Adam Thomison by August Prum August 23, 2017
Control Sector, one of the dopest brands in streetwear, is bucking conventions in the fashion industry in order to get their designs to the people.
As the motto on their website states, Control Sector aims “to defy conventions yet remain wearable.”
But it’s been a long road for partners Maxwell Amadeus and Adam Thomison to get to this point.
We were able to catch up with the Control Sector brain trust and talk about their designs, the vision behind the company, mixing fashion and politics, and shedding the traditional retail structure in order to do their own thing.
The Control Sector squad ideated the brand in early 2013, at a time when the landscape of streetwear was changing. This change saw a merging of streetwear culture and high end fashion.
Amadeus, who handles the designs, grew up as a pro/am snowboarder, which has a natural foothold in streetwear culture, as he said, “style is one of the most important components of snowboarding… having a unique fit was part of the culture.”
After snowboarding, Amadeus went to study in the menswear program at the Fanshion Institute of Technology. As Amadeus told us, the aesthetic of Control Sector is centered around this merging of streetwear and high-end fashion,
“My parents had pieces from Comme Des Garçons, Burberry, and other designer and vintage clothing from their youth days living in London. I owe a lot of what got me interested in fashion to them. After attending the menswear program at FIT and interning for Tim Coppens I understood what I wanted to do. I became Interested in the collaboration between the different worlds of streetwear, luxury, and haute couture. It’s that dichotomy that is what Control Sector and my design aesthetic are all about… Our intention was to offer a streetwear collection that brought together what we loved about the streetwear and luxury apparel. “
But that dichotomy of streetwear and high end fashion can also present problems. As we’ve seen with brands that try to inhabit that space, shit can get pretty damn expensive.
Amadeus and Thomison want to be able to get their product into the hands of the people that truly want it, not just those who can pay a premium.
They told us about that conundrum of trying to supply the coolest designs but make sure the right people can actually afford it,
“While it was never our goal to be a budget brand, it was and is very important to us to keep a pricing structure that is fair for to our supporters. While some of our pieces could warrant a higher price point, we prefer to take a lower margin on our side. We want people to see quality and good design and be surprised at how reasonably priced it is.”
Their first design, created over the summer of 2013 and launched in Spring/Summer 2014, was entitled “Vicious Circle,” and was Control Sector’s subversive introduction to the world.
Amadeus and Thomison had some pretty radical and complex ideas behind “Vicious Circle.”
“We focused on a main theme of a panopticon, which is an old circular prison system, and really interesting from a design perspective. Our very first piece we sold was a black on black bomber featuring a large panopticon embroidered on the back with the words ‘New Order Of The Ages’ and ‘Orbis Denominatio,’ which is latin for World Denomination. While it was commonly confused as meaning world domination, it was much more subversive than that. A denomination is a subset of something much larger than itself.”
Not only was the vision highly-specific, but Control Sector was created with a distinct idea of who their customers would be. They told us,
With that, Control Sector was launched.
It’s a noble intention, to be able to provide the illest fits to consumers that can actually afford to pay for them, but it hasn’t always been easy.
Thomison and Amadeus encountered some hurdles and issues along the way. Namely, that the traditionalist fashion industry wasn’t exactly ready for the disruption that they were bringing.
Control Sector recently decided to further subvert the fashion industry by pulling their designs from retail buyers and doing things on their own schedule.
Why make this change? They explained that the fashion industry can stifle creativity and inspiration,
“There are a lot of issues working on the traditional fashion schedule, as well as the current state of the wholesale and retail industry. Traditionally with a wholesale model, you produce designs and samples a year in advance, do a fashion show or some sort of alternative marketing, and then take the collection to trade shows to sell. The issue with this is it is very expensive and you’re subject to buyers deciding your fate.”
And it isn’t very consumer friendly,
“Not to mention, with social media being so relevant when you do fashion shows, everyone is excited about your product, but by the time it comes out 6 months later the bottom feeders have already attempted to knock off your product and people are ready to look for the next thing.”
So Control Sector is now on their own schedule getting their designs straight to the people.
But what does this new change mean for their business?
“Being on our own schedule allows us to have our product ready to be purchased before we show it to the world. So if we are ahead of the curve ultimately our supporters will be able to wear the styles before anyone else because no one else has it yet.”
The individual schedule of the brand allows Control Sector to do what they want creatively, as well as provide clothes to their consumers at times that make sense. The most exciting part of their recent decision to go on their own schedule?
“Freedom. Being able to release new pieces and collaborations whenever we feel like it gives so much more room for creativity and collaboration. I’m not worried about when the ‘fashion calendar’ expect to have the goods delivered. If I’m gonna make a winter jacket I’m gonna drop it when it’s actually cold outside.”
While Amadeus and Thomison are creating their own lane, they are still down for dope collaborations in the wholesale world, and they understand the opportunities that retail can still provide,
“We do not think ‘retail is dead’ there are amazing stores that are giving designers a platform to be seen and that is invaluable. We are not quitting wholesale completely. Just veering away from it in a traditional sense. We will still collaborate with stores to give them exclusive capsules and pieces. It just has to be the right fit. We are actually launching a capsule in collaboration with Fetty Wap in a famous store in Tokyo called Venturer JP on August 25th.”
It’s a pretty common sense approach from a brand in a space that can be devoid of it at times.
And while the Control Sector business model may be different than their competitors, the designs themselves are ultimately what separates the brand.
Take their “Children of Never” collection.
The “Children of Never” designs are made up of collages from photographs taken at protests in New York City the day after Trump’s inauguration.
Amadeus explained how the collection came together,
“The day after orange was elected president there was a protest in NYC that we were a part of. One of our best friends and photographer Paolo Massimo Testa shot all the photographs. Putting the images on our clothing was our way of showing our discontent.”
This is the perfect example of an organically created product that wouldn’t work on the wholesale schedule. By the time a new fashion season comes around, this collection may no longer be relevant (although showing discontent towards the president will always be in style).
Control Sector is a breath of fresh air in the fashion industry. Amadeus and Thomison are providing socially conscious and dope designs with the consumer’s wallet in mind.
Surely in the next couple years more brands will adopt Control Sector’s lead and buck retail in order to deliver their product in a more efficient and consumer-friendly way.
Finally, what advice do the dudes at Control Sector have for young designers?
“Stay true to your vision. Love what you do. Work hard.”
Stay tuned. Big moves are in store for Control Sector these next couple years.