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words by lily moskowitz

@expiredcitizensbyelad expiredcitizens.com

It is no coincidence that Elad is Dale spelled backwards. Dale, the mind behind Expired Citizens by Elad, has built his clothing brand upon the idea of backwardness: flipping what was once one thing into another through the process of upcycling. Reflecting, Revisioning, Refashioning.

While object estrangement and subversion inform the essence of Expired Citizens’ design ideology, this season’s capsule collection particularly emphasizes contrarianism through its anti-Americana sentimentality and re-imagining of the uniform.

Emblems of nationalism are re-interpreted as expressions of counterculture and resistance. Blue collar meets black tie as classic blue jeans are elevated into head-to-toe denim suiting with raw hems, exposed seams, and selvedge lining. A patchwork tracksuit made from scrap fabric appears as an iteration of ‘modern day camo’ that demands attention rather than disguise. Cargo pocketing and utility vests gesture at traditional military dress while maintaining a metropolitan coolness. Rigidity and authority are upended through collage cuts and unexpected combinations. 

Patriotism is further exploded in the fabrication of the FIREWORK JACKET, a fire-truck red bomber constructed from the huge banners that traditionally hang from the tents that sell fireworks. Elad restructures elements of the original banner into voluminous pockets, masterfully reworking the gap for the tentpole to create shape on the garment.

Uniformity is pushed past its boundaries through full figure outfitting. Consistency of hue and fabric – the monochrome look so characteristic of army and occupational dress –  is extended beyond the body’s own lines; matching fabric bags appear to blur body and accessory such that it is unclear where the body ends and object begins. A patchwork denim crossbody blends seamlessly with a jean jacket and pant, protruding from the torso as if part of the garment. An oversize plaid rucksack – paired with a plaid tracksuit – bulges from the model’s back like a 3D mutation growing from the

patchwork, distorting dimension and obscuring the figure in a street style ode to Rei Kawakubo’s Lumps and Bumps collection.

The cohesion and totality of these looks construct the wearer as a force both streamlined and deformed. Armed with backpacks and duffels, the Expired Citizen inhabits an apocalyptic body adapted to carry its own tools. Nomadic and dystopian, this blend of object and subject feels to be a protest of the demands of the capital economy as well as an optimistic reminder that we are plastic. Scrappy, resourceful, malleable enough to evolve with our changing environment. This collection suggests that we must be productive and functional. That we can mold ourselves and our resources in order to do so.

Perhaps the highlight of the capsule is a pair of stacked hybrid track pants. We gasp as they're taken off the rack in the showroom: it is a Mowalola lover’s dream and a normcore’s nightmare. Shocking red basketball shorts are layered over a pair of jeans that have been hand-distressed and peppered at the ankles. Tiering the symbols of sportswear and workwear into one piece, Elad doubles down on the subversion of standard dress coding through surplus. In its collision of style and satire, the garment playfully hyperbolizes the excess of the American lifestyle.

What sets Expired Citizens apart from the conventions of upcycled fashion is its broadened take on deconstruction and reconstruction. In addition to utilizing old clothes in order to make new pieces – a common approach to recycled fashion – Elad sources material from found cloth objects that were never intended to be worn at all. Mundane fabrications are dislocated from their original function and relocated onto the body, expanding the ethos of textile recycling to include non-fashion items. A tablecloth transcends the kitchen to instead envelop the skin in a burgundy jacquard bomber and trouser. A jacket fashioned from what looks like burlap finds a new life as outerwear. The original purpose of the material that makes up the FIREWORK jacket transforms from advertising a product to becoming a product itself.

Despite the avant-garde nature of Expired Citizen’s sourcing methodology, the garments maintain a tempting degree of wearability. A frequent occurrence in the anti-fashion aesthetic is deconstruction to the point of dysfunction, yet Elad presents a collection grounded in utility and accessibility. Androgyny and pragmaticism. Separately, the garments perform as elevated wardrobe staples, yet they are just as powerful when worn in conversation with one another. Several looks are brilliantly styled as coordinating sets, though the items elicit equal appeal as individual statement pieces. That the elements of the collection are interchangeable speaks to the versatility of the Expired Citizen's aesthetic: capable of being loud when it needs to be or quiet as it wants.

Finally characterizing this collection as ‘against the grain’ is its embodiment of quality.

TikTok has tragically spawned an army of Gen Zers who have taken the democratization of sewing tutorials and DIY construction guides as tools to appropriate the art of fashion design into cropped graphic tees and cheap crochet. Yet it is purpose, rather than lack of skill, that transcribes the Expired Citizens design language as an assemblage of disarray. As a self-taught designer, Elad defies the norm of shoddy pastiche. His raw cuts are intentional and well executed. His scrap fabric patchwork does not appear scrappy at all, but is instead clean and well-finished. Garments that repurpose waste should not be wasteful. Expired Citizens proves that upcycled fashion can be durable and wearable, tailored and fitted.

Snippets of anti-fashion iconography scatter throughout the collection. The opening look, a black dress draped out of a fringed scarf, gestures at a Margiela-esque minimalism. The doubled gym short/jeans would be coveted at Vaquera. Hints of Yohji Yamamoto and Junya Watanabe whisper through knapsacks, drawstrings, and military regalia– both designers that Elad identifies as sources of inspiration for his own work. Rather than rendering his design unoriginal, these references serve to place Expired Citizens in meaningful conversation with the history of the anti-fashion movement.

One thing is certain: Expired Citizens is far from its expiration date. 

ENVY Magazine