Sunday, 27 April 2014

ZX Flux-in with Gavin Watson for Planet Notion

Eras in Flux: Gavin Watson Interview

adidas are on fire right now and I’m not going to even begin to the long list of collaborations they have out/upcoming at this point in time… Pharrell, Mary Katrantzou… will it end? We hope not. Needless to say the German giants know how to keep us on our toes, get it? Ok puns aside, last week’s sneaker freaker news saw the launch of the ZX Flux – Original DNA and what better way to celebrate its launch than to collaborate with British photographer Gavin Watson, looking at the impact of the iconic design in the UK over the last 25 years. It all started in 1989 when the ZX8000 pioneered technology with its performance attributes – who knew that years later it would come to have the cultural resonance it does today. Talking trainers and subcultures, I caught up with Watson who captures the ZX Flux in its latest form as a testament to the style conscious creative’s it originally drew in.

What impact did the ZX 8000 have on subcultures when it was first released in 1989?
When it was first released in 1989, the ZX 8000 shoe became a style staple that crossed all style boundaries – thriving throughout the evolution of UK sub-cultures. I'm not a trainer geek but the ZX 8000 has a very distinctive shape and that caught the eye of many a rave goer. I'm not sure you can say it had a direct impact on sub cultures but it was intrinsic to what was associated with that era, as are many outfits, colours and shapes from that time until the present day.

How did you get into photography?
I was 14, very shy, lonely and isolated. I didn't really have any friends and considered to be living in my own world. I always wanted to draw cartoons as I was a good young artist but my biggest barrier was that I was full of insecurities. Alongside cartoons, I was heavily into astronomy. I went to Woolworths and found a pair of binoculars I really wanted and in the same cabinet was the camera, so I purchased them both. The camera was a Hanimex big 110 and I started snapping away - as soon I got the first batch off pictures back I knew I wanted to be a photographer. The images were so different, so sharp and crystal clear. I was shocked that I was capable of producing something so beautiful. I wasn't at college or even employed so photography became my thing.
At the time, did you even see yourself as documenting what became a cultural movement?
In all honesty, I was just into my mates. I liked hanging around with them and I was so into photography so I just started documenting them. I had to photograph the raves because it was my mates plus the rest in their element, just being them. I started to put the images into the library and let them build up. The guys who were organising the raves asked me to take photos and that's how I became known in the raving scene – by becoming an integral team member. Raving 89’ came about purely from enjoying my younger years with my mates! I was compelled to capture a golden era because it was close to me; I never thought it would become a moment of history 20 years later.  

What is the aesthetic behind Eras in Flux? What did you want to communicate?
I wanted to showcase a retrospective of iconic British underground music movements updated with the latest ZX offering. I really wanted to communicate a feel for each genre. I wanted the specialist to identify the authenticity from eras spanning acid house (late 80s), jungle (early-mid 90s), garage (mid-late 90s), and grime (early-mid 00s). I wanted it to be clearly distinguished so that people can actually say 'that's what I was dressed in back in the day'.

Do you feel sneaker culture is a subculture within itself?
Absolutely - it boggles my mind! I genuinely didn't realise people are train-spotters for manufactured products. I just had no idea! I find it fascinating from a complete outsider’s point of view.  My mate Nick from Crouch End is a trainer train-spotter and he's the only guy I've really known who has anything to with the scene and now I know loads like him!  I've enjoyed shooting the adidas ZX Flux product so I understand it a little better now but I won't be building a collection, let’s leave it there!

How has the ZX family developed significantly over the last 25 years? 
With every release through the years the ZX has created a new energy and loudness which started back at its birth in '89. The notable differences have been the colour and texture updates but most importantly, it's never lost its 'bounce' and each release, including the current Flux, is another step in continuing the ZX journey. 
What impact has it had?
The greatest impact of the ZX 8000 shoe can be measured in its cultural resonance, bridging ever-sprawling underground music movements. Now in 2014 the ZX Flux is a testament to the style conscious creatives & relentless passion that first brought ZX 8000 to the streets.
Looking back through the lens, in which ways have you seen streetwear/ street culture change?
For many years people defined communities by defining the streetwear they wore and the cultures they were associated with. I feel everything now has a lot less distinction, whether that's good or bad is up to each individual. The nice thing about looking back at the last 25 years of music sub culture, and shooting a campaign to reflect it was being able to clearly identify each genre with the rich product available and the help of the incredible team around me.

What do you like most about collaborating with adidas Originals?
Because it's adidas. That's all I can say. Pretty big fucking deal.

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