Hype is Not Fashion

There was a time in my life more recent than I’d probably like to admit when I was sucked into a black hole of wearing brands for the sake of the name. Nothing mattered except for the logo and how it made other people perceive me. Buying a $300 windbreaker just because it said Supreme on it made me believe that people would think that I knew about fashion and was part of the community.

For a while, I thrived off that and instead of working to learn more about the brands I was wearing, I just continued to build my wardrobe on hype and not intrinsic value. But in admitting my fault in wearing clothes because they were hype or name brand, I have grown as a fashion expert. I am now someone who recognizes and appreciates brands for what they mean and what they artistically represent. Learning more about designers and appreciating the work that goes behind the final product of a design is what I think marked my transition from a materialistic fashion enthusiast to someone knowledgeable within the community. Once I started educating myself on the processes behind what it takes to make clothes — such as the inspiration, the stories, collaboration, and marketing — I was able to engage with even more people, particularly local designers and creatives part of the Chicago streetwear scene.

Chicago’s fashion community is largely D.I.Y., essentially meaning it is a lot of small, independent artists working together and putting their work out into the world on their own. This involves artists and designers putting on their own shows and exhibits to display and spread their art. These small D.I.Y. communities drive Chicago fashion and make trends instead of following the ones set in place by fast fashion. Once, these people were Virgil Abloh and Kanye West who are now icons in the fashion world — Abloh is creative director of Louis Vuitton Menswear and Off-White and West is the creator of Yeezy. They both came from Chicago with nothing but a vision and were able to manifest their own unique brands without giving up who they are. 

One current local designer is 20-year-old Luke Kondrat of FALTO clothing. What drew me to Kondrat’s style was a pair of pink and frilly pants where the frills are layered, creating a tier cake effect. The pants were like something straight off the runway, a sort of Alexander McQueen meets Vetements with their own twist. FALTO Clothing is a brand that really showed me the sheer amount of talent Chicago has, and the capabilities of designers in the city to make a name for themselves.

Another local designer I’ve been fortunate enough to meet is Henry Yenter, one of the creatives behind Ambrose Chicago. Ambrose is a brand very personal to Yenter (it’s literally his middle name) but it’s also personal to its consumers. I saw Yenter wearing this super simple gray sweatshirt with an image of the Michaelangleo’s David on it. It was minimal, but its simplicity and execution made it look high fashion. It was something that reminded me of Off-White and Aimé Leon Dore, but again, something that was different enough to stand on its own. 

It is important to realize the impact local designers can have on fashion as a whole, because all famous brands started local. They started with an idea and transformed that idea into wearable art. That is exactly what both FALTO Clothing and Ambrose Chicago are doing. Kondrat and Yenter have the talent and capabilities to make a big impact on the fashion community worldwide, but it starts with support from people within their communities. I spoke with both Kondrat and Yenter about their brands and their creative goals in the Chicago streetwear scene.  


A little bit about the brand:

FALTO stands for For All Living Things Oppressed. FALTO strives to unite everyone from all walks of life through the creative lens of fashion. The purpose is to express style and creativity through unique, handmade garments. FALTO resonates with the streetwear culture and community, while also featuring expressive designs that push the boundaries of both streetwear and high fashion. All of our pieces are cut and sewn in studio. We started the brand because our love for fashion and our love for creating, we love to build stuff with our hands. 

FALTO is for confident people who are trying to push the boundaries on what you can and can’t wear, on the line between art and fashion. Our target customer is from 16-30, but many older customers like moms and grandparents have bought our clothes too. We love that. 

What is the fashion scene here like and where do you see FALTO in relation to that?

The fashion scene here is small, but a creative crew of talented artists are working on making it bigger. FALTO is a big part in the scene, having had many pop ups and a lot of local artists wearing our pieces. One of our main goals is to create a group of Chicago creatives, with everything from fashion, music, art, photography, and more. We want to create a platform for local artists to work  with their various creative fields and bring it all together as a collective. 

What are some up and coming trends you predict for fashion in the upcoming years?

Fashion has always had an aspect of experimental garments, but we haven’t seen those avant-garde pieces being worn on the streets confidently until more recently. People are feeling more free to express themselves fully now, which allows us to really push the boundaries for what’s “acceptable” to wear. Trends come and go so easily, one day some design will pop into your head and the next month you’ll see everyone repping that trend. We try to create things that people haven’t seen yet, more experimental than what we see right now on the streets. 

What do you think separates Chicago fashion from other primary locations (NYC, LA, etc)?

People are so free and expressive with how they dress in New York. They’re confident dressers and don’t care about what people think, it comes with the New York culture. People there are much more fashion minded than in Chicago. Everyone is fitted up every day, no matter the occasion. We’re going to bring that confidence, freedom of expression, and creativity to the Chicago fashion scene, and open people’s minds about the possibilities clothing holds. 

How do you think young creatives in Chicago play a role in shaping Chicago’s fashion industry? Where do you guys see yourself and FALTO in regards to this?

There is a big scene of creative people in Chicago. The best part is that most of us are on the same page and support each other, trying to repost, share and work as much as we can to get our names out. The youth on the streets sets the trends for bigger fashion companies, and the creatives in Chicago are all on the frontline. 

What is the goal for FALTO?

So many, so many goals. But the main goal is to be able to have a big enough platform for all different people and cultures to come together, create, and style. We also want to give back to struggling communities not only in Chicago, but across the country (we’re looking forward to some FALTO charity events in the near future). Ultimately, we just want to be able to do what makes us happy, which is creating art with a purpose behind it. 

What are some accomplishments you are proud of so far?

We started FALTO just over a year ago, and over that time we have gotten our clothing in stores, got our online store and look book up (www.FALTOclothing.com), got Juice Wrld, a rapper, wearing some of our pieces, as well as many other local artists. All around, seeing people wear our clothes is an accomplishment to us. 

What are a few of your favorite pieces you have created?

Recently we made some vests for Spring Summer ‘19, and we’re working on a new collection now. 


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There is a light and it never goes out.

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A little bit about the brand:

So, Ambrose is my middle name. Everything I make is very personal to me so I wanted the name to be personal as well, and I didn’t think anyone would want to wear a t-shirt that said “Henry Yenter” on it, so I figured calling it “Ambrose” was a good compromise with myself. That way the clothes are still me. I decided I wanted to make stuff just for myself, because who knows what you want more than you? So I just started making sweatshirts for myself and wearing them to work and my coworkers and friends said they liked them. Fast forward almost two years, and I have a few different items under my belt. I really just call Ambrose a “project”; I really don’t like calling it a brand. It’s not a brand to me. Ambrose is my creative project that just happens to be clothes, and this is why there’s no main aesthetic for what I make. I draw inspiration from so many different things and I don’t want Ambrose to be limited to one style or type of clothing. This way, I’m free to make anything and everything. As for a target demographic, I guess you can say I make the clothes for kids like me. Any young kid in Chicago who wants to wear cool stuff, I hope they like Ambrose.

It’s cool to start making your own stuff in Chicago because I feel like there’s so many other young creative people here that it almost feels like being part of an exclusive group or something. Like once you start making art and putting it out there, its like you just got into this really cool club with all the other creative kids. It’s hard to explain.

What is the fashion scene here like and where do you see Ambrose in relation to that?

I think Chicago is very overlooked in terms of other cities like NY and LA. Like, where is our Supreme store? Where is our Bape store? I think Chicago needs more respect and love. I was super salty when they opened an RSVP in LA because it was so cool that RSVP was a Chicago thing, and now there’s one in LA. So that’s, like, one less thing that is exclusive to Chicago. I feel like with Joe leading the way and stuff you definitely feel like Chicago fashion might be more authentic than other cities’. Honestly I don’t want to speak on New York fashion ‘cause I feel like I don’t know that much about it, but I will tell you Chicago fashion is way better than LA fashion. LA sucks. People wear whatever they can to be different and feel cool but they all look really stupid. I hated every single person’s outfit that I saw when I was there. 

What do you think separates Chicago fashion from other primary locations (NYC, LA, etc)?

The whole fashion industry, from streetwear to luxury houses, owes Chicago. You’ve got two kids from Chicago who are the most influential people in the fashion world right now. The first one is Kanye West, probably the most influential person in fashion; he can wear something and it will be on eBay for ten times the retail price that same day. The second is Virgil Abloh, who is at Louis Vuitton now, which is insane. Both of them are two kids from Chicago and they’re running the fashion game right now. Not only that, but every single kid in Chicago right now who wants to make clothes looks up to Virgil and Kanye. 

How do you think young creatives in Chicago play a role in shaping Chicago’s fashion industry? Where do you guys see yourself and FALTO in regards to this?

I just want to have fun with Ambrose, keep making things I think are cool. I’m not super stressed over making money and stuff cause this is just a side project for me. It would become a real thing to me when I make more money from Ambrose than adidas. But the minute Ambrose stops being fun I would shut it down. 

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The “Dimensions” T-Shirt, available now. #AMBROSECHICAGO

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What are some accomplishments you are proud of so far?

I crossed the $1000 mark in sales at the end of 2018 which was cool. 

What is a favorite piece of yours?

I made this design called “Dimensions” that is two gradient squares with this trippy 3D hand coming between them that is pretty awesome, and I dropped that on a t-shirt but I felt like it didn’t get enough love so I just made it a hoodie recently that I’m gonna drop soon. I also made this Grim Reaper design that has a cream colored logo on it, which I think is gonna look awesome. 

FALTO and Ambrose are both, aesthetically, extremely different. As Kondrat and Thompson described, FALTO is a very avant-garde, bringing runway vibes to streetwear. Ambrose is more of a project that translates self-expression and art onto garments, while keeping a more minimalistic approach. Yet, none of the designers ever mentioned anything about hype. They don’t want to be the next Kim Jones. They just want to be the first and only versions of themselves and that is only possible through the genuine expression of their ideas through their craft. 

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