It's not very often that an accessory label creates something so unique and original that you're forced to stop dead in your tracks. That, however, is exactly what happened the first time we stumbled across the wickedly amusing pieces designed by Los Angeles-based label Cast of Vices. Helmed by creative director Christopher Glancy and his partner Jay LeCompte, Cast of Vices offers a selection of unique, handmade jewelry and accessories that actually serve as a clever social commentary to our twisted modern world. With pendants that feature miniature Percocet and Vicodin pills (true vices indeed) as well as lambskin leather totes based on the plastic bags used by NYC convenience stores, the label has already caught the attention of figures like Rihanna and Francis Bean Cobain, who was photographed by Hedi Slimane while wearing one of the pieces. We caught up with Glancy and LeCompte to learn more about the label and to see what Cast of Vices has in store for 2012.
WATM: Tell us, how did Cast of Vices get its start? At what point did you realize you wanted to launch an accessories label?
Cast of Vices began in late 2009 when a mutual friend introduced jewelry designer Jay LeCompte to creative director Christopher Glancy. The intention of both partners was to only create a single capsule collection, however after unanticipated enthusiasm the project quickly gained momentum when Colette (Paris) launched the collection in early 2010. Cast of Vices is currently in its fifth collection and sold at select boutiques world wide.
WATM: A number of your most popular pieces are designed to resemble things like pills, flies and cigarettes. Why did you choose such a heavy subject matter to depict and why do you feel people respond so strongly to them?
Our collection began with prescription pills, an object which has permeated our modern ethos, altered the face of our society and created an escape from reality. What better inspiration could you ask for in art or fashion? Escapism and fashion have been bedfellows since the beginning, these objects best symbolize that connection. Our collections have since grown to encompass various symbols that represent many of the darker aspects of our culture. Traditional dark iconography, such as skulls and occult symbols, have oversaturated our society and in the process lost their significance. We feel many of the artifacts within our collection are even more impactful by placing them on a pedestal to be both admired and condemned.
We believe the true success of the brand has been the ability for the public to universally relate to the products we create. These artifacts have are instantly recognizable and relatable. This familiarity allows nearly everyone to understand what we are trying to say without having to say it, of course with anything beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Everyone has experienced at least one of the elements within our collection; some have experienced it quite a bit more then others.
WATM: The embossed leather shopping bags you recently designed have proven to be extremely successful. How did you come up with the concept? Have you ever actually taken one out with you to carry your purchases?
After our first three collections we began looking for innovative new directions for the brand. It was an exciting time for Cast of Vices as we knew we didnt want to be pigeon holed into a drug related brand and had higher aspirations for the growth of the company. It was one of the most creative times for the brand to explore new options and materials. The concept for the leather shopper was conceived on a return trip from NYC to LA, creative director Christopher Glancy was flying back with nothing but plastic bodega bags for his carry-on luggage and somewhere along the 5 hour flight was inspired to recreate the classic Milton Glaser I Love NY bag in leather. Less then one week later our first sample was made and shortly after we successfully licensed the NY logo through the NY State Board of Tourism.
We product test all of our designs and are constantly working to improve our concepts. We pride ourselves on our craftsmanship and our ability to balance form and function, many of our latest designs like our series of Coming or Going hospital and concert bracelets or our leather shoppers have seen a number of revisions to achieve the most accurate reproduction while improving usability.
WATM: How do you feel when you see people on the streets wearing Cast of Vices? Have you ever approached anyone sporting the line while out and about?
It is a really rewarding experience to see, hear about, or meet people who are wearing our jewelry or who have an emotional connection with the brand. Two experiences stand out the most, our good friend and fashion stylist Moses Moreno called us one night to tell us about a Saudi Arabian women he meet who was in her traditional abaya and was wearing our Ups & Downs pill necklace and Thank You leather shopper. He approached her because he was so shocked knowing Saudi Arabias strict Muslim traditions that she knew of the brand, and she proclaimed herself as one of our biggest fans. Another stand out experience was seeing preview images of Frances Bean Cobain wearing our Endtimes necklace in a shoot with Hedi Slimane. This was not a styled shoot and we had no idea she was a fan and had purchased our jewelry on her own.
WATM: What can we expect from Cast of Vices in 2012? Are there any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
We are enthusiastically launching our SS12 Collection of jewelry and accessories this January. Our classic Corner Store leather shopper will be available in a wide spectrum of bold colors for spring and we introduce a new series of jewelry inspired by punk and political badges. In addition, we are currently refining our FW12 Collection with several new styles of leather bags and accessories as well as an all-new offering of jewelry we are extremely excited to premier. We continue to explore the dichotomy between subversive theory and precious materials; FW12 will mark the introduction of new substrates including Danish Felt and Habotai Silk.