A deep talk with a designer who focuses and talks about present time with consciousness. Luke Meier, the man behind OAMC is an enthusiastic creative who cares about the fuel of the industry and keeping ahead with curiosity and personality, but never forgetting the need of challenge in everyday life. Everything started for him by following his own flow and it goes ahead in the future exactly in the same way.
What happened since you decided to be a designer? Did you decide it or did it just happened?
I think it kind of just happened, I have always been interested in clothing design, but I guess more from a bit of a social context. Why people think that things are cool or interesting, or why certain brands or marks or logos have such a strong power have always been something fascinating to me. It belongs a lot to my background; I grew up in Vancouver, a city kind of removed from a lot of the things that were driving the youth culture that I was into. So my experience turned into a very voyeuristic one, I used to look at what was happening with music in places like New York or with the skateboarding culture in California and I turned a bit into a student, because I wasn’t right in the middle of it, but I was looking at something from the outside. Vancouver, actually has a great scene for a lot of things, the location and the size, it has a lot of amazing cultural things that are happening there. Anyone else would have liked growing up there, but I think that the feeling of wondering or watching why things developed, for instance why a certain record label became so important or how a certain skateboarding brand became very strong, it’s very interesting for me. It’s so fascinating to get why even a really young person would recognize that logo or that certain style and be like “Wow, that’s what is cool”. So I was always curious about that. By following all these inputs, I would say, for sure it just sort of happened and I turned to becoming a designer. There weren’t such big plans, it all evolved in a very natural way.
With OAMC you are really about the present and quite concrete in what you do, because you are absolutely focused on what people want now. In the aesthetics field, there is one word that is so much abused and has completely lost every meaning to me: contemporary. What do you think about it?
I think it is used in a very general term. It doesn’t have a specific definition; it is a bit like the word classic as well. What does classic really mean? Does it mean that it’s just old or does it means that it’s good, is it established in a negative or positive way? With contemporary you can also assess that it’s something that is going to be here for a short time and then it’s gone, or doesn’t matter any more. As if it’s a trend with an expiring date printed on it. So yes, I would say that contemporary has lost its meaning as a word.
As you are so into the present, I’m quite interested in asking you something about the past. In which decade, city or subculture moment would you have loved to be a designer or just live in?
I guess what would be interesting to me is to live in a culture that is completely not something I am familiar with, so as much as I love decades like the sixties, the seventies in California or the beginning of punk and Hip Hop in New York in the late seventies, I wouldn’t choose one of those periods. Those are stuff I looked up a lot and had a huge influence on what I am interested in. I would go for something a little more kind of out there, like to live in Paris in the 20’s or in England right after the War. Concerning what I would do, in a way I wouldn’t want to be a designer, I’d rather just be there and see what is interesting to work on or interesting people to work with. I became a designer also because of the people that I have met, the community, how I can be involved in the culture that I like. To live in another era, I don’t know if I would be a designer or what.
Together with your designs, I really appreciate the casting of your lookbooks. I find it realistic. Which people, which faces inspire you the most?
Less than fantasy it is more what I see on the streets or friends of mine that inspired me. I like to see all the different kind of connotations that comes with beauty. I think women’s fashion in the industry really refers to this artificial beauty, what you see in the magazine and you don’t relate at all to anything in everyday life. It’s like a fantasy body, of an ideal woman somehow. While I think with menswear, the coolest guy or the guy with the best style are the ones that are very real people. If you think about rockstars for instance, you can have a kind of ugly guy but very cool in their style. If you look at punk rock, movie stars that are weird looking, they are very cool. Or even older guys that are kind of cool, for instance Marlon Brando when he was older he had a cool style, but you wouldn’t say that he was this iconic beauty, it was just about his vibe that made him how cool he is. I think that with menswear it’s a little bit easier, you can pass this ideal and just see who looks cool just in daily life and doing their regular stuff. That’s what excites me, if you go to another city and you go out at night and you see a person that looks somehow cool on the streets, that is super powerful to me, more than celebrity stuff.
Have you ever thought about designing womenswear?
A lot of people ask me, my wife is also a designer so we talk about stuff all the time and she wears a lot of OAMC pieces herself. I think it would be cool, because it would be a challenge for me in a way that I haven’t tried before, I would really be designing for somebody else. The way I work is that I have to like it a lot, for myself; it’s always easier when you make something that you like. To think about somebody else, their body, their taste, you of course still have to love it and to look at it, but I wouldn’t know how it feels so much. So I’d love to do it, I think it would be an interesting challenge; I would love to do it actually. In a way it could be more free than menswear, you can do something that you just think looks cool. It’s a different entity, with a different attitude.
You like to experiment with new fields in your job and you enjoy the idea of not being trained that much about that field, because you don’t want to be spoiled somehow. I’d like to ask if at some point a technician told you “Oh no, you cannot do that!” and what happened.
It happens all the time! I would say I am kind of in the middle. Most of the times I already knew that maybe it’s kind of impossible, or good and it’s not exactly possible the way I want to do it, but I try anyway. Because I feel like if you already say no, that it’s not possible, that it’s not going to work, or something, then you are kind of limiting yourself already. What I like to do is say “ok, what if we just try doing something like this? How it would come out in the end? Or, is there a way that we can solve the problem and try to do something in a different way?” I feel that’s the way you arrive at something new if you try to do that, rather than just saying I won’t do it. Whenever you have someone who is very good at something, they have their own habits, whether he is a tailor, a shoemaker, a chef or an architect, they have a long and deep knowledge and the way they are supposed to do something is the best way or they will try to achieve the best way to do something. That’s what is interesting for me, to work with someone who is very good at what they do and even with habits we try to break them together. That’s when it’s really fun I think.
Is there something that you desire to design in particular without this training idea?
I would love to do a lot of different stuff. I’d love to do furniture. I have to recognize the influence of being in Italy more and more. Things that are interesting to me are really materials, of course even forms and shapes, but I really love to feel the different materials and to do something with furniture would be really amazing. I don’t know the furniture business, so I don’t know whether if you have to make a certain numbers of things or how expensive it is to make something with a certain shape, I don’t know anything about it, so it would be cool to start, because you can approach it from a really innocent way and maybe you can do something interesting. I’d love even to get back into photography, filmmaking, and even music, I’d love to, the problem is time and I don’t have so much of that, unfortunately.
Which energy would you suggest to nurture to young creative minds?
Dream about a career in fashion or going to fashion school it’s kind of a dreamland in a way, because, at least in my experience, I was never informed by what the reality is and the business. Fashion is like a marriage between business and creativity, you have the idea, sitting in a room and making beautiful sketches and beautiful forms, but then the reality is how you do all these things and the realization of those things is very difficult and it’s really business. I’d love to tell the students, you are going to be really hit hard by the fact that it’s really business, when you arrive in the working environment, but what I really believe is that young creativity is so essential to this business, because you need people that are going to break the rules, you need people that have a vision or have an idea, then you have to try to realize it and create it. Without that it’s over, all this fashion-stuff doesn’t exists anymore. A lot of people think that people in fashion school should have a lot of focus on the business side. It’s absolutely good if they know it in a way, but they have to really gain a creative and free creativity confidence, so that they can go and try all kind of things because the key is the actual trying attempt. That’s actually why I love to work in Italy, because the approach of the people is to always try and always attempt and try to make something, because you never know what can happen. I strongly believe that the life force of this business comes from people who really try to dream. You have to have your own very strong contact with your own universe, so that sometimes you can live completely outside of the system. Less and less now, things are given an enough time to really develop without being exploited. If you think about certain music or culture, before the Internet, you had little scenes in different cities, which were building and building for years. You had a very deep and skilled group of creative people doing something. So it wasn’t just like today, this kind of discovery a person has made a great song, before it was this group has made three great albums! However, that’s another story of how fast things are changing today!
Back to the awakening theme, I’d like to ask you something about the feelings that this word could cause: If I say Awakening do you see it in a positive way, as a positive energy or do you perceive the word as a moment of disillusion where you say “Ok let’s go back to reality?”
If you put it in the context right now, I feel like there is too much distraction, I feel there is too much noise and a lot of things that are out there and it takes people’s mind away from the things that are true. So if I think about the “Awakening” it’s very positive to me, because it means that you are sort of cleaning away the things that are distracting and you are getting more and more closer to the truth. We have too much; in a way that even if you are very clever I think that there are too many things that can take you away from what’s important.
Being more close to the dictionary definition of awakening, are you more of a creative morning person or nocturnal?
Definitely nocturnal. I don’t why, but even before going to sleep I think of stuff I have to jump out of the bed and write them down, I wish I could be the other way around or at least experience what it would be like the other way, but I am a nocturnal person. I think there is such less distraction. For example, sometimes, if I am on a plane and it’s a long overnight flight, if I see everyone else sleeping around me, but I am working on something, doing a sketch or writing, I really love that feeling. Absolutely not in a competitive way, not that I think that I am doing something and I am getting ahead while the others are sleeping, but just like you really can be in your own world, very focused without distractions. You are really deep in your own world, while flying high, fast towards the destination in silence.