We’ve been Hyphenated!

Check it: An Interview with Designers Fiftyseven-Thirtythree

James and Loretta of </a>Fiftyseven-Thirtythree



Tell me briefly what your line is all about, how you got started, and what you think makes you stand out from the rest of the streetwear scene.

5733: We’re just a little company doing what we feel like. That’s the main ingredient. If we don’t feel like doing something we don’t. If we have some goofy idea we like, we do it. This is supposed to be fun. I assure you there are no demographic charts at the studio. That’s what keeps it all genuine. Occasionally we do something that sucks, but we take great pride in the fact that it “genuinely” sucks. This all happened by accident. We were just playin’ around screen printing stuff for our friends. We knew some of the guys at Hieroglyphics in Oakland and they had a screen printing set up in their warehouse, from there, everything just escalated.

Actually there is no “streetwear” scene, this is a common misconception. See a long time ago there were people doin things, being creative, having fun, wearing clothes, expressing themselves, you know, living. Then another group of people with smart phones and BMW’s needed a word to describe what the first group of people were doing to marketing execs and investors. So they came up with the term “Streetwear” to describe a plethora of creative and often incongruous styles that they didn’t know anything about.

Where did you get 5733? My math is terrible.

5+7=12. 12 is the square root of 144 which is commonly the quantity T-shirts are purchased in. 33 is the square root of 1089. 1098, in addition to being both a nonagonal number and a centered octagonal number, is also the year the Byzantine Empire conquered Crete. 5733 is also our street number.

Your designs are part political statement, part street art. What inspires your designs?

Life, NPR, cinema, all the information that floats around out there. Ideas about achievement, society, perception and such. Some things just stick, they stay with us. We carry them around. The things that stick are what make us who we are. We’re just expressing who we are. We all write our own histories. Through emphasis and omission we create our identities. This is just us, being us. That said I think we also have a definite agenda, but that would be a long and tedious explanation.

What about the various Asian allusions? What’s up with that? May I ask also about the seemingly LGBT thread also hinted at in your work?

I can answer both really simply. We live in the Bay Area. Lots of Asians, lots of LGBT, lots of LGBT Asians. To that end I think we reflect what’s around us.

Oakland plays big into your designs and concepts. Why Oakland? How would you describe the fashion scene there? It’s not exactly Milan.

There’s a fashion scene in Oakland? It’s not Milan for sure, cuz Milan doesn’t have a major league baseball team yet. It’s more like Rome, particularly East Oakland, where the Coliseum rises in grandeur amidst the bustle of the city reminding us of our former greatness i.e. the 72,73,74 A’s. Honestly, we hella heart Oakland and we also pay hella less rent here. Oakland is super diverse and has a lot to offer it’s a good place work and live and focus. There is no facade to it. It is what it is.

Why did you decide to sponsor Mr. Hyphen this year? In your opinion, who makes a good Mr. Hyphen?

Mr. Hyphen should have an air of confidence and a certain understated sophistication. He should be a man who can hold his own, intellectually, in any forum and at the same time know how to throw back a few at the neighborhood dive. Mostly though, the decision should be contingent on the size of his penis.

This question is for Loretta. As a Vietnamese American, what do you parents think of this?  Is there no end to the shame we have brought to our families?

They were strict but it helped being the seventh child out of eight because to some degree, I think they were done with parenting when I came along. I was scrutinized more for my moral character, but when it came to career I was left alone to do what ever I wanted. I studied design and art and worked odd jobs and they never cared. Right now, I think they are so relieved that I’m “no longer” a lesbian.

What’s next for 5733?

I don’t know. What did you have in mind?

Mr. Hyphen 2009 will take place on Saturday, November 14 at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center. Buy tickets here!



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