DEGEN x 69 Tearz Collaboration

DEGEN x 69 Tearz Collaboration

Collaboration with brands I love has always been a core interest for me since DEGEN started in 2011. My favorite thing about collaboration is that you get the opportunity to try out a different identity like an outfit.  The collaborations that I have loved most over the past 12 years are the ones where both parties bring different types of high craft to the table. This partnership is the perfect example of that- two extremely hand intensive processes coming together in a way that would not have happened without the other half.
DEGEN x 69 Tearz Sweater

 I used to be a bit embarassed to say I met someone on the internet but I suppose I have always made friends on the internet. I was on myspace and made friends outside of my preppy highschool and now I meet other creative people on the internet, often becoming friends.  I met Lauren and Curtis of 69 Tearz on the internet.  

69 tearz is Lauren dela Roche and Curtis Campanelli. Formed in 2020 under the name '96 Tearz Vintage'....until they discovered that another company in Canada had the exact same name which made them decide to flip the numbers and drop the vintage. 
 69 Tearz

The focus on hand-drawn clothing started in July 2021 during a residency at Bed Stuy Art Residency. During the residency, Lauren found herself facing a creative block in her fine art career.

 On the drive out to NYC, from Missouri, Curtis and Lauren acquired a couple hundred seamless cotton feed-sacks from this hoarded-out farm. The guy had kept everything he had ever touched. Up until this point they had been mostly working with lightweight feedsacks, making shorts and halter tops that were not drawn on. These new sacks were heavier weight- they had wild hand sewn repairs, patches of all sorts of materials and yellowing that takes a hundred years to form.

One day Curtis made a pair of pants and begged Lauren to just draw on them in the style of senior cords. The color of the bags was an off-yellow, so similar to the cords it felt right. Lauren drew on them and nervously posted it. She did not want to take credit and left the caption blank. Everyone loved them thinking they were actual senior cords and asked where she had found them. 

69 Tearz Drawing

Our collaboration was very natural.  Lauren sent me photos of a bunch of her drawings. According to Lauren, the imagery inspiration always comes back to that intersection of the playfully nostalgic and the awkward coming of age teenage vibe of senior cords. Senior cords imagery is so indicative of the moment in time in the people's lives when they created them, before they are adults but after they are kids. There's something so awkward and innocent but trying to grasp what maturity might mean. Always a mixture of cartoons, human figures, and sometimes "yearbook style" + lude phrases. She has a massive collection of antique and vintage comics, kids books, magazines, and antique scrap books from a lifetime of estate sales, bins, and treasure hunting. The imagery she uses for 69 Tearz is a reflection of her inner teenager forever trying to find confidence in being simultaneously bold and sentimental.

The "Angel BB" ties into that as well, being a reference to a 1960 song by Rosie
and the Originals. The lead singer was only 15 when she wrote the lyrics to that song for her first boyfriend, and even though initially the song was too gritty sounding to find a label to distribute it, it became a sound time capsule and today people all over the world love the way the unpolished audio brings us all back in time.
Angel BB 69 Tearz DEGEN

Fruit bowl, cherries, and gumballs were all great choices for the sweater collab because they brought a pop of color to the sweater that we thought would be a great way to encompass the vibe of a cozy sweater with our colorful doodles.

One of the most exciting moments of the work together was teaching Lauren and Curtis about graphing for knitting.  The drawings needed to be transformed into knit- able charts.  Everything looks more pixelated in knitting and is far more planful than hand drawing.  The process of mapping out the charts so that they look as hand drawn as the drawings with wonky placements was a rewarding challenge.
69 Tearz Degen

The materials for the sweater were easy to pick.  The base yarn needed to be a really natural looking, undyed wool to imitate the feedsack coloring.  We chose a beautiful Andean Highland Wool as the base.  It's sheepy just how I love it.  For the first sample all of the artwork was duplicate stitch but we updated it to intarsia for the final garment to give the garment a bit more drape and so that the drawings were more built into the garment instead of on top.  It is a small visual difference but its all about the details.  The intarsia yarns are all deadstock superwash merino, left over from other companies' production which would otherwise be landfilled.  I love the similarity in the re-use and circularity of the feedsacks and the upcycled yarns.

The fit is similar to a "reverse weave" Champion sweatshirt but is a hand knit sweater and a little more bulky.

DEGEN x 69 Tearz Sweater

For more details, see the product listing when we go live at 4pm ET on Sunday, November 12th.  

I hope you love these sweaters as much as I do- this one feels really special and it was fun to make it come to life with internet friends. 

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