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G-Star Raw Denim’s brand identity is considerably more ambitious than that of most of its competitors. No mere trend du jour statement for this Amsterdam-based company. In the words of Shubhankar Ray, G-Star’s global brand director, it’s nothing less than “creativity—art, design, music.” G-Star’s events incorporate all those elements, unlike denim company events that more typically focus on hot young celebs and DJs—although the company’s December 6 Rodeo Drive store opening did sport DJ royalty Mark Ronson, who played an ’80s mix from Bono to Bowie. To ballyhoo its launch as the first denim brand on Beverly Hills’ storied shopping street, G-Star threw a cocktail party assisted by event producer No Subject L.A.
Some 300 gritty black-and-white portraits of famous faces, made by Dutch photographer and music video and film director Anton Corbijn, were variously projected on two surfaces of the store’s second-floor balcony. Corbijn is also shooting G-Star’s spring/summer 2012 campaign with French actress Clémence Poésy, whom Ray introduced to the dense crowd of trendsters.
G-Star—that is, the creative team that included Ray, head designer Pierre Morriset and top stylist Rene Ketting—looked closer to home for the event’s other art element: handcrafted denim costumes and objects created by its own atelier in Amsterdam for a traveling exhibition titled “RAW Art Series.” Sergeant Pepperish raw denim military jackets with ribbon pants and hats flanked the entryway opposite jockey-like figures riding curved pipes in the shape of horses, dressed in denim masks. Like G-Star’s earlier Beverly Hills event designed with collaborator Dennis Hopper, the party was about honing the cutting edge, rather than celebrating youth culture per se.
“We have a long history of pushing something as universal as denim, which can be bought at high end and low price points and worn by all ages, and is the only clothing item that cuts through barriers of age, race, sex, and culture,” Ray said.
Another unusual element was a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it pop-up show, with models showing off the new fashions in the store window, for just five minutes. “Could you make a fashion show that’s more fashion theater in a four-meter-square space instead of a big, long catwalk runway?” Ray mused. “It’s about making an Internet-close experience with our product on live models, and we know that the culture has a short attention span.”