Not new by any stretch of the imagination, DIY artistry and those who do its bidding have encroached upon the streetwear space with a hyper-focused ferocity over the past few years. Artists who practice bespoke customizations sit at a unique place on the design spectrum and are continuously finding ways to push the envelop beyond what most others consider traditional. Creatives belonging to this close-knit community have a way of taking what’s familiar and twisting them in a way that touches on other creative arenas. Paterson, New Jersey native, Malcolm Garret is someone who has succeeded in applying his own brand of artistry over to the streetwear world.
urbancoolab was first put onto the unique styling sensitivities of Garret through fashionable footwear. While some make a living inflecting statement pieces like outerwear, tees, hoodies and pants, the creative’s initial medium of choice were hyped sneaker drops. Back in 2017, for instance, Garret remixed a pair of Air Jordan 1 HIgh’s that seamlessly tied in a rather subtle, yet monumentally historic hoops reference. His Air Jordan 1 “What the Legend” custom saw the famed silhouette take on the team colors of a legendary NBA trifecta; talking of course about Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. “Every artist is different in their now way. What makes me different is my use of colors, and how my specialty is making customs look like they could actually be company releases…My job is to provide customers with that one-of-one custom shoe that looks so factory it makes people say, ‘Damn, when do those come out?,’” Malcom explained in an interview with Nous Culture. It was in and around this time when Malcolm Garret became synonymous with custom creations. Don’t just take our word for it though, with such publications as HYPEBEAST, NiceKicks and Complex also singing the praises of his unique skillset.
Initially hitting the scene back in 2014 through custom kicks, Garret has slowly taken steps to expand into the activewear space; another dream he manifested into reality. His overarching goal has always remained the same; to have the Malcolm Garret brand be an authority within both shoes and apparel. With but a quick look through the artist’s extensive garment offering and it becomes abundantly clear where he draws artistic influence from. Littered across a range of T-shirts, hoodies, jerseys and crewneck pullovers are visual references to his alma mater, heritage sport cues and NBA hoops, of course.
His recent foray into custom apparel opened up the floodgates to his partnership with urbancoolab and its resident AI designer, STiCH. Garret found a way to bridge the gap between the heritage sensitivities his brand is founded upon and the futuristic implications of co-creating with artificial intelligence. Garret’s “Retired From Society” collection encapsulates this relationship in a way that honors his familial legacy. “What really inspired the idea was old family photos I was going through; reflecting on life and just realized how cool my family was and how they just did things in-house along with friends. It just seemed like at that time in that moment they where all “retired from society” and the norms that come with society,” Malcolm says when asked about where his designs stem from.
As evidenced trough his string of drops—be it custom sneakers or bespoke activewear, Malcolm Garret has a knack for highlighting nostalgia in a super respectful way. The manner in which he inflects his subjects can be looked at as genuine adaptations of experiences that sit outside the confines of tricky thematics. “It tells a story that I am using real lift situations to inspire those across the world, and that someone, somewhere feels the same way about their family,” he replies in context to what his collection says about him, adding “The way it relates is relatability in reality. We as creators create for us first and when the world catches on, we let go and we begin to create more for the world. So my brand is based on relatability and just not conforming to societal standards—we are retired from that, we are retired from society.”
For more on Malcolm Garret and his “Retired from Society” collection, be sure to drop by store.urbancoolab.com for a full look.