When Camella Ehlke founded her legendary label 555 Soul in 1989, she was laying down the ethoses and attitudes that would shape the world of fashion and design today. Her vision gave rise to countless streetwear brands and her perspective on repurposed materials is echoed through many of the products we feature on FUTUREVVORLD.
It is no surprise, then, that she was often in conversation with Virgil Abloh. Conversations that would eventually lead to this collection of 19 one-of-a-kind chairs made with overstock fabrics and recycled garments, curiously named “Hey What’s Up?”
Recalling one of those conversations, Ehlke said, “Virgil and I were a constant river of ideas flowing….he was the first person I spoke to about working with brands’ overstock, and he was the first to say yes.” Abloh shipped surplus and sample yardage from Off-White’s Milan fabric house, and it was this donation that gave Ehlke the impetus to start creating this collection.
Along with surplus garments from Noah, Awake NY and others, Ehlke sewed and weaved these fabrics into found and donated furniture, including the classic Eames Molded Plywood Lounge Chair.
Laces wrap themselves around chair legs. Hoodies and fleeces create new organic forms. T-shirts reupholster the backs of chairs. The result is a playful and unique collection that uses streetwear language and blurs the boundary of functional and non-functional.
Abloh was a longtime fan of Ehlke and her work, and blurring boundaries was often the objective of his own projects. Collaborations were his way of questioning why we segment different design forms. From Levi’s to IKEA, evian to Nike, he showed how labels could be turned on their head.
In this collection, every piece is like a collaboration in itself. There is a sense of community, created through the use of New York based streetwear labels. As Ehlke did in her 555 Soul days, each piece is sewn in her Brooklyn apartment. In those days, she rummaged through the joblots of fashion designer’s leftovers, collecting a patchwork of different textiles, colors and patterns to use in 555 Soul items. Back then, she said that it was common sense to recycle beautiful and high-quality overstock. It’s only in the last couple years that other brands have realized this too.
“Hey What’s Up?” is a conversation starter in many ways. It questions form and function, old and new, waste and opportunity. It makes us think of the conversations that occurred between these two legendary designers.
Remembering her chats with Abloh, Ehlke said, “I actually had this conversation with Virgil during the pandemic where I was like, Well, I don’t want to buy fabric. I don’t want to start a brand, I just want to start sewing and to make stuff.”
That’s certainly what she has achieved here. The collection is a uniquely individual celebration of one person’s love of streetwear, design and the act of making.
“Hey What’s Up?” is available through GBA (Guilty By Association), a new conceptual digital art and commerce space. You can see more of the collection and shop the chairs on the GBA website.