APPETITE FOR DE(CON)STRUCTIONWe take you down to paradise city and into the LA world of rock-star designer Mike Amiri

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Authenticity is everything to Mike Amiri.

In an age of hype culture, irony-tinged trends, and fashion cycles on steroids, the LA-based designer’s blend of rock’n’roll and couture craftsmanship sets him apart from his contemporaries on Fairfax Avenue – the so-called mecca of street style. “The vision has always been to showcase the LA streetwear aesthetic I grew up with, but place it in an elevated setting,” Amiri says. “To do that, we rely on amazing local artisans whose quality and execution is on par with luxury European fashion houses.”

The headquarters of his namesake label is a microcosm of the label’s penthouse-to-pavement approach. Situated in the heart of downtown LA’s arts district, the spacious studio is equipped with an “in-house atelier” plus a basketball half-court where artisans can shoot hoops in between hand-customising cashmere jumpers. “I want to make pieces that not only stand out, but are truly one of a kind,” Amiri explains. “Hand-distressing our jeans is like surgery – it’s a detailed process that can’t be recreated on a larger scale. It’s part of the brand’s DNA.”

The genes – or should we say jeans – of the Amiri look can be traced back to the designer’s youth growing up in Hollywood. “Weekends were spent hanging out with friends on the Sunset Strip, going to concerts and getting into trouble,” he says. “It’s that rebellious, LA rock’n’roll spirit that continues to influence my work.” So in 2014, when it came to starting his label, he chose a typically atypical setting: the basement of a Thai restaurant. “The location might seem unlikely, but it was in the heart of Sunset Boulevard, so it allowed me to be close to my roots as a designer but also connected to the people and places that inspire me,” Amiri says. “It’s across the street from the bookshop where Guns N’ Roses wrote Appetite for Destruction, and the space was decorated with photos of rock legends, plus all this vintage furniture that reminded me of my childhood. Looking back, that ambience was a big inspiration.”

From humble beginnings, the rise and rise of Amiri has been nothing short of meteoric. Famous followers – from Justin Bieber to Jay Z – spotted the label’s star appeal and have helped catapult it to an international audience. “I think my teenage self would be in disbelief seeing so many rock stars supporting the brand,” Amiri says. “My heroes growing up were people like Axl Rose. Even now, when I’m in need of inspiration, I imagine how a modern-day Jim Morrison would dress.”

Showing exclusively in Paris, the label’s runway collections are a highlight of every fashion editor’s calendar – as reflected by Amiri’s second Council of Fashion Designers of America nomination earlier in 2019. On the success of the label, he is philosophical: “When you’re first starting out, you’re always fearful and never think you have a successful business regardless of how fast it’s growing,” he says. “Amiri came from my desire to make truly special pieces that are authentic to me. I think it’s that approach – telling my story – that has built a strong foundation of supporters who have grown with the brand season after season.”

Having placed his label among menswear’s most prominent players, Amiri discusses what’s next: “For the AW19 collection, I was inspired by the idea of the artist unplugging from urban life, seeking inspiration in nature and coming back to the city stronger,” he says. “From that we were able to achieve a more mature and sophisticated silhouette that I want to explore.”