Friday, 14th Nov 2014
Pictured above, the Static Cable Knit Sweater
For autumn 2014, our men’s Laurel Wreath Collection has a sharp, defined aesthetic.
We spoke to collection designer John Tate to find out the background behind the collection, which was inspired by British New Wave and electronic music of the 1980s.
Hello John, tell me a bit about the story behind the collection.
The thinking behind the collection was that it took inspiration from an imaginary night out, probably in London’s Soho district. There is a good mix of dark tones and pops of colour running throughout – reflecting the dark of the night, and the bright lights of the area. I feel there is a hedonistic undertone running through the collection. My thoughts were about going out, losing myself in the nightlife and trying to visualise how everything can start to get a bit blurry...
Yeah, details in the collection seem to reflect a night out?
I took direct influence from patterns and images you might see on a night out. One of the main thoughts behind the knitwear this season was the idea of visualising static, or white noise. The knitwear pieces feature a blurred or fuzzed effect, woven in – the sort of thing you might imagine on a monitor at a gig or in a DJ booth, with sound levels going up and down.
Pictured above, the Static Knit Crew Neck Sweater
Lots of the shirts feature a ‘blown-up gingham’ effect; moving the traditional micro-check gingham shirt to something a new and different. My thinking here was to reflect the ‘pixelated’ sensory effect you sometimes feel from being surrounded by bright lights and loud music. I also used a speaker-grill print throughout the collection. It looks a lot like a fine polka dot initially, but when the reference is mentioned you can see how the print has evolved from looking at the inside of a speaker. It’s subtle, but effective.
Was music an inspiration when designing this collection?
Definitely! I took particular inspiration from British post-punk/new wave electronic music of the 1980s – the sort of music you would imagine played at a dark club hidden away in Soho. Gary Numan and the Tubeway Army were probably the biggest influence overall, they have that real raw industrial sound to their music. But also the early side of the Human League, when they were more electronic than vocal. Soft Cell’s Non-Stop Erotic Cabaret album was also a big influence. That Soft Cell album is dark and hedonistic, it was a great reference point.
You mentioned Gary Numan’s industrial sound…
Yeah, alongside the imaginary night out narrative behind the collection, I would say there is also an element in the collection taken from industrial Northern British towns – particularly Sheffield. The Human League originated in Sheffield, and had a very gritty, electronic early sound on tracks like Being Boiled. Soft Cell also originated in Leeds, before settling in Soho – their early single Memorabilia is again quite a tough, industrial sounding track so there is certainly a Northern context woven in too.
Were you involved in the photoshoot that accompanies the collection?
Yes I was - I actually helped choose the model. He had an element of David Sylvian from the band Japan about him. Japan were probably best known for the track, Ghosts – another track from the scene that inspired the collection, and I liked the idea of weaving this further into the visual presentation.
John, thanks for your time!
Pictured above the Industrial Dot Print Shirt
See the men’s Laurel Wreath Collection for Autumn HERE
Monday, 10th Nov 2014
At 20 years old, Char "Mod" Farrow is the youngest member of Foresters Scooter Club. Foresters was originally a Vespa-only club, founded in Wanstead back in 1957. Fifty seven years later Foresters is now open to all scooter makes and types, and meets weekly in Woodford, North East London.
We asked Charlotte, a dedicated Mod since the age of 12, to compile a November playlist of ten tracks inspired by the key autumn jacket – the iconic parka.
Charlotte says - "I picked these ten songs as I feel they show how music associated with the Mod subculture has progressed from the late fifties.
Soul and Motown were the origins of the Mod movement, and the music that started it all. Soul was an interesting new sound from America that arrived alongside new fashions and scooters from Italy - it all just clicked together!
Personally, I really relate to the songs by The Who, Small Faces and Kinks. These bands were directly influenced by Motown, but added a raw edge into their songs. Their lyrics are mainly about growing up, falling in love and life, and I think that everyone can relate to them.
Groups like The Jam and Oasis still have a Motown link in the way their lyrics were written, but with a much tougher edge. They are songs that really make you want to rebel against everything and show everyone that you can do things and look after yourself, even when deep down inside you know you can't!
I've Had Enough by The Who features the lyric - I ride a GS scooter with my hair cut neat, I wear my wartime coat in the wind and sleet - you can't get more Mod than that!"
Pictured above - Charlotte's parka. With her name and town "Char Loughton" painted on. This also corresponds to what is written on her scooter fly-screen.
On wearing her parka, Char says - "To me wearing a parka is just a way to rebel against everyone, and be individual. I think that anyone has owned a parka at some point will agree as soon as you put one on, you can't help but walk with a bit more swagger and pretend you are Jimmy from Quadrophenia or Liam Gallagher from Oasis! They make you feel a bit invincible!"
Find out more about Foresters Scooter Club HERE
Thursday, 6th Nov 2014
The parka jacket is both a subculture classic and a winter wardrobe staple. It first appeared on British shores when the Mods reclaimed them from army surplus stores in the 1950s – but the origins of the jacket can be traced back much further.
The first parka came from Canada. Invented by the native Caribou Inuit, it was originally crafted from the oiled skins of seal or reindeer. The hood of the jacket – one of its key features – helped to protect the wearer’s face from the freezing winter winds and sub-zero temperatures.
Later, the basic parka jacket style was adopted by the American Military, who used it to combat the freezing weather conditions faced by the US army in the Korean War of 1951. Taking reference from the Inuits’ version, it evolved into the more familiar fishtail parka, which is the shape that modern day variations are still based on.
There were four main styles of fishtail parka; the EX-48, M-48, M-51 and the M-65 (the M standing for military). The EX-48 and M-48 jackets were of extremely high quality and their high cost meant that they were only in production for about a year.
The M-51 is the classic fishtail parka jacket, and the shape that still inspires most versions today. It’s an iconic piece of outerwear, and key features that still appear on modern interpretations include a detachable lining, a fur-trim detachable hood and a long ‘fishtail at the back – hence the name.
Nobody knows exactly why this technical military jacket became adopted by the British Mod movement in the late 1950s and early 60s, but there are many theories. The most likely seems to be that the jacket was actually very practical for riding scooters. Available at a cheap price from army surplus stores, the M-51 parka jacket was an exceptionally high-quality jacket, designed to brave the elements.
Another major appeal in the M-51 Parka was that they were worn by nobody else. Image was integral to the Mod movement, and wearing something entirely different from the crowd held strong appeal.
The jackets quickly became customised – Union Jack flags, scooter-club patches and badges, music references and RAF targets were pinned, stitched and ironed on. Stamping a very British element to a military piece evolved the parka into a subculture staple.
The jacket is an iconic piece of Mod uniform, gaining notoriety after the news reports of the infamous seaside riots of 1964, and then later appearing on the cover of The Who’s defining ‘Quadrophenia’ album and the classic British film of the same name.
Image above - still from "Quadrophenia"
The parka remains a winter wardrobe staple to this day and remains a key shape throughout our own jacket collection this season.
Thanks to Alain Bibal