Removable, interchangeable and adjustable — Sub Division, an up-and-coming concept label out of Australia, utilises modularity to create striking looks made with the wearer in mind. The label began with a series of tees and hoodies designed by label founder Clint Mathurine. Since then, Sub Division has both expanded and reformed, shedding industry norms to embrace a more experimental ethos. Modify AW19, the collection on display in this series, embodies this inventive spirit, offering pieces that are able to adapt to the needs and wants of their wearers. Schön! recently spoke with Mathurine about his history and the future of Sub Division.
You’ve described Sub Division as a “creative playground”. How does this experimental mentality manifest in your designs?
Lately, it’s just been about pushing myself into new mediums and trying different facets of design. The label has been a collection of challenges I’ve set for myself, to see what I can produce with the restricted resources I have as a sole entity.
It seems to be, the more complex something is, the more attracted I am to try it. Of course, quite often things aren’t functionally possible and don’t materialise, but the idea comes first, then reality.
How and why did you enter fashion in the first place?
My mind can get overrun by ideas, like a constant noise. I needed a creative outlet to slow down and think about things in more detail, to teach myself how to process ideas and channel it into something tangible. It was at a time where it was quite rare for someone to own a label, so I picked clothing as a category to focus my ideas in.
I have a need to learn and progress my skills, and it was an area I wanted to grow into. Aside from that, I can be incredibly picky with the materials I wear and how something fits, so there was an element of wanting to have control over that.
Coming from the world of UI and UX design, what does the wearer’s experience with your clothes mean to you?
Experience is everything. It describes every interaction you have with anyone or anything every day. The concept that someone I don’t know has taken time out of their busy day to look at, interact with, or spend their hard-earned money on something I created, I still find incredible. It’s something that can’t be taken for granted.
I focus on how I can express gratitude for that. The quality of the product and the unboxing experience are key. It’s about how I can show someone I value their time and create value in the way they experience what I have made for them.
Adaptability is a big part of the brand’s current style. What motivated this choice to keep looks modular?
It’s more a change of mindset and creative growth within myself that inspires different styles or concepts at that point in time. It’s looking at challenging myself to be better than what I created previously. What can I include that will make this a more difficult task than what I just completed? Often that can mean changing styles slightly or doing something I’ve never looked at before. It’s about never making anything easy for myself. Whether that’s a blessing or a curse, I’m not sure.
What defines a Sub Division wearer?
I think it’s undefined. Clothing is very personal, and different designs resonate with different people. I pull inspiration from so many different areas of life, fashion or otherwise. It’s in the value set of the label to absorb ideas from your surroundings, adapt and create something of your own. It’s quite common for people to have different styles within themselves depending on their mood or the event they’re going to.
At its core, it’s someone that appreciates and values quality and comfort.
What are some things that inspire you in your day-to-day life?
Design inspiration can come from anywhere; locations, architecture, shapes of objects or people walking on the street. There is so much going on around us and so much content everywhere.
I think one of the strangest ways I come up with a concept is when I glance at something and accidentally misinterpret what I saw. Quite often I’ll see something online or in life at a glance and notice something interesting, then double back to look at it in detail and it’s completely different to what I first thought I saw. I’ll then rush to draw my first interpretation and start to build that idea out.
In terms of motivation and success, I get a lot of enjoyment out of seeing people progressing, excelling and succeeding doing what they love — from big-name designers with new collections, local artists getting exposure or even just someone getting a promotion in their job. Seeing people progressing and happy is one of my biggest inspirations to push forward with my own work.
In the crowded and rapidly changing world of streetwear, how does a brand like Sub Division stay original and fresh?
It can be difficult to block out your surroundings and try and form your own path.
It’s one of the reasons I have recently moved away from selling collections for a while. I felt I was asking myself too often, “Would people like this?” “Can someone wear this out in the city on a normal day?”
I was stifling my creativity and originality with too much self-doubt. I needed to eliminate those questions and explore my own ideas more — push my own limits and see what I can produce without mental barriers. At the end of the day, you need to build your own ideas; there will be people that love what you do for what it is. Find them and grow together.
You’ve said 2020 might be your most experimental year yet. What can our readers look forward to in the coming months?
I’m just looking to push myself and learn more.
At the moment I’m in design + sample phases for footwear and women’s wear — two fields I feel are very technical so naturally, I wanted to try them. I’ve also been dabbling in the furniture design space just out of curiosity.
Late in the year, I’m hoping to release a concept collection I’ve been chipping away at for about a year now. I can’t say too much because I’m genuinely unsure if it’s possible for me to execute to my standards, but I’ve never seen anyone else do it so I’m even more motivated to get it across the line. I’m sure we can have a chat when it comes to fruition.