Backstage at Surface to Air

Surface to Air is a French house, but it was sold in 300 international department stores before opening a boutique in its hometown. Its flagship pied-à-terre in Paris’ Marais celebrated a youthful one-year anniversary on Friday night. Before heading to the celebration at Le Baron, we met up with creative director Aldric Speer in the studio. We took a sneaky preview and a biscuit while talking about their forthcoming New York store, and maintaining a certain French je ne sais quoi.

ALICE PFEIFFER: You are shooting the next collection. What’s the theme?

ALDRIC SPEER: The theme is “Unlovable,” and it’s about a man with three personalities. The first is a mix between the movies Dazed and Confused and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off: a prep who wants to break free. The second is a skater, a bad boy and artist, and the third is the man who is the last one to leave the party, always in a bright suit. The collection will have lots of burgundy and suits and is the largest one we’ve had so far, with 145 pieces.

PFEIFFER: Are we going to see a Surface to Air fashion show one day?

SPEER: Yes, we are going to do it, but it’s a dangerous enterprise. We’ll start with a presentation. It is not cheap, and you have to work with the right people and be ready to show the world what you’re all about.

PFEIFFER: Rumor has it that you are opening in New York soon? How will you adapt to a New York audience?

SPEER: That’s correct, we already had a showroom and an office, and in September we will open a boutique in Soho. We’re not worried about going to New York; we’ve been well received so far. This boutique will be based on the Parisian one, with slight adjustments to the new surroundings.

PFEIFFER: You were a creative agency before being a fashion brand—is it fair to compare your approach to Acne’s?

SPEER: It’s true that we work on art direction, and music videos—when friends propose a project, whatever it is, we try to make it happen. But a big difference is that we work in totally different disciplines, and we are more art- and music-based. The closest thing between us is the clientele.

PFEIFFER: Is it difficult to be taken seriously as a fashion brand when you initially worked on a multitude of projects?

SPEER: We used to use this as part of our identity, but today we have to play the fashion game, we must strengthen our place as a fashion brand, and be less DIY than we once were.

PFEIFFER: Where is the French touch in your clothes?

SPEER: We might be French, but the team is from all over. I think the main thing is that it is all made in Paris. Also, we are one of three independent brands left here, along with APC and Kitsune—and that also impacts who we are today.