New models #6: The Young Herborist and his botanical urban planning

NEW MODELS is a series of portraits and interviews of people and initiatives shaping tomorrow’s world. Fashion, food, design… How can we produce differently? Who is shaking things up and why?

In this new article, we meet up with the mysterious Gary, from the Instagram account The Young Herborist. Not only does he have a green thumb, suspending plants all over Paris in vintage sneakers, but he also has a knack for growing projects with those who cross his path. Interview with a budding artist.

A background sown with happy accidents

After finishing his studies, Gary launched the Walk In Paris clothing brand with dancer Léo Walk. While the materials and colours remain resolutely modern, the brand spirit is clearly inspired by vintage cuts spotted in Parisian second-hand shops. The collaboration between the two friends and associates worked so well that it continued in the form of other artistic projects, such as La marche bleue, Léo Walk’s dance company, currently on tour. Further proof that Gary’s background is sown with happy accidents, Walk In Paris brought him into contact with the painter Enfant Précoce, the brand muse, for whom he is now the manager. “I kind of made things up as I went along,” shares the versatile young man.

Discover: Gary’s Instagram account

The blossoming of The Young Herborist

In parallel, Gary nourishes his passion for botany, which has held an important place in his heart since childhood, sparked by the spacious gardens of his mother and grandmother. While he’s always loved nature, the idea only took shape three years ago, when he hurt his foot. “I couldn’t leave my house,” he explains. “I spent my days watching tutorials on how to make terrariums and I made some myself. I covered my veranda with plants and, suddenly, the idea for my project The Young Herborist popped into my head.”

On his Instagram account, Gary gathers, sows and waters, of course. But, mainly, he hunts down old sneakers in second-hand shops or from friends to hold flowers and plants that can withstand harsh weather. Once again, his project came to life spontaneously. “I’ve always been fascinated by shoes hanging on electric cables,” he tells us. The Anglo-Saxon practice is meant to indicate drug dealers’ zones or pay homage to the dead. However, because Gary does things his own way, he borrowed the symbol to “add a little beauty to the grey of Paris” by filling them with green plants.

Waste not, want not

The plants that he suspends are little works of art that evolve and care for themselves, as in nature. You might think that he’s a sneaker addict, but the accumulation of accessories and clothing, not to mention compulsive buying, is not his style. In fact, the artist says that he only owns a few pairs of shoes, which he uses until they’re all worn out. “When they’re falling apart, I’ll probably put plants in them and display them in the city,” he jokes. “I’m all about upcycling. I like the idea of giving a second life to something that was supposed to die.”

A motto that he applies down to his wardrobe, as he admits that he steals some clothing from his grandparents’ closet. “I love beautiful pieces that last. I wear them all the time. I have some that I’ve worn for years, pieces that end up creating their own stories. I’m kind of a fetishist when it comes to objects and their stories,” he admits, referring to his jacket, which has been with him for many winters.

Beyond the streets of Paris and Instagram, Gary’s botanical works are starting to interest stores, who see them as a unique staging method. Recently, his creations found their way to the Adidas store in the Marais neighbourhood of Paris for the release of a pair made of recycled materials (Adidas Clean Classics). The passion of the artist and entrepreneur has become his profession. “I’d like to continue working in this direction and plan happenings in the city, like exhibitions in the street around my evolving artwork,” he concludes.

AMV Journal is a space dedicated to encounters, discovery and travel. Every week, explore the musts, portraits and inspirations of American Vintage and its creation studio.