It goes without saying: David Bowie meant a lot of things to countless people all over the world. For husband-and-wife design team Benedict Barrett and Lily Chehrazi of Together California, Bowie inspired an opportunity to encourage change—an opportunity to alter people’s consciousness and impact the way people approach fashion. In collaboration with Sarah Andelman (formerly of Colette and founder of Just an Idea and member of American Express’ Platinum Collective) Together California brought music and style together for a Bowie-inspired collection that not only looked good, but helped consumers do good.
The pop-up took place at the American Express Platinum House during Miami Art Week, where members had first dibs on purchasing pieces from a collection whose proceeds were going to benefit victims of the California wildfires—which killed many and displaced thousands.
With a co-sign from the incredibly influential Andelman, Barrett and Chehrazi were primed to make an impact. We visited the pop-up and spoke with Barrett about the collaboration.
How did the collection come about? What’s your history with Sarah?
Benedict Barrett: This is a great question because we hadn’t really connected all the dots. The seed was planted the day David Bowie died. We had been blown away by his album Blackstar in the days right before we woke to the tragic news of his passing. Then through the context of his death Blackstar played even more as pure genius. He had turned his death into his last magnificent work of art.
This same morning we saw Together California had been displayed in the front window at Colette in Paris. While Sarah had carried a few of our collections before that, to see Together styled directly with Dior and Valentino in the window on Rue St Honore was a milestone we will never forget. For a young brand, this type of creative validation pays dividends to keep pushing you to create more and the strength to stay patient through all the persistence it takes to launch an environmental fashion business—especially during the peak of fast fashion. It is an honor and a privilege to work with Sarah Andelman to bring this type of inspiration full circle.
Why did you choose Ziggy Stardust over other Bowie monikers?
BB: Bowie is a style icon, and Ziggy Stardust was the penultimate glam rockstar. We will be building on this first release in the future and hope for our next release to make everything 100% biodegradable, thus “returning to Stardust.”
Tell us more about the social and environmental aspects of Together California.
BB: What drives us is shining an environmental light on the fashion industry. The fashion industry is the most polluting industry in the entire world behind the highly corrupt oil industry, and that’s horrific to think about.
People laugh at fashion being a spark for environmentalism but Mugatu is real! There are thousands of real-life Mugatu-types knowingly profiting from polluting the world and essentially enslaving people. Then there is a passive majority of designers and brands who live in blissful ignorance.
Hopefully, people will feel our values and inspiration in the goods.
What are you looking forward to for your brand—or in the broader industry?
BB: Our brand is called “Together” because it is kind of a creative consortium working toward bringing awareness to sustainable apparel via rad artists and wearable garments. As well as continued work with Bill Kreutzmann and the Grateful Dead, we will work with our visual artist friends, and a very interesting project for a photography book based on Californian culture that we are proud of. Next year we will integrate our vision for a progressive new type of retail platform that we are working on that we believe will reroute the future of retailing.