Part conceptual fashion label, part art collective, part… shipping company. Serapis Maritime is the collaborative project of four Athenian creatives centred around a fictitious shipping firm. Its output ranges from collections of clothes and homewares – sold through Opening Ceremony, Ssense and Matches – to art interventions, including a super-scale light installation in a tower block overlooking Athens’ Piraeus port.
“We make fashion but we focus on the narrative aspect, which is about liquidity and the sea,” says one co-founder, who prefers to remain anonymous so that the brand is known only by its collective name. “We like the idea of water as something that brings things together, whether it’s disciplines or people.” Indeed, Serapis takes its name from the god “invented as a hybrid deity by the Ptolemians as a bridge between Egypt and Greece”.
The ultra-contemporary, multi-hyphenate outfit has now partnered with non-profit Athens art space Arch on a capsule collection, called All as One, inspired by the Minerva Collection of historical maritime art that Arch founder Atalanti Martinou catalogued for her family. Photo-printed fabrics – showing the sea and skies alongside industrial details such as the chalk marks used in shipyards – are turned into silk-satin dresses (€480) and scarves (from €150); men’s silk crepe shirts (€350) and T-shirts (€60); as well as 10 cushion designs (€100) and linen place mats (€70 for a pair). The weave of a woven jacquard throw (€450) looks like blue-grey-indigo marbling, imitating “the waves generated by engine turbulence”.
All designs are limited editions, made in Greece using native organic materials – silk from Soufli, cotton from Volos – wherever possible. “There’s only one place you can print on organic fabrics so far in Athens, so that’s where we go.” The Serapis crew do venture further afield, however; two years ago they travelled on a tanker as it crossed the Indian Ocean. From foam in the ship’s wake to the cafeteria carpet, everything was photographed for their reference archive, where it rubs shoulders with found shipping ephemera such as contracts and corporate communications – all of which they draw on for collections.
Also on show at Arch are artworks created with photo negatives and UV-cured ink on silver-nickel plates – then mounted on wood like a postmodern Orthodox icon (from €2,800). “We treat all our objects like one thing, so we don’t distinguish between the territories of art or fashion,” says another collaborator, adding that they recently placed a tongue-in-cheek ad for the exhibition in Greece’s main shipping newspaper. “Our pieces can be consumed at face value but, if you want to, you can also dive into the stories behind them.”