Vaquera Is Challenging the Rules of Fashion

Vaquera Is Challenging the Rules of Fashion

The brand founded by a quartet of designers keeps growing, becoming a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist this year.



The brand founded by a quartet of designers keeps growing, becoming a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist this year.

Text: MATHIAS ROSENZWEIG

This article appears in the pages of V112, on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazinedigitalshop.com.

Vaquera’s narrative feels like a coming-of-age story. Patric DiCaprio, Bryn Taubensee, Claire Sully, and David Moses launched what’s now gone from a small, Brooklyn-based label to a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist in under four years. Like a creative teenager, they’re working their way through an often humorous and nonsensical identity crisis, a dilemma they experienced as a rapidly growing label and that is mirrored by the conversation around identity in America today.

“It’s difficult for us to transition from being this small team hand-making everything to having all these eyes on us,” Taubensee says of the shift. They harnessed their own struggle with identity into their Spring 2018 Ready-to-Wear collection, which featured shorts covered in license-plate imagery; a sailor with exaggerated, asymmetrical sleeves; a radically oversized button-down business shirt paired with a floor-length tie; and—in severe contrast—a mundane white tank with white pants.

“I think the challenge now is staying true to yourself and not getting caught up in anything that could hinder that,” DiCaprio says of the brand’s evolution. “We just want to be aware of our audience and more people paying attention to us, but still stay true to the things we’ve been saying for years. We still believe in them.”

One thing the brand believes in is their controversial take on recontextualizing fashion from other labels. “True innovation is an illusion. All current work is built on a structure of past work. This has always been true. What has changed is an awareness of this structure. Tumblr, Instagram, and a general awareness of visual media have finally shed light on the artistic process,” they wrote in a collective statement. “We embrace this change and aren’t afraid of using it...referencing the masters of your medium is the PAST, PRESENT, and FUTURE of design. These issues of ownership were already explicitly addressed by Marcel Duchamp and Andy Warhol more than 50 years ago.”

Without question, the criticism has done little to hinder Vaquera. Now, the quartet is focused not only on their growth, which inspired an entire collection, but learning the other facets of fashion outside of creativity. For them, the business aspect is relatively new. “It’s not something any of us are naturally inclined to do, but that’s why it’s interesting,” says DiCaprio. “That’s why I started making clothes in the first place. I didn’t have any formal training, but I wanted to work at it until I figured it out. I did, and I think we can do the same thing with developing our business.”

Photography Simon Gosselin, Courtesy Atlein

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