A true creative force, Josh Reim has been designing clothes since his high school years, receiving instant recognition from the fashion press, including i-D, Dazed and Confused, and the Guardian. His deeply unique vision taps into the identity archetypes of the American East Coast, and how individuality is performed through subtle tweaks and perversions of the quintessential ‘preppy’ look. Despite drawing on traditional codes of dressing, Reim’s garments are post-gender, rebellious and subversive all the way – and a long-standing collaboration with photographer Jetro Emilcar has lead to a continuous development of an ephemeral, hazy aesthetic universe to support the growing design oeuvre. We catch up with the designer to hear about his most recent collection that imagines nothing less than the winter vacation of a cultist family.
When did the idea of a label begin, and how has the process of setting up been?
I have always been interested in the way clothing projects personality and by the time I began designing at the end of high school I felt that I had a unique take on things and wanted to start a line.
Fashion seems for you to be a way to study larger, social or atmospheric conditions or contexts. What do you want to explore through your clothes?
I am fascinated with the characters that lie within the spectrum of north-eastern American clothes.
How do you conduct research? Are there certain aesthetic realms, people or objects that continues to inform you practice?
I am very internal and don’t really go out looking to other things for inspiration. Most of it comes from within and crystallizes over time into a big idea. I think music is crucial to my work. I like the romantic hidden identity of someone like Clark Rockefeller (Christian Gerhartsreiter).
What is your experience with the industry in which fashion is located? Fashion weeks, production cycles, distribution?
Its difficult doing things from Montreal but I’m able to do it and stay on schedule. I would be able to do 4 collections a year if I had the budget.
Is Montreal crucial to your practice, or do you see yourself more in the context of the Internet?
The internet is something I’m still trying to understand and I think because resources are so limited here in Montreal, it has helped to shape my process. Montreal is not a great place to be when you’re doing something like this. Being in Copenhagen or Paris or New York you can at least see what the industry is doing, you can hit the streets and observe the flow of the organism. Living in an area like Vermont or Ohio can also be a good thing because you’re being exposed to an untainted pure source.
How has your practice developed since you started when you were 16?
Every season I try to push myself further. I look at what i started off doing and at that time it was right for me and the landscape. If i were to think back on the collections leading up to my first show, there were things that I was unhappy with, things that I wish I could have changed. The latest collection that I showed in London, my first full collection, I feel satisfied with.
Tell me about the new collection and lookbook.
For me, it ended up being in part about a cultist family gathering around during a winter holiday. The beauty of this being a series of still images is that the narrative is entirely up to the viewer. Speaking in depth about the narrative is regressive and denotes the purpose of having strong moving series of narrative still images in the first place. Jetro Emilcar and I wanted the photography to have an artifactual feel which is something we try to do every season.
Where do you hope to take Josh Reim in the future?
There is a big change currently taking place, and with thorough planning, the line will be expanding and shifting into a sustainable, luxury space.
For more information, go to www.joshreim.com