The streetwear designer and founder of Crayons, Ra-ees Saiet, has always embraced playfulness and creative freedom as a core stimulant for his capsule collections and collaborative projects. WANTS is the latest colour added to his imaginative box, seizing the opportunity for reflection, regrouping and redirecting presented under lockdown. A celebration of individuality meets up-cycling in the new streetwear brand that produces 1/1 and limited release micro collections. The acronym WANTS stands for We Are Not The Same, a phrase referring to the specificity and exclusivity of each item, and how the identity and story of these pieces will grow as they are incorporated into the lives of those who wear them. It also points to the unique personalities and life paths of people moving at their own pace towards their purpose and desires.
WANTS is a celebration of the idea of using what you have at your disposal, rather than desiring better, making use of the things you can grasp and utilize in order to materialize ideas and dreams, even if it is fractionally so…We’re all attracted to and move by different things for different reasons and those are the things that make us who we are. This is a celebration service to the things that make you uniquely you by creating things that are as one of a kind as the person wearing them, Ra-ees expresses.
The first WANTS collection was created during lockdown using up-cycled garments with the designs being hand-cut out of pieces of vinyl Ra-ees had in his studio. The exclusion of the common suppliers (printers, CMTs, etc.) under lockdown conditions created a refreshing reconnection to his proximity to each stage of the production process, underlining the personal nature of what we wear. “We connect with garments on a personal level and it happens almost immediately,” he shares. The decision to produce once-off individual garments—bridges this sentiment between the designer and the wearer, demonstrating an understanding of the intimate relationship one can establish with specific items as representations of how we view ourselves, where we are and where we want to be.
By figuring out a way to create collections at a higher frequency at lower units we can create what we want and give people things that are, by their very nature, unique and imbued with a personality and waiting for a story to be written in [them]. This is something that exists normally but I feel falls away in the sea that is the current streetwear landscape. The format also makes it easier for collaboration.
New items are released every Wednesday, with the current collection based on the evil eye or “al-ayn” in Arabic and the Hamsa. Ra-ees expresses that these are:
cross cultural (Phoenician, Assyrian, Ottoman, Egyptian, Greek and Roman) which through the expansion of empires across history became the most prevalent symbols of protection against the malevolent gaze, an idea that someone else’s envious glare or ill-wishes can bring one misfortune. It’s believed that the evil eye is not always intentional and does not mean the person casting it is evil themselves. So while these symbols serve as protection they also serve as a reminder to not cast envious looks or covet the things and situations others are blessed with.
This week introduces three unique pairs of sneakers – reconfigured adidas Superstars all paying homage to the history of this silhouette, overlaid with the WANTS’ visual vocabulary. The first pair brightens the well-known stripes with red, yellow and blue while adding a layer of playful rebelliousness with a rainbow barbed wire motif. The second pair plays mix-and-match with differing thick, graffiti-style gestural lettering on each tongue, a deconstruction of the three stripes, tear-away paint accents, rope laces and a repurposed North Face toggle. The third pair offers a quieter take in this act of reimagining, with black lettering breaking the sneakers’ white facade, and a reapplication of the graffiti-style WANTS tag stamped near the heel. The following weeks will see the release of the Evil Eye Tees and Evil Eye Hoodies. These garments pull together the familiarity and associations of the hamsa and evil eye symbols with the carefree and fun characteristics representative of “things you wants” as indicated by the WANTS Instagram handle. “Keep playing, but don’t play yourself and think your dreams aren’t there for you to grab a hold of and live out,” Ra-ees states in his final words. Get in touch via Instagram for all purchases and follow both WANTS and NTWRK AREA3 to find out how to get a hold of the WANTS Superstars on Wednesday 9 September.
Photography & Garments: WANTS
Model: Dune Tilley