Radical Polish DJ and producer VTSS stars in an exclusive ABM film set in the underground club scene
“A Better Mistake comes from a Chinese myth or proverb – it’s about creativity. It’s about that moment in which there is no fear of being mistaken, you don’t even think about that. You reach a moment of creative freedom that brings you to another level.” On a gloomy Friday afternoon in January, Simone Ferraro – otherwise known as Madame_inc – is speaking animatedly across Zoom about his label A Better Mistake.
Founded in 2019 by creative director Ferraro and his partner Marco Agnolin, the Italian label is all about breaking down boundaries within fashion. “We both felt there was an urgency and an opportunity, and the time was right to build something disruptive in this ever-changing industry,” he continues. Having spent a long time working at huge commercial brands, the two decided to turn their attention to something more creative. “We wanted to tell our own stories, which is when we came up with the idea for ABM.”
Across the course of our conversation, disruption comes up a lot. With the label intent on obliterating the lines between gender and disregarding the idea of seasonal collections, instead, it’s doing things its own way, and building a like-minded community of collaborators and fans as it goes. “Creative disobedience is the core of A Better Mistake,” says Madame_inc. “For me, creative disobedience means to encourage people to think more – I feel that the world nowadays is built on an illusion of freedom. It’s about breaking boundaries, and being curious, asking yourself why things are the way they are. It’s about creating your own identity and not adhering to how society expects you to be.”
These ideas manifest in a subtly subversive collection made up of wear-how-you-want pieces with techy finishes and glitchy, dragged from the depths of the internet graphics littered throughout. A scroll through the label’s Instagram reveals Berghain-ready bomber jackets with wipe-clean sheens layered over skin-tight mesh tops, vinyl parachute trousers matched with clean-but-skewed blazers, and oversized hoodies, heavy-weight tees, and sweaters bearing jagged broken glass prints and abstracted computer graphics.
What’s surprising, given the label’s very clear identity and aesthetic, is Madame_inc’s revelation that there’s no tangible reference point behind the collection. Instead, the designers draw inspiration direct from the streets and ABM’s diverse community.
“(A Better Mistake’s) pieces are going to live together with someone else’s life experience, and they’re going to mix up and create worlds you couldn’t imagine before. That’s the beauty of doing what we do: someone else is using your world, dreams, and ideas to create their own” – Madame_inc
“Normally brands sell total looks or ways of wearing, but the most interesting thing for me is ‘the theory of the wardrobe’,” he explains. “Your pieces are going to live together with someone else’s life experience, and they’re going to mix up and create worlds you couldn’t imagine before. That’s the beauty of doing what we do: someone else is using your world, dreams, and ideas to create their own. I don’t like seeing someone wearing a uniform that I propose – we need to open a dialogue from both sides. That’s what I’m inspired by.”
Not only drawing inspiration from its international community, the label is keen to actively bring them into the fold, working on collaborative projects with a new gen of international creatives from the ‘digital underground’. Having previously joined forces with model Sasha Trautvein on a capsule collection that examined censorship, transparency, and identity – as well as disruptive digital artists Nina Doll, Arcin Sagdic, and Combrisi – its latest project sees the label link up with rising electronic DJ and producer VTSS.
Pre-pandemic, the Polish creative was bringing chaos to dancefloors around the world with her uniquely industrial, eardrum shattering sets – as well as living rooms everywhere, when she started streaming them during lockdown. With Madame_inc describing her as ‘A Better Mistake’s ideal collaborator’, her appeal lay in her ability to break down barriers, as well as her total disregard for the rules of her creative arena. Collaboration is also an important part of what she does, with her evolution as an artist fuelled by projects with friends and mutuals – a sentiment echoed by ABM, which hopes its own growing tribe will shapeshift and evolve alongside it.
These radical shared values are encapsulated in an exclusive film created in partnership with Dazed, directed by Jak Payne with creative direction by Frederick Paginton. Soundtracked by music from VTSS’ upcoming EP Borderline Tenderness, the short sees her make her way through a dark, underground clubscape, coming face to face with different facets of her identity as she goes. Naturally, she’s dressed in full looks from the Italian label’s latest offering, appearing in dynamic, club-ready cropped vest and cycling short combos, oversized hoodies, and slick tailored pieces.
A Better Mistake’s visuals might be rooted in techno aesthetics and futurism for now, but Madame_inc explains that, like its most recent collaborator, the label is not to be pigeonholed just yet. “One thing we want to bring to ABM is this new concept of fashion completely as an extension and expression of ourselves with no limitations – what is today can be completely different tomorrow,” he explains. “We’re creating clothes for multiple identities. The ways people change themselves according to how they feel and what they do using fashion – I find that so beautiful.”
Shop A Better Mistake here and watch the film above.
Credits: Film Director Jak Payne, Creative Director Frederick Paginton, Junior Art Director Mikey Womack, Featuring VTSS, Music VTSS, DOP Jack Reynolds, Stylist Lee Trigg, Make Up & Hair Janina Zais, Performers Erika Sviderskyte, Danni Spooner, Amel Dadzie