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Interview with Roberto Crivello of DDCLAB

With a fresh new retail space to call their own and a New Balance 420 collaboration to kick things off, we had a chance to speak with Roberto Crivello, one-half of the innovative New York-based label DDCLAB. Placing a great importance on revolutionary fabrics, we delve deeper into what DDCLAB represents and the role and importance of technical fabrics now and in the future. The DDCLAB x New Balance 420s will release this Friday, November 14th at 11:00 am over at the recently opened DDCLAB flagship store. Limited to 60 pairs, the shoes feature a special signed and numbered dust bag with a suggested retail price of $498 USD.

DDCLAB x New Balance 420 Release
7 Mercer Street
New York City, NY 10013

Interview with Roberto Crivello

Could you provide a little history and brand philosophy behind DDCLAB?

We have an undying commitment to technology and design and in the 11 years since our launch DDCLAB has come to epitomize the future of fashion, consistently pushing the envelope with innovative fabric technologies and high-performance designs that compliment our 21stcentury lifestyle.

We work directly with manufacturers to develop exclusive, innovative material applications. In addition to these performance attributes and sheer aesthetics, our work speaks to a greater socio-political perspective—what world do we live in that needs a radiation blocking suit, and how does it speak to the performance of our bodies within our lives. Being one of the first fashion labels to work with materials like PLA based fibers (from corn), Abaca Paper, Bamboo, Cork, Tyvek, Inox and other materials, DDCLAB leads us towards the future of how we present our bodies, perform within our clothing constructs, and how we interact with the changing face of our environmental, sociological, and political spectrum.

What’s your new role over at New Balance? What sort of responsibilities will you carry?

New Balance has named us (Savania Davies-Keiller and Roberto Crivello), Lifestyle Creative Directors for New Balance. In our new role, we will lend our forward-thinking and innovative designs to the sneaker brand’s lifestyle category.

The move to work with New Balance Is a logical one for both of us, especially since we designed a well-received capsule collection for NB for fall ‘08. We will deliver a global product that seamlessly combines expert design and innovation. Our high-performance designs use breakthrough fabric technologies and inventive materials to create pieces that compliment a 21st century lifestyle.

Our main goal with New Balance Lifestyle is to deliver shoes that can be worn to support an active lifestyle with a focus on design material and color. For example fall ‘08 includes fabrics such as aluminum coated rip-stop and steel infused nylons, soft gloved leathers and unique meshes.

The full range of New Balance Lifestyle shoes under us as Life Style Creative directors will launch for spring 2009. Retail prices will start at $100 and will be available at top retail locations including DDCLAB, colette Paris, Barney’s, Isetan and Fred Segal among others.

When designing the DDCLAB x New Balance 420, what sort of theme were you looking to capture? Was there a particular reason for choosing the 420?

The 420 is a shoe recognized by cult NB followers, including ourselves…. So it was an easy choice. The silhouette is clean and we knew it would lend itself to a reflective material nicely. Our theme was driven towards the practicalities of technologically – such as stretch, weightlessness, and high visibility.

Did you have a firm idea of what material to use seeing as it dominates the majority of the shoe’s upper? What materials were used and how does it differ from traditional 3M?

It does actually use 3M technology (but not the standard 3M fabric anyone can get their hands on), the fabric is from Europe. Unlike most highly reflective material, the material we use has stretch and is extremely soft and light-weight. Making this sneaker was not just about making a unique looking pair of shoes – it was also about functionality so the fact that the material is light-weight was important. We also have DDCLAB apparel and other accessories made of the same material to compliment the sneakers.

With a penchant for finding and unveiling lesser known technical materials, how has the world of technical materials evolved since DDCUSA/DDCLAB’s inception in 1992/1997?

Since DDCUSA’s inception in 1992 and DDCLAB in 1997 we have always tried to be experimental with new technologies. We were the creative consultants for a small brand called DUPONT’s innovative technologies division. We also did the whole “American farmers organic grown cotton” about 7-8 years ago, we experimented with soy, rice, anti-radiation, electro-magnetic materials, cork, silver ions and inox, lots of non-wovens, corn, silk from spider webs, copper, and a cocktail of liquid technology finishes as water repellents, antimicrobial, wind repellents, odorless, and much much more,….and natural dyes as persimmon, potatoes,…. and real indigo. Today’s customer is much more knowledgeable than they were 10 years ago, so we must always stay head of the curve, finding the newest, best and barrier breaking fabrics and techniques.

Where will the future of technical materials take us?

Right now we are experimenting with reclaimed cedar wood from Japan (non-woven, but adhered together as plywood) and woven with silk for our apparel, accessories and obviously the next collaboration of limited edition DDCLAB/NB shoe….And of course always made from by-products.

What role and relationship does technology serve in fashion?

Its like in the ARMY, NASA, or the Olympics,the relationship is undeniable… There is always a need to improve the products and technologies to serve the people who use and wear them. In some cases we have found the technology has encouraged fashion to evolve.

How long have you been preparing for the opening of a DDCLAB flagship store?

I don’t know. We have thought about opening another store for a while but we wanted to come up with a dope angle and put ourselves to create something different (even for us). So we have been mentally preparing for a while. But once we got the permits to begin construction, the store was up and running in 6 weeks because we knew exactly what we wanted.

What sort of upcoming projects can we look forward to?

Definitely new stores for sure. The reaction of this new NB concept store is amazing so we want to replicate it in our store in LA and the Meatpacking District in NY as well. You can also expect us to focus our efforts in the ladies NB sneaker market.

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