Belgians do it Bagger

The dream of the '90s is alive in Portland  Belgium thanks to Antwerp bar owner and clothing designer Sven Mes' new line BaggerIt's 3am and everyone's in uniform sporting bomber jackets, shaved heads and Nikes. Flailing limbs thrust into the air and into faces, sweat flinging everwhere. Cacophonous beats pound into the floor in sync with the room's collective racing heartbeat. This is gabber. The Dutch anti-establishment rave sub-culture turned mainstream music and lifestyle that swept 1990s northern Europe. It's also the inspiration for  Mes' new grunge couture clothing line Bagger. Think: white knee high socks, camo t-shirts, bomber jackets and wooden knuckle rings branded with a medieval "B." Feeling nostalgic? 


I Love Belgium recently had the opportunity to talk with Mes and get the 411 on his new brand. 

What was your inspiration for the Bagger clothing line? 
I have a strong feeling towards the '90s rave culture like the gabber movement that spread out from Rotterdam real fast over Europe. For me it has a strong resemblance to the punk attitude by the end of the 70s in many ways. The gabber thing was more than just a new hard core style of dance music. it also had a strong same but different anti establishment look and feel. Also a new style of clothing and dressing came with it: bald heads, golden earrings, Nike Air Max sneakers, Australian trainings, camo t-shirts, bomberjacks. With this Bagger brand, i try to take their style a step ahead. What would they wear now-a-days when the movement had a revival?

Why did you chose to name the line "Bagger?" 
Bagger is really a name that fits like a glove. It refers to our city Antwerp. In order to get extra extra large cargo ships in and out of our harbor and keep the waterways navigable, we Belgians frequently need to remove all dump and dirt from its bottom. But wait. . . . . there's more, as in today us Belgians are the world's leader in this dredging technique, and so world wide very numero uno gathering up wet shite. How's that for surrealism. Eat this Magritte. No don't. Also, figuratively, bagger refers to something bad, something worthless. Our northern neighbors aka dutch people use the word bagger instead of shit or in a manner that denotes a slight disgust to express a feeling of wtf omg oh no eek gross. Kanker is bad, bagger is worse, tyfus is beyond. No it's not. So, B a g g e r it is

You have said the clothing is a sort of throw-back to gabber culture. What appeals to you most about gabber? 
The thing that is was way more than a hard core music style. It was movement. A way of life. A look and feel. A dress-code. And it has a great legacy i guess. At first Nike Air max was really a sport shoe, but the gabbers dropped it into a fashion sneaker, really. I recon the Aussies from the brand Australian also didn't had any clue that their formally unknown brand all of a sudden became so popular. 

In the past few years, gabber scenes have been popping up in the UK and Russia, Do you see the same thing happening in Belgium? Do you hope to bring gabber back to Belgium? 
I think that the gabber scene never stopped in any way, off course it collapsed like the punk movement because it became so darn popular. At its highlight even the TV commercials for Calvé pindakaas used gabber music and gabber folks in their ads, off course the real deal gabbers had enough of it. Not just the gabber-thing, but the whole early '90s rave culture knows a large revival, in clothing as in music. All great producers nowadays use rave samples for their new material.  

So far in your career you have been a graphic designer, and a successful underground nightclub (Flying Saucers are Real) and bar (Bagger) owner. Why did you decided to start a clothing line? 
I always had a strong interest in street wear. Opening a bar. Creating a vibe, an attitude, a look and feel. It all kinda feels the same to me. I just love to create and design in all sorts of directions. This was a feeling that was growing over the years, and now it seems the right time to do it.

Where will people be able to buy the line? 
I am currently looking for stores in Belgium and Holland. I prefer one particular store in each town. Again, the feeling must be right. I really don't care about selling huge amounts of it.

What is your favorite gabber album or track?
Without any doubt :Rotterdam Termination Source - Poing.

Where did you get your inspiration for the logo? 
Medieval and Gothic fonts are common used in hardcore designs. It has a raw and kinda evil look and feel, this is a classic medieval capital B. Nothing more. Nothing less. It happened to be tattooed on my chest just a few days ago.

Who would you love to see wearing one of your designs? 
That is by far my utterly happiness. Seeing your clothing in the streets by wild childs. I love it. In a way it keeps me from growing older and wiser.

Photography credit - Ulrike Biets

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