How It Went Down: Making The Ephemeroh Collection

By Jack O'Connor 

When I began thinking about Strictly Featured's first collaborative collection I started by looking for an artist to approach. The search was primarily on Instagram, looking through accounts that Strictly Featured was following as well as accounts and posts that came suggested to us. The first Ephemeroh post I came across was a piece he pasted in Northern Liberties on 2nd and Girard (See below). The piece caught my attention but the rest of Ephemeroh's Instagram was what really got me thinking. The range of his style, persepective and imagery showed a versatility that could be applied to clothing in many ways. Once the wheels began turning it would not take long for me to act on the opportunity. 

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In May I reached out to Ephemeroh to see if he'd be interested in working on a collection together and was met with initial interest. After we met in June to answer a few questions we started to design The Ephemeroh Collection. Both Ephemeroh and I began coming up with preliminary concepts based off of his previous work and some pieces that he was creating. The catalog of possibilities was really diverse and for an inaugural collection it was exciting but daunting at the same time. There was so much to work with but only so much we could do for our first time out.

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After presenting our first ideas we began to collaborate on designs that focused on the signature Ephemeroh piece Transitory Framework (see below). From here we focused on tops and hats all of which would include the window design in several layered forms. For the hats, we see the full design on the front. For the long sleeves, we see the window pane and curtain on the chest. For the tee shirt, we see each later broken down on the bottom row. Also featured in the collection are minimal sketches by Ephemeroh which are seen on the side of the hats and collected on the tee shirt. These all have significant meaning to Ephemeroh, so I love this one. The final thing you'll see in the Ephemeroh logo used on all the pieces. 

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Once we were down to the final decisions we made some changes and prepared them for production. We chose our fabrics, inks, stitches, labeling and closures; picking from swatches and approving samples. It was really interesting to see an artistic mind adapt their style to clothing. While the designs were out for production we shifted our focus toward packaging, photo shoots and a launch event. We created a video with Matt Carroll showcasing Ephemeroh as he pasted some new pieces in Fishtown (that was a really awesome day for me). The photoshoot was next. Working with my friend Jordan Stein and our two models, Ariel Burns and Elijah Ford, we did our first shoot to launch the collection with. Later we did a shoot with Matt Carroll, which is featured in the store. I learned a lot about process, timing and attention during this design process and it excites me to think back on it and how much I took away from creating our first collection. 

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Behind The Scenes with Ashley Gellman

This July we joined our collaborator Ephemeroh as he took to the streets of Philadelphia to install some of his latest work. We asked our friend, photographer Ashley Gellman, to come along and document the day as well as the making of our launch video. She captured portaits of our team, action shots of Ephemeroh, details of our collaboration and more. You can see a gallery of these photos below. 

To find even more of Ashley's work you can visit the link below. 

Strictly Featured's Story: A Q&A with Founder Jack O'Connor

In order to understand how Strictly Featured came about we sat down with Jack O'Connor to ask how SF originated, his influence on the company and his take on the future. The following is what he had to say. 

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Q. What inspired Strictly Featured (SF)? 

A. "There are two influences I think about when it comes to Strictly Featured. One is the name. I was in the car with my brother and we were jamming to a random song and it had a featured artist on it. That artist became the topic of our conversation in which I said he was so talented yet had made a career off of being "strictly featured" on other artist's music. Those two words stuck with me but I didn't know what I would use it for. The other influence is the group of friends I made my freshmen year of college. They were all creating work for design classes and I was there taking it all in. I wasn't taking courses like that so I would just doodle and take pictures of them. They really shaped the brand's look and my interest in documenting and featuring the work of emerging artist. That's when I started an Instagram page with the name Strictly Featured."

Q. What does the company mean to you? 

A. "Strictly Featured means so much to me. I can't stress that enough. Over the last couple of years, SF has gone through several pivots and changes, but ultimately it was going in a direction that peaked my interests and drew out my passions. There hasn't been a project like this in my life. It reflects so much of me despite being highly collaborative. It means everything and that's the honest truth." 

Q. What is the most satisfying part about SF? 

A. "Collaboration. I've been able to work with several creative, like-minded individuals as we've  prepared the Ephemeroh Collection. Watching my best friends work alongside new friends and producing great content is really satisfying. Being able to offer that opportunity-- yeah, that feels really good. When a collection comes together, you get to look at what everyone created and you can't help but to be proud." 

Q. Do you see your personal style in SF? 

A. "A little bit, yeah. Not so much my style but my vision. I really like to present everything as professional and clean as possible. We have had spelling mistakes and things like that, and I go a little crazy over them. I've said before that it's "all in the presentation". So that is how I influence the brand most." 

Q. Where do you see SF going? 

A. "To be honest, I see SF going far. This collection is our first step into the vision I've been creating. So I can't say exactly, but we are going to start looking to include more fashion and philanthropy."

Original Collection Photoshoot

When we produced the Original Collection for Strictly Featured in 2016 we asked our good friend and collaborator Matt Carroll to come out with us to shoot the collection. Matt along with SF Founder Jack O'Connor took to the streets of Philadelphia and the Septa Market-Frankford Line, The photos they captured can be seen below. Although these photos were previously used for the site they have now been replaced by photos by photographer Jordan Stein. Matt's photos mark the start of Strictly Featured creating visual content for our website and social media. Photos by Matt Carroll. Modeled by Jack O'Connor. Apparel by Strictly Featured.