Band of Outsiders's Scott Sternberg on Working With Ed Ruscha and His Fall/Winter 2012 Collection

Ed Ruscha brushes up on acrylic painting in the Band of Outsiders 2012 look book
(Courtesy Band of Outsiders)

Scott Sternberg, the fashion designer behind Los Angeles-based clothing label Band of Outsiders, has helped define contemporary California style through his modern take on traditionally preppy pieces since its conception in 2004. For Band of Outsiders’s spring/summer 2012 ad campaign Sternberg called on one of the original arbiters of California cool: artist Ed Ruscha. And what a great pair they make! For the ads, the artist goofed around in front of the camera, starring in a series of images from vintage Polaroid film — the label’s signature campaign medium —  wearing a number of Band of Outsiders looks.

Sternberg took a break from casting his fashion show to talk to ARTINFO about working with Ruscha and the inspiration behind his upcoming fall/winter 2012 collection.

How is fashion week preparation going?  
We're getting there. Long week!

In your past campaigns, you’ve cast younger stars (with the exception of Marisa Tomei) who are actors, like Kirsten Dunst, Andrew Garfield, Rupert Grint, and Tom Felton. In many ways Ruscha’s California aesthetic is a great fit for Band of Outsiders. Why did you decide to go with him for Band of Outsiders’s spring/summer 2012 campaign?
Well, I've been trying to shoot Ed for about two years now. These campaigns are very much a celebration of Los Angeles, and Ed is so integrally tied to the city through his work and presence here. He's also a really handsome guy.

Why an artist instead of an actor?  
It's probably less about the vocation than the individual when it comes to casting these campaigns, but I'm definitely as intrigued with an artist's persona as I might be with an actor's — especially someone as iconic as Ed.

What’s the narrative going on in the spring/summer 2012 campaign?
We were just having fun with the idea of Ed killing time at his studio, procrastinating, screwing around, not making work.

In one of the shots Ruscha is holding the book, “Acrylic Painting for Dummies.” How ironic. What’s the story behind that?  
It seemed like a funny idea. We were a little worried about how Ed would react, but he was totally game for everything we had up our sleeves.

What was it like working with Ruscha?  
Really easy and fun. It was a beautiful day, we were all just happy to be there, playing dress up and screwing around with props. He's a very kind, open, mellow guy.

The Band of Outsiders spring/summer 2012 look book combines — as many labels have done or are doing — the worlds of fashion and art. In your opinion, what’s the relationship between the two?  
Well, I guess there's a craft behind both of them, the need to really understand and master the technical aspects of a medium to be able to properly express your vision. And there's an aggressively social aspect to both industries, a rarefied scene that surrounds and even drives both industries, as the tastes and opinions of those groups really resonate in the market.

Who are your other favorite artists?  
I am a rabid fan of art so it's hard to just list a few. I've been thinking about Mike Kelley and his work a lot lately, for obvious and sad reasons. It always blew me away.  

Band of Outsiders is part of the big resurgence in American menswear and it takes a lot of cues from heritage brands. Where are you trying to take the label and what are your favorite heritage brands?  
I love making things, so the natural progression of the company is to make more things and to create really fantastical environments in which to sell them (i.e. our own retail stores). My favorite heritage brand in terms of actual product is JCPenney Towncraft, which in the ‘60s and ‘70s put out the best-designed American menswear in my opinion.  

Can you give us any hints about your fall/winter 2012 collection? What was your inspiration? 
I was inspired, amongst other things, by a trip to Mexico City and watching a bunch of Sergio Leone films.  

Click on the slide show to see images from Band of Outsiders’s spring/summer 2012 ad campaign, featuring Ed Ruscha.