Founded in 2004 with a desire to explore and create, Call and Response began as a small concept store with one goal: to create something from nothing and tie music and art to design.
Self-taught and low on cash, we began with an idea and a crossroads: a choice to stay within boundaries or break beyond them. Design is often taught as a defined set of rules, a series of boxes that must be ticked to be deemed suitable for wear and style. That path had been an obvious choice and a familiar one, but we were pushed down the second path, towards the unfamiliar and the exciting.
Because we had very little in the beginning, we tried to find a way of working with what we had so that we could create what we wanted. When we couldn’t find what we were looking for, we sought out alternatives: trying various techniques to add texture and shape to garments when the materials we had lacked imagination.
We would paint leather to add depth, beat up textiles to add texture. We would hunt for old and antique textiles, often pieces that would have otherwise been discarded or forgotten. It wasn’t merely necessary: it was fun. Everyday we were learning, learning and trying new things.
No one had told us what to do, so no one could tell us what not to do.
Our clientele was the key reason for our experimentations. Soon after we opened our doors, musicians, artists, and creatives discovered us and we found ourselves with a unique problem: how do we create interesting and dynamic pieces that still fulfill the functional needs of those who preform?
Our clientele had their own special requirements and desires for their pieces. Dancers needed clothing that moved and stretched with their bodies, a guitarist who played with her right hand couldn’t have a right sleeve that bore fringes, and an opera singer who liked to sing barefoot needed gowns that hid her feet.
Each and every need was not a burden to us, but a chance for exploration, experimentation, and elation.
Inspiration came from everywhere, but as we worked closely with musicians and artists, it was unsurprising that much of our inspiration came from the musicians we loved and the music that moved us. We found such inspiration in styles from the 60s, 70s, and 80s and from some of our key musical influences, such as Jimi Hendrix, Prince, Sly and the Family Stone, Miles Davis, Fleetwood Mac, Cassandra Wilson, John Lee Hooker, John Coltrane, and Nina Simone. Blues, Jazz, rock, soul, hip-hop: all served as key notes in our process.
From a chaotic start to our no-less chaotic present, we’ve always found the most joy in our creation, our process, and the artists we’ve meet along the way.