Band of Outsiders' debut on the Paris schedule came not with a runway, but with a window. Scott Sternberg, who has resorted to musical theater and indoor rappelling in the past to show his collections, skipped the catwalk altogether this time. He drafted a manifesto and stuck a model in the window of a small gallery in the Marais for 60 hours. Changing outfits periodically, Sternberg's protagonist ate, slept, read, and did whatever else one does for 60 hours at a clip for the street to see—and, via live stream, the world. (Relieved of duty, the model reported he'd been both asked out and mooned during his stint as window dressing.)
"It's the most impactful thing I've ever done," said Sternberg, who, like the rest of his boiler-suited team, had installed himself at the gallery along with the model, changing his clothes, photographing his looks (with a clock behind him in each shot to time-stamp the scene). "OK, guys, we have the Internet, and we have fashion shows, and we have guys walking down the runway—that's cool. But there's so much other content we can be creating." As of yesterday, he said, the stream had had 25,000 unique visitors, versus the 200 or so he could've fit at a traditional show. Put that way, it was easier to see why he'd created the logo and emblem of the collection as a pair of quotation marks with nothing in between them: hot air. He called them a protest symbol—protesting shows.
The theme of protest was touched on throughout the collection, from the hooded anorak and poncho inspired by those worn by Wall Street occupiers to the shibori-dyed evening jacket and shorts look, like an upscaled version of the tie dye sixties radicals preferred. But most of the protest resided in the medium, not the message. The collection riffed on the codes and shapes Band has been establishing throughout its nine years, from its rake-thin cut to cute prints. New versions of old favorites returned, like the sweatsuit (here in plain terry cloth as well as argyle print) and the classic chino. "It's not like I'm making a fashion statement here," Sternberg said. "You realize after a while, your fabric is your brand. Your fit is your brand. They want to see the same thing in a fresh way every time."
He gave the people what they wanted, and there's more of them wanting it than ever. So first the audience swells; then the range will follow. "I feel really good about the brand's potential not to be this little esoteric project for skinny guys," the designer said. "The next ten years is about the core and spirit." There's plenty of room to grow. "Germany loves our brand, can't fit into one thing," he added with a chuckle. "The shoes do really well there." In the meantime, he's putting on one of menswear's best shows.