When people discuss the Chicago Renaissance, the idea that art, music, fashion and it’s peripheries are operating at a significantly high level here, there is often an ideal that is credited for the good fortune of the creators within it: getting along. That sentiment is woven into every inch of the collaboration between local clothiers, Eugene Taylor Brand and OG Brand who came together to produce a denim-heavy line under the appropriate banner, ‘Work With Friends’.
That motto makes sense, given the fact that the faces behind the two brands, Tesha Renee and Olivia Goodman are longtime friends that borrowed aspects of one another’s inspiration and design to create their latest release which went on sale at WorkWithYourFriends.com over the weekend and has a pair of close acquaintances, the Social Experiment’s Peter CottonTale and Greg Landfair as the featured models.
“This is my first collaboration I’ve ever done and rolled out. I think that we have really identifiable styles and I think it was about infusing what we’re both good at,” explained Goodman at the release’s photoshoot last month. “I like the idea of calling it raw because obviously that’s an elementof the collection that is the most consistent throughout. Also, I feel like when we break down all the shit, all the drama, all the bullshit that happens or goes on in a scene, after you break all that shit down you really start to realize a raw and real friendship.”
That friendship has been a core ideal for Renee and Goodman and the design motifs and choices of resources speak both to the city’s obvious broad shoulders and it’s careful eye for detail that has put it at the forefront across many disciplines. Here, though, it’s all-out fun, which is a welcome escape for both designers who spend much of their time creating one-off works for big name acts or spending time realizing other’s visions serving in different capacities and on assorted projects.
“I started working for a brand in Chicago that is a huge brand globally and you get can caught up in being part of a corporate world, a corporate structure,” said Goodman. “I feel like when you’re 9-5 working for someone else with other people’s expectations, other people’s guidelines, other people’s visions you start to lose sight of your own.”
“Well for me I think we incorporated a lot of each other within it. So it really is outside of it being an actual collaboration, it truly is a mixing of the two of us as designers. With the raw, my first collection was completely raw, and going back there. The circles, the color, deciding on a color, a fabric, even deciding on a second fabric, all of it was a very raw process,” explained Renee. “And denim is a very democratic material I think that its something that shows up across the board, it’s a very ‘for all’ fabric. I think that was a very neutral material that was able to transform and mold into what we created.”
In their own rights, each Renee and Goodman have had marked successes in their own individual line releases (Eugene Taylor/OG Brand), in the process working on projects and outfits for the likes of SZA, The Social Experiment, Eryn Allen Kane and many others. While continuing on their own, working in silos and seeing each other as competition would be a wholly midwestern thing to do, it also would run as a counter-balance to those previously stated ideals of the renaissance. True to the fellow artists that exist in mutual orbit, these two decided to come together for something more than just selling clothes or putting their name out their. By putting aside ego, it at once underlined both the idea of ‘Work With Friends’ and the overriding sentiment that birthed the environment they now inhabit.
“Honestly we were hoping to inspire people with the fact that we’re two different brands, two different styles and we’re both from the same place and there’s so much competition and you don’t see people trying to come together and my side of that is that I like to bring people togerther and try to get people to do that,” said Renee. “This is someone that I believe in as an artist and then she wants to grow with me, that alone is special. Shining a light on that and trying to kind of shed light on that issue and people coming together, just trying to inspire that positivity is a big part of it.”
This particular release isn’t expected to give start to a wholly new brand, but the pair are certainly not closing the door on the possibility.
“I think we have a really great working relationship, like we work really well together and Tesha never says no to me, she’s always like ‘yes, and’ and I think that’s whats going to continue to drive us working together,” Goodman said. “And we’re both really inspired by meanswear anyway and I think that we’re both women that admire streetwear and how do we evolve that? So down the line I’d definitely be open to doing a women’s line that is inspired by menswear completely.”