One of the newer labels on the scene, the Organization of Returning Fashion Interest, has set out to change things. Bostonian ORFI founders Scott Kruger & Don Hearn met at the Rhode Island School of Design and started joint post RISDY activities by entering heady architectural competitions. They were reunited mid-'90s in NYC - and joined by artist Ana Gonzales - while the group built conceptual seaside cities in Japan and worked state day jobs like "surveying mental institutes". The state mental institution gig that spanned over the course of a year provided an intense study in multi-level sociological examination, as they audited the square foot usage of each hospital campus by dividing each psychiatric disease by floor, wall petition, tower, environment, and so on. The crew spent their down time producing art galleryesque video events and soaked in all things that dissected urban existence.
It was almost impossible to come home and not take a closer look at Manhattan's multi-tiered society - both physical and mental - through the same lenses. Obsessed with space first, and driven by a common idea to create more group-expressive product and less service, ORFI found its home headquarters at 13 Prince Street which houses their retail venue - "Hotel of the Rising Star". Exploration of the mass exodus underground and the mole people that live there - ended up on ORFI's first runway - and many of the graphics used in the mental campus study ended up in their first seemingly seasonless (although technically fall '99) collection. Good call for industry newcomers.
Fashion, right at home, in the institution.