by Erothe, Stephen Biga
June 20–22, 2014
This body of work is inspired by the Japanese—American cultural predicament in the United States during World War II. After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, most all of the Japanese—Americans living in America were placed into cultural internment camps to live, work and raise their families. This past summer, Stephen took a road trip 5 hours northeast of Los Angeles into the desert to see one of these camps. The site had an inexplicable aura that connoted a certain nostalgia and rich history that he could not previously conceptualize. While taking pictures on the site, he noticed a baseball diamond underneath some weeds—a quintessential element of American culture in an environment that was pseudo—American; it was this discovery that immediately inspired him. The resulting collection is meant to pay homage to the Japanese-American people within this historical framework—in part by mixing the femininity of traditional Japanese costume with the archetypal tropes of masculinity present in 1940’s American menswear. By mixing Japanese textiles and design details with classic elements of vintage baseball uniforms and mens formalwear, he aims to create an imagined and nostalgic aesthetic identity that harmoniously blends these two cultures that at one time were not allowed to coexist.
Erothe is an imagined past–tense of erosion, conceived phonically from erode and writhe—two verbs that constitute the physicality and fragility of human memory. The clothing under this name works to excavate certain histories, to then aesthetically and reparatively tell new tales. Each garment speaks to the impossibility of ever truly changing the past, and looks more towards a nostalgic futurity. Erothe is meant to reflect the histories that have already been transcribed, and work to rewrite the past through our autonomy in the present.
Stephen Biga was born in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1991. He has always been drawn to two things—the art of dressing oneself, and the study of history as an academic discipline. His work suggests that history as we have been told is not so linear, but rather part of a larger human collage of untold stories. With a heavy emphasis on research and the developmental design process, he works to comb the hair of history, disassemble our knowledges, and suture them back together to become part of a new narrative. Stephen graduated as a Chase Scholar from Parsons The New School for Design in 2014 with a BFA in Fashion Design, concentrating in womenswear, and is currently completing a BA in Culture and Media Studies at Eugene Lang The New School for Liberal Arts. While in fashion, he has worked for design and production teams at Rodarte and Proenza Schouler in Los Angeles and New York City.
Photography courtesy of Grace Donelly