I’m always stoked to see Stray Rats back on the scene. In the sea of dime-a-dozen bandwagon brands out there that seem to churn out whatever’s in vogue at the moment – yes, all your shit looks exactly like Raf Simons and it stinks – the Miami DIY label is one of few teams out there that knows how to do straight up solid screen-prints from the heart.
In recent years the brand has evolved from its hardcore/streetwear roots into something more considered, bringing co-owner Julian Consuegra’s unique cocktail of interests closer to the forefront through subtle nods to Madonna, Morrissey, classic rap imagery and a skullfuckery of other reference points. It’s resulted in the development of a healthy following and genuine conversation between the creators and the clientele – something that, to me, is what this kind of streetwear should be all about.
The latest lookbook for Fall 2014 is another dose of classic Stray Rats perspectives. The ‘ASCII’ tee offers a nice rehash of the OG logo in old school message-board artwork that fits in well with the recent ‘Internet’ trends.
Similarly, the ‘SRMY’ tee is a sharp take on a well-travelled graphic that’s been batted around by pretty much every label on the planet from high fashion to the high street. It’s funny how you can completely change an image’s semiology – or how the benign can be made rebellious again – just by changing a single letter. The same is true of the ‘FUBO’ tee, taking the classic FUBU logo and adding some punk sensibilities. If there’s one thing Stray Rats does well, it’s logo flips with an up-front snotty sense of humour.
Elsewhere we see the stuffed SR mascot rendered on the ‘Teddy’ tee and a slightly softer approach more fitting with Julian’s 80s pop leanings with the ‘La Rosa’ tee and ‘Eyedrop’ long-sleeve – the former of which also conjures up flavours of Little Havana bars, but maybe that’s just me.
Bringing things back to the core, the collection is then rounded off with a selection of logo sweats and beanies in classic punk typography. The ‘Collegiate’ Sweatsuit is a definite winner following FUCT’s revival of the yard suit look over the past few years, whilst the ‘SRSB’ graphic is a classic for the brand now and is likely to sell out once again in its latest iterations.
The lookbook ties everything together effectively with another tasteful blend of hardcore zine aesthetic and simple street styling. By this point Stray Rats has pretty much nailed its angles and speaks clearly, but a special shout has to go to the M3 Beamer – just because you’ve got gutter vibes doesn’t mean you can’t flex.
Overall it’s another healthy collection from the Sewer Crew and a welcome return from one of the best in the independent scene. When it comes to headstrong graphics and street-level clothing Stray Rats always comes correct and demonstrates the difference between the inflected and the instinctive. There’s some real dogshit being flapped around at the moment and it all stinks of contrived faux-attitude begging for validation. In contrast, each SRSB release comes out of nowhere, comes correct and just lets the vibe speak for itself. Respect for that.