‘Twas the season to indulge, friends, but henceforth ‘tis the season to atone. Throughout the month of January, we’ll be bringing you all sorts of Wellness Realness—information and inspiration you can use to get out of lax mode and into good-for-you mode. Or, at least, stop eating cookies for lunch and skipping your morning run.
Image by Chris Cantino
We go hard on the elliptical machine to their DJ mixes and feel all emotional while playing their pop/hip-hop/dance album “Push Thru.” But at this moment, we mostly respect the hell out of the guys in the duo Magic Fades–Portland, Oregon, musician-athletes Mike Grabarek and Jeremy Scott–for their success as curators of Health Goth, the influential Facebook page that in 2014 propelled them to recent meetings as consultants with Adidas.
They’ve done it all with some in-house digital design (in partnership with Chris Cantino and Jan-Peter Gieseking) but mostly just their own taste and the belief that they know what’s dope, and a lot of passion for sneakers like the Nic Galway-designed Adidas Tubulars and these wet-looking Air Maxes. On the phone, Grabarek and Scott talked to us about their partnership with Adidas, fit-for-life attitudes and how Health Goth represents an attack on Portland’s dream of the 1890s.
Nordstrom: Jeremy, what do you do for exercise in the great state of Oregon?
Jeremy Scott: I don’t go to the gym. I eat correctly and ride my bike–that keeps me in shape. As far as bike routes in Portland, I really like the Lincoln Street bike route, from Mount Tabor all the way to the waterfront. It’s very chill. Biking for me is utilitarian. I don’t have an automobile. It’s also a good stress reliever on the way home from work–I work in a hospital pharmacy in processing intravenous medications. It’s scientifically proven that working out causes endorphins to be released in the brain.
Mike, you’re a basketball player. What’s your game like?
Mike Grabarek: I grew up idolizing Dennis Rodman and Bill Laimbeer, guys who were defensive-minded or liked to get in people’s minds and mess with them. My defensive game is very well-developed. I find I’m better at other collaborations in my life when I’m playing basketball–like making music. Basketball is practice for quick-thinking, listening to somebody else, observing and contributing to what they’re doing. It helps me get into the studio with Jeremy and just vibe.
Speaking of collaboration: You have a meeting with Adidas today. What’s happening there?
M: We’re meeting with our main contact, [graphic designer] Berto Herrera, and this meeting is a pregame, working up to this one goal. We can’t go into details. All I can say is what we would like to do: a collaboration where we consult and give opinions. Everyone over there is so nice, and really trying hard to understand what we’re trying to convey.
J: We’ve talked with them about their work with Yohji Yamamoto at Y-3, going to his warehouse and seeing everything be black fabric in harmonious black arrangements–black with an undercurrent of yellow in it, or blue. That’s something I aspire to. Maybe everyone can’t see the variation right away, but it’s there and once you do…
M: Not only different shades of black but maybe you’re combining things that are shiny and matte. Shiny might look icy. Wool is warm and comforting. We have ideas for things we want to wear that don’t exist. I never thought we’d be in this position with Adidas, but we’re getting close to 20k on Facebook, so we know people are feeling us.
Image via Health Goth FB page
Let’s talk about how the Health Goth aesthetic exists in the physical world versus digital space.
M: Cottweiler is a really good example of Health Goth aesthetic in real space. Another is Whatever 21. They’re incorporating internet-looking logos, water logos, recycling logos, and creating this tumblr-looking clothing in real life. Their clothes are made of mesh, spandex, sweat-wicking fabrics. They’re doing it really well. But some of Health Goth is so abstract, it can only exist online.
Image by Jan-Peter Gieseking
J: Something that could be truly Health Goth could exist in an art exhibit. Because it’s not just about the clothing, but the environment the person is in, the way the person looks. It could be a completely featureless drone figure dressed like a mannequin in a hyperreal environment. But, yeah, Cottweiler is the [expletive]. Whatever 21’s dope. There’s a local guy Machus who does a lot of amazing stuff–the cuts of his clothing and his fabric are perfect.
M: Justin Machus. He’s the only one in Portland who has a store on that level. He has ADYN, Hood By Air, Adidas Y-3 stuff, his own signature brand.
Can we talk about spacey futurism as a pop movement? It has fallen off since the ‘90s. Do you feel like Health Goth is picking back up where Aaliyah and Timbaland left off in ‘98?
J: Definitely. That totally makes sense. But it’s also a natural rebellion, like “no more retro.”
Especially in Portland, are you raging against all the old-timey fashions?
M: Yes, the whole Civil War-core thing is stupid and ugly and it’s all over Portland. We’re trying to do new things instead of rehashing these stupid beards….
J: I felt–this is a dramatic word–I felt oppressed in Portland from 2003 up to a couple years ago, because that style was dominating. You couldn’t do anything musically or socially and avoid it.
M: You’d go to a show and it would always be some person beating a big-ass drum while someone in a huge beard plays an accordion…
J: And then someone sings about, like, hitchhiking. Just awful. We come from a background of listening to rap music, pop music, dance music. And a certain Net art obsession.