Buying in luxury boutiques is out of date, now the game is flaunting Fila like Gucci and Adidas like Hermès, going down to the court with a Chanel ball or grabbing take away from Prada. From McDonalds to Maison Margiela, bootleg fashion started in the streets and now we see it on catwalks, everywhere on social media and in top stylist’s wardrobes. Ava Nirui is a New York based writer, photographer, stylist and creator of the most controversial and inspiring Instagram account, @avanope. We wanted to know more about the girl who made Champion fashionable again.
Besides being a writer for magazines such as Dazed and Oyster, you're also a photographer and stylist. What do you do in your spare time?
Between making objects, writing and working in the fashion industry full-time, I don't have that much spare time. When I do have time to myself, I am researching new ideas, painting things, looking for bootlegs online and hanging with friends.
Your work doesn’t follow the status quo and stands out in the fashion field as some kind of social and political expression. What is it that you’re trying to tell people?
My work just lightly pokes fun at society and the industry's obsession with brands and logos. Through my pieces, I am hoping to make bootlegs and fakes more acceptable and less frowned upon in the fashion community.
Does the style of this logo project match your own personal taste in clothing? Do you like showing off brand logos in your outfit?
To be honest, the look of my Instagram and my personal style are completely different. I wear the same thing everyday – jeans, a hoodie and Nike Air Force ones. I don't dress flashy at all, and I'm not obsessed with masking myself with logos. It's not really my vibe. Personally, I'm more about subtle luxury like a nice pair of shoes or a handbag. I'm not walking around with bedazzled shoes and fake Gucci 24/7 which I think is surprising to some.
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How did you get to the idea of reconceptualising the logos of luxury brands?
I've always loved luxury and contemporary designer clothing and accessories. Working in the fashion industry in New York really exposed me to how hype-driven fashion can be and how wild people are about branded products. When Vetements first came out, I was really surprised at the fashion community's lack of individualism – every second person at NYFW was wearing a Vetements branded hoodie or raincoat. Instead of buying into a trend, I recycled the Champion logo, in the same manner that Vetements did, to spell out the names of long-standing, iconic, luxury designers like Gucci, Versace and Chanel. From there, I started repurposing dust bags to create dresses, decorate sneakers with luxury branding and apply my ideas to a handful of other everyday items like knives, inhalers, etc. A bootleg can be just as exciting and coveted as an authentic product, especially if you are creating it to meet your personality. 
How would you describe the journey of brand logos in the fashion industry?
Logos are bigger than ever right now with the popularity of streetwear and skate brands like Thrasher, Vetements and Supreme, which are hyper-focussed on creating graphic garments. A logo carries heavy implications to certain communities and cultural scenes, so people respond to brands and clothing that show personal tastes in the most in-your-face and obvious manner. Obviously Logomania in the 90's, with both athletic brands like Nike and Kappa and luxury brands like Chanel Sport, was a total craze and I feel like that trend is being revived in the present.
How do you come up with the concept of your photos?
I love publications like Toilet Paper magazine, who take simple ideas and elevate them with interesting presentations and conceptual photography, so I try to employ similar techniques in my photos. After creating the piece, I will normally try and brainstorm how to make the photo look as absurd and over the top as possible – sometimes I will use branded fabric as a seamless and try and incorporate any other luxury or logo'd elements I can create or find.
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Is there a brand logo you favour to use in your work?
Recognizable luxury branding and iconography is most frequent in my work, including (but not limited to) Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Dior and Chanel. I have also toyed with more contemporary and less high-end brands that I like on a personal level, such as Comme Des Garcons, Rick Owens and Margiela.
What do you think has been the key to your success?
Coming up with original ideas and having a very clear sense of self. People have said fucked up things about my creations before and I've never let it get to me. I am confident in and thoroughly understand what I am trying to communicate, and that's the most important thing.
We saw in your Instagram Stories that some people started copying your designs. What do you think about that? Aren’t they doing the same 'brand appropriation' like you do?
There's a difference between riffing, manipulating or re-appropriating an idea and straight plagiarism. I have never directly copied a designer or made a literal "bootleg" – it's not what my work is about and that would not reflect the ideas I am trying to communicate. I really don't care if you're going ahead and making the sweaters for yourself since I don't sell mine commercially, but using my ideas to capitalize on people or selling them commercially when it's not your idea, is messed up. When I first saw all the bootlegs of my Champion concept popping up in China and Europe, I honestly thought it was so meta and hilarious.
What would you create out of our brand, METAL Magazine?
So many possibilities – an embroidered sweater with the McDonalds "M" to substitute the M in "METAL" or I'd make a couture dress out of the pages of your magazine.
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