Wed, May 24, 23
With the launch of the exclusive L.A. based label SECOND/LAYER here at Tenue de Nîmes, we decided that it was a no brainer to talk a bit more with Second/Layer's Art Director and Designer Ant de Padovane. We spoke with him about what his inspirations are, his period as a lead design at Stüssy and the philosophy behind the brand SECOND/LAYER. Read the interview down below and get to know more about one of the faces behind the amazing brand.
From left to right: Ant de Padovane (SECOND/LAYER), Rudy Ross (Tenue de Nîmes) and Joshua Willis (SECOND/LAYER).
Tell us about your start in fashion: is there a history of fashion in your family/youth? What were your inspirations and style icons growing up? I.e. what do you think made you become a designer?
"Besides my grandfather being the Suavecito that he was, there was no connection to my family being involved in fashion industry and the path I chose which I realized early in life. My background is within design and branding However, I was more interested in obscure music and design. With Stüssy being my first job out of graduating college, I had no formal education in tailoring or pattern making. Everything I learned was through applying myself in deconstructing, reconstructing and by learning from mistakes along the way. Tak Kato from Carve, 06+ and Blends, was a mentor for both my partners and myself. In 2002, he introduced us to brands like Mason Margiela, Comme des Garçons, Undercover, Shoegaze music, and Surrealist films. Tak put us on game at an early age, and I am forever grateful for it. We would also do things like estate sales and digging into vintage, furniture and strange items. It’s important for a designer to cast a wide net of influences or at least be informed, then narrow down your focus to maintain a strong point of view."
Ant de Padovane's grandfather (left).
Who are some of your mentors or inspirations when designing?
"Music sets the tone for me. Proto-Western Mexican rockabilly, low rider oldies, cold electronic music, synth wave and industrial. Our process always starts with the fabrics, where we try to let the fabrics speak to us. After that the story follows, but we're not trying to create it with a whimsical seasonal fantasy. The SECOND/LAYER Spring/Summer 2023 collection emphasizes a calm and cool demeanour in the importance of tailor-made daily wear, and the confidence for being a smooth gentleman- Suavecito. Oldies meets New-Wave Romantic."
You of course were lead design for Stüssy for a long time, how has this shaped your design philosophy and what do you take from this time into your journey with SECOND/LAYER?
"While working under Paul Mittleman for 9 years at Stüssy, I was given the opportunity to hone in on a wide range of skill sets- from Graphic Design/Illustration, Textile Design, Clothing Design, Hats/Bags/Accessory Design, Styling, Special Projects etc. It became my graduate school after finishing college."
Having read that Jacob and Joshua’s drive was ultimately to do their own thing, what was the defining moment for you personally when you felt it was time to leave Stussy behind and dive in the deep end with your partners and start SECOND/LAYER?
"After 9 years of working at Stüssy, it was time for a new challenge. I moved to Paris in 2011, and after about a year of living abroad- my partners and I started conceptualize the idea for what became SECOND/LAYER. Then it was time to return home. We started out with a capsule collection inspired by '87-'93 Armani campaigns, that were the Paolo Roversi and Ray Petri days- Pachuco Culture, with a skate/surf undertone. Our first pieces were offerings of woolen shirt jackets, unstructured suiting, pleated trousers and elevated essentials. The early SECOND/LAYER days were what we called ‘Chicano Minimalism’. We sourced mostly vintage deadstock Armani fabrics from the local tailor shop. We would take turns skating around downtown, zig-zagging from factory to factory, picking up materials, dropping off materials, cutting fabrics, gradings, wash houses etc. It was a crazy time! We made lots of mistakes and learned along the way."
As you mentioned before, SECOND/LAYER creates tailor-made daily-wear. With this vision, do the brand’s collections attempt to bridge areas of fashion or is it meant to be seen as an entirely new genre of fashion? And does the brand gravitate more towards high-fashion through its great quality, or towards street-wear through its roots?
"Since the beginning, the proposition with SECOND/LAYER was to have the flexibility to transition from day to night: tailor-made daily wear. A morning surf session, afternoon Rafla cruise, Modelo pre-game, and hit the club after, all in the same fit. SECOND/LAYER bridges the gap between luxury and contemporary wear."
The inspiration behind SECOND/LAYER comes from you and your partners’ upbringing/lifestyle in California and its inhabitants - a ‘Suavecito’ vibe. How would you attempt to make someone on the other side of the globe try to understand what this vibe makes you feel like, and essentially how your clothing plays a part in that?
"A Suavecito is someone who approaches life with a certain finesse and charm-a smooth gentleman. The boys and I are Mexican, we grew up in the Mexican/American street culture of the 90’s, and this was our climate. Suavecito was taught to use since we were kids, by taking pride in how we dress (weather or not we abided by this). We pay homage to the Vatos (men) that we saw in our neighborhood, they always looked clean and everyone knew they were a Suavecito. It wasn’t really our way back then though, as we always went the opposite of whatever was imposed on us. We were more a kind of skate rats in our youth, but as adults – these early influences found its way back to us."
Lastly: You create various playlists for the brand - how important is music in the brand’s production process and vision?
"Music sets the tone each season, SECOND/LAYER is all about the vibe. We created the ‘The Body Electric’ – Dysfunctional Grooves for SECOND/LAYER’s, Spring/Summer 2023 Collection." Listen to it through Spotify right here.
Browse the collection online or come and see the amazing collection in our Elandsgracht 60 store in Amsterdam. See some of the looks below:
Celebrating 50 years of Patagonia
Wed, Oct 04, 23
New Balance 650: Basketball Heritage
Thu, Sep 28, 23
Celebrating the Tenue de Nîmes Shoe Store opening
Thu, Jul 27, 23