by Eugene Rabkin

"The Culture Ltd. is the new underground clothing label designed by Misaki Van Kampen. The label is all about mega-anarchy and subversion of our rock-bottom zeitgeist. Our culture, and therefore fashion culture and streetwear culture in particular, is handicapped, castrated, and lobotomized, or in other words Ė limited. Hence, ďThe Culutre Ltd.Ē With her samurai scissors Misaki slashes at the inanities of trends, such as people buying band tees just because Justin Bieber told them. She takes no prisoners when she exposes the likes of Jerry Lorenzo for a talentless hack that he is with her Fear of Originality tee, depicting him as the grave robber of other designersí ideas. On the back is the Fear of Originality Tour with hype stores instead of cities. You can also have a dumb iPhone case with its description on it, which is only as dumb as that Vetements hoodie you bought with its description on it. She gently pokes fun at designers she actually respects Ė there is a Rick Owens body pillow and a Raf Simons blanket. And so on.

Misaki is not a starving artist Ė well, she canít starve because she is an anime character. Thatís right Ė she is the first anime character fashion designer. Why? Why not? We already have virtual influencers and real life creative directors who donít know how to design Ė this is the next logical step. If Heron Preston can be a designer, why not Misaki? She was virtually (wink, wink) turned out by every fashion school. But fuck the system Ė Misaki has the Internet and no shortage of gumption. She is described as a nice person and she works hard, just like Virgil Abloh! Perhaps one day she can take over Dior Ė you never know. We caught up with Misaki to learn about her line and to get her views on the culture, limited.

Hi Misaki. Letís begin at the beginning. Why did you decide to make clothes?

Iíve been into clothes for a while but not as long as Iíve been into music. Heavy Metal and Punk Rock helped shape how I view the world. Much later I got into fashion. Martin Margiela, Sruli Recht, Jun Takahashi, and Rick Owens really opened my eyes. Until then I didnít realize fashion could be subversive and transformative in the same way as music. I didnít think Iíd ever have a chance to make clothes until I met my former mentor Mr. Culture. He was the one that opened my eyes to fashionís untapped potential. Iím making clothes because he believed in me.

How did you come up with the name for your brand?

Culture has become a commodity; itís one of the last things you canít create with an algorithm. Globalization is quickly erasing most of it and corporate entities are fighting over the last remaining scraps. With The Culture Ltd I want to draw attention to this fact.

The clothes you design, especially in their visual aspect, carry pointed criticism of the hypebeast culture that surrounds us. Could you elaborate on this aspect of your work?

Streetwear is just whatís popular right now, so it gets the majority of my criticism against fashion in general. Itís really just one facet of what I like to comment on though. Itís also something I genuinely like when it hasnít been twisted into a hobby for increasingly wealthy children. Streetwear was originally a vehicle for social criticism and a refuge for fashions outsiders, Iím just bringing it back to its roots.

Most interesting fashion, in my opinion, is connected to culture. I see the current impoverishment of fashion as reflecting the impoverishment of youth culture. But, hey, you are younger than me. Whatís going on with youth culture today the way you see it?

Pre-internet you had people who were willing to become totally obsessed with something. Thatís the only way subcultures like Goth could happen, because a handful of people were willing to re-arrange their entire lives around living out an idea. Then everyone else fed off that energy. We donít have the same thing anymore. We have aggregators and Wikipedia. Weíll reduce an entire genre of music into 15 albums and call it a day. In some ways Iím sad thereís not as many people getting deep into things, which is what lead to so much of the past great youth culture. On the other hand itís interesting that people are just into so many different things all at once."

Read the full interview on SZ-Mag