ENDYMA: the archive of Helmuth Lang largest in the world
“The peculiarity of what we do is what involves me most,” he says Michael Kardamakis, founder of ENDYMA, the fashion archive with the collection of Helmut Lang largest in the world. The archive focuses on pieces from the 90s and 2000s by different designers, but the real pillar is the Austrian cult designer – and Kardamakis has 1,650 of his pieces, to be exact. “Every little detail matters – it’s so intentional and nothing is left to chance,” he continues.
After its beginnings as an online retailer, Kardamakis has transformed its vast collection into what it is today: a place to store rare pieces from the history of fashion and an essential resource for contemporary brands. “Iconic designs can be used as the basis for a new product,” the 28-year-old comments. “At the moment, we work mainly as consultants, supplying raw materials to maison to create new garments. “
Michael Kardamakis, founder of ENDYMA
© Chris Kontos
ENDYMA – the Greek word for ‘garment’ – was established in Kardamakis’ hometown of Athens before it moved to Berlin in 2020. During the Reference Festival this year (January 21-23) held in the German capital, some of Helmut Lang’s most important pieces were exhibited in the Reference Studios showroom. The archive holds other equally influential brands, including Raf Simons, Miu Miu menswear, Rick Owens and Burberry Prorsum.
Here, Kardamakis discusses her love for Helmut Lang, the importance of taking care of one’s clothes and why the fashion system needs a makeover.
Where does your interest in fashion come from?
“I first came into fashion while studying art history at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and have always tried to integrate contemporary fashion into my degree program. I wrote essays on jeans and my thesis was about cutting Ann Demeulemeester’s jackets. “
What prompted you to collect clothes?
“I made some money in college as a retailer and gradually learned to recognize craftsmanship and details. I got hooked on Helmut Lang in 2011, when nobody cared about 90s minimalism. A couple of years after I graduated and launched my site, I had an appointment with a one of a kind designer fashion house and there I was asked if I was in charge of rentals. Since then it has become a real archive. “
Where do you find your pieces?
“We look for them everywhere. If we know we can find them under a boulder, then let’s go and look at them. Also, people find me on Google – they send me emails and direct messages. And the trades happen with people I know personally. We get one new thing a day. “
Helmut Lang spring summer 1998
© Guy Marineau / Conde Nast via Getty Images
What are you looking for in particular?
“I’m obsessed with completing certain collections and groups of objects, as well as finding lesser-known pieces. In Helmut Lang’s clothes, the holy grail is obvious – everyone knows the emblematic pieces. But for my work as an archivist, these pieces have no outlet – they are too famous and recognizable to be used as raw material for new processes. “
What is it that attracts you about Helmut Lang?
“His work, in many respects, is strange, because most of it has no real ‘design’. Hers is an archetypal approach – her suits are the textbook definition of classic boxy dresses with classic proportions. He is obsessed with tradition, but then he makes half sleeves in a different color and everyone is amazed. “
What are your favorite pieces?
“Those from the 2000s are truly iconic. Also, his first denim jackets, of which I own a wide range in every shape and color. I really like the jeans shirts of the first Helmut Lang, on which the project of Raf Simons for Calvin Klein. “
Besides Helmut Lang, who are your favorite designers?
“At the moment, the work of Dirk Bikkembergs until 1999. Costume National before 2001. I also acquired some Japanese knitwear brands, such as FICCE, which makes elaborate knit garments. Vintage Burberry from the early to mid-1980s.
When does clothing become an investment in your opinion?
“Of course, when something is recognizable as a good investment, that is when it is a piece with a good position in the history of design. I am also developing my proposals, to find new value when people are not able to see it. “
Helmut Lang spring summer 2004
© PIERRE VERDY / AFP via Getty Images
What makes a designer worthy of his position as a cult designer?
“Consistency is essential to transform a designer’s work into something iconic. This requires strength, patience and a fixed idea, which in turn turns into a long story. Something that is tested over time and for some reason is still in fashion after 20 years; something that legitimizes it for real, from my point of view this is what makes it a cult. “
Why is there a greater emphasis today on taking care of your clothes and buying second hand?
“Well, first of all, I wasn’t able to afford new high fashion items; buying second hand paved the way for me in this universe. Today, the fashion system is weak and its prices are too high. There are a lot of new products coming, the situation is getting out of hand. “
What is your hope for the future of fashion?
“I would like fashion houses to produce a third of what they make and invest more in their claims, rather than trying to do everything for everyone with a different approach for each season. This obsession with trends – it’s a crazy, senseless race. “