Without undermining the artistry and merit of each individually, it would be tough to deny the kind of symbiotic relationship that exists between music and fashion.
Aside from the shared inspiration and the kind of creative bartering that exists between the two, the concept of individuality and being so fiercely, often remains the common denominator for longevity. The one-of-one's often stick around, while the ones that do well running en vogue, eventually fatigue.
California-based label REBEL8 has existed for two decades as that kind of one-of-one.
With no real intentions of securing their position among contemporaries in the ever-fluid world of streetwear, REBEL8, from its inception championed a unique originality that made comparisons tough, if not impossible to draw. Governed by a unique metric of success that prioritized integrity and authenticity over blowing up, the brand's presence permeated among those that subscribed to the same ideology. As a brand, from the onset, REBEL8 saw through the transparency of trends and decided from the jump to pave their own lane.
For nearly a generation, the brand has cultivated a rich subculture in the universe of streetwear with no regard for the rules of the game. Motivated entirely by their own vision of what the brand should convey, REBEL8 has never had to adhere to any formula for success - forging the kind of identity that makes their signature definitive, defiant, and ultimately, enduring.
Finding a kindred, non-conformist spirit, REBEL8's collaborative drop with Slipknot is the kind of joint effort that makes perfect sense. In following the chronology of the brand and the band, both took an especially similar path in establishing their own identity and doing so unapologetically. Both embraced their position as outsiders and understood early on that fitting in, be it with fashion or music, would ultimately mean quickly fading away.
In much the same way REBEL8's catalog crowbarred the conventions of streetwear from the get-go, Slipknot had kicked a hole in the landscape of heavy culture with a 1999 debut that both terrified and intrigued a whole new generation of fans. Both existed as an affront to their respective industries and in owning their creative dissent, their unwillingness to play it safe, their inability to compromise - both Slipknot and REBEL8 set the bar for themselves and have answered to only that personal artist mandate since.
One of one.
REBEL8 architect Josh D. detailed how the continued creative link between the brand and Slipknot further reiterates the kind of premium both place on authenticity, originality and prioritizing what's true over what's trendy.
REBEL8 has thrived as sort of an outlier in the world of streetwear. Do you see any parallels there when you align with a band like Slipknot who have made a career of not adhering to trends?
Josh D. - The parallels of Slipknot’s approach to not adhering to trends greatly aligns with REBEL8. REBEL8 has never really been accepted by the streetwear community. Probably for many reasons. Our core purpose has always been to deliver anti-authority sentiment and DIY attitude to the world through unique products. We take the approach of designing from within; putting out what we want, when we want, and how we want. Similarly, to Slipknot, we grew organically through word-of-mouth and continue to attract like-minded individuals from around the world.
When it comes to collaboration projects, a big name doesn’t always equal the right name. What made Slipknot align right with REBEL8?
Josh D. - I feel Slipknot aligned right with REBEL8 based on our intent and execution.
The REBEL8 approach to collaborative projects must solve a few things. Our first goal is to create something original. Originality is a prerequisite for everything we do. Secondly, we want to give our customers something unexpected that they love. And thirdly, we want to grow REBEL8 by reaching new people and exposing them to the brand. When it comes to choosing collaborative partners, if we can’t achieve all the above, then most likely we wouldn’t take on the project.
As Slipknot fans, when we design for the band, we add another level to the above outline. We put the Slipknot fan above everything else. I think that single intention is almost everything. It is why our REBEL8/Slipknot collaborative projects are successful. We ask ourselves what the Slipknot fan hasn’t ever seen but will love. And design through the lens of a real maggot.
The previous REBEL8 x Slipknot drop felt especially dark. The collection really tapped into a sinister style that really bridged the band and the brand well. How tough has it been narrowing down the designs that best represent both entities properly?
Josh D. - The difficulty of narrowing down the designs is more about ensuring we deliver a cohesive collection. We are typically never concerned with how the designs will represent both band and brand because we already solved that before we even started.
When we merchandise the line, we make sure that each product has a purpose and is just as special as the next. This is maybe why REBEL8/Slipknot collections haven’t been very large as in number of products but still make a big splash. Just like a band, the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
The brand has thrived for nearly two decades and still remains direct-to-consumer only. Do you think being elusive, kind of limiting the accessibility is part of what keeps REBEL8 relevant?
Josh D. - As a fashion brand we must acknowledge our place in the market and pay attention to relevancy, but our ability to stay in business for nearly two decades is due to our refusal to quit and positive mental attitude.
I started REBEL8 from my studio apartment with $500 back in 2003. I was twenty-two years old at the time and just wanted to put out unique t-shirts that represented what me and my friends were into. We couldn’t afford traditional advertising, so we relied heavily on word-of-mouth. The elusiveness of the brand was a byproduct of having no money. We only made a limited amount of product because I couldn’t afford to produce more. We enjoy operating on our own terms and controlling our narrative. I think people buy REBEL8 for what we make as much as why we make it. Purpose over product.
Slipknot has become one of those iconic bands who have truly evolved into a brand themselves. Wearing their t-shirt, their logo, it’s a statement. How does that correlate to REBEL8 and what excites you about that cross-section of consumer that sees a co-branded Slipknot x REBEL8 piece and understands why that makes sense.
Josh D. - Towards the end of 1999, I remember listening to the intro of Slipknot’s self-titled album and literally saying aloud, 'what the fuck is this?' I was completely blown away. I never heard anything like it before. I wasn’t surprised how quickly people became fans of the band. They were original in sound, on stage and their musicality remains to this day.
Both Slipknot and REBEL8’s ability to cultivate a community through authenticity and originality is why the collaborations makes sense. We share a similar message too. Slipknot is now more than a band and likewise, REBEL8 is more than just a clothing company. The co-branded products are the results of two worlds colliding and becoming united.
The REBEL8 x SLIPKNOT Spring capsule features all original art and includes a Pullover Hoodie with puff ink, Longsleeve Tee, two Graphic Tees including a co-branded 9-point star, two Made in USA Snapbacks, and two Skateboard Decks.
The collection drops January 27th at 12pm PT exclusively via REBEL8.com