When X-girl exploded onto the scene in 1994 with a guerrilla catwalk, it was a subversive eye roll to the cultural mainstream. X-girl pushed back against the mainstream stereotypes that dictated how girls were ‘supposed’ to dress. Their agenda was freedom. Freedom to choose a style that didn’t restrict them. Freedom to disrupt the status quo. For DM’s wearers, the status quo might be a distant memory, but we know that the rebellion is ongoing. Every day. We talked to Atlantis Gandhi and Zephani Jong — two independent, alternative musicians who represent the inspiration behind the latest DM’s x X-Girl collaboration. We chatted about culture, finding an authentic style and what a ‘Girl’s Movement’ means to them.
Atlantis Gandhi is a queer singer/songwriter and producer based in London with mixed Nigerian, Indian and Scottish ethnicity. Musically and personally she’s outspoken and unflinchingly expressive — and makes a point to subvert expectations and misconceptions. Her music is inspired and informed by her cultural identity and her lived experiences.
Zephani Jong — better known as Zeph — is based in LA and creates music that provides a space for people to explore their feelings. During lockdown Zeph has been drawing to discover her own style, and she’s been inspired by her friends own musical creations to make sure she stays creative.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WEARING DM’S? WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST PAIR?
ZEPH: I didn’t have my own pair until the end of last year — if you can believe it. Growing up, I never really got to own brand-name stuff. Almost all my clothes were hand-me-downs or thrifted — but I remember wistfully eyeing the DM’s every time I passed them at the mall. So many of my friends had Docs — they looked so badass in them. I wanted a pair so bad.
ATLANTIS: My first pair was the iconic 1460 boot of course. Ever since I was young, I wanted a pair. Everyone I saw in them just looked so damn cool. I started wearing DM’s when I came out at music college. When I was younger, I used to restrict how I expressed myself — but ever since I came out as queer/gay, I don’t limit my fashion. Now I just wear whatever feels comfortable for me. I’m always changing up my look. One day I’ll mix and match. The next day a tracksuit. Then all black. Sometimes everything at once.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE THING ABOUT DM’S x X-GIRL? WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
ATLANTIS: This is an important collaboration for me. DM’s and X-girl both believe fiercely in self-expression, and they’re inspired by music and art. Knowing that both brands have a strong connection to music is incredibly meaningful to me. I’m unconventional, so seeing these two brands subverting the norm makes me feel empowered and validated. As someone who is always changing my look, the collection really feels like it caters to my style. There’s something for everybody there. I love wearing sliders to show off my odd socks — so I love the Strap Sandal. And matching that with X-girl oversized clothing — that’s a LOOK.
X-GIRL KICK-STARTED THE ‘GIRL’S MOVEMENT’ IN 1994 — HOW DO YOU THINK FASHION HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN?
ZEPH: Alternative fashion has definitely become more accessible and mainstream. It’s amazing to see so many more people feeling comfortable to dress in their own styles. I love that the stigma around looking different is slowly but surely dissolving.
ATLANTIS: Fashion has changed so much since the 90s. Although having said that — every day there’s a new trend which, ironically, seems like it’s calling back to the 80s/90s. It’s more accepted now for womxn and non-binary folks to dress how they please. Although we still have work to do there. Clothing has no gender — and more people are finally starting to realise that.
To me, the ‘Girl’s Movement’ would look like a community that values independence, freedom and creativity.”
WHAT WOULD A ‘GIRL’S MOVEMENT’ LOOK LIKE TODAY?
ZEPH: I think today it would — and should — be inclusive and uplifting. Girls of all backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities and size should be empowered to be unapologetically passionate about what they love. We need to uplift trans and nonbinary people — they’re equally impacted, and so often left out of these movements and conversations. Social media has become a huge way for people to rally together — that would be a huge part of it.
ATLANTIS: To me, the ‘Girl’s Movement’ would look like a community that values independence, freedom and creativity. An intersectional community that gives everyone the same opportunities, and cares about different sexualities, genders, races, religions etc. I like to envision safe spaces for people to unite and create music and art openly — without judgement.
CHLOË SEVIGNY WAS ONE OF THE ORIGINAL FACES OF X-GIRL — IF YOU HAD TO CHOOSE ONE PERSON TO BE THE FACE OF A ‘GIRL’S MOVEMENT’ IN 2021, WHO WOULD IT BE?
ZEPH: No one person could represent every girl in the world. Everyone should have someone they can look up to and relate to. I think everyone should be able to choose their own face for a ‘Girl’s Movement’. In my case, I can’t decide — I know too many cool girls!
ATLANTIS: If I had to choose, it would be Rico Nasty. Her music and fashion are such a massive statement. And she uses her chaotic energy to make her listeners feel powerful through her ego-boosting lyrics. She’s unapologetically herself.
DR. MARTENS AND X-GIRL HAVE BOTH CHAMPIONED A COUNTERCULTURAL SPIRIT OVER THE YEARS. HOW DO YOU RELATE TO THAT SPIRIT OF REBELLION?
ATLANTIS: By openly being my true, authentic self. In a society that tries to enforce rules on how we should dress, present ourselves and act, just being yourself is underrated. My music and fashion have always been the best way for me to express myself. They both give me the confidence to remind myself that I am that bitch. There are a lot of people who are hateful to others who are confident — because they feel threatened. Especially if you’re not a man. In the music industry, I’ve encountered plenty of men who’ve dismissed my abilities. Or they question whether I “really” produced my music — or if I had help from a man. I do it all by myself. Making music is my rebellion.