Founded in 2013, by people whose paths have been crossed at different points of the world, Carne Bollente questions the purpose of adorning, the meaning of fashion, and its relation to every other discipline that guides us to what we are as “modern people.” Today through its current collaboration with the graphic designer Agoston Palinko, the brand is producing t-shirts with embroidered sex positions placed on them.
As we sat down with the three members of the brand, we had the chance to observe the dynamic exchange of inspiration between them, and understood the secret of their success better.
For a mass audience, talking about sex, drawing it out, and even making clothes that reference it creates a fine line between what is acceptable and what is not. Carne Bollente manages to be so sincere and creative with its approach to design, that now it is visible at selective shops from Tom Greyhound in Paris to Voo Store in Berlin.
On one of the “luckily-sunny-days” in Paris, the designer Agoston Palinko and the co-founders Felix Gesnouin and Hijiri Endo and I ordered our beers at a nice terrace in the 3rd arrondisement, and talked about the brand’s sudden success.
“We put a lot of effort to see what hasn’t been done before and the answer was there: sex and embroidery.”
Let’s start with the basics, how did you come together to start this project?
Felix: We are basically 5 guys who met in Paris. We were all studying in Paris at different art schools when the project started 2 years ago. It was a bit of a joke when we first started. We just said: “Let’s make sex t-shirts and see where it goes.”
Agoston: We started giving the t-shirts to a small bar; first we gave 5 t-shirts, then 10. Next thing we knew they were all sold out.
Why do you think that the concept got this much attention? Did people need something daring like this?
Felix: We honestly didn’t expect to grow this fast and get the amount of attention that we are getting now. (He whispers) We were quite stoned when we first came up with the idea.
Hijiri: But there was a lot of serious preparation afterwards.
Agoston: Yes, we put a lot of effort to see what hasn’t been done before and the answer was there: sex and embroidery.
Felix: We are really doing something edgy, that brings a lot of thoughts to people’s mind at the same time. Like, someone sees the t-shirt on me from a distance and be like “Oh that looks cute” and then gets closer and say, “What the heck is on your t-shirt!” I think what’s good about our concept is it is humorous and creative at the same time.
Hijiri: Also Instagram helped a lot. After we launched the project, people started taking selfies with the t-shirt and this became some sort of a wave where we started seeing people with our t-shirts from all around the world. This was a real organic growth.
Are you okay with being associated with sex t-shirts? Do you think it is limiting the concept?
Felix: Yes, it is a starting point. Every brand starts with an image and they evolve into something else. Right now we are sex t-shirts but later we’ll try something new with new developments. What’s interesting is I don’t think that it is a limit. I think it is an opportunity for us to evolve and create new things.
What are you feeling about this sudden interest to the brand and how are you handling it?
Agoston: So overwhelmed.
Hijiri: We try to be careful with the speed of the growth and we have a lot of offers for collaborations. But in general we are having this “what the fudge” moment.
Felix: We are handling it well but the only thing is every time we launch a product, it is sold out before we even know. Well, it is a great thing to be worrying about being sold out rather than worrying about how to sell what you have in your stocks.
There are other brands that get “inspired” from your designs. How are you dealing with the copycats?
Felix: When you compare what we do to other brands, Agoston’s designs manage to be naïve and sexual at the same time. It’s not just a penis embroidered on a t-shirt, it is funny and abstract where as other brands tend to over-sexualize the designs.
Hijiri: Agoston is a genius (laughing).
Felix: There will always be copycats. What matters is you stick to your creative idea and focus on your concept rather that worrying if someone has copied you. There is room for everyone.
Can everyone wear your t-shirts?
Felix: My grandfather’s girlfriend just asked for one!
Hijiri: It’s funny because sometimes we see comments on Instagram where people say, they bought a t-shirt from us but they are scared to put it in the laundry because their parents might see it. Openly or under covers, everybody can wear it.
Agoston: Also you really need to get close to see what the design is. Otherwise the positions are not easy to recognize.
What’s the next step for Carne?
Felix: I think it is going to grow very naturally and we based our concept to such a big topic that we can reflect it to so many other disciplines; whether it is fashion or it is music as long as sex exists we will come up with something new.