In the raw with

Shubhankar Ray

G-Star RAW’s global brand director Shubhankar Ray is on a mission to eschew fashion’s prevailing cultural and commercial archetypes.

By Neha Kale AUG 2014

New York Fashion Week, an event that owes its existence to the power of spectacle, is the last place you’d expect to encounter the ghost of Marxist theorist Guy Debord. But when Dennis Hopper recited Rudyard Kipling’s poem If during a 2008 show by Dutch denim label G-Star RAW, the French visionary – whose belief in the value of dissolving boundaries between disciplines has shaped everything from punk acts like the Sex Pistols to anti-consumerist organisations such as Adbusters – announced his presence in the status-crazed world of high fashion.

“G-Star wanted a celebrity on the catwalk and I thought instead of going with a young, hot Hollywood star, we should choose Dennis Hopper, a 72-year-old actor who is a legend,” laughs Shubhankar Ray, whose 2006 appointment as G-Star’s global brand director saw the label – which was founded in Amsterdam in 1989 – leapfrog from obscurity into the wider cultural consciousness. “Dennis and I constructed an idea that was about an art hijack in the middle of a fashion show, which is something no-one had done before. I got lucky because he invited me to his house to [work on] the idea and we decided that it would focus on poetry.”

At G-Star’s Sydney headquarters, a gleaming white and steel space that could have been lifted from The Jetsons, it’s difficult to tell whether or not you’re being swallowed by one of the interventions that made Ray an unlikely poster boy for anti-fashion. Stylists, photographers and publicists orbit around taxidermic jeans displays, while grainy footage of the brand’s latest campaign flickers across... Subscribe to read this article in full

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