EXCLUSIVE: EYTYS COLLABORATES WITH SIMON MULLAN
Since launching in 2013, Swedish upstart label Eytys has become something of a cult favorite. The brand has introduced high tops, running shoes, and even tote bags, but its Mother sneaker remains a consistent winner. The classic style, a minimal silhouette refined with thick soles, waxed laces, and a cork insole, has been popular on the feet of those who prefer an elevated look among a sea of trite canvas sneakers. Like most emerging designers these days, Eytys is collaborative in nature, and leans towards the arts for inspiration when they find a shared ethos.
For the Fall 2016 season, Eytys collaborated with German artist Simon Mullan for two new takes on the Mother style. The sneakers are created with patchwork nylon, a visual element pulled directly from Mullan’s ongoing exhibit “Alpha,” in which Mullan considers how social tribes are formed from political frameworks, using the MA-1 bomber jacket as a starting point. “I have had a long interest in the MA-1,” Mullan recounts. “My first contact with it was when I was a teenager and I got chased by neo-Nazis in the skate park. So it kind of stuck in my mind as a uniform of fear.” That initial confrontation with the wardrobe staple piqued his curiosity. “I got interested in the story of the jacket. Who was wearing it first and how did it get to Europe? The MA-1 has a story from being a military jacket to becoming a subculture uniform to trendy high-end fashion houses.”
The collaboration with Eytys was a natural fit for Mullan. Besides their matching Gen-Y sensibilities (Eytys is pronounced ‘Eighties,’ the decade its designers and Mullan were all born), the influence of sneakers permeates many subcultures today in the same way bombers have done for decades. “I think each generation develops its own uniform in a sense, often starting off with a subculture that grows strong and in the end goes commercial or acts as inspiration for the mainstream. Sneakers are the uniform for Nineties kids in a similar way as bombers were for many of the Eighties kids growing up.” With Eytys, he was able to combine both of those things; his large textiles made from pieces of various bombers from different countries and cultures were the basis for the uppers of the sneakers. And while Mullan has connected many different people and places together using the MA-1, he’s also offered a direct link back: his personal phone number is printed on every pair. “The telephone number is what connects you to others and connections open doors, and obviously it’s a bit funny.”
Mullan has a sense of humor about his next solo exhibit at the viennacontemporary fair this weekend as well, and his drive to explore and decipher social boundaries is still present. “I’m continuing the exploration of social tribes, but in a very individual way. I booked a security guard that will be guarding my fiancée and me on the opening night,” he laughs. “I guess I want to pretend to be a celebrity for one night.” Nonetheless, Mullan is an optimist when it comes to such tribes and subcultures, an increasingly prominent feature of the modern world. “I definitely think it’s empowering, especially for individuals. Larger groups can be frightening, and being part of a smaller group can be easier to grasp,” he explains. “The internet has created a massive amount of smaller groups, allowing individuals from all over the world to build something together.”
Simon Mullan’s Mother sneakers are available now at Eytys.com.