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For many, teenage years are the best – the strongest, fiercest ones at least. When we think about youth, many things come to mind: unconsciousness, living fast, intensity, hanging out in the streets, or friendships that seem everlasting. All of them come together in Boyhood, the Parisian streetwear brand founded and run by Benjamin Brouillet. For its Spring/Summer 2019 campaign, he invites us to a field trip, where the boy scouts meet the hood and the ‘90s.

In the following interview, we talk with Benjamin about authenticity and creating a real community. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of understanding what the teens’ desires are, how they feel like and how they live. For example, for the brand’s Fall/Winter 2018 campaign video, you can really get that essence. One of the kids there introduces himself: “I love girls, weed, fashion and parties”, he says. As Benjamin himself puts it, more than a fashion brand, Boyhood is a portrait of the youth.

Boyhood is a brand thought for the youth. What is it that interests you from them? And what is it that you want to showcase?
Everything from the youth interests me. I think it’s such an interesting part of our lives. This is when we start questioning who we are, discovering what we like and want to become, and simply discovering life. What interests me is the positive energy and determination the youth have, and that’s the vibe I want to showcase through Boyhood.
Photography plays an important role in your work. Through images, we can get a glimpse of these kids’ lives: playing at the basketball courts, hanging around in the hood or skating. We get that ‘90s atmosphere. Tell us about your teenage years, your roots and what you want to rescue from that time.
Totally! Photography is so important to me because that’s how I can play with the ‘90s atmosphere I want to create, not only via the clothing but also with the boys I choose that represent my teenage years. I grew up in Angers, a small town in France, with my two sisters. My teenage years were cool, I was exactly doing what we see in my shoots: playing sports, hanging with my friends, going out to clubs or smoking weed too.
I was very much influenced by my two sisters and their friends. They were pretty hood and it was always rap and hip-hop music around. We were going camping and always brought a couple of friends with us. I was pretty spoiled by my mum too, I must say, although I come from a pretty modest family. I’ve always been creative and loved clothes. Always managed to get the last trendy pair of sneakers and fresh lactose tracksuits. I always loved streetwear and the community around it. I want to rescue the clothing and the energy from that time: memories and good times.
Among all this, how did you happen to become a fashion designer?
I’d been doing styling for a while and got a bit tired of borrowing other designers’ clothing, so I decided to do my own line with my friend Céline, who I grew up with and did fashion design. She made the first collection and went back to school for Psychology. I launched Boyhood by myself and became a fashion designer now, I guess. I just learn as I go. I create an image along with making clothes and accessories.

Let’s talk about your models. Beauty standards have changed a lot in fashion and we are getting used to see more diverse profiles on runways and campaigns. Your boys have this ‘kid from the street’, ‘boy from the hood’ look/vibe. And they seem very authentic (and super young, almost adolescent). What catches your attention when choosing them? What do these kids offer to the image of the brand?
I like authenticity the most, and when I choose the models for Boyhood this is what catches my attention. These kids remember me of something from my youth and the way they behave or dress inspire me. They just do them and couldn’t care less about people’s judgements. They are just authentic and from the hood. I like showcasing my roots, which are really mixed and hood too. France is diverse and I like showcasing subcultures from other countries as well.
I had a beautiful shoot from Mia Dabrowski in Dakar (Senegal) with teenage boys for Coeval magazine and also another project I did in the favelas of Lisboa (Portugal) for Spring/Summer last summer. I love to meet the kids from different places and discover their lifestyles, what they listen to, dream about, etc. They offer a lot to the image of the brand as I couldn’t do it without them. I like the approach of giving the youth the opportunity to work on creative projects, and they love it too because they are also very creative people.
When going through your social media and seeing the campaigns, we feel like Boyhood is not only making streetwear fashion but creating a community. Tell us more about this.
This is exactly what I am working on, thank you for mentioning that. I don’t want to be a brand that just makes streetwear and clothing without a soul behind it; I want to create a community and make clothes for them.
The kids on the Spring/Summer 2019 collection campaign are on a ‘field trip’ hanging out with their gang. What’s the most exciting thing about being a scout or hanging out in the countryside?
I’ve never been a scout but I always kind of wanted to be one because they look cool and I like their community spirit, teamwork and discipline rules. I’ve always loved the countryside because it’s so peaceful, and I love nature and being outside.

“I don’t want to be a brand that just makes streetwear and clothing without a soul behind it; I want to create a community and make clothes for them.”
The city also appears in it – the urban landscape and nature cohabit. What’s the link between these two worlds and how do you translate it into fashion?
To be honest, I am a bit of a paradox as a person. There are things about the city that bring me peace, like the people and the creativity, but I also often feel like I need to get away and be in the nature. I think the collection shows that a little bit. It is streetwear but there are elements that you would see on both a camper and a city dweller – sportswear, oversized tees, logos, bright primary colours, super high socks. Boyhood’s Spring/ Summer 2019 collection is suitable for campers and city kids and all those who fall somewhere in between.
Tell us something that you would highlight from today’s generation – Gen Z.
Too much on their phone! But authentic and more open-minded.
The rapper Denzel Curry or the Instagram “slept kid” Sasha Trautvein have worn your designs. Who else would you like to see wearing Boyhood?
I just sent a package to Billie Eilish, so I’m looking forward to seeing her in Boyhood. I’d love to dress so many artists but A$AP would be dope. Also, Young Thug, 21 Savage, Travis Scott, Coi Leray or Missy Elliot, just to name a few.
Show us more from your inner universe. What was your biggest dream when you were a kid? And what are your dreams now?
I never was a dreamer really, but I knew from an early age that I wanted to do something creative in my life and be free. I think I achieved that. I wanted to be an athlete and also a fireman. I still want to be both of them (laughs).

Marta Romero
Cardinal Vice

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