Lastwear is a clothing company based in Seattle. They first started in 2007, when according to their mission statement, founders Thom Becker and Jawn Wakefield “realized they both wanted to update the design of the classic Japanese Hakama to include pockets etc.” Since then, their innovative and edgy designs have taken them into various sartorial terrains, including Steampunk.
Thom Becker was very kind to The Steampunk Bible, and not only sat down with us for an interview, but he also coordinated an exclusive photo shoot, several images of which were published in the book. As a thanks to him, Lastwear, the Lastwear models who will be mentioned in the captions, and to photographer Gabino Mabalay, we thought we’d run the other beautiful images here, as well as Thom’s interview, in two parts.
The Steampunk Bible: What is your personal definition of Steampunk?
Thom Becker: I don’t know that any of us really have one. I think there’s a certain mindset that goes with it. A kind of Constructive Antiestablishment point of view.
The idea that people have the power to make their own lives better. It’s not about tearing down the system, hell it’s not about the system at all. It’s about saying “here are some problems. We could try to fix the system so that it can solve them, or we can just cut out the middleman and fix it ourselves.”
Perhaps Steampunk is about deciding that what we’ve got is enough already. Perhaps as a culture we’ve been like artists that never paint anything but just keep buying more art supplies and expecting the painting to just happen. Steampunk is the decision to paint with what we’ve got. To make life better now.
It’s the rejection of the magic bullet.
SPB: How long have you been involved/interested in Steampunk?
TB: I guess it’s been about two years since people first started to call Lastwear’s designs Steampunk. Prior to that we were just designing the clothes we liked, the idea that we were Steampunk designers hadn’t occurred to us before then, so Id say about two years. Although, if you want the definition above, we’ve been doing it for about five years, since Lastwear was born.
SPB: What differences do you see between now and when you started?
TB: The Scene has gotten bigger. We tend to focus on our own thing so a lot of the time we don’t really know what’s going on in the larger Steampunk community. For us, not much has changed. Maybe our market has grown? that’s good for us [sic].
SPB: Steampunk obviously influences your designs–what is it about Steampunk fashion that keeps designing fresh?
TB: Heh, ya know, that’s be gging the question a little. Keeping one’s work fresh doesn’t really have a lot to do with the medium or genre one’s working in my opinion. Everything is going to influence how you work. We have a lot of friends who are into the Steampunk aesthetic so it’s going to influence us. To be honest, the more popular Steampunk get’s, the harder it’ll be to stay fresh within the genre. To a certain extent that’s something that’s outside of our control; We design what we design, the rest of the world get’s to say whether it’s cool or not. For us, I t hink it’s more about having fun with what we’re doing. I think you can see when someone enjoys the work they do, when they’re passionate about it. That’s what keeps it fresh for us.
Stay tuned for more images and discussion from Thom B. and Lastwear in Part II, Wednesday.