Since she decided to launch her own fashion brand, FOXYLAB NEW YORK, at the beginning of the pandemic, Oxana De Castro has not stopped working on her artwear project, transcending the borders of fashion, making her platform “a multimedia hub filled with educational and entertaining content relevant to the brand's target audience,” as its creator explains. Promoting not only a specific aesthetic but also a lifestyle in which art becomes the fundamental pillar of their vision, and championing a unisex and versatile identity, they are now launching their new collection, Disclosing Athletes' Creativity, which is inspired by the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. A launch in which they have established pairs of artists and athletes to generate interesting synergies and dialogues materialized in the form of garments.
Who said that athletes are not artists? Of course they are, and they express their talent in countless formats and disciplines. Having established a list of six sports – athletics, handball, modern pentathlon, 3x3 basketball, artistic gymnastics, and beach volleyball – the versatile and enterprising Oxana De Castro set out to interview no more and no less than a hundred athletes from all over the planet until finding the six profiles that shared the same vision and mission as FOXYLAB NEW YORK, demonstrating that coherence, involvement and collaboration are fundamental premises of their artwear brand.

But possibly the most interesting – and surprising – of this collection are the couples that the brand created, associating each artist with an international artist to work together on the resulting pieces. “The first limited drop is on our website. Soon it will be available in multiple online and physical stores around the United States,” they tell us from the brand, in addition to advancing that they are already set to launch quite a few drops in the next 12 months.

The resulting couples were made up of the following talents: Rebecca Silva (beach volleyball, Brazil) and Meir Srebiansky (France); Ulyana Batashova (modern pentathlon, Russia) and Felix Nguyen (Germany); Dominique Jones (3x3 basketball, USA) and Edward Acosta (Puerto Rico); Jestena Mattson (athletics, USA) and Moko (Croatia); Eythora Thorsdottir (artistic gymnastics, Netherlands) and Marcello Silvestre (Italy); and Vladlena Bobrovnikova (handball, Russia) and Elena Smith (UK). We talked to Oxana to find out all the details of this collection and ask her about her plans for the future.
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You are now launching your new collection, Disclosing Athletes’ Creativity, but I would like you to tell us more about yourself before. Who is Oxana and when did you decide to start FOXYLAB NEW YORK?
I like to think of myself as an entrepreneur. My work takes up a big part of my life. I run my own fashion brand FOXYLAB NEW YORK, a manufacturing company, and I recently co-founded a French café in Florida (Le Petit Poussin). My background is in real estate and construction. That was until 5 years ago when I changed industries and kickstarted fashion.  FOXYLAB NEW YORK, an artwear brand, was launched just as the Covid pandemic began. New York is a melting pot for art and fashion, and I've always been passionate about both, so by combining them into FOXYLAB NEW YORK, I found myself. I wanted clothes with deep meaning and authenticity and I created this brand to do that. Now I am turning it into not only a clothing brand but also a multimedia hub filled with educational and entertaining content relevant to the brand's target audience. The goal of this step is to serve as a source of inspiration and discovery for all creative minds.
In your manifesto, you refer to your creations as ‘artwear.’ A concept in which functionality and design embrace creativity and synergies with artists, right? What exactly is this term?
Art is at the core of our DNA because if it weren't for art, the brand wouldn't have been created. We unite art and fashion by providing artists with clothing as a canvas for creativity. Every artwear piece has a name, a number, and an artist's signature, just like any piece of art. That is where artwear's coming from. We love emerging talents, contemporary art, alternative art – everything new and captivating. Many brands collaborate with artists to differentiate their collections and intersect with other industries. We do this essentially because in our world fashion and art don't exist separately, they have to be together. We don't use art just to decorate our stuff, we find artists whose style and philosophy reflect global issues and themes we want to highlight and discuss. These issues usually correspond to our identity. Our goal is to make artwear a new form of clothing. For us, ‘artwear’ is more than just a form of clothing – it's a three hundred and sixty-degree lifestyle that celebrates free expression.
Is it true that all your pieces are gender-fluid? How do you manage to blur the boundaries of the genre through your project?
For me, clothing is a matter of style that reflects the personality and we provide simple tools that one can create a style with, just like an artist. Our identity has always been unisex and versatile, with clothing available for all and suitable for any situation. Nevertheless, I started with eighty per cent unisex items and the rest for females. But then surprisingly for me – male bloggers started asking me for items that I considered ‘female.’ Guys would say “I love this dress piece and I’ll wear it as an elongated sweatshirt.” Working with professional stylists, I was once again convinced that many clothing that I originally thought to be women's, look very organic and stylish on a man. That was a breaking point where I definitely realized FOXYLAB is one hundred per cent unisex, it happened very naturally! Plus, gender roles and barriers are changing and are very blurred nowadays. Anyway, we are all duelled by nature.
In addition to artwear, one of the pillars of FOXYLAB NEW YORK is the creative community. What can you tell us about this group? Who are its members and which are the values ​​they share?
FOXYLAB NEW YORK Community is an exclusive project dedicated to our customers, people who have art as part of their lifestyle and who are looking for creative inspiration. We are dedicated to collaborating and featuring some of the hottest talents of today like designer Olivier Theyskens, Rami Kadi, artists Sho Konishi, Naomi Gilo, Shira Barzilay, digital artist Constantin Prozorov and others. The main focus of our community is international fashion and art. Making these two more accessible to its community has always been one of our main missions.
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Let's delve into the new collection, which is inspired by the Olympics in Tokyo. How and when did you start developing it?
Our new collection was inspired by the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. It was March 2021, and the first Olympic Games since Covid were coming. It was lots of conversations around it and this subject came up during lunch with my team member. She mentioned that athletes are artists by their nature. That was a starting point and led us to the idea of pairing athletes who were coming to the Olympics with international artists. So, they can create art in pairs, and not just art but art with meaning for both – artist and athlete. Each collaboration has a name and there is a meaning behind it. FOXYLAB monitored interaction between each pair and helped to come up with the end art results. And as usual, we used our t-shirts as a canvas for the final art of each pair.
The list of sports with which you have worked on this project was narrowed down to six: athletics, handball, modern pentathlon, 3x3 basketball, artistic gymnastics, and beach volleyball. Why did you choose these sports?
We wanted to pick sports that fit the brand identity, so we narrowed the list down to these six. These sports and FOXYLAB NEW YORK share common values: audacity, friskiness, courage and ingenuity. Also, these are the sports I am passionate about.
I have read that you interviewed about a hundred athletes from all over the world, is this true? How was this experience and what would you highlight from the collaborator selection process?
We wanted to work only with people who are passionate about the project. Many of the athletes were interested but their schedules were lacking time, others were limited by the exclusive contracts.
I am very interested in the pairs that were established between the participating athletes and the artists, as a way of giving each other feedback and creating solutions that they would not have reached individually. What criteria did you follow and what conclusions do you draw seeing the final results of the creative tandem?
When we formed the pairs, we looked at the background of each athlete and artist and tried to connect each pair by something that they have in common. I'll take Dominique Jones (3x3 basketball, USA) and Edward Acosta (Puerto Rico) as an example. Dominique is from Harlem. He loves fashion, and his style is very recognisable, and we thought Edward and his artistic style would be a perfect match to highlight this.
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Among the artists and athletes who have brought to life Disclosing Athletes’ Creativity, we find several women. Do you think that female talent tends to be overshadowed by a system that continues to put the male vision first?
There are seven women and five men in total who participated in the creation of this collection. This specific count happened by an accident. I feel that the role of women increased significantly. Women have a lot of power these days, and the times when men's vision overshadowed women's vision are gone. It may not be so everywhere in the world, but I feel it in my surroundings.
And what about the pieces resulting from this sum of forces? What can we find and where can we buy them?
The first limited drop is on our website. Soon it will be available in multiple online and physical stores around the United States.
We can not only enjoy the garments but also the personal stories of the collaborators through exclusive interviews where they share their experiences, right?
We interviewed each of the collaborators, who are available online on the FOXYLAB NEW YORK website. Besides interviews, we had live Instagram sessions with each of the athlete-artist pairs. The personal meaning of the collaboration for each of the pairs is explained directly on the t-shirts. It can be found on the orange tag on the back of the t-shirt with the name of the collaboration and an explanation of what it meant for the participants, followed by the signature of each.
And beyond fashion and sports, this new release also has a charitable component. You will donate ten per cent of all the profits from this collection to Voices of Children, a non-profit organisation that helps Ukrainian children to cope with the consequences of the war in Ukraine. Should brands and companies get more involved in the fight against injustice? Is it important to position yourself as a business?
This is very important. And first and foremost it is our human duty to help our neighbours. Secondly, this case finds a concrete reflection in me. What is happening in Ukraine is heartbreaking. The trauma of war has a lasting impact on people's lives for years after the war. Children are our future; we must help them to deal with the trauma of war and reduce the sociological impact of war on their future. Brands, companies and society must strive to make this world a better place. I believe that philanthropy in general is empowering. FOXYLAB has a very small team, some have children and we enjoy supporting children in Ukraine. Each of us is also involved in charity on a personal level.
And finally, what can you tell us about your next projects? How do you visualize FOXYLAB NEW YORK 10 years from now?
We are set to launch quite a few drops in the next 12 months, the collections are already developed and we just started working on the campaign for the Tied Heart collection in collaboration with the Israeli artist Talia Zoref. We will most likely make this campaign virtual and possibly will launch our NFTs. We’re also working on some interesting interviews for our magazine and want to dedicate one month in the fall to digital art! Perhaps it will coincide with the launch of the Tied Heart collection. In 10 years, I'd like FOXYLAB NEW YORK to have worldwide recognition and product distribution, work with the ‘special’ artists on my list, and be a great source of creative inspiration. Let's see what time brings!
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