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Mexico City

Not being able to find an Airbnb in or close enough to Havannah, Cuba, for four people was the last minute deciding factor in how we ended up in Mexico City. Looking back, it's obvious that initial dilemma worked itself out. The image above is what Mexico City felt like (for the most part) in one photo, but the entire place was visually polarizing. Colourful, rich in culture and even below overcast skies everything still felt bright. On one hand, the city's aging busy streets felt like foreign film that would be Oscar worthy for best cinematography, then we'd drive for a few blocks and be within one of the world's most progressive design capitals. Ignore all the myths and bullshit Yelp reviews about the "dangers" of Mexico City—its heaven on Earth, let no one tell you different.

Above: The Museo Soumaya, designed by the Mexican architect Fernando Romero with over 60,000 works from 30 centuries. The top floor of the museum has one of the largest collections of sculptures I've seen, including Rodin's. As a bonus, the Museo Jumex is literally across the street, with a huge Jeff Koons piece in front, you can't miss it.

I'm going back someday soon. I didn't make it to the Teotihuacán Pyramids, Archivo Diseño, or La Casa Luis Barragán. Mexico City is one of those movies with so much detail that you can't really grasp all the nuances until you've watched it a second or third time.

NEEDS&WANTS Container 01

I just read an article on The Business of Fashion about consumers soon having the technology to 3D print their own designs. Crazy. Thats another conversation in itself. I was just walking through the new wing of Yorkdale Mall that recently underwent a $30 million dollar expansion. Thirty M's. Everything is becoming so grand, and it could be just me but I think there's even more pressure on larger retailers to keep up with the market and the attention of modern consumers. Remember Target? Damn. As a smaller brand, it only makes sense to be creative with retail; especially if you don't have the resources to open and close store locations nationwide and still be in business. The concept of a pop up shop is quite common today, but I imagine there is room to take the concept of mobile retailing further. Our first shipping container space was completed in June and has since been embedded into off-the-grid locations as initially intended.

This is not a pop up shop. The idea here is that the retail/showroom experience could exist everywhere most retail commonly doesn't. My friends would often suggest we open up downtown, in the middle of Trinity Bellwoods, where any and everyone could find us. Nah, too accessible, too visible, too easy. The sound of birds chirping as I opened the store in the middle of nowhere is exactly what I'd want someone else to experience once they found the space.

Above: Because we’re working with such small space, details like our choice in furniture have to be functional. Our coffee table, for example, turns into a laptop desk once its turned on its side. We imported our rack from Belgium, and it literally just leans on the wall. Our engineered wood panelling on the walls and ceiling are ideal for the outdoors as wood tends to shift depending on weather conditions. Photo c/o James C Lee.

Normally, containers are have one entrance point, but we installed a second garage door entrance to maximize on as much natural light as possible. The two adjacent windows are also an advantage for natural light depending on direction we position the unit. The best result for lighting are when the windows face North and South. The herringbone floor was really an aesthetic decision; that European touch. We also have full power source and LED linear slot lights for evening hours.

Accessibility was actually the easy part if you were willing to paste the coordinates into your Google maps after joining our newsletter. The live map we built as a micro-site makes getting to each of our locations pretty easy. A friend of mine was on the train and saw a white box glowing in the middle of the forest. He got off at that subway stop and walked over from the bridge. Prior to that, he didn't have any coordinates or location info about the space, he was just curious and by chance stumbled upon us. Thats how he found it—discovery. I'm not trying to be long-winded here, my point is that there is a coming of age in which the point-of-sale is the last thing a brand does. The first thing will be sensory communication. How does the brand (not the product) make someone feel?

Above: The container's exterior offers a mystique to those passing by. The mirrored glazing on each opposing side allows us to see outward but there is minimal visibility into the space from the outside. When deciding on location, we take into consideration the backdrop and how the space will transform itself from an industrial piece of corrugated steel, into a minimal accent among nature's surround. Photos c/o Michael Rousseau.

Below: Marco Lee's preliminary sketches of our next container for 2017. Twice the size and even more ambitious than our initial effort. Our first container was designed for land, our next will be designed for water.

Technology will continue to make everyday interaction faster; there's no doubting it, or escaping it. We'll all have to adapt. However, that doesn't mean that through evolution we can't find balance. A balance between online and offline experiences. Lines are for blurring and rules for breaking—and rewriting. You can thrive online with the technology made available, while bridging endless possibilities offline.

New Mexico

How do I sum up New Mexico? that's tough. I could go on and on about White Sands, or try explain the feeling of seeing a sunrise in a hot air balloon, and even then, it couldn't illustrate those experiences enough. I get why people choose New Mexico to retire or embark on some life changing pilgrimage. For me, I just a Boyz II Men video and wanted to go. What I love most is how quiet it all was. There was no rush, no pressure, no urgency. I think that's what allowed me to really take it all in.

Above: You can fit 275,000 basketballs into the largest hot air balloon. At least once, everyone should experience floating over Albuquerque, New Mexico at over 6,000 feet.

Below, left to right: Access points of Slot Canyon at Kasha-Katuwe become so narrow you have to hike sideways. I was in Timbs and didn't make it through to the end.

Above: The backdrop to some of Hollywood's biggest films; acres of prehistoric land considered an archeologist's treasure chest. Most notably, the creative refuge of famed artist Georgia O'Keeffe.

Below, left to right: These white sands—and much of New Mexico's surround—are what inspired NEEDS&WANTS' Spring/Summer 2016 collection. I did an entire White Sands retrospective a few posts back.

These photos (all shot with my phone) have been sitting on my desktop for months since we got back. In hindsight, I should've just uploaded them as full images in a thread, but my thinking at the time was how I would lay the images out in a book. I forgot to include the horse back riding tour through Georgia O'Keeffe's Ghost Ranch. Shit. It was beautiful. Maybe I'll save that for a book?

Gone Platinum

I imagine if I had the resources needed to put this editorial together in, let's say 2010, I would've. And being that the late 90's and early 2000's were a key reference point in my own creative development, I already understood a lot of the styling cues to a degree. I stayed up late to tape Planet Groove, my AOL connection buffered to watch videos pre HD on, and had a pretty vast collection of Bop! and Right On magazines. I have an affinity with this time period and I was conscious of that even then. It was really a matter of bringing a powerful cast together to pull this editorial off. Check. This project is long overdue; and I say that in hopes that I don't come across as some backpacker who's holding onto (what some would label) a dated aesthetic. But! If we look at the amount of influence this era has on current culture, the timing and timelessness of this might be perfect.

Above: Asheley Turner styled as Aaliyah for 'Gone Platinum'. Photo c/o Paolo Azarraga, styling by Bobby Bowen, Sarah Vee and myself. Hair & Makeup by Mila Victoria and Indie Halstead. Even down to the accessories, we turned out thrift stores and costume houses in search of pieces that were historically accurate. In the beginning I was hesitant to even include Aaliyah into the editorial if we couldn't get her look spot on.

The transition into the millennium was rooted in confident artistry and unique personalities, subsequently launching a multi-billion dollar industry. As the era of shiny suits and big budget fish-eyed videos flourished, hip hop culture quickly became a global phenomenon, translating its once-coded sounds and expressions into pop culture.

While we still vividly recall the term “bling” entering our lexicon following the premiere of The Hot Boyz “Bling, Bling” as Rap City’s ‘New Joint of the Day,’ today, all you have to do is look it up in the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary. While these are massive steps for rap music, the culture’s growth is still, unfortunately, stunted by those unwilling to grow with it—however, hip hop culture lives in the essence of paying homage to the past and preparing for the future. Jay-Z, Lauryn Hill and OutKast hadn’t just gone platinum, they transcended the boundaries of popular music, broke down corporate barriers, and still continue to influence an entire generation today.

View the full editorial, here.

Photography: Paolo Azarraga
Creative Direction: Sean Brown
Styling: Bobby Bowen, Sarah Vee, Sean Brown
Hair & Makeup: Mila Victoria, Indie Halstead
Project Year: 2016

Ciinema: Filed Under Film

I would consider this a mixtape more than a montage simply because its reminiscent of the time I would record, rewind, skip, and erase. What’s left is a sequence of reference, colour, and texture that I couldn’t just file under research—I filed under film. Brought to you by the good people at locale & Banded Purple. Screening Wednesday, Aug. 24 at CIINEMA. You can RSVP here.

Filed Under Research

A string of iPhone images in which I discover a secret garden, my new favourite furniture store, and decide on materials for an upcoming Pre-Fall collection. This is exactly why I prefer exploring on foot.