An Introduction to AMIRI
If you’ve been paying attention to fashion over the past few years (and if you’re reading this I can assume you have) you will have noticed a massive resurgence in a grunge/punk/rock ‘n’ roll aesthetic, an aesthetic that has both been adopted in full and shattered into a thousand fleeting trends, from distressed and overdyed garments to the now ubiquitous band merch. Although the progenitors of this style were of course the subcultures themselves, the resurgent aesthetic was pioneered, like much of contemporary menswear, by Raf Simons and his eclectic references, and has grown in popularity due to the work of men like Hedi Slimane, Jerry Lorenzo and Kanye West, who you can thank for the fact that now even Zayn Malik is peddling heavy-metal themed merchandise. But in the last year or so a new name has emerged and is taking things to a whole new level of punk-luxe: that name is Mike Amiri.
Born and raised in Los Angeles, Amiri grew up with two other brothers and spent most of his time, in his own words, “being a young punk”, an upbringing whose experience and evidence can be seen in the pieces the designer produces. Ripped flannels, distressed jeans, shredded tees and stained denim jackets; Amiri’s clothes look like they’ve been pulled right out of 1980s Los Angeles and realized in full Parisian splendor, the kind of thing you’d expect Steven Tyler to wear with his Chrome Hearts jewelry. With shirts crafted from French silk, denim sourced from Italy, and jersey and terry from Japan (according to Amiri, the mill that supplies them only produces for one other label: Chanel). The quality of the clothing easily rivals and probably surpasses that of many well-established houses, and this is a point Amiri prides himself on. Noting that many of the finishes and details present in his garments aren’t applied by well-known labels because, “either they don’t want to do [them], or it’s very difficult for them to do in such a mass way”. In fact, so important is this point of difference to the designer that the label’s first major investment was their own personal washhouse, where Amiri’s team puts in the painstaking work that sets his garments apart, work that includes hand sanding shirts to remove their silk sheen, hand pleating leather for the MX1 jeans, and applying stacking and waxing to jackets, denim and even boots.
There will inevitably be those who seek to criticize Amiri’s vision – and in many ways it does seem contradictory to be making ‘punk’ jackets that retail for upwards of $1500 – of contrived wear and tear, but there is an authenticity to what he does that is endearing. This isn’t a label that has been cooked up just to cash in on the current trends, rather it is the passion and lived experiences of one man translated into clothing and executed at the highest possible level. It may seem a little odd to pay hundreds or even thousands of dollars for a jacket that has intentionally been stained and destroyed (see: every Hypebeast comment relating to the Yeezy line) but then again this is not a line aimed at your average consumer, and unlike some high-end labels, Amiri’s prices seem justified – seriously, go look at one of his shearlings and tell me that isn’t the softest wool you’ve ever seen outside of a farm. The prices may be high, but the effort and commitment to quality certainly justifies it, even if you won’t spot any of the pieces at your next punk show. Whether you love it, hate it, or simply couldn’t give a shit, there is no denying that Mike Amiri has brought his own unique vision from the streets of LA to stores and magazines around the world, and as of right now he is on set to blow up.