Exploring Hyper-Masculinity with le PÈRE

Exploring Hyper-Masculinity with le PÈRE

By Andrew NguyenMay 13, 2024

The best work is often made through collaborations. Debuted in 2022, le PÈRE is a new brand whose ethos and collections are entirely based on that mindset by tapping into a community of creatives, which it calls "the Quartier," ranging from emerging to established artists, designers, photographers, illustrators, musicians, DJs and creators around the world.

"The closer we became with this community, the more we realized that one of the best ways these visual artists could express themselves in the real world, and connect their art with people, was to use clothing and fashion as the canvas for their work," Abhi Janamanchi, brand director and founder of le PÈRE, tells PAPER.

The brand just debuted their Spring 2024 collection, "MASCULIN FÉMININ." For this fourth full collection, Janamanchi wanted to explore hyper-masculinity by working with artists Tony Camaro and Ema Gaspar. While Camaro is a multimedia artist and Gaspar is a renowned Portuguese illustrator, the two speak to the same themes of childhood exploration and adolescent wonder. It all came together in the campaign and lookbook featuring Anwar Hadid, and inspired by French New Wave cinema.

Below, PAPER chatted with Janamanchi about owning a record label, building a creative community and how hyper-masculinity can be explored through clothing.

Tell me about the inception of le PÈRE. What gave you the nudge to start it in 2022?

While building the music label AWAL, we discovered a fascinating network of young creators, supremely talented in graphic design, illustration, photography and visual arts — all influencing pop culture in a seismic way. This emerging creative community was making some of the most iconic and influential art and style of our generation, for everyone ranging from Frank Ocean to Kaytranada, Aminé, Post Malone, Brockhampton and Travis Scott. The closer we became with this community the more we realized that one of the best ways these visual artists could express themselves in the real world, and connect their art with people, was to use clothing and fashion as the canvas for their work. And despite their large followings on social media, most lacked the resources and access to work in fashion.

Le PÈRE was then founded as a vehicle and clothing brand that seeks to collaborate with these emerging graphic artists to bring their work to life throughout each collection. The creation of the brand in some ways was inevitably tied to the pandemic itself, specifically how so many visual artists and graphic designers would find new and innovative ways of exploring their creative practice through different digital platforms. Le PÈRE felt like the natural evolution of that process as a means of manifesting this ethos into physical garments.

What was the inspiration for this collection?

This collection continues our emphasis on the exploration of a more expressive masculinity, marrying the world of contemporary menswear and elevated athletics-inspired silhouettes with the playful artwork of our two collaborators — Ema Gaspar and Tony Camaro. This motif evokes a sense of a return to adolescence which carries a level of sophistication and accessibility that elevates much of the child-like graphic play. We sought to juxtapose traditionally hyper-masculine pieces, such as muscle tanks and sports jerseys, with subversive layers of sensuality and double entendres.

How do you subvert hyper-masculinity in clothing, exactly?

Traditional masculine clothing tends to find its roots in “macho” styles and silhouettes like workwear, military details, sports uniforms. But when pushed toward hyper-masculinity and layered with expressive graphics, these same styles become much more complex and begin to convey more mature attitudes full of emotion and sensuality. At the beginning of our design process, we may start with a coach’s jacket, a football kit, painter pants or a bomber jacket, and experiment in different ways to pull out these layers and attitudes, searching for a playful and slightly subversive juxtaposition between the different extremities on the spectrum of masculinity.

Were there any specific references when conceptualizing all of this?

The campaign itself was heavily influenced by French New Wave cinema. The name, Masculin Féminin, comes from an iconic Jean-Luc Godard film and felt like an apt description of the clothing. The fluidity of the styles themselves and the ease with which both women and men can wear them was reflected in the name.

Narratively, this lookbook envisions the artist living and working in their space of creative solitude. Featuring different scenes of the artist in and around their home, the lookbook contrasts the playful and sensual nature of the collection with the visual references and composition of these films. Helmed by Conor Cunningham, this shoot juxtaposes his vibrant, glossy style with the classical, nostalgic perspective of these film references.

Has it been challenging going from the music industry to fashion?

Our team is unique for a fashion brand as half of us come from the music industry, helping nurture artist careers while also building one of the biggest independent record labels (AWAL). That experience of working with creatives all across the spectrum to collaborate on creating worlds around these musicians felt like a seamless transition to what we’ve created with le PÈRE.

The other half of the brand brings more of a traditional fashion background and experience as our designer Sam cut his teeth at companies like Thom Browne and R13, which have played a huge part in shaping our design sensibilities and language.

How has it been so far launching a new brand?

Like many startups, it feels like we’re always working on a million different things with limited resources. I think that kind of pressure ultimately allows you to be more nimble, but it’d be nice to clone each of ourselves too. The challenge of learning to prioritize and not taking on too many projects for the brand has been a valuable lesson as well as helping us hone in our unique perspective. Alignment with our community is always the first thing we think about when presented with different opportunities for collaborations, events and other touchpoints for le PÈRE.

But the experience of launching a new brand is invaluable. It’s the culmination of the efforts of all of these talented individuals working together to craft a world around the clothes and watching that evolve. We’ve been lucky enough to see our community grow here in NYC, and the addition of our flagship store has enabled us to create a physical experience for people to engage with the brand.

Photography: Conor Cunningham