• How the sound and style of ’70s jazz inspire designer Nicholas Daley

    By | June 7, 2018

    “Looking for the right jacket or detail is like digging for vinyl.”

    Nicholas Daley’s parents were among the first people to open a reggae club in Edinburgh in the ’70s. Drawing on both his Scottish and Jamaican heritage, you’re just as likely to find tweed or tartan samples tagged to the wall of the London-based menswear designer’s studio as you are to find reggae in his record collection.

    It was tweed though, and its sartorial connection to jazz, which inspired Daley’s recent collection, Red Clay. Looking to the early ’70s jazz fusion era – when Miles Davis was rewriting history with Bitches Brew, and wearing bespoke tweed suits while he did it – Daley crafted a collection that finds a balance between past and present.

    Unveiled with a performance by a dream team of UK jazz musicians, including Shabaka Hutchings, Yussef Dayes, Mansur Brown and Alfa Mist (and featuring poet James Massiah and DJs Nabihah Iqbal and Judah Afriyie who were also part of the show schedule) – Red Clay has helped establish the designer in a context that moves seamlessly between disciplines. We visited him in his North London studio, before dropping into Zen Records nearby, to find out more about where he’s come from and where he’s going next.

    Nicholas Daley will be presenting his Spring/Summer 19 SLYGO collection during London Fashion Week on Monday, 11th of June. The presentation will be live-streamed on Instagram and Facebook at 13:30 to 15:30.

    Find out more about his work here and check out a few photos from the studio below.

    Extra footage: Victor Frankowski

  • This Is Not Fashion: The subcultures that helped define streetwear

    By | April 24, 2018

    From London punk and rural rave to skate culture and Harlem’s hip-hop heyday.

    Earlier this year, a new book charting the story of streetwear and its influence on the fashion industry was published by Thames & Hudson. Collected by King Adz and Wilma Stone, This Is Not Fashion digs up the roots of some of the most iconic items of clothing and the cultures, musical or otherwise, from which they emerged.

    As King Adz writes in the introduction, “it’s not the style of the cut that makes them ‘fashionable’. It’s the after-effect of the culture that they were embedded in, or grew out of.”

    Defined first by garment, and them by movement, the book acts as something of an introduction to the major touchstones in urban clothing culture, from New York to Tokyo via Johannesburg.

    To accompany its publication, we’ve collected a snapshot of its 300+ images, starting, as the book itself does, with the “first ever streetwear shop” – the downtown NYC locale Trash and Vaudeville.

    ‘The Trash and Vaudeville clothing store at St Mark’s Place in New York’s East Village’ © Viviane Moos/Corbis

    ‘A Shoreditch punk, Redchurch Street, London, 2010’ © King ADZ

    ‘Peroxide hair and a custom denim jacket at the Bread & Butter Berlin trade show, 2014’ © King ADZ

    ‘Crooks & Castles, showing some authentic attitude.’ Courtesy Crooks & Castles

    ‘Wanda and Kabelo, aka The Sartists, dressed to the nines, topped off with Simon and Mary bespoke hats and classic eyewear, Johannesburg, 2014.’ © Aimee Pozniak; art direction by Jana & Koos

    ‘ADZ and Wilma’s favourite Stüssy ad of all time, photographed by David Dobson: streetwear represented by the West African Chapter of the Stüssy International Tribe’ © David Dobson/ Stüssy

    ‘A timeless Tommy sailing coat, as worn by a million homeboys’ Photo Tommy Hilfiger

    ‘Harold Hunter, Union Square, New York, 1990.’ © Bill Thomas

    ‘SHUT Skates ad, 2006’ Courtesy SHUT Skates

    ‘Yevu from Ghana’ Courtesy Yevu

    This Is Not Fashion: Streetwear – Past, Present and Future by King Adz and Wilma Stone is out now via Thames & Hudson.

  • How photographer Willy Vanderperre weaves music into the fabric of his The Store X show

    By | March 14, 2018

    From Belgian new beat and acid house to hand-printed vintage tour t-shirts.

    Willy Vanderperre is one of the most important photographers of his generation – a contemporary of fellow Belgian Raf Simons, with whom he has regularly collaborated, and a child of the country’s ground-breaking ’80s electronic music scene.

    “I grew up, (and fully lived) the explosion of techno/new beat in Belgium and acid house,” he explains, as his debut London solo show prints, film, posters and more enters its final week at The Store X.

    “I wanted it to be more than just a photographic show… [and] music had to be a part of the show,” he says, preferring to use the word “introspective” rather than “retrospective” in describing an exhibition that spans some of his most recognisable work for major fashion designers and publications alike.

    “I looked at what is my core, what are the things that inspire me. In the end it all boils down to emotion. What, next to imagery, evokes the quickest emotion? For me, it is music.”

    In that sense, the exhibition takes on an immersive form, where aspects of the design evoke an experience that mirrors that of entering a venue or club.

    “We guide people through the entry where we created a merch stand, the kind you would find when going to a gig. The same setting, a table covered by a black cloth, the strip of fluorescent lights, the tees hung on a wall, with items easy to buy (collectable as they are all limited edition.) There are badges, pins, patches and tees.”

    And it’s the tees which are perhaps the most desirable items on the merch table. A collector and researcher of vintage tour t-shirts, Vanderperre is fascinated by what he calls their “nostalgic resonance”.

    “In NY we focused on U.S. bands but for this show, the focus was on UK. I only collected tees of bands that I would love to wear, they had to be special ones,” he says, pointing to the fact that just selling the vintage t-shirt itself would not be enough. “By printing the exhibition invite over them, they become part of the now, no longer a relic of the past.” Weaving music history into the fabric of his exhibition, Vanderperre imbues the objects with a new life and fresh associations. “The emotion they carry is of the night or day you bought them.”

    The gig experience doesn’t end there, either. From the merch stand “we guide people downstairs, through a black curtain, guests are confronted with another space. Clara 3000 is playing a techno set. On the opening night, it was also where one could get a drink, dance or whatever.” From there, the brightly lit gallery opens out.

    “There is something about that walk that is thrilling and exciting. The sense of anticipation to see the work, but also the memory and nostalgia of a gig, a great night out, the shelter of darkness, music that can transport you.”

    It’s a feeling that Vanderperre sought to create on that opening night, which saw French DJ and producer Clara 3000 perform in the space. A firm favourite of Willy’s, and a DJ he has been following for some time (she also DJ’ed at the opening of his NYC show), Vanderperre points to the journey she creates with her sets as integral to the experience. “It is full of surprises and is never safe,” he says. “After the opening night, her set continuously loops during the duration of the show.”

    Clara 3000 also features on a two-track limited edition record released by The Vinyl Factory that doubles as a catalogue for the exhibition. “I was very proud that Clara 3000 produced her first ever track ‘You Only Fall In Love With Pictures’ for the show,” he says. It speaks to the breadth and open-mindedness of his musical influence that he has placed a track by Belgian metal band Amemra alongside Clara 3000’s techno extrapolations.

    “Amenra are from the region I grew up in and their music describes every emotion of growing up there, the landscapes and the mood,” he says. “Their music is hard yet very emotional, poetic in its darkness and yet full of hope. For their track ‘A Mon Ame’, I was honoured to direct the music video. Both, Amenra and Clara 3000 move and transport me, so they were really important for me to be part of this experience.”

    prints, film, posters and more is open 12pm – 6pm at The Store X, 180 The Strand, London, WC2R 3EA until 17th March and is free to visit. Find out more and see images from the exhibition here.

    Order your copy of the prints, film, posters and more limited edition vinyl release from our online shop.

  • Photographer Willy Vanderperre releases bespoke fold-out vinyl for new The Store X exhibition

    By | February 21, 2018

    prints, film, posters and more is currently on display at The Store X.

    Fashion photographer Willy Vanderperre marks his first solo exhibition in London with the release of prints, film, posters and more, a limited edition vinyl produced in collaboration with The Vinyl Factory and The Store X.

    Featuring two tracks spread across two one-sided 12″s, the record showcases some of Vanderperre’s musical influences in Belgian metal band Amenra, and French DJ and producer Clara 3000, who performed at the opening of the exhibition earlier this week.

    Having studied fashion at Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp, Vanderperre has gone on to become one of the most important photographers of his generation, a contemporary of designer Raf Simons with whom he has frequently collaborated.

    As well as shooting a universe of musicians and actors, from A$AP Rocky to and Millie Bobby Brown, Vanderperre’s connection with music extends to the range of screen-printed original tour t-shirts developed for the exhibition, from artists as diverse as Michael Jackson, AC/DC and Roxy Music.

    Featuring over 50 of the photographer’s works at The Store X, in the basement of 180 The Strand, prints, film, posters and more also lends its name to the vinyl release, designed by Jelle Jespers and Willy Vanderperre.

    Limited to just 330 hand-signed and numbered copies, the two records are housed in a bespoke sleeve that folds out into a 124 x 63cm print, and includes a full colour, paper catalogue displaying all the artwork at the Store X exhibition.

    Order a copy of the release here and visit the exhibition at The Store X, 180 The Strand, London, WC2R 3EA until 17th March.

    It is open Tues – Sun, 12pm – 6pm and is free to visit. Find out more and see images from the exhibition here.

  • On the sleeve: The album artwork behind some of fashion’s most important movements

    By | February 7, 2018

    Record sleeves have been home to some of the most radical and important fashion statements in popular culture. Here are 11 that captured the style and changed the game in the process.

    Musicians sometimes seek to distance themselves from fashion. If music is to be sincere and meaningful then fashion can be seen as a surface preoccupation. Fashion is perceived as hyper-transitory, and styles can quickly become passé. This goes hand-in-hand with its framing as frivolous and fickle; it doesn’t last.

    But it’s this temporality which makes it such an acute register of the contemporary. Fashion is constantly being refreshed, updated, overhauled; like a richter scale of changing tastes. At its best it’s a tool both for reading the present and for destabilising norms, just like music. Take punk, perhaps the purest synthesis of fashion and music, the clothes of Vivienne Westwood’s Sex shop are as inseparable from the movement as the Sex Pistols’ music. David Bowie, Prince, Grace Jones, Madonna, Björk, Solange all had, and have, great style.

    Sleeve artwork is one of the best encapsulations of this intersection, a space where artists can signify their visual identity. What follows is a look at the ways in which fashion has expressed the political, cultural and economic zeitgeist, through movements like Afrofuturism, Buffalo and UK Garage. In some cases the sleeves are a reflection of a broader aesthetic, while in others the artists have been instrumental in creating a new movement.

    David Bowie
    The Man Who Sold the World
    (Mercury, 1970)

    Listen / Buy

    Keith McMillan shot a languid Bowie in a Mr Fish ‘man dress’ for this banned version of the album cover. It perfectly captures Bowie’s psychedelic androgyny: the willingness to challenge gender conventions that made his – and later Prince’s – style so vital and original. The ’60s and ’70s were pivotal for men’s dressing, and the ‘Peacock Revolution’ brought a renewed awareness that men could partake in fashion, with a rise in decorative clothes and the founding of menswear courses. Mr Fish’s Mayfair shop was a must for this new generation of dandys – think loud suits, floral ties, frilled shirts and, of course, dresses.

    Betty Davis
    They Say I’m Different
    (Just Sunshine Records, 1974)

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    Space Age prophet Sun Ra, draped in a shimmering yellow overlay and crowned with a gold headdress, is the defining image of Afrofuturism. But the movement inspired a whole line of radical garments and interstellar styles – from the extraterrestrial mythoi of P-Funk and Black Panther comic strips, to the canvases of Jean-Michel Basquiat and Janelle Monáe’s Metropolis-inspired alter-ego. This Betty Davis record sleeve, designed by Ron Levine and art directed by Bill Levy, is Afrofuturist fashion at its best – the fluffy platform boots, gold arm cuffs and red and silver spacesuit present a particularly ‘70s vision of the future.

    Yellow Magic Orchestra
    Naughty Boys
    (Alfa, 1978)

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    Yellow Magic Orchestra are well-known for their influence on joyous techno, hip-hop and R&B, and their explorations of exoticism and Japanese stereotypes. There’s been too little attention, though, on their immaculate and enduring aesthetic, and in particular on the style of Ryuichi Sakamoto. Masayoshi Sukita, a photographer best known for working with Bowie for over 40 years and taking the cover of Heroes, shot this cover. The clean pastel hues and touches of makeup are a clear visual influence on the New Romantics of the ‘80s.

    Grace Jones
    (Island, 1981)

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    The Studio 54 aficionada who started her career as a model and acted as muse to Issey Miyake, Jean Paul Gaultier, Andy Warhol and Jean Paul Goude (who shot this cover), Grace Jones only makes iconic record sleeves. She of course understood, like David Byrne and Laurie Anderson, the importance of a statement suit. The rigidly angular profile of this Armani mens suit, at a time when Armani was casting off shoulder pads and moving towards a softer silhouette, makes this more subtly interesting than just a woman in a man’s suit.

    Straight Outta Compton
    (Ruthless, 1988)

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    Gangsta rap has become one of hip-hop’s most explosive subgenres. But there’s an uneasy line between credibility and success; is it possible to remain hood while topping the charts? Fashion plays its part in creating and maintaining authenticity, as a scan of the record sleeves and clothing lines of different hip-hop outfits testifies (special mention for Wu Wear). N.W.A., the forefathers of the scene, distilled the reality of street life in south-central LA into this breakout album cover. It’s easy to see why the photo was provocative and controversial, but gun aside, it has an un-staged quality that can only really come from inexperience. Like the music, the snapbacks, football jackets and T-shirts on show here present the group at their rawest.

    Neneh Cherry
    Raw Like Sushi
    (Virgin, 1989)

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    A movement manufactured by stylist Ray Petri, Buffalo (as in ‘Buffalo Stance’) was a collective of musicians, artists and stylists including Judy Blame, Mark Lebon and Jean-Baptiste Mondino (who shot this cover). Its members had eclectic backgrounds; Cherry’s childhood was split between London, Sweden and New York, and Petri grew up in Scotland, then Australia, and travelled in India and Africa. This resulted in a style that was strikingly inventive, combining disparate cultural influences into what Petri called ‘non-fashion’. Buffalo dressing paired kilts, feathers, military wear, and elaborate jewellery with sports- and streetwear items like Dr Martens. It filtered down to the catwalks in the collections of Jean Paul Gaultier and Yohji Yamamoto.

    Sonic Youth
    Washing Machine
    (Geffen, 1995)

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    Taken by Kim Gordon, this cover photo of two fans wearing band merchandise at a Sonic Youth gig encapsulates the key elements of ’90s alternative fashion. Above all this was a DIY movement, with a tension between being anti-mainstream and anti-fashion, while simultaneously affiliating to a scene through clothing. Gordon’s X-girl clothing line, co-designed with stylist Daisy von Furth, held a special place in downtown New York, with its own store and guerrilla fashion shows. The clothes – slip dresses, mini-skirts and T-Shirts – sat somewhere between grunge, rave and preppy, and were worn by it-girls like Chloe Sevigny and Sofia Coppola.

    Ms. Dynamite
    (Polydor, 2002)

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    The best incarnations of UK garage style existed off record covers and on the dance floor. The outfits in photographer Ewen Spencer’s book and documentary Brandy & Coke are ostentatious, slick, and brilliantly label-centric. Must-have items were loudly patterned Moschino trousers, Gucci loafers, and Versace anything, and jeans were banned at certain clubs. These priorities can be read in the sheer finish of this Ms. Dynamite cover – the nails, jewellery and sunglasses, it’s a look that’s the height of polished.

    Skinny Girl Diet
    Heavy Flow
    (Fiasco, 2016)

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    Skinny Girl Diet have been critical of the tendency to conflate female musicians’ music with their image. Eschewing mainstream fashion, they’ve appeared in zines and worked with young designers like Claire Barrow, establishing a stance very seperate to tokenistic commodity feminism. This cover, which the band produced themselves, riffs on pin-up imagery and classic tropes of female trios, like the ‘different versions of the same colour’ outfits that The Supremes, Destiny’s Child and Sugababes all wore so well.

    Frank Ocean
    (Boys Don’t Cry, 2016)

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    The record cover behind the recent profusion of bleached buzz cuts was originally intended to be used in the fashion magazine Fantastic Man. A photograph typical of Wolfgang Tillmans’ style, it has a lucidness that we tend to associate with fashion editorials, but an intimacy that’s rare in magazines. Tillmans made his name documenting the early ’90s for i-D and other style magazines, but has since drifted towards making more politically-minded work. His ambivalence towards the fashion world, combined with Ocean’s enigmatic approach make this a particularly exciting collaboration – and a two way collaboration at that: Tillmans’ track ‘Device Control’ was used on the prelude to Blond(e).

    (One Little Indian, 2017)

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    With a history of working with names like Alexander McQueen, Nick Knight and Tim Walker, Björk has continually woven fashion into her practice. Her embrace of the new makes her a particularly fitting fashion collaborator, and her most recent album cover brings together young rising talents Jesse Kanda and James Merry. Kanda’s work with artists like FKA Twigs is increasingly shaping the current aesthetic, while James Merry’s embroidered sportswear is a further twist on the Vetements/Gosha Rubchinskiy-led trend for reimagined sportswear.

  • The Supreme effect: Why merch is booming in underground music

    By | December 15, 2017

    With the proliferation of limited garments from record labels, online radio and independent artists more visible than ever, Maude Churchill looks at the boom in post-internet merchandising and its role in defining sub-culture identities.

    “As our world grows ever more complex and fragmented, the importance of appearance grows ever greater: our visible differences and similarities facilitating interaction and relationships.”

    Ted Polhemus’ words ring true now more than ever before. In a world where divisive presidents-to-be use slogans on caps to rally their followers, no territory is safe from branding. And while music and apparel have long been intertwined, there’s been a boom in merch throughout the underground music scene – one that’s been influenced by the social, cultural and economic changes of today. From NTS, to Boiler Room, and the kind of record labels that have been showcased on both, merchandise is no longer solely the realm of die hard fans. It’s become a commonplace add-on for any underground musical enterprise wanting to extend their output and create another potential revenue stream. Record labels are increasingly becoming multi-disciplinary platforms and launching merchandise or a clothes line is an evolutionary part of that.

    Subcultures used to provide a clear marker of people’s interests, ethics and morals, worn on their backs and through their manner. Committing to the style and etiquette of a community meant being registered as a part of something, by both strangers and peers. Now, the concept of subculture has become fractured as the boundaries between our interests blur and dissolve. Filtering culture through the internet has given the millennial generation and younger a sampling approach to style. These days it seems cultural arbiters are more likely to have a vast knowledge of the arts that informs their style than an especially deep understanding of any one topic, (though that’s not to say the latter doesn’t exist). This has inspired a pick and mix approach to fashion, and culture. This boom in merch fits with the way plenty of people like to dip in and out of culture.

    Polo rugby size small £70 supreme joggers size large £75 😎

    A post shared by @ waveygarms on

    From the renaissance of vintage Polo Ralph Lauren, jump started by Wavey Garms and their peers, to Gucci reviving their iconic double GG logo, branding is back. But it’s not just reserved for high fashion. The lower levels of fashion and apparel are just as aware of the power of branding and label logos are the idea vehicle for it. Call it the Supreme effect. Branding the most banal, everyday objects and releasing them in limited runs – or keeping them friends and family only – give added value to the objects and even more to the brand. See NTS Radio’s condoms, Boiler Room’s ash tray and even Ilian Tape’s Rizla. Not high fashion but getting high’s in fashion.

    Logo-ed items from record labels and the like allow wearers to add a cultural seasoning to their outfit. And on the other end, merchandise provides more opportunities for the entity in question to continue to build their brand. For Boiler Room, they’ve extended their range of logo tees and hoodies to include cut and sew collaborative designs with artists they want to champion and support. The latest drop includes work by designers like Karifurava and Toby Evans. Their apparel is headed up by India Rose, who explained how, “it enables Boiler Room to monetise and build their brand while connecting with fans in a physical way. It’s also an opportunity to work with other collectives, brands and artists that Boiler Room doesn’t directly work with, while opening the door for that conversation to happen.” And for the wearer, India is sure the attraction to wearing merch comes down a kind of cultural tribalism. “People have always felt the need to show they belong to something, and as we’re experiencing this post-digital need for the physical again there’s been an increase in merch.”

    Just as much as people are turning to vinyl over digital for its physicality, so are people turning to physical objects from a platform they admire to show their interest. Before online profiles revealing what we like, we owned actual things to show what we are into.

    Mirroring what’s happening in the fashion world, the high and low elements of this culture are also beginning to merge. India continues, “artists are no longer relying on majors so much and selling directly to their fans through their tours and social media, while stores like Dover Street Market are supporting smaller record labels and radio stations and introducing them to the fashion world.” Back in 2013 Theo Parrish released a split EP through Trilogy Tapes, Sound Signature and Palace Skateboards. Palace and Trilogy Tapes have since put out records from Kaseem Mosse and Mix Mup, and Trilogy Tapes bossman Will Bankhead has been a longtime designer for Palace. The two worlds are already merging.

    The element of collaboration is something shared by both Boiler Room and Dekmantel alike. Boiler Room uses it as an opportunity to work with the kinds of artists they might not usually. For record label-turned-festival Dekmantel, Casper Tielrooij explains how, “it’s a way to reflect a friendship or a connection we feel with crew or artist. That was the case with Patta. We’ve been friends with that crew for a long time now, and even though we’re both focussing on totally different things, (Patta is a streetwear brand), we always had the same kind of passion for the things we do. For them it’s the streetwear, for us it’s the music – in a way that kind of passion creates a special connection.”

    Collaboration is nothing new in either the music or the apparel world, so it was only a matter of time before the two merged. For Dekmantel, they’re an institution who have made a living out of doing what they love and their laid-back attitude is something that’s contributed to their success. So it’s no surprise their apparel range shows the same levels of popularity.

    Dekmantel’s penchant for collaboration doesn’t stop at streetwear with Patta. It’s always been an intrinsic part of them and their approach to all they do, “we’ve been working with Orpheu de Jong (co-owner of Red Light Radio) since the very beginning of the label, for most of our record designs. Our relationship is very close and we’ve trusted him with a lot of our merchandise as well. Orpheu translates our ideas into a design and gives his own, creative touch to it. We’ve also started working with other artists for our record sleeve designs, including Michiel Schuurman and Stefan Glerum, and will have some future collaborations for special collections in the future too. It’s just so much fun working with all these creative people.”

    This collaborative approach is antithetical to subcultural mindsets, where people divide themselves into groups with set parameters. We might lament the death of subculture, but if it means opening up our creative borders to join forces and allow new, exciting things to happen, that can only be a good thing.

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