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How is a collaboration with Brain Dead born?

We asked Kyle Ng, the brand's co-founder

How is a collaboration with Brain Dead born? We asked Kyle Ng, the brand's co-founder

2019 was the year of techwear. For winter collections, the fashion world has looked to technical clothing both for its technological innovations, and for a form of nostalgia for nature and the great outdoors. It was also the case of The North Face, which this year pressed the accelerator on collaborations creating techwear collections together with Junya Watanabe, Dr. Martens, Supreme and, more recently, with Brain Dead. Most of these brands need no introduction, except perhaps Brain Dead, a niche streetwear brand for which 2019 was a year of grace, and which co-created with The North Face a collection of nine items dominated by psychedelic graphics inspired by high-altitude expeditions.

On the occasion of the drop of the collection, Kyle Ng, co-founder of the brand, arrived in Milan. Shortly before the official event in the pop-up store in Milan, nss magazine met him to talk about his brand, his passions and above all what two seemingly different brands like Brain Dead and The North Face have in common.

Kyle NG is a great expert in underground cinema, art and music, especially 70s Italian horror and Japanese kaiju movies, and his passion is reflected in his work. His passions and his Australian partner, Ed Davis, play a key role in the creation of brand bosses.

«We weren’t really interested in the idea of fashion for the brand but more like culture through our own identitites and our love», Kyle told us. «I’m just really interested in things that push the limits of mentality or avant-garde and ideas that become different than the normality of life».

The aesthetic spree of Brain Dead draws in full hands from the love of the two partners for underground cinema, punk culture and everything that witnesses not only a strong imagination but «an extreme mindset». The continuous search for the innovative and breaking element, of escapism from the predetermined canon, filtered through the cultural awareness of the two creatives, is what makes Brain Dead a brand with an unsuspectingly cerebral aesthetic. During the interview, Kyle focused on the concept of mind and mindset several times, understood as a framework that organizes the experience and life of the designer and, consequently, his creative output.

The main theme of the collaboration is therefore «the pioneering spirit of culture». During the interview, Kyle also told us about his way of working. His partner researches graphics and references and then assembles them into collages while he takes care of putting them in the context of the brand. It is from this work to two that comes the eclecticism of the brand, its sincerity and its independence from trends. Kyle considers fashion trends like movie genres. Taking science fiction cinema as an example (Ridley Scott's Alien is one of his favorites) compares his interpretation of the hiking trend to a movie:

«What’s your take on making your next science fiction film, right? Or how do you take it and flip it? [...] You take something that’s popular andyou almost put your relation to it».

For his and his partner's work, so based on research and culture of the past, the Internet is a source of inspiration but it can also hide dangers. "Algorithmic mind" is how Kyle defines it, talking about those factors that drive collective taste through social media. His and Ed's mission becomes not to fall back on the obvious, to create something that surpasses the reality of everyday life and shows that there is nothing algorithmic or piloted in one's work. The founding value of Brain Dead? Do not evoke distant worlds but " making items that you took away from a physical experience".

Watch nss magazine's interview with Brain Dead's co.founder Kyle Ng in the video below.