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Renowned fashion photographer Mert Alas — one half of the renowned duo Mert and Marcus — has spent the last four years immersed in the world of gin. While pandemic pivots to new creative ventures have become commonplace, Alas was looking for a new creative outlet long before the current crisis. In crafting his new aromatic gin — named Seventy One after the number of nights it takes to rest the spirit in oak casks — he found many parallels with fashion’s creative challenges. Just like in fashion, gin making has suffered from a focus on speed over quality. True craft requires patience and time, Alas says.
On this week’s BoF Podcast, Alas speaks with Tim Blanks about finding new creative avenues and resisting the pressure to produce more and more and more stuff.
Alas approached his new gin like any other creative project as a “relentless journey for perfection.” He immersed himself in the process, learning about every step, from the drink’s perfume basis to how many days were required to settle the alcohol. “It became this like a domino effect of ideas and in reality, an experience,” he says.
As Alas thought about how he wanted to position his new brand, he spent a lot of time reflecting on the “selfish” nature of the fashion industry. During lockdown, he wanted to create “some kind of an artistic give back,” using Instagram to connect with young creative followers and give them feedback.
Creatives should hold on to the time they had during the pandemic to focus on their craft, Alas says. “I was very much on a go, go, go [mentality] for the past 30 years… What I realised [during] the pandemic was that we also never stopped… I was doing a lot of quantity, but now I realise I missed craft.”