Central Saint Martin’s graduate Mateo Velasquez releases the first runway show of his namesake brand ‘Velasquez’ during MBMFW AW21, exploring leather, lads and well, quite frankly, even more leather.
Featuring research from communities of sexual experimenters, romantic rebels, outcasts and those who openly fly in the face of social convention, Leather Boys II aims to challenge the leather archetype of hyper-masculinity by bringing it back into the spotlight with a contemporary take: one of gender fluidity, seeing that our cultural models have changed as conversations shift towards gender rather than sex.
Leather has always had this connection to sex and sexuality, however, it means much more than that, an umbrella that stands for family, safety, community and being yourself, a social element that provides you with a sense of belonging. A tribe.
Part of the queer community became self-empowered through the construction of a socio-sexual identity that incorporated the hegemonic hyper-masculine lawlessness of biker clubs; AW21 takes this as a starting point and gives the leather a whole new look.
In the literal sense by giving new life to unwanted garments, but also in a social and cultural sense by relaying in its capabilities as an outlet for socialisation and to bring communities closer together and bond, hoping for an immediate sense of fraternity in the most common and acceptable form.
Today, with the struggles of the pandemic, and even before that, with more frequent closures of physical safe spaces, the LGBTQI+ scene is suffering a slow descent into homogeneity. Replacing our spaces for gastropubs, luxury apartments and office blocks, resulting in the elimination of entire communities and a feeling that the scene is in decline.
This exploration presents masculinity as a complex, evolving, a social construct that remains in continual flux. Velasquez keeps on fighting for ways to allow our bodies to confront and disrupt the landscape. To reclaim our visibility and our spaces in order to find respect and acceptance.
Originally from Colombia, Velasquez lived in Madrid and London, taking elements from this hybrid upbringing and his own queer experiences to explore contemporary takes on Menswear, reflecting on social convention and masculinity by looking at current affairs and social issues.
Through the brand, Mateo experiments and develops up-cycling techniques, giving new life to pre-owned garments and reflecting the core values of the brand and shaping its future, redefining methods of production and challenging fast fashion, mass consumption and creating unique, modern garments in responsible ways.