With all his talk of innovation and inspiration, Portland designer Michael Hawkins could easily assume the role of a cultish tech CEO from a dystopian sci-fi film. His label Greater Good Conglomerate—abbreviated top 66/c—even sounds like a sinister global corporation from a not-so-distant future. And his clothes look the part, too.
It's not an accident. Hawkins loves science fiction and mob stories, including Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, HBO's The Leftovers, and anime. But his aesthetic doesn't draw from a specific place or period. Instead, his designs project their own sense of futurism, with garments could be worn by a post-apocalyptic spiritualist.
Originally from Pittsburgh, Hawkins wanted to be an industrial designer but got into streetwear in middle school. He switched to luxury apparel while attending the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, and now blurs the distinction between styles. Hawkins didn't complete his degree—he failed a crucial class by a single percentage point. 66/c was born around that time, and took on its present form two years ago, when he moved to Portland after a breakup.
"It was kind of a surreal moment," Hawkins says. "I moved to a new place, I didn't really know anybody. I really kind of learned myself and exactly what I wanted to do and where exactly I wanted [66/c] to go—just really focused on a goal."
Hawkins describes 66/c's garments as "formal leisurewear," and his visual artwork acts as his creative design process. Hawkins free-drapes fabric and deconstructs existing garments on mannequins, documenting their angles and textures. He takes photos and draws on them, designing a whole new garment. He uses traditional sketches, collages and his experimental drawings to translate his vision, favoring cashmere-blended wool and viscose fabrics that look like what people would want to wear rather than a costume.
Hawkins' take on futurism draws on a wide swath of influences, from cults to conspiracy theories. Sometimes Hawkins is inspired by global art movements, like German Renaissance artist Albrecht Dürer. Other times, he is inspired by shapes and textures he sees in historic and current photos of human suffering—whether it's the climate crisis, the atrocities of the Trump administration or the desperation of houselessness.
"I'm trying to tell the story of America," Hawkins said, "I research fashion a lot, and I don't think anyone's told the story of Old America yet, like actual Americana. I think some brands hit Americana, but I think there's a different way to do it. We have a story to tell, and even if it's not the best story, there's still a story to tell. I want to show the pain and love, but it's mostly about love."
Hawkins knows his vision is lofty, but one of his biggest goals for 66/c is to encourage people to resist programmed thinking, and to trust in their intuition. 66/c's runway debut is yet to come, and it's only been in the past few months that he's shared anything more than his label name. But he says a pop-up shop for his complete 12-piece collection is coming this fall. Though Hawkins still keeps an aloof air of mystery, he is slowly growing more comfortable with sharing his ideas and creations.
"It's actually been better. It's been necessary," Hawkins says of opening himself up more, "I feel like I have a story to tell, and it's almost kind of selfish to not come talk about what's going on or why I'm feeling this way, even when you want to be cool and hip and incognito."
MORE: Find 66/c online at 66cinc.com.