For our first Guys on Clothes episode we had an insightful chat with Patrick Mason, one of Berlin’s most talked about personalities and “trend-setters”! Designer, illustrator and DJ, this 26 year old multi-talent knows clothes and definitely knows clothes in Berlin!
Œ Magazine: What do you think about when you get dressed in the morning?
Patrick: I’m a bit of a chameleon, so I like to express myself in different ways and it also depends very much on my mood. Lately, it’s been very gray in Berlin so my style is rather consistently black, gray, and brown tones or the opposite to somehow break that. I like being a colorful spot in the gray. A rainbow that brightens up people’s day and makes them laugh. If a stranger takes notice, if I can make someone smile or frown and was in their head for a moment, that’s always a small achievement.
Œ Magazine: What is the first piece of clothing you pick when putting together an outfit? What comes first, the shoes or the coat…?
Patrick: Well, Anna de lo Russo and Anna Wintour both said, “Always start with the shoes.” For me, it’s the same. Then I go to the socks, I have very colorful socks and love to put an accent… Then come the shorts and pants, then well, I usually wear a black turtle neck…
Œ Magazine: How come?
Patrick: It’s a little weird for me to talk about that because it has to do with an insecurity of mine. A few years ago, I was super skinny and my neck, well, whenever I would wear a t-shirt I would feel extremely exposed, so I started wearing turtlenecks. That made me feel safe. The turtleneck is like my happy place in the outfit and through time kind of caught on as a trademark. From there I would move to the coat/jacket and then to the accessories.
Œ Magazine: Is there anything else clothes-wise that makes you feel confident and comfortable in your person, in relationship to your job and everyday-life?
Patrick: Nowadays, everything I wear is an expression of myself. It’s that freedom that makes me feel comfortable! But, it wasn’t always like this. In Bavaria, where I come from, everyone dresses the same and if you try to try to slightly overstep that line, people are very judgmental. Back home it was very hard to be myself and even harder to express that through fashion. So, when I came to Berlin I started experimenting. Now the mindset is “This is me, love it, or hate it, I don’t really care” because at the end of the day, I’m the one who has to look in the mirror and recognize himself.
Œ Magazine: So we could say, you dress the way you do to celebrate this freedom? Can you honestly say that you don’t care about what other people think when they look at you? Before you said, you enjoy getting a reaction out of strangers with your look…
Patrick: Well no, not from a psychological state. I guess, it’s a bit of a myth that people dress up for themselves. I think everyone dresses to impress the same gender. Woman dress for other woman, to kind of “compete” with them… it’s something natural and has been this way from the beginning of time. The same for guys. Of course, the gay scene is a little different and right now the trend is actually going to hyper masculinity. People are still so afraid to express themselves in their gender and sexuality. Being gay and dressing gay or gender fluid is very difficult…
Œ Magazine: Really? I know very little about this scene. Could you please explain further.
Patrick: Sure! I’ve been living here for six years now so I could see some shifts. These days, people dress ─ I hate putting it in these terms ─ but yeah, straight. Kind of down to basic “norm core” in some attempt to be as hetero as possible because that’s what the gay man wants. It’s a little ridiculous, but the perfect gay man is actually a straight acting dude.
Œ Magazine: I see. Forgive my naivety , but, why is that? Is it a matter of sexiness?
Patrick: Yes, right now the sex object looks like a normal dude with no clues or hints that he could be gay. That’s what it looks like in the fashion magazines as well. We have the bears, the alternatives, bearded, very muscular, and tall. When I visited Paris, for example, or London, it was the complete opposite. Over there people are into the androgynous style that J.W. Anderson started. In the beginning I was struggling a lot with that iconic picture of a gay man perhaps because I’m also not white and let’s face it, Berlin is super white!
Œ Magazine: Is it?
Patrick: Oh yeah! Especially in then gay scene. You barely have mixed race or colored guys. It’s mostly southern, Spanish, Tel Aviv types or white Nordic dudes. So, at first being a mixed race gay man and choosing a gender fluid, not to mention slightly over the top look was a synonym of weakness. Of course now I’m comfortable in my belief that dressing gender fluid is a sign of strength and boldness. I hope we can make that shift happen in Berlin as well.
Œ Magazine: I’m sure you’re not alone with these thoughts…
Patrick: No, but people are still so afraid. They want to be sexy to the majority, have hookups and fear that if they dressed the way they wanted to, they wouldn’t find a guy.
Œ Magazine: Why is that look so appealing to men? Is it really just a matter of playing it safe?
Patrick: Okay, here’s the thing: Gays are always attracted to the “straight dude”. They are always fantasizing about turning a straight man gay and look for the butch that makes them feel safe and comfortable and not confronted with gender roles or stereotyping. If you are top, then you have to be this masculine butch guy, and if you’re bottom, you need to be this petite creature. These roles need to be broken down. We need to start seeing gender as a spectrum because I think we are way passed that in our time.
Œ Magazine: Absolutely. Although I fear it’s going to take a little while longer to achieve full emancipation from some culturally imposed paradigms…
Would you say that you belong to a scene?
Patrick: Mmm, yes and no. There is definitely a scene of fashionistas and people that are aware of how they dress, but I hate putting myself in a box. I like to think that I’ve got my own thing going. As much as designers and stylists influence, I’m always determined to add my own twist, but there are clearly a bunch of recognizable scenes in Berlin. And when you step into the streets, they’re easy to categorize…
Œ Magazine: How would you categorize them?
Patrick: The different tribes? There is the bold techno-influenced Berghain scene where people dress black and brutal with a lot of fetish gear and accessories like checkers and chains, but also sporty elements, sneakers or docs, hoodies, bomber jackets, undercuts… Then we have the APC scene, that’s how I call it. Very toned down but chic at the same time. People who wear a lot of Cos and Acne and really take care of their bodies and their projection on society. Slightly condescending, vegan health goths… ah ah! Then there are the punks of course. But Berlin is famous for that and finally the anti-conformist whom I would put into the “Kater scene”. These are the people that really dress up and have crazy hair styles, dreads, and their make-up on fleek. Very free spirited people.
Œ Magazine: Show me a typical Berlin outfit or piece of clothing.
Patrick: Perhaps this oversize Nike Sweater. It’s reversible and has this over dimensional comfortable zone. It’s stylish but also has the “I don’t give a fuck” kind of vibe and the edginess. And that is typical of Berlin!
Œ Magazine: Can you remember the last time an outfit caught your eye on the street?
Patrick: Yes. It was actually a friend of mine that I had no idea was in Berlin. I saw him from the back and he was wearing this long oversized trench coat, belted with corset. Form behind, the silhouette was quite feminine, but when he turned around he had this chest full of chains and this long beard… I thought: “okay, someone is really doing the mind-fuck right!” In general, though, I just love sitting somewhere–in the summer it would be my favorite cafe in Mitte and just watch people passing by and secretly analyzing their outfits, noticing who is stepping a little bit out of his comfort zone and making his time worth wile.
Œ Magazine: Do you talk about clothes with your guy friends?
Patrick: Of course we check out each other’s outfits, but most of my male friends study or work in fashion so it’s not our main topic. We are so overwhelmed and preoccupied with fashion all the time that it feels kind of redundant to go into depths about it during our free time. We definitely talk more about music, art, and gossip!
Œ Magazine: Do you have a favorite piece of clothing?
Patrick: Patrick: That would be my Jeremy Scott by Adidas basketball bag. I found it by coincidence in a store and just had to have it. This is totally me. Crazy and outgoing, different. As for wardrobe favorites, I have a few, mostly coats. One of them is an oversized Burberry blazer I found after Berlin fashion week at a vintage stand.
Œ Magazine: What do you like about it?
Patrick: The fabric and texture, but especially the oversized fit, it has this Balenciaga feeling. You can do a lot with it. This would be my favorite business outfit. Moving on to the coats, this is definitely my favorite, a vintage Yōji Yamamoto velvet coat with a renaissance painting on it. It has this Christmas vibe while being very classical. I like to pair it with jump-suit pants and wore this a lot in Paris during fashion week.
Œ Magazine: So the occasion is also a criterion when you pick an outfit for the day?
Patrick: Yes! Absolutely. It’s important do make distinctions. I have so many different things going on at the moment, There is my own collection and all the meetings related to that, but also the modeling and the DJing.
Œ Magazine: Right! In addition to being a designer, model, and trendsetter, you are also playing in many clubs now!
Patrick: Yes, it’s still very new but has been kicking off. I started two and half years ago, doing really small things with my iPad and then I somehow found myself at About Blank with Moodymann, which is kind of a big deal…
Œ Magazine: Can we listen to a set?
Patrick: Sure! I play in two different directions. It’s either very happy and housey, you know, a lot of Chicago house and old school disco a darker tech beat, very progressive and strong. The kind of music I like to dance to in Berghain.
Œ Magazine: Do you go there a lot?
Patrick: Yes! I just get so inspired by the people and the vibe. When I leave, I usually take the long way home just to process what I just experienced!
Œ Magazine: Was Berghain a big influence on your style since you moved here?
Œ Magazine: What do you wear when you go to Berghain?
Patrick: Coming from Bavaria, when I first went there, I had no clue of what to expect. You don’t really listen to techno and electro there, only Beyonce and stuff like this… ah ah! Of course, I had heard about it and was curious, so one night, I went there all by myself. I was wearing my pink Viviane Westwood and had this huge red coat. Ironically, I was wearing a lot of color… I got noticed by one of the bouncers while trying to pick up the line. He called me over and said “What are you doing? People like you don’t queue” ah ah! I never stood in the queue again. The first one and a half years I would go to panorama bar because I had no connection to techno and loved dressing for happy house and disco. It seemed absurd that people could dance to the same track for 24 hour. I only recently found joy in techno and now I actually like to dress really comfortable. That means shorts, nice over knee socks, sneakers, and a tank top. That way I feel more free to move around.
So, if you had to go to Berghain wearing some friend’s outfit, you wouldn’t feel at ease?
Patrick: Definitely. Despite my look being a lot toned down these days, I would still need the catchiness of my personal style to feel on game.
Œ Magazine: Is representing yourself style-wise in Berghain as important as representing yourself in other places or settings?
Patrick: Hmm. It’s definitely very important. You know, we could say that Berghain kind of made me! In the beginning I always went wearing my hat so I became known as the guy with the hat. It caught on and people started recognizing me and telling their friends about my style. My reputation grew and my actual work started getting more attention. I suppose that’s how I became “relevant”, which is flattering and absurd at the same time.
Œ Magazine: How do you stay in touch with the people who follow you?
Social media is quite important. My Instagram is like a work portfolio of my style and the things that move me. I studied graphic design among other things so I have this need of putting everything into visual perfection. When I upload a picture I make sure it’s 100% what I want to look like in terms of angles, composition and styles. And it’s quite a fun platform.
A lot of people are reaching out over Facebook or Instagram telling me “You are so inspiring, please keep it up!” And that’s what I want to do… Inspire people!
Œ Magazine: That’s exciting! There are many fantastic ways of putting that influence to use!