FoxyLab: Highbrow Streetwear

Written by Emma Jones

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Fashion entrepreneur Oxana De Castro got her start working for a construction company, but her heart was elsewhere. “I always wanted to have a fashion brand,” De Castro said. “You don’t want to look back and regret that you didn’t do what’s in your heart.” Over the next few years, De Castro founded FoxyLab, a streetwear brand that blends sustainability and vintage with highbrow sensibilities.

“Fashion and art are interconnected through a bond,” De Castro said. “Art has less boundaries than fashion. But I think deep down, they’re the same thing.” De Castro’s philosophy of combining art with fashion has taken her brand far with the “Awaken” line by Edward Acosta, the “Controlled Chaos” line with Skott Marsi, and the “Patterns & Hybrids” line with City Kitty.

De Castro first crossed paths with longtime artist Edward Acosta at a gallery showing for the Lower East Side art collective Good Luck Dry Cleaners. Acosta originally wanted to be a fashion designer. Acosta’s style is unique and recognizable, using a stark swooshing design on most of his pieces. Acosta has always been intrigued by bold design, with experience in apparel design, graphic design, freelancing, and ten years of marketing experience. “I really pride myself on taking a perfectionist approach to my linework, keeping everything really high-end, but adding that street art feel,” he said. “I dabbled in graffiti growing up. That then got me into screen printing, and from then on I’ve been a painter.”

Acosta’s style is unique and recognizable, using a stark swooshing design on most of his pieces.

Acosta’s art often draws from the fashion world, combining his own signature style with the logos of Chanel, Fendi, Hermes, Dior, or Yves Saint Laurent. His paintings raise provocative questions about iconography and consumer relationship to pop culture, and perhaps best illustrated by one of his pieces, a multicolored gouache with the YSL font logo down the middle from 2017,  titled WE ALL HAVE SAINTS, HER’S IS SAINT LAURENT. Acosta said that his work “utilizes apparel as a form of expression” and his art shows clear connections between brand and personal identity. 

Acosta’s “Awaken” collection with FoxyLab intentionally incorporates black and white into its design to bring out the intensity of contrast. The “Awaken” collection combines elongated and baggy t-shirts typical of streetwear and/or skater aesthetics with the sharp, bold designs of Acosta’s art. “The fact that the clothes are oversized brings into play that combination of luxury and urban wear,” Acosta said.

The oxymoronic concept of “luxury streetwear” has been on the rise since the mid-2000s as a concept with Hypebeast bringing surf-skate and punk DIY aesthetics into high-quality fashion. Pop art, once eschewed in the gallery art world as being contrived, is on the rise as more and more people in the luxury fashion world lean towards the grittier aesthetic of street art. FoxyLab creates something entirely unique by blending luxury and quality with recognizable street art.

FoxyLab creates something entirely unique by blending luxury and quality with recognizable street art.

De Castro prioritizes quality over quantity with the environment in mind in her work, which sets her apart from other streetwear brands. One of De Castro’s most prominent and successful projects aside from artist collaborations is the “Eternal Beauty” line of dresses. She was inspired by a trip to Paris during which she gleamed how vintage clothing is inherent in French fashion culture and wanted to bring that to her own brand. The “Eternal Beauty” line takes its name from how vintage clothes have an unchanging aesthetic appeal. The dresses themselves are combinations of De Castro’s high-quality clothing from her own mockups, and vintage dresses she collected for the line. The clothes serve both men and women, from feminine dresses to more unisex long shirts. “It’s not a completely old dress, but it’s not a completely new dress. You’ll never see anyone in the same dress you have. It’s one of a kind,” De Castro explained.

“I’m always bothered by mass production and fast fashion,” De Castro said. “I always remember the way my grandmother in Russia would say that she could have a t-shirt for twenty years and would still be able to wear it. We used to buy fewer things — they were more expensive, but they were higher quality.”

“Nowadays you buy clothes, you take a photo on Instagram, then you throw it away,” De Castro said of her disdain for fast fashion. I could imagine wearing an Eternal Beauty dress like the Crocus Petal Maxi to eat green tortilla wraps and drink mimosas with friends by the waterfront in Long Island City, or to stand on the sidelines coolly sipping a Bon Viv seltzer at a house show at a loft in Greenpoint. Or, I’d certainly turn heads in my home neighborhood of Inwood–though it might be a little much for a family barbecue by the Harlem River under the Henry Hudson Bridge, it would be quite the conversation starter.

“Nowadays you buy clothes, you take a photo on Instagram, then you throw it away,” De Castro said of her disdain for fast fashion.

FoxyLab is a luxury brand, but what sets it apart from its contemporaries is its accessibility for artists to get involved. De Castro stated her commitment to involving artists in her brand as “We want to be a platform to collaborate with different kinds of artists. We collaborate with anyone who can create art on our clothing.”  Designers always have to define beauty for themselves, and that definition is often what brands live and die by. De Castro’s mixture of high-quality luxury fashion, environmental consciousness, and an awareness of the art world create a distinctive sense of beauty that is as timeless as the vintage clothing that inspires her.

To learn more about FoxyLab, check out their website – foxylabny.com

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