If you’ve ever searched through Instagram using hashtags for brands such as ACRONYM, Nike ACG, or even Stone Island, then you might’ve come across some user accounts who’ve put together striking outfits that contain a touch of futuristic flair. You can even say their style resembles that of sci-fi video game characters — think cyber swat team members or even neo-punk ninjas. But whatever your definition of their look might be, one thing’s for sure: their adeptness for donning next level fits is truly awe-inspiring.
HYPEBEAST got a chance to talk to some of the members of this so-called “Techwear Subculture” and it turns out they’re a tight-knit group who attribute their interests to names like Errolson Hugh of ACRONYM, video game titles like Metal Gear, and even a few anime movies. In the end, however, they’re just eager to push their own creative vision of what this particular culture stands for — to be as imaginative as one can be with respect to the brands they love.
From an observer’s standpoint, especially those coming from a streetwear fan’s perspective, we’ve seen videos and lookbook imprints like ACRONYM and Stone Island have created. What the “Techwear Subculture” members offer, however, is something that goes beyond the industry’s way of visually defining the brand. They go a step above and add a more personal spin to each photo or look they release. Sometimes, they add a bit of the surreal into the mix to wow followers and garner more fans. But from talking to them, we soon understand that it’s less about the “follow” count on their social media handle, but more on how they can creatively execute an image with precision and patience.
Meet some of the techwear subculture members below.
Bryan Lee (@email@example.com//@acrhive)
Can you point us to the origins of the techwear subculture?For me, it all started when I read about ACRONYM on Beinghunted’s site started by the legendary Jörg Haas. It’s where Acronym was sold through The-Glade before it changed to Firmament Berlin. This was back in 2004.
I suppose it has been underground for many years. A lot of people didn’t quite understand it, few could afford it, but the innovation of use became apparent year-after-year. For me, I literally can’t wear another pair of pants if there isn’t a phone pocket on my right leg. I feel naked.
All of this and more began when I moved to NYC in 2002 and began collecting sneakers, to collecting Recon, Alife, Nom De Guerre, BAPE, Supreme, etc. I used a lot of these collector’s pieces and sold them off to afford to buy ACRONYM pieces.
It wasn’t until I finally joined the superfuture forum and found a network of enthusiasts like myself. Reading, discovering, and lurking about brands like Arc’teryx Veilance, ACRONYM, Nom De Guerre, and the likes. I never fully immersed myself until around 2013. Reaching out to members and finally revealing the collection I’ve owned for so many year, which led to being a founding member of another private chat group unpublicized til this day.
If I think more and more about the “techwear subculture.” I haven’t really thought about it like that (referring to the name). I look at it like it’s part of my life now — a utilitarian tool if you will. Others, besides ACRONYM, simply haven’t broken it down in the form of what you wear is the ease of use that you have in your daily life.
As the main architect behind the ACRHIVE® Instagram page, what did you hope to accomplish when you initially created the account?For one, I can’t take full credit for this name since it was started by a fellow who created a website for reference purposes. But it’s all legally owned by me now for the IG account.
The main purpose of starting the account in the first place was to see fit pics of people actually wearing the product I’ve collected for so many years. Since the subculture was never really tangible in the sense of any other marketing materials from ACRONYM other than their own fits that are shot professionally in a studio. I wanted to see how it was reflected in actual environments. Which led to seeing examples of how collectors use the product for themselves. Meaning it could be ACRONYM head to toe, to mixing it with other brands. All the way to exploring cyberpunk, military, concept art and whatever interesting looks users can conjure up.
I’d say it’s still thriving, and the network has definitely blown up in terms of networking. After starting this, I can’t believe how many people I’ve met and come across who are very inspiring in looks that they put together, as well as what they do as their day job. There are other plans for this as the vision has evolved but I’ll stop there.
You’re also a creative director and seasoned graphic designer. How much of your own personal aesthetic finds its way to your commissioned works?I wish the way I dressed found its way more into my work, but it has only been able to pave the way for certain projects based on the type of work I get to work on, on a daily basis. A lot of what I do is either for tech companies, corporate and/or marketing materials. I have only worked on a few gaming projects that have the sci-fi, fantasy feel. Though I am currently working on some projects under wraps that will hopefully see the light of day once I complete them. If anything, I’m looking forward to collaborating on projects with fellow designers, VFX artists, illustrators, etc.
“For me, I literally can’t wear another pair of pants if there isn’t a phone pocket on my right leg. I feel naked.”
Anton K (@yoshimitzu//@yoshimitszulyfe)
What originally inspired you to create the types of graphics you’re known for?
Most of the inspiration, I received from the works of Hideo Kojima, Otomo Katsuhiro and William Gibson. Video games, anime, sci-fi movies and books, all of this is part of my life.
Do you consider what you do more of a personal hobby, a long-term career choice, or a springboard for something much bigger?
It started as a hobby, but now I try to build a career in graphic design and concept art.
How would you like others to interpret your work? How much of your designs reflect your personality?
One of my friends called my style “dark-technical-fashion-futurism,” but it is too long (laughs). All of them, everything I do I take straight out of my head. All the feelings I try to put on a piece of digital paper.
“I think the whole “technical” aspect needs to be more widely adopted as a standard in clothing production due to its obvious practicality.”
Keith Tio (@keithtio)
Compared to the others, you tend to use beautiful nature scenes as your backdrop. Is there a reason for this?
Growing up, visiting and camping at different national parks was a big part of my childhood. I took it for granted back then but now I enjoy revisiting these spots and discovering new ones. It’s a great way to test the limits and capabilities of the clothing’s technical aspects in a setting outside of the city.
How would you like to see the culture move forward?
I think the whole “technical” aspect needs to be more widely adopted as a standard in clothing production due to its obvious practicality. I think it will be only a matter of time before it becomes more of a standard rather than a niche market.
Can you say that the techwear subculture has a tight-knit community?
It is a tight-knit community in the sense that everyone seems to know of each other. It’s always great to find others with similar interests and see their interpretations of the style.
Ed Echague (@edg.e)
On a personal level, what does the techwear subculture mean to you? What value does it add to your daily existence
Techwear is a progressive genre of clothing that seeks to evolve itself in aesthetic, comfort, and function from one year to the next, which keeps it quite interesting. Aside from those elements, what techwear offers that others can’t, is innovation as far as technical uses for the garments. It has the ability to integrate new things seamlessly into what you already own, previous or current. The clothing is always being designed based on preparing for contingencies one can’t foretell. Incorporating qualities of techwear into my style definitely enhances the dimensions of utility and comfort into what I have on and what I bring with me on a daily basis, especially during travel. It just makes things easier furthering adaptability and convenience.
To a novice who might want to get into photographing their own techwear outfits, what advice would you give them?
Generally, a good amount of “techwear” outfits are often associated with dystopian environments, neo-looking establishments and innovative architecture. However, having a good photograph doesn’t necessarily portray these settings. Just go outside, shoot wherever and don’t take it too seriously. It’s usually the less calculated photographs that tend to be my favorite.
Besides the obvious references to Metal Gear, are there any other video games, movies, books, graphic novels, music, etc. you would consider influencing this type of aesthetic?
There are many sources of inspiration that may influence this type of aesthetic. For books, first thing that comes to mind would be the author William Gibson, who birthed the cyberpunk genre. Additionally, Transmetropolitan is a graphic novel that depicts the cyberpunk genre as well. Deus Ex, Splinter Cell and Syphon Filter are some video games that illustrate the tactical element of techwear. Some movies that incorporate the post-apocalyptic, futuristic side of techwear would be The Matrix, Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Fifth Element, Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Music that may resonate with this genre of clothing could include Massive Attack, Machinedrum, Darkstar, Actress, Death Grips, Future, Thugger, Guwop, etc.
You often cite the video game Metal Gear in your work. What’s the appeal of the popular Konami title in terms of inspiring your vision?
Well where to begin, the whole aesthetic of Metal Gear is the appeal. From the name itself Metal Gear Solid to the incredible story, to the artwork, action, details, comic relief, clothing, I can go on forever. The organizations within the game from FOXHOUND to the SKULLS are so intricate, it’s difficult to believe this is a work of fiction at times. It’s almost like a handbook to me for how to live my life. I’ve always also been fascinated by war and violence my entire life so when I found Metal Gear, I entered heaven.
Touching on your brand 1KCORP, what do you hope to accomplish with your line? What can your followers expect with future product designs?
They can expect complete insanity — my goal is to add a new genre and dimension to what’s called fashion and style these days. 1KCORP is a living, breathing organism that you will all witness evolve and grow. But it’s all now on a need-to-know basis. Top secret.
Are there other artists out there that also inspire you?
Of course, there are probably thousands. Coming from an art background myself I’m mostly inspired by illustrators, sculptors, painters — I feel like those mediums require a certain genuine quality that when something is distinguishable, it’s special. Biggest sources of inspiration lately have been @dobu.haishen my illustrator, my tattooer @angelomachine, as well as all my other friends at Red Letter 1 in Tampa, @kimjunggius@firstname.lastname@example.org and what @indexamo and @vetememes are doing. As well as all the people who take the time out to tell me how I’ve inspired them in some way. This is why I do this.
Brian Valdizno (@valdizbro)
Can you recount the moment when you realized you wanted to photograph yourself wearing techwear garments?
I don’t think there was a specific moment that made me want to photograph “techwear garments.” I was always interested in taking photographs of my friends and documenting their style evolution through the years. I was lucky enough that one of my friends (@24.fps) allowed me to start taking photos of him so I can learn how to be a better photographer. I think this stemmed from being a HYPEBEAST and superfuture forum member, seeing all these cool fits from people, and learning about the different brands and styles that were out there. Another huge influence in recent times was being part of Impulse Online (shout out to @brycity, @waleyg, @mike_sunday, @ivan.chow). They had an editorial called “Synthetic Configurations” that was super sick and it was just inspiring to see my friends put together a high-level editorial about the garments that interested me at the moment. I thought to myself, “Damn, I need to step my game up!” I still have a lot to learn.
To someone unaware of the lifestyle, how would you explain to that person what the techwear subculture is all about?
I think the easiest way to put it is that a lot of techwear is utilitarian. I think everyone in the subculture has a fascination with garments that are both of high-quality and extremely functional to aid them in their everyday tasks. When I first got into it, I was enamored with the ideas that one jacket can be useful to you in 10 different ways or that one pair of pants can withstand the wear and tear of life throughout decades. Personally speaking, if I can’t fit my boba stamp cards, an In-N-Out burger, and various flavors of Pocky in my jackets/pants then what’s the point of buying the clothes?
Besides ACRONYM, can you tell us which brands make up the core of what your vision is of techwear?
I think an important part of understanding techwear is to do the research that’s required to develop your own style and tastes. That being said, I think my core vision of techwear constantly shifts, allowing me the freedom of not having certain brands that I gravitate to. There are pieces from different collections that can all fit into my “vision” so it’s ultimately just a relentless hunt to find the grails/pieces from each brand that I want to own.