Chris Leba from R13 doesn’t really care about this review. When I first joined a Zoom call to discuss Spring 2022, Leba wasn’t there, sending stylist Sophia lvarez (who didn’t stylize this lookbook but acted as some sort of chief vibeswoman on video shooting) as stand- in. The next day, he agreed to chat, although he didn’t seem very excited to talk about his new collection. “There is a lack of interest in the system. I’m just going to do my thing and that’s it, ”he said before denouncing the idea of novelty in general. “There’s one thing we’re doing here that keeps us from doing a lot of other things: the idea of being really consistent… What’s the inspiration? Stay the same.
So here’s the same: chunky, grungy jeans, oversized oversized knits, platform sneakers, stripes, flannels, baseball caps, and an attitude very much in line with the “Fuck You You Fuckin ‘t-shirt. ‘Fuck’ of the brand.
As quick as the experience may seem, I have to commend Leba for being one of the few designers to do things differently (even if he hates change) after COVID. Many more have wasted their marketing dollars on global show catwalks and back-to-the-before style collections that don’t feel quite in tune with our current moment. Leba’s contempt for the system led him to throw a wild party in New York City during NYFW and photograph his collection lookbook the next morning. His reluctance to talk about his collections, or play in the game, doesn’t seem to matter much to the R13 buyer. I’ve been told the party is full of fans and that Rihanna’s constant support of the label is surely helping to get things going.
Leba cut his teeth at Ralph Lauren and explained that he wanted to be the Ralph of the grunge ensemble: the place to go for faded jeans, a shrugged sweater or a cheeky little bunny bag. Of course, Lauren painted her portrayal of Western American readiness with the help of many famous friends, but he was in the foreground with straight jeans, cowboy boots and a polished blazer to prove that the RL method was working. Maybe this review is Leba’s way of proving his raver-punk study to be legitimate? Chris, invite me to the party next time and I’ll see for myself.