Stepping from the glare of an anonymous second floor corridor into a low-ceilinged room in Manhattan’s garment district, lights are low and a youthful street-styled crowd are tightly packed inside as a bass line throbs and the line for the bar is four deep. They’re gathered for the Cult of Individuality Spring 22 runway show. The brand held an NYC concert and show in 2019 to celebrate its tenth anniversary, but this is the first time founder, Ron Poisson, has decided to show on what was formerly the official NY men’s calendar. Most menswear brands will present during a co-ed fashion week in September. But Cult of Individuality, as its name suggests, does not follow the herd.
“I think everybody needed this right now, with everything that’s going on, with Covid,” Poisson tells FashionUnited in a pre-show chat. “We thought, let’s try and invigorate and be one of the first brands to pioneer, get back to business and rise above.”
It is a collection built on the staples of the indie wardrobe, distressed denim and studded leather jackets animated with badges, graphic Ts and hoodies emblazoned with the names of metal bands. Cult of Individuality’s Basquiatesque logo shimmers from hats and from between shoulder blades as if the spray paint is still fresh. The event also showcases the debut of the HVMAN collection, a more off-duty range of streetwear in muted tones, for the morning after the gig the night before.
Having built a reputation as the underground designer to rock stars, Poisson looks to music not only for his most famous clientele but his inspiration. Bob Marley’s grandson, Saiyan Marley, is one of the models in the show while other Marley members are scattered throughout the audience. The range features a collab for Spring/Summer with metal group Pantera.
Cult of Individuality embraced by the music industry
Poisson, who is himself a musician, believes his brand’s popularity with musical artists comes down to the fact that he can relate to them and that he’s not trying to be all things to all people. His fashion career began when he provided merchandise for gift lounges and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The music world started to embrace him when, before long, artists attracted the attention of each other by wearing Cult on tour, and word spread.
“Musicians say that we cross-pollinate all ethnicities and all genres without any stereotypes, or any predisposed judgments,” says Poisson. “We have amazing rockers who see a hip-hop guy wearing something and they want it. That’s rare in this day and age. Normally, you’re a hip-hop brand or you’re a skate brand, but for us, music is the living breathing soul of us. I learned early in this business when I was in the surf industry in the 90s that for something to really mean something, and not become simply a commodity, it has to have a living breathing soul, and for us the music transcends everything.”
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry