The ‘80s were all about Michael Jackson’s “Thriller,” Madonna proving that bras could be fashion statements, and a kid named Ferris Beuller having one epic sick day on a parade float in the heart of Chicago. Well, at least, that’s what the era read for most pop culture consumers. But if you held a magnifying glass to the Northern California city of San Francisco, many kids were trading their neon spandex in for ruffled cuffs, dark makeup, and leather.
Before “all black everything” became a saturated Instagram caption, the San Francisco night scene had developed a goth subculture of its own, calling on the rebellious souls that prowled its dark, teen-infested streets to curate its own aesthetic. But while decades have passed and entertainment, fashion, and even hip hop have switched gears to minimalism, one brand is continuing to bring life to city’s euro-goth scene. Enter Sav Noir, a high-end fashion brand confidently bred with San Francisco’s fearless attitude in mind, with a splash of chic, of course.
The goth subculture present in San Francisco was a rebellion of the hippie movement of the ‘70s. Bred in England during the early 80s, goth fashion stripped away floral prints for plain black and bare feet for platforms and spikes. In its early days, its culture invited a band of outcasts or those with an allure of mystery and emotion. Of course, as pop culture and fashion media caught a glimpse of its riveting and somber themes, others latched on to the misfit culture. But even so, Sav Noir founder Edwin Haynes suggests that euro-goth fashion and his brand are for those who have followed a dark and strenuous path. “This is inspired by people that been through that sh*t,” he says, over the phone. “You’ve been through that f***ing war to recognize who you are and to own yourself, and to pick yourself back up from the floor.”
A little over twenty years after goth culture erupted in the city, Edwin planted the brand’s foundation in the heart of the city in 2010. “It just started with a lighter and a logo,” he says. In its infant stages, Edwin took 300 lighters and pins with a distinct logo design and passed them out among like-minded, confident individuals. It wasn’t long before his lighters turned into t-shirts, hats and streetwear for both men and women, attracting San Francisco’s developing fashion and nightlife culture.
The ‘80s also delivered San Francisco’s energy that fed off of the club scene. The pulsing nightlife seduced young adults to its angst reverb, birthing a blooming fashion and attitude that refused traditional standards of sexuality and accepted and celebrated the androgynous, unusual and bizarre. Just as the nightlife grew in size and style, so did Sav Noir’s identity as a street wear label. Soon after, the logo that covered the brand’s first products ignited a community that not only grew fond of its untamed nature, but who also resonated with its matured story. While its story seemed relatable to those who sported it, it was a story Edwin knew personally – one of endless grinding, rebellion, and fearlessness. And as Edwin’s story progressed so did the brand into what it is today.
Sav Noir may have been plucked from the euro-goth era and designed in its mystery and excitement, but the high-end fashion brand represents more than hitting a nightclub in black and leather. “Sav Noir is an aesthetic and demo of willed individuals that have a story to tell. Save Noir represents confidence, a survivor in the world,” Edwin says. Now, the brand has evolved into a high-end series of detailed collections, which have been worn by A-list names such as Chris Brown, Shaun Ross, and Big Boi.
Its newest A/W 15 collection has officially propelled the brand into the high end fashion realm, showcasing its innovative vision. While its collection thrusts the brand forward, showcasing its forward-thinking and iconic aesthetic, it still calls on its 20-year-old inspiration from the San Franciscan streets where it first came to life. The brand continued to steer clear of gender selection and celebrate all walks of life by selecting transgender model Paul Mitchell to star in the latest collection. “We’re so jaded into one thing,” Edwin says. “Certain people want to see a six-pack and a chest or big boobs and lips. To integrate both of those things together is just to appreciate beauty. Confidence is beauty and the reasons for using [Paul Mitchell] is because he owns that beauty.”
As far as the future holds, Edwin says Sav Noir will continue to become a highly respected brand. He says it will eventually be sold exclusively at Barneys and H. Lorenzo and an internationally known brand, reaching not only its hometown, but Paris and Hong Kong as well. “The evolution of Sav Noir will definitely be on top of the pyramid. Why? Because people are waking the f**k up,” he says. “People are starting to not be robots and realize what is real. And Sav Noir is real as f**k.”