Inspired by an ancient city turned empire, Carthage is the brand’s aspiration translated into a compact, consistent collection. While last year’s global news reports narrated the story of a revolutionized, chaotic Tunesia, Carthage (on the outskirts of the capital Tunis) and its legends evaporated in the midst of the actual events. Fortunately, we had our clothes to retell the Mediterreanen tale.


Inspiration


When one thinks of an ancient empire, the images that pop in the mind are usually of Spartanic proportions. Scenes from movies like Gladiator and 300 have shaped a strong and vivid reference in our minds. Because we wanted to create an accessible, contemporary line, our premise was to get rid of the abovementioned assumptions. The challenge was to adequately narrate the story of Carthage without the imperial heavniess that in 2012 simply would not have worked.

The interesting thing about the African coast of the Mediterreanen is that it has an authentic personality: the white sands and vivid blue skies are mixed with African elements. This elegant and colorful summer atmosphere was our departure point. You can see this in the color palet where hues of olive green and sand yellow are mixed with sparkling mint tones and denim blue.

When you close up on Carthage however, you’ll find that there is little known about it. After the city has been conquered by the Romans, the new occupiers destroyed most of its cultural heritage, leaving many blank spots in its history. True, there are some stories and legends that survived, but the old city will always reside in a fog of mystery. This is why the context of the collection focuses on maritime and military references with little explicit graphic portrayals.


Fabric use and tailoring


Because Carthage is a spring/summer collection we chose to work with lightweight cotton for the tops and heavier fabric for the blazers and shorts. The Armistice blazer has a tailored, slim fitting but the use of twill-woven cotton makes it perfectly suitable as a summer vest, to wear on numerous occasions. We created two different versions: the Envoy and the Ambergris. The Envoy has a military inspired color use, with greyish green and brown, while the Ambergris is a blue denim/cotton combination. Our blazers are fully handmade in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

For the shorts we went for a minimalist design: slit back pockets, concealed fly, brand creed reference and parallel side pockets. The colorful surprise is hidden in the lining where we used a blue golf-set pattern. The buttons are made of dark wood and the fly closes with a hook for an elegant finish.


References to military


As I wrote earlier, the city of Carthage was famous for two major pillars on which it stood as a city and empire: its maritime and military expertise. Throughout the collection we referred to these characteristics; sometimes directly and other times in a more cryptic manner. An example of the latter is our Marin Authentique shopper, which is another collaboration with our good friends at Flybird. The Marin Authentique shopper is a harmonious combination of tanned cowhide and canvas. The funny and apt coincidence is that a company of army tents supplied the canvas cotton. We focused the design on the big envelope front pocket, which is not only a handy addition, but it gives the bag an authentic character and a playful touch. The bag is fully handmade at the Flybird atelier in the Hague, the Netherlands.

Another implicit military reference is our Bridle bracelet: a leather/cotton combination in the collection’s color palet. The material combination is a manly, contemporary mix, but it is also a thematical reference to the bridles used for military horsemanship.

Fortunately, there are also actual stories inherited through Carthage and there is no doubt that the most famous one is the story of the legendary general Hannibal, who defeated the Romans on their territory. The story tells of the general crossing the Alps on war elephants, making a fearful and intimidating entrance into Rome. This image inspired the creation of the Hannibal sketch. By focusing on the elephant, the story could be retold without the load of warfare, resulting in a captivating and very digestible print.


References to the sea


Carthage was a harbor city, famed for its maritime expertise. It had an infamous fleet which made it a feared rival on the sea and its mastery of naval navigation helped the city grow to an empire by way of trade. Simply put, it is impossible to speak of Carthage and neglect the sea. Some of our references are implicit, like the choice for an ocean blue v-neck (Mediterranean) or the cross-shaped raglan long sleeve (Croisiere), other items however carry direct referrals to the maritime character of the city.

For our pocket t-shirt, we designed a special cotton print using a boosted color palet. Each pocket is a playful and colorful depiction of the planet’s seven seas.


The geometry of “Hanno the Explorer”


Hanno was a famous king of Carthage and a renoun navigator of the seas. As an explorer, he was guided by meridians and navigation lines and it was this simple geometry that we wanted to translate to our design. Hanno’s navigation tools are drawn side by side, following vertical, geometrical lines, like the meridians.

There is much to say and write about this collection and how it came to be. This is a short, behind-the-product overview to share with you the artistic value of our work. There is always an idea, a thought, a story behind Guy Vernes; it is what makes our work interesting to produce and hopefully more so to experience. After this textual meal, I suggest you check out the collection’s look book for a visual dessert or head straight to the shop.


Credits


Carthage is the result of the talent and dedication of the following people.

Design: Bilal Al Mashta
Photography: Andrew Chin
Styling: Jorine Koster (Urban Attire)
Website & Lookbook: Niek Dekker
iPad Lookbook: Jordi van der Oord
PR: David Koster
Video: Sander van Wijk
Models: Virgil, Matan
Assistance Photography: Mathieu Cremers
3D-product modeling: Andries van Overbeeke
Special thanks: Flybird, Hypebeast