it’s a solid and straightforward taste of the C.E philosophy.
Likewise, the popular PVC coach jackets return in new iterations, along with the lightweight Trench jacket in a softened peach colourway. The spandex t-shirts that were introduced last season are back with even wilder prints; we’re talking WordArt logos, flaming bicycles and 3D Uzis.
Two really interesting introductions are the corduroy shorts and jacket with a screen-printed motif over the top. It’s the kind of stuff that could only come out of the mind of the C.E team. Likewise, the Plague Distressed hoodie is just mind blowing – slashes and rips all over with huge dropped shoulders and graphic prints on the ribs, and why the fuck not?
Elsewhere we can see next generation interpretations of classic outerwear silhouettes. The denim rider jacket is a great example with some really interesting pocket placements, while the pullover anorak’s totally stripped-down design is another clean piece, tripped out with a wild graphic hit on the back.
Overall the picture is clearer than ever in the C.E vision. When I wrote about the last collection I highlighted what I felt were clear British influences from Feltwell in the design and styling. This season just screams out even louder to me with the short-bodied sweats and tapered bottoms. So many of the pieces seem like a halfway house between tracksuit steez and the football hooligan look and with Feltwell being a big fan of the UK house, garage and grime, it feels easier than ever to interpret C.E as some sort of sci-fi celebration of classic British Street Style.
Beyond that, C.E’s brazen confrontation of 21st century consumer culture is just executed so well and always comes correct as a concept reinforced with substance. What better way to poke fun at our modern throwaway attitude than to make sweatshirts that look ready to bin, or a corduroy jacket with print-matted fibres like they’ve had paint spilled all over them?
Every piece is cohesive as part of C.E’s in-your-face approach to the ‘practical impossibility of originality’, and as a result each piece just works. Presented as a full collection, it looks immediately miles ahead of anything else that’s coming out of streetwear right now. Fuck a stained glass window printed t-shirt, have some flaming bicycles and a load of quotes explaining why everything is fake as shit. It’s the kind of scathing satire that could only come from a British mind.
But seriously, at this point my feelings about C.E are no mystery and it’s fair to say that the product remains highly conceptual. As far as I’m concerned, however, it’s nice to see a brand that dares to just do what the fuck it wants in an area of menswear that has, in recent years, begun to feel stagnated and self-parodying. I’d rather put my money into a tattered hoodie that’s full of holes from a brand with a rock-solid concept than put my money into a mediocre black-and-white hoodie from some dime-a-dozen label that is, itself, fundamentally full of holes.
A huge aspect of the work of Baudrillard and other post-structuralists from whom C.E takes inspiration is modern culture’s ‘pursuit of the real’; in a world where everything is perpetually reproduced, replicated and simulated, we’ve become increasingly preoccupied in a chase of something that we can call ‘real’. We make films about our history that we celebrate for their realism and faithful representations, but we forget that all these things are just simulated realities, in the process forgetting what the real even was in the beginning.
So, in creating these translucent trenches, elasticated t-shirts and ‘because it’s fucking different’ garment designs – not to mention poking holes in its product before it even reaches you – C.E is just reminding us of the game that every one of us is already involved in; a big painful struggle where we manipulate and bend meanings and use totally see-through simulations of reality to try and create some tangible idea of who we really are, lest we should find out that there’s actually no such thing. Try sleeping at night now.
You can view the C.E Spring/Summer 2014 Video Lookbook exclusively at the Cav Empt website right now. Pieces from the collection are available from their Online Store and deliveries will begin arriving in selected stores over the coming weeks. Keep your eye out and remember, it’s better to be dressed in the internet than to be dressed by the internet. Tread with care, digitally or otherwise. Safe.