When Rihanna appears on stage in a fetish-inspired latex jacket, it’s bound to cause a stir. Glamcult caught up with the Polish power couple responsible, Thomas Wirski and Natalia Maczek. Under the MISBHV alias, the 28-year-old designers are taking the fashion world by storm with rebellious, high-end streetwear. Celebrating their ‘HARDCORE’ collab with Rotterdam store ANSH46, we discuss the importance of a good work ethic, appreciating your roots and the rapidly fading line between subcultures.
We love your Rotterdam-focused collab with ANSH46. What drew you to each other?
ANSH46: We met in Paris during Fashion Week. We stopped by the MISBHV showroom and there was a good vibe; we came in and felt the energy immediately, there were a lot of different cultures in the building. That was the first thing we noticed, as we are in a time where subcultures are almost dying. We got into a conversation that ended up being really long and deep. After that conversation we had new perspectives on things, so we really learned from each other. That was the beginning of something beautiful, from our point of view.
Natalia: For us it was very special too, as it was only our second or third showroom in Paris and we were still very curious and interested in people in the industry. Since we come from Poland and don’t have a real fashion system over there, we are very curious about people who create the industry in Western countries, and learn what their vision on fashion and culture is today.
Thomas: Yes, we are the same age but we come from very different backgrounds. When we met in Paris we had so much in common. Like Natalia said, we don’t really have a fixed system back home. We have no one to ask questions, no one to learn from, and no one to look up to. We learned a lot from that conversation so when ANSH46 proposed the collaboration, we thought it was a great idea.
Is not having that system in Poland something positive or negative?
Natalia: I used to say it was a negative thing. I finished law studies at university and didn’t really have the resources to learn anything about the industry, creatively or business-wise. So it took a lot of time for us to learn, but now I’ve really started to see it as a positive thing; when we meet and talk to people, we can share more unique visions. We appreciate our background and our country and the people we are surrounded with everyday. I have really started to appreciate all that, our roots.
Thomas: Yeah, they say it’s not what you have, it’s how you use it—and it turns out that if you don’t have anything, you can also use it to your advantage. Like Natalia said: I think our approach is a bit different because we are not trained, so whatever we do we base purely on our intuition. At the moment, I think something that a lot of Polish people have in common is a very strong drive, because we might not have what you guys have, so we have to hustle even harder.
Seeing that your brand is built on rebellion, we’re very curious what you were like as teenagers… were you rebels?
Natalia: I would say we were very different. I was a good girl. I always knew that I needed to work hard to achieve anything. Thomas was a really difficult teenager, and then he was very difficult for the next seven years on. [Laughs] Only when we started working together did he start to engage in something more than DJ’ing.
Thomas: Our life has been an adventure so far. I’m happy to remember a lot about when we really had subcultures. I remember when we were teenagers, you could tell a lot about a person by the way he or she looked—there was a very strong code in the way that someone dressed, and you could decide who was your friend by the way they were dressed. That was really a gate to something more. Ten years ago you couldn’t be in two subcultures at once, it was just forbidden and impossible. Today you can be a punk rocker, a goth, you can be a rich kid on Instagram—and you can be all at once. So that’s really changed in the last decade.
We understand MISBHV was also formed by nightlife. Now that your label is growing and getting more established, how do you still relate to different scenes?
Natalia: I would say clubs were very important to us when we were growing up. I would spend 30 percent of my life in them and Thomas about 60 percent; it felt like we never left. We still have a lot of friends in the scene, and when we started to go to Paris and New York, I really appreciated the intensity of what we had and how we vibe and what we shared together. I think it was different.
Thomas: Yes, I think it’s not a direct inspiration anymore but I still feel the general feeling of escapism and escaping your everyday life in that weird place that is a club at night. It’s still something that we look at, and for me, I often ask myself the question: would I wear this to a club tonight? It’s a very profound question, actually.
You once said, “I would never release anything that I wouldn’t feel comfortable in myself”. Does that still count?
Natalia: Absolutely, for me it is really difficult to understand how an established designer can work any differently. Most designers do work a different way; as you get older you cannot design clothes that are relevant for yourself, you need to think about your customer. This is something very important and you have to learn it on the way. My favourite MISBHV piece is definitely the latex ‘HARDCORE’ jacket Rihanna wore, it’s really strong and it has these sexual connotations, which I really like. I like to play on the idea of fetish; this is originally a menswear piece but in a very unusual fabric and with a very strong message.
Thomas: I like it a lot too, obviously, but I would choose the orange ‘HARDCORE’ t-shirts because the t-shirt is the king of the wardrobe. I think within the world of our brand it’s already a classic.