Today’s current spectrum of fashion is very wide. There’s room for almost any brand now, no matter how niche it is, it can thrive. Enter Aaron Rice, creative director of (SOUND)+(VISION), an American fashion label with a heavy focus on vintage Hard Rock style you’d normally see in the form of a Japanese fashion house. Rice most recently dropped S+V’s second collection dubbed, “Forever 27: No One Here Gets Out Alive”–an homage to the 27 Club–and has plans to keep the ball rolling for years to come. I had a recent conversation with him to discuss his dreams and future plans for the brand, it’s origin, and his feelings about rappers calling themselves rockstars, people wearing band tees but not listening to the band and so much more.
Kolby Turner: For those who aren’t familiar with you and (Sound)+(Vision), explain the ethos and attitude behind the brand and how it was conceived.
Aaron Rice: I founded (Sound)+(Vision) because I was always obsessed with how rock stars dressed and I love Japanese brands like Number (N)ine and Undercover so I wanted to combine my love for music and clothes to create like my own equivalent of those brands. One day, I was at work just googling song titles, trying to come up with a solid name and I came across David Bowie’s “Sound and Vision” off his Low album and I knew immediately that that was the name. So I switched it up a bit and that’s basically how I came up with my brand. My brand represents all the musicians whose music or style has inspired me.
KT: Who were the musicians who inspired you musically and stylistically?
AR: It varies. In high school I was really into Kurt [Cobain] & Sid Vicious stylistically. [Most recently] Axl Rose, Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Keith Richards, George Harrison, John Lennon, and The Gallagher Brothers [as far as style]. Musically, I’ve really been into indie bands heavy the past year. I recently found this singer named Kenneth Frost–from a band out in Austin called, The Cuckoos–he has a deep baritone voice like Jim Morrison. He rocks my stuff. The kid who modeled the latest look book is a singer from a Miami band, Deaf Poets. His name is Sean Wouters. So many musicians have inspired me. I’m just trying to pay homage with my clothes I just love Rock N’ Roll.
KT: With that being said, how do you feel about the current landscape of rappers calling themselves rock stars?
AR: I don’t know, I’ve asked myself this question a lot lately since the word has been thrown around so much. I think the word doesn’t hold the same meaning nowadays. NWA, Public Enemy & The Beastie Boys are in the Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame and they were rap groups. The only rapper I consider a rock star is Kid Cudi because he actually made two rock albums.
KT: Fair enough, on that note. Does it bother you seeing Nirvana t-shirts sold in places like Target and Wal-Mart? Do you feel like the music and the culture is being whored a bit? Also, does it bother you that the same icons you reference in your clothing are being referenced all over the place on the internet and in modern day pop culture by people who don’t really know the music or the ideologies these people lived by and expressed?
AR: It never really bothered me seeing someone rock a cool t-shirt from a band I loved. Sometimes when I’m out, if I see someone with a sick band t-shirt, I’ll approach them and start talking music. It’s always weird if they don’t know anything about the band/musician on their t-shirt, but to each their own (laughs out loud). I used to collect rock t-shirts, I had well over 100 [shirts], [a] mix of vintage and new. Honestly, sometimes I would buy a shirt based off the design then get into the artist afterwards. I think if you really love something and reference how I do, it’ll show, you can always tell when someone is genuine versus someone just in it to make money. Like everyone on the internet claims their a rock star because they wear the Christian Roth glasses Kurt had or some replicas but I’m pretty sure if Kurt was alive, he wouldn’t be happy. For me personally, to each their own. But I could never reference something without actually knowing about it. People like Kurt aren’t born everyday so it’s nice for him to get his recognition he deserves, I just wish it was for his music and style not just his glasses or the smiley face logo.
KT: That’s real, I know for me, in high school there were a few bands I got into based off of how dope their t-shirts were. I can definitely relate. Are there any current bands you listen to?
AR: Like I said earlier, this past year I’ve really been into indie bands. The past few months I’ve been listening to Cage The Elephant, The Cuckoos, Deaf Poets, Jacuzzi Boys, Sean Lennon, Kurt Vile, The Lemon Twigs, STRFKR, Sunflower Bean, stuff like that. Then of course, I listened to a lot of Nirvana, Amy Winehouse, Jimi Hendrix & Jim Morrison while finishing up this latest collection.
KT: Great, moving back to the collection, how do you feel (SOUND)+(VISION) stacks up against other brands who also reference rock culture in their pieces?
AR: I see the brand growing every day as I get better resources and funds to create better stuff. Only brand I compare myself to is Kyle Pak’s Hommeboy, based out of LA. He makes Japanese style Rock N’ Roll clothing as well. I hope to get into full cut and sew by the third collection. I already started–I made a fringe cardigan last summer, just messing around.
KT: For sure, you’re a real one for mentioning Kyle and Hommeboy, he’s super talented, not enough people are hip. Back to the collection, what are your personal favorites from this release?
AR: He’s my favorite American designer I wear his Hommeboy necklace and wallet chain everyday. My personal favorite would have to be the 27 skull staff hoodie just because I love the logo I made so much, its timeless. My favorite tees are probably the Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix name tees–just because I love the fonts I used a lot. My favorite scarf is the half-black, half-white one. I plan on doing the scarves in more colors in the future.
KT: Yeah! The scarves and the hoodie are my personal favorites. I’ll tell you this right now: A pink scarf is going to be bananas. Going back to your history in fashion, who/what made you want to design clothing? Was it only rock stars or was there a designer/brand that made you intrigued with style and fashion?
AR: I’ll have to make you a 1:1 pink scarf so you can be on your Killa Cam [laughs]. My favorite designers of all time are Takahiro Miyashita during his Number (N)ine era & Hedi Slimane–when he was at Saint Laurent up until last year. I studied Japanese brands religiously, and I like learning the history about how most of the big designers all came up under Hiroshi Fujiwara, or how he helped most of them start off–really inspired me. [But] It was Takahiro’s Rock N’ Roll style graphics that made me say, “Hey I can do this but with my own twist.” When it’s all said and done I want to be remembered as sort of like the American Number (N)ine. But at the same thing, be something different. I looked up to Hedi in the past 4-5 years, just because how involved with indie bands he was even casting them for his shows, going to LA clubs and just photographing that environment. I want to keep using indie musicians as my models. I want graphic tees and indie models to be a big part of my brand.
KT: That’s very important, I feel like fashion brands aim so high they neglect the surface level, that’s something i can relate to a lot, are there any other up and coming brands you follow and are a fan of?
AR: There’s a bunch, man. I try to stay off social media and live life as much as possible but I do come across a lot of interesting brands mainly on Instagram. To name a few: I like Hommeboy, Stray Rats, Public Housing Skate Team, No Vacancy Inn, I Me Mind and Tang Tang.
KT: Are there any brands, big or small you’d like to collaborate with in the future? Also, do you see yourself ever moving towards retailers and stockists?
AR: I want to work with like minded individuals who understand my vision and where I’m coming from I’ve tried to do a couple collaborations in the past year but they fell through because the other brands were not as serious as me. I want to work with Virgil Abloh from Off-White, just because he’s a big graphics guy and I’m super into graphics. I think we could come up with some crazy stuff. I am currently looking for stockists for this current collection. I want to mainly have my stuff stocked in Japan because I think my stuff would do better in that market. But other than that, any retailer/stockist who understands my brand and wants to help give me a push, I’m down to talk.
KT: Yeah man, nothing worse than forcing any type of collaboration. Are there any current trends going on right now that you’re ready to see die out?
AR: I don’t really follow trends. I’m kind of in my own world so I can’t really answer that. I just keep to myself.
KT: Fair enough, in closing what else would you like the vashtie.com readers and rest of the world to know about Aaron Rice and (Sound)+(Vision)?
AR: Pay attention to my brand. I’m one of the best up & coming, and these next few years are going to show that. I’m just chasing my dreams. We only have one life to live, make the most of it.
As you can see, Aaron is definitely a unique creative and is plotting on taking over the world via his designs. Take a peek at a few favorites from the (SOUND)+(VISION) collection and lookbook below. Head to the site to view more and show him some love on twitter.