Unfinished Symphony: Shane Gonzalez
Shane Gonzalez shot into the streetwear spotlight over half a decade ago when he launched his label, Midnight Studios. But where does he go from here? He’s got his sights set on new horizons, and we wanted to find out more.
Barely out of high school when he launched his visionary collection of punk and youth streetwear, his label now merits some of the most enviable collaborations in the style world. Informed fashionistas can spot the organized chaos of his Midnight Studios designs in recently released lines with A$AP Rocky, BOY London, Converse, Off-White and many others. We headed to his LA studio to learn more about his most recent project, a new label he calls, Symphony.
Shane tell us about Symphony. What’s it all about?
Symphony is basically the sequel that exceeds the original for me. It’s my own version of The Dark Knight. I created Midnight Studios at the young and tender age of 18, and I think Symphony sums up a bit of everything I’ve learned throughout those years.
After the success of Midnight Studios, what made you decide to try something new?
I think now that I’m a bit older, and my taste and style have evolved, I want to translate that newly gained knowledge and feeling into this project. I want to take a bit more of a mature approach to design rather than a classic streetwear output.
And how have you personally evolved?
I feel like all my personal evolution comes from music. When I was in my late teens creating my previous brand, it was a lot of rock n roll for me, which influenced the way I carried myself; punk, metal, hardcore, etc, but I think as I get older, my appreciation for all music is much larger. I can appreciate the tailored, sharp look of a jazz musician to the slouched and draped form of the psych rock era. I want to incorporate a bit of everything into my new collections.
How is that translating to Symphony?
Midnight Studios started and consistently focused on punk rock and rebellion. Whilst collections had a variety of themes, including jazz, electronic, psych, “Madchester,” etc., the core theme was based around punk silhouettes. My goal with Symphony is to explore different themes and genres each season while experimenting with unique silhouettes and form, rather than sticking to t-shirts, hoodies, biker jackets and skinny jeans.
“I’ve been listening to Brian Jonestown Massacre regularly… Anton actually served me a cease and desist once, but no hard feelings.”
What are your top tracks to listen to when you’re creating?
When I’m working, [it] is my favorite time to discover new music. I usually will do the whole “artist radio” feature of my favorite songs and it will generate music I haven’t heard before. I find it easier to work that way because it creates new ideas in my head. At the moment, I’ve been listening to Brian Jonestown Massacre regularly. I feel like creatively they were all over the place. Each album kind of has a unique sound compared to the last. Anton actually served me a cease and desist once, but no hard feelings.
Where do you think punk started? New York or London?
I get the feeling you’re more Clash than Ramones.
That’s tough. I actually attended a panel discussion once with John Lydon and Marky Ramone, [and they] argued over this exact topic. The organizers had to break it up before fists were thrown but that would’ve gone down in the books for sure. I can confirm I’m a much bigger Clash and Sex Pistols fan than Ramones though. Sorry New York!
How does London punk influence you — obviously you’ve got Westwood and McLaren, are there others?
I think the London punk scene was so much more than just rebellion and partying like America was. There was a bigger picture there. London also had so many subcultures bouncing off each other at the same time, so I’ve always got handfuls of inspiration from that alone.
What’s your favorite swear word?
I have so many of them, but my favorite movie has always been Trainspotting and the use of the word “cunt” in that film is absolute beauty. So, I’ll go with that one.
“I think collaboration is always necessary.”
You love a collaboration — do you view them as a necessary thing for your career?
I think collaboration is always necessary. It’s important for me to put my ideas on new platforms like an iconic heritage brand because it allows people to see classics in a new light. I also love seeing people interpret my work through their lens, allowing my product to be created in ways I wouldn’t have thought of.
Can you tell us more about your current Diesel/RayGun collaboration?
I’m actually so excited for this. Diesel basically reached out and offered me the opportunity to work directly with Marvin and go through the archives of the iconic RayGun magazine. I was fairly unfamiliar with the magazine as it was slightly before my time, so seeing all my favorite musicians on damn near every cover, I fell in love immediately. The collection is about 10 pieces, all with original artworks and typefaces from the original issues. We’re launching this at Fred Segal, here in Hollywood on Sunset Boulevard, of course. I hope everyone loves it as much as I do!
What do you think of the streetwear scene today? Is it overdone yet?
I think there’s definitely an overpopulation of brands on the scene now, but not many last because it’s too fast-paced and there are people moving in and out every day. To those who last and manage to become successful, cheers!