EXSL is a contemporary and adventurous fashion project uniting the Stiaan Louw and Exterface creative forces. An ongoing thrilling dialogue from Cape Town to Paris, halfway between photography and fashion design. With an unapologetic expression and a tasteful eye, together they redefine underthings and shape a whole new intimate lifestyle for men.
“By exploring ideas of cultural belonging, social and sexual subcultures and male archetypes, we bring fantasy to reality.”
Five years ago South African designer Stiaan Louw and French photographic duo Exterface started their singular collaboration. Enriching their artistry, pushing the boundaries of male iconography, they come up with iconic looks and stories that inspire an ever-growing community. The overwhelming response and their successful artistic partnership has naturally led them to build the EXSL project.
How was the EXSL project born?
This project came up organically. We’ve developed a trustful and creative relationship with our designer friend Stiaan Louw over the years, collaborating on shoots, sharing ideas… The response was always great, so we thought that we should try and build something together. Us being the photographers and him being the designer, joining our creative forces under the EXSL label.
Who is this project addressing to?
This project is addressed to everyone. Men or even women who love beautifully crafted and sexy design. People who are not afraid of playing with gender codes, and ready to have fun and experiment a different lifestyle with us!
How do you manage to push the boundaries of male iconography and come up with iconic and provocative authentic looks each time?
Authenticity is very important. It comes from a place of truth and love. The three of us are very passionate and hard working persons, this project is like the outcome of both our careers, us as image makers or him as a designer. It’s very visceral and special.
What is the source of your inspiration?
Men and women, everyday. Fashion. Past. Present. It’s like a continuous flow of ideas and desires. It’s very much in synch with what we are ourselves vining to currently. It’s like an expression of our own fantasies. What could be hot and cool to see a man wear today?
How was the reaction to your project overall?
The reaction has been exponentially great! We can’t be more grateful for people’s support and love.
What is the secret of your success?
Authenticity, integrity and love.
How did you meet?
Stephane and I met 16 years ago, we were both art and communication students in Paris. We were both on a music forum and happen to contact each other to exchange some Björk mp3s over MSN Messenger at that time (!!!). Stiaan got in touch with us, after we created our Exterface platform, through Twitter. He suggested we should work together. We were so excited… So thankful that he did, cause look at us now?!
Tell us something about yourselves. Partners in crime or partners in life?
Steph and I are partners in life. Stiaan and us, partners in crime.
What is your manifesto?
Real life fantasy!
Do you make fashion for a specific body type or anyone can be a potential buyer
We don’t. Our fashion is for everyone and that makes us so happy! We are also planning on expanding our sizes range!
Do you feel that the gay men lingerie and underwear is under-represented in the market currently?
We do feel like gay men lingerie and underwear are not represented in the best way. That’s why we wanted to provide an alternative version of it. Refined, tasteful and unapologetic.
How do you choose the models for your campaigns?
It’s very instinctive. Through social media, spontaneous candidates, people that are already connected to our brand and our universe. Models are also part of the inspiration process, ideas can come from them… It’s a collaborative project!
Who is the sexiest man you would love to collaborate with?
An open-minded guy, sexy, liberated, trustful…….. We love when they have a story to tell, something to explore, or a challenge to risk! Again, it’s a collaborative and nourishing experience.
When does nudity become art?
To us, it’s a celebration of the human body. It’s an ode the Creation. Body being a work a work of art in itself, so our aim is only to celebrate it and to showcase it the best way possible…
How has social media helped in the establishment of your brand?
It all started with social media! We met our dear partner Stiaan Louw through it five years ago. We laughed this brand on our respective social platforms. People following each other work were already familiar and in tune with what we have been collaborating on together in the past. So, it all made sense! We couldn’t have done it without it and without our beloved fans.
What is art for you?
What are your future plans?
Expanding our brand territory to ever more fun and unexpected places… Always telling fantasies, always exploring and reinventing.
More of EXSL here:
*all images are courtesy of EXSL