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 New York based designers Piotrek Panszczyk and Beckett Fogg are experts at negotiating the tenuous line between trash and treasure.

"I think it's quite interesting how you can have something on that is very luxurious and high end in one way, but it can also be fake and façade,” the pair have said. “That's what interests us: when is something a diamond, and when does it become a zirconia?" 

Their impossible-to-google label, Area NYC, is named after a downtown New York club that their clothing manufacturers associated with the label’s club-glamour style.  And while their distinctly millennial high end collections (which have drawn on Christina Agueilera and Sex and The City for inspiration in the past) are what put them firmly on the map, it’s their hydraulic embossing machine that’s responsible for their recognisable aesthetic.

The machine in question is a Depression-era hydraulic embosser (Read: a giant machine used to stamp car seat leather) that creates honeycomb-like textures on fabric.  The pair, who met and graduated at Parsons School of Design, put everything from denim to lamé through the machine, and the fabrics are then carried over, season to season. “Every fabric takes to it differently, so there's always a different result," explains Panszczyk. 

Perhaps the best example of the machine in action is in their classic, unisex cotton tshirts.  Specially designed and cut to ensure they can lie as flat as possible, each shirt is carefully folded and packaged in plastic by hand before being treated in the machine, where a rippling textile landscape is then magically frozen into the fabric through the plastic.  As varying pressure and heat is applied to every shirt, each one has a unique, undulating crater pattern that can be preserved by steaming or dry cleaning, or dissolved to reveal the shirt’s tiny perforations by machine washing.

"I think that what's really interesting to us about textile development especially is that, in a saturated market, it allows you to literally put your own stamp on a piece and make it recognisably belong to a brand," explains Panszczyk.

The brand is garnering some attention. The pair have made a pair of shorts for Rhianna, and have recently become the subject of Condé Nast's documentary series The Fashion Fund. As for the label’s name…

“We wanted something that was clean. Area is like a blank surface, a starting point. Kind of like a studio — a place without really a destination. It can be anything, it can go anywhere. It means something quite banal. Even when we started Googling, it took a while before it popped up because it’s such a random name. At the beginning it was all these little codes and formulas, which was kind of cool. A secret fashion company. It’s cool how it’s developed.”


Area NYC shirts are available now.