He was deep into
boring traditional menswear when one day he fell in love with the functionality and style of techwear. Now Quantius is getting ready to release another cyberpunk-flavored set of his Amdus bags.
The techwear community recently found its own resident artist. The man who goes by the online handle Quantius has been on a mission to draw the outfits of the community, and it has now resulted not only in a banner for the Techwear Clothing subreddit, but also in an actual old-school paper book.
In real life his name is Yorghos E. Carabas. He is a senior graphic designer, living in Cockeysville, Maryland. And before drawing artistic fit pics, he made a name for himself in the techwear community with his modular bags, under the Amdus Project brand.
A couple of years ago, Quantius was all in on traditional menswear, he explains over Discord chat. Fine textiles, tailoring, welted shoes, pocket squares and ties galore. It wasn’t until two years ago that he got into techwear. And his impetus was unusual: a trip to Germany and a pinched sciatic nerve.
”I had always been wearing traditional menswear, and I also love to travel. However, when on holiday, my wife and I walk everywhere. When walking twelve hours a day, for a week, brogues and Oxfords would leave me with blisters and pain. I would valiantly hobble through the last couple days of any given trip. And any sweat would weigh down my clothes all day; forget washing them as hang-drying them at the hotel would often take several days.”
Quantius and his wife decided that their next trip would be different. They both enjoyed hiking, so they had hiking clothes and knew their benefits. For their trip to Germany they decided to bring their hiking clothes and sneakers, packing super-light with clothes that could be washed in the evening and be dry the next morning.
“Despite looking like a blueberry, it was my most comfortable trip ever. When we returned I figured there had to be hiking type clothing that wasn’t ridiculously bright and made sense to wear in a city.”
There was just one problem: he didn’t know where to look. Searching for functionality among traditional menswear brands was getting him nowhere. That was when he pinched his sciatic nerve.
“It was the worst pain I’d felt in my entire life. It took two weeks for the pain to subside, but it had done a lot of damage and it took another six months of physical rehabilitation to regain full range of motion in my right leg, then another six months to regain feeling in my right ankle and foot.”
This time of slow recovery forced him to wear sneakers, he needed the cushioning, and it was during this time that he stumbled into the Techwear Clothing subreddit and fell in love with the aesthetic and functionality.
“I dumped my old wardrobe and never looked back.”
This epiphany didn’t come out of nowhere. The seed had been planted many years prior, when Quantius was growing up, and the cyberpunk futures of Blade Runner, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Shadowrun and Deus Ex captured his imagination. Then, of course, in 1999, came The Matrix.
“I was in high school and, at the time, it was world changing for a young mind. Actually, it was world changing for the world of cinema. It also rippled through my other favorite medium, video games. And it inspired me to gobble up movies that hadn’t been on my radar before, like Johnny Mnemonic, Robocop, 12 Monkeys, among others.”
As he was entering college, the Internet was redefining the world around him. This was just before Facebook, Youtube, even Myspace, but technology was evolving rapidly, gearing up to transform societies, economies, people. At this time, Hackers became his favorite movie.
“I’m not gonna lie, I wanted to dress like them. However, wanting to fit in prevented me from going that route. Instead I tried to look as ‘adult’ and ‘professional’ as possible. If I knew then what I know now, I would have just done what I wanted, because the adult world is full of facades and idiots. Hindsight. Too bad it took me so long to get here.”
What finally got you hooked all these years later?
“I love the comfort of techwear. Knowing that my clothes are adaptable and comfortable means I don’t have to think about them outside of when I’m looking to buy something new. Most things match due to a limited color palette – mostly black – and I dress in layers so I simply add or remove layers depending on temperature.”
He likes to move through the techwear spectrum, from subdued grayman fits to the louder, more aggressive styles of the Acronym school.
“I find this dichotomy interesting and very appropriate to a lot of the sci-fi inspo that techwear likes to draw from. Blending in and blending out.”
Quantius has a BFA in painting, and he is currently in the process of getting a second Masters degree, this time in Integrated Design, which combines Print Design, Motion/Video and Digital Strategy. All this is in addition to his day job and hobby projects. He says he’s always thinking about design, and how people interact with it.
At the time Quantius was into menswear, he fell in love with Swaine Adeney Brigg bags, which can run $4,000 for a briefcase. As he found them unaffordable he started learning leather craft, in order to make his own stuff. And he soon found that people wanted to buy his bags, which was flattering but hard to translate into a sustainable business.
Getting into techwear he soon ran into issues with affordability again, when looking at the high-end brands. So he got creative once more. The jacket sling was a hyped feature of jackets from Acronym and Nike ACG, so he created detachable jacket slings that could be used with different jackets. He then designed some pouches.
“People were again asking if I would be willing to sell them. I was a bit nervous to get myself into the same spot I did with the leather bags, where I would give up all my free time and create a business that was just work for the sake of work.”
I ask him what the biggest challenges are, and he responds with three bullet points:
1) Pricing. Setting prices to reflect the time investment is tricky. A lot of people just see [material cost] + [labor] and ignore that you have packaging, shipping, administration, research and design, marketing etc. on top of that. And, quite importantly, you don’t want to just break even, you want money to reinvest into the business, to hopefully grow it.
2) Creating compelling products. I immediately knew I could not compete making commodity products, as competitors can produce larger quantities for less, all the time. So I am hyper-focused on detail and design. I try to think about my users and about pragmatic, holistic functionality. I could come up with all sorts of crazy ideas, but part of design is knowing how to distill ideas into their useful components. This creates a longer R&D process, but I want to make things that offer something beyond novelty.
3) Copying. Not in the sense of someone copying me, but in the sense that I, and other “techwear” makers, copy. I clearly have drawn from the source, Acronym, and I hope I’m adding something to it. Design is iterative and when done on a mass level, no one notices the amount of copying that goes on. But in a niche community with an aesthetic derived from a commonly referenced source, it’s hard to break free from that gravitational pull. One of my biggest design challenges is how to create something useful within this aesthetic that is not a gimmick or a reproduction. I end up spending a lot of time trying to solve this Bermuda Triangle design challenge.
While design can be hard, so can sewing. Improving his own skills in that department taught him some important things about the craft. Like how hard it is to do really well. Quantius describes his respect for garment workers – whether in China, the US, Vietnam, Italy, Bangladesh, Portugal or anywhere else – as “massive, massive, massive”.
“Not that I ever thought sewing was devoid of craftsmanship, but I was ignorant of how much skill was involved. Frankly, these people are artisans, being paid slave wages and working in sweatshops. It’s a huge shame. Learning the craft has also made me more aware of when and where other bag makers have cut corners. Everything matters, how much noise does that zipper pull make while you move? Does the strap ride up? Can someone actually reach that pocket when the bag is full?”
Production is currently online at the Amdus headquarters. Quantius just announced a new collaboration with Agent 006400, who has a strong following for her fit pics and Youtube content. That one is releasing in March. Meanwhile the second version of his own Wolf Bag is in field testing. Quantius is carrying around the first prototype every day, with various loads to see how the bag performs.
“There are fewer unknowns this time around since it’s an iterative design, but I make note of everything. This morning I have a decent load and while the new strap is much more comfortable, the stabilizer strap pulled on it in a weird way and now I have to think about reinforcing the strap, possibly sacrificing some comfort, or just ignoring the way it pulls. My stylus pouch will be returning, I use it daily myself and people seem to like it. I have also nailed down plans for a modular set with two pouches, a strap and six types of connectors that you can combine in various ways: into a waist/chest bag, sling bag, wallet, stacked, unstacked, mounted on bag… I have seen pouch variants that offer some degree of variability, but I want to push it even further and create an all-in-one set.”
Quantius is, however, not the type to just learn to do one thing well and then stick to that. A while ago he created his own cyberpunk fragrance (rain, Tobacco, Rum, Sakura, Asian Lotus, Cedarwood, Orange), and a couple of weeks ago he started drawing the fits of techwear community members.
“I was playing Death Stranding and The Surge 2 – great games – and I loved their concept art. I was posting the art to the TWC Discord’s #Inspo channel because I thought it would be cool to dress like that, but then I thought… we kind of do dress like that, I’m gonna draw some of our fits. So I did a few and it took off organically from there.”
What technique do you use?
“Loose and fast. I learned Sumi-e many years ago and I used to challenge myself to paint still lifes in class using a single continuous line by just varying pressure. I employ a similar technique in these portraits where I visualize shapes and use quick motions while applying variable pressure to the stylus to generate lines that feel very dynamic and energetic.”
Did drawing teach you anything about what makes a great outfit?
“Many fits are within a limited color palette, but there is so much variation in how light moves through layers with different textures. Contrast between textures creates a lot of visual interest. And, of course, stacking and pants-shoe-interaction (PSI) are probably the biggest make or break moments for any fit. That space where you transition from mid-calf to the foot is where a fit lives and dies. There is no single right way to do it as people’s bodies, clothes, and shoes are all variables here.”
Another thing that can elevate an outfit, or ruin it, is accessories. Quantius has become keenly aware of their role as he has studied the fits of the community, and designed his own.
“While you might find outfit silhouettes cutting across other modes of dress, techwear accessories still feel uniquely techwear. They exist at a very interesting intersection of fashion, military/tactical, and cyberpunk.”
What is interesting to you in techwear right now?
“Athleisure for men exploded in 2019. It was already simmering, but it has gone fully mainstream and it’s creating more options for techwear enthusiasts than ever before. Also, violently bold and vibrant colors strategically placed in an outfit is something I am taking a fancy to. I don’t know if this is just the “look, a pop of volt!” phase, but it’s on my radar. Along with big, blocky exo-suit concepts. I keep wanting to make arm/leg pouches or shoulder bags, but I’m always wary of that weird warcore vibe.”
Quantius may only have been a part of the techwear scene for a few years, but he has made a name for himself as a consistently interesting creator. And even in this relatively short time he has seen the community go through a few fads, controversies and phases. All as it should be in a fashion genre focused on innovation. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
“One thing we are always grappling with is how far you can stray from ‘the aesthetic’ before you venture into another genre of fashion. But I love seeing new faces and people who come to techwear with fresh eyes and put their own twist on things.”