Similarly to all those Real Housewives of wherever, Raf Simons is a man obsessed with youth. But instead of unflattering face surgery and ridiculous amounts of make-up, Simons creates clothes we want to live in, no matter the age. His intellectual approach to youth culture literally lifts moments in time from the streets and puts them under the harsh light of the Paris catwalk. This process of recontextualising references is somewhat of a signature of Simons’ – whether it’s stills from cult films like David Lynch’s Blue Velvet and German classic Christiane F. or Peter Saville’s graphics and re-made band T-shirts. In his hands, even the most mundane pop-culture item turns into a thought-out, intellectual piece of fashion. It’s not just a T-shirt printed with a photograph – it’s a Raf Simons T-shirt printed with a very important photograph.
And if anyone else knows about youth culture on the streets, it’s Fred Perry. For the latest chapter in Simons’ ongoing collaboration with the British heritage brand, the Belgian designer is merging their two worlds more closely than ever before. Fred Perry’s laurel wreath logo is now synonymous with scally culture, and this collaboration is here to subvert it. The brand new capsule collection dropping today features the brand’s traditional polo, shirt and sweatshirt silhouettes, embellished with the photographs of two names that are known for capturing the true kids on the (council estate) block. By the age of 16, Gavin Watson amassed over 10,000 photographs of his peers taken during the late 1970s and 1980s. Real-life scenarios and simplistic scenes are a snapshot in history of subcultures, which are also part of George Plemper’s work. During that same period, Plemper was a South London school teacher documenting the birth and development of the Thamesmead area and the working class youth growing up there. Both Plemper and Watson’s imagery are part of the Youth Club, a non-profit project preserving the cultural history of young people in Britain. Their work has been a fascination of Simons’ for a while now, some images already making their appearance in his SS19 show.
In celebration of this new collection launching, Fred Perry created a special e-tail experience for their customers. Instead of e-comm models attempting to sell you the products with a bored expression on their face (seriously, why don’t they ever smile?), the dedicated website hosts 360° imagery of all of the pieces in action. It’s no studio environment either – this is a house of Perry and Simons, where wild parties are held and cheap drinks are in abundance. Who said subcultures are dead? They’re actually very much alive, kickin’ and printed on Fred Perry’s t-shirts.
The new Fred Perry x Raf Simons collection is available to shop online and in selected stores.