Scott Fraser Collection – Ones to Watch

When we start getting to an age where we like fashion and clothing in general, there tends to be a period of research and discovery – why do we like what we like and where has it come from. The history of menswear is an extremely fascinating one and what we see today is the culmination of centuries of development and evolution and reaction. Most things were affected by the times such as war and the recovery from it. We owe much to those times in what has informed designers and taste makers ever since. As well as the music and cultural scenes that spawned from those periods of rebellion and revolution. I’m a fan of vintage which can transcend many time periods, and I thoroughly respect all those purveyors of vintage to a certain extent that they fully represent their adopted era with such gusto and reverence that it becomes them. They are the best advocates and will never be out of fashion.
I’m lucky enough to know a chap who represents vintage very well and whenever we’d bump into each other in Brick Lane he would be immaculately dressed in vintage or his own creations. The past year or so I’ve seen Scott Simpson focus on building key pieces in his evolving collection and decided it was the right time to sit down and chat vintage and talk about Scott Fraser Collection.
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When did you start getting into ‘vintage’? What was its allure?
I started getting into vintage when I was about 16. At the time I was living in Brighton, after moving there from Hong Kong where I grew up. It stemmed from me getting a 1973 Vespa 50, I joined up with a few other guys who were local mods and skinheads, who took me out to soul nights. From then on I started looking into the roots of the scenes and subcultures that came out of the Modernist period in the late 50’s/early 60s. I started buying up pieces from vintage and charity shops (when you could still buy vintage in them). By 17, I was saving up my wages and having suits made. Since then I’ve been collecting pieces that date from the 30s through to the 70s – it’s the quality and finishing of these older pieces that I find don’t really exist in modern clothing today. I remember coming across pieces and still do – being fascinated that they had lasted so long. I didn’t want to dress the same as my friends and was on the hunt for things that I wouldn’t see anyone else in – something that told a story.

What then inspired you to start making your own clothes and collections?
From the age of 17 I was having clothes either tailored to fit or having bespoke pieces made, based on what I’d seen in old pictures or thought up in my head. For example, I would happily take large fitting suit to the tailors and meticulously take it to pieces to re-cut it to work for me. The enjoyment I got from this was unlike anything else – I wanted to do this forever. So a couple years ago I decided to start doing my own collection – Scott Fraser Collection. It took some time as I realistically had to wait for a stage where I could save up to produce pieces, especially as I have them made in England. Although it’s closer to me than China is, I still found it difficult to secure manufacturers at an early stage – but I did it.

Was there any particular reason for choosing to make your collection in England or was it a circumstantial one? I guess starting out it’s always nicer to be closer to your manufacturer so you can see what they do and get involved.
Exactly. I chose to make in England because this is where I’m based and I wanted to be as close to the production as I could be, so that I could get involved with every stage in the making process. At the level that I’m at with the collection, manufacturing in other countries was not an option, due to the minimums that they required being just too high. Also, London’s my home – why not make it here.

What’s your inspiration when it comes to creating garments – does it stem from individual Icons and their style? Or particular products that resonate with you and you wanted to explore more?
It starts with an idea, frantic sketches and research. The inspiration for every collection piece varies tremendously, be it from old pictures to what I see on the street. The main premise of the collection was to uphold design details from clothing that have come before, whilst reinterpreting them for today-ready garments. As I collect and curate vintage on a daily basis, I come across the smallest design details that I either take great influence from or try to uphold. All the way from a leather tab on the bottom of zip up jacket to stop wear to the fabric behind to the durable stitch details on workwear. I run a blog www.retrospectivemodernism.wordpress.com that I use as research board and platform to find out more about passed or continuing heritage brands, design and culture – what’s on there is generally a few of the main things that inspire me.

How did you feel/react when people use the term vintage so liberally?
You’re right the term is banded around very freely today – it’s become a term that almost encompasses second-hand (modern) clothing now which I think is wrong, as they aren’t even in the same camp. I don’t begrudge anyone who uses it incorrectly it’s just the way it is. The fashion industry doesn’t help make it any easier with the flavour era of each season making an appearance and then dying away quite quickly. Not all elements of these eras are timeless, but a large percentage, in my opinion are and by dismissing them once the next trend comes along it brings these looks down with them and society tends to look on them as faddy or outdated.

Scott Fraser Collection - WalletFor yourself (and maybe also your collections), do you stick to one particular period or do you dabble in a mixture?
As the collection is a reflection of my own personal style it does not embody exactly what I am into currently. I like to highlight different eras and designs in the collection in order for it not be pigeon-holed as a retrospective brand. There are so many great pieces that have come before and all I aim to do is to show respect to what has come before whilst relating the guy in-the-know on the street. Or at least I hope I do!

As for myself, I like stay true to a certain look when I’m into it – to get it right and also in order to do it justice. For several years I’ve been into the more 60’s Italian/American Ivy League/Mod look, but I’ve slowly started to look into earlier cuts of clothing. I’ve been getting into more of a 40s look – wider leg trousers, slightly wider lapels and more structure generally. These pieces are fairly hard to get hold of with the resurgence in Americana and workwear but when you do, the quality and detailing is next level – pleated pockets, hand stitching and cloth that’s bomb-proof. Although my wardrobe is predominantly vintage I make a conscious effort not to replicate, I feel it’s important to move forward and create your own looks with what you’re into – because what’s the point in dressing the same as the next man!

Why do you think there’s such an appeal for vintage and vintage inspired clothing? Do you think there will reach a tipping point, or will tastes evolve and change?
It’s timeless, individualistic and the quality of the pieces is generally better. I don’t think that there will be a tipping point ever, style is cyclical and the influence and legacy of past generations will always be alluring – it’s about having respect.

You can have a closer look Scott’s threads at his website Scott Fraser Collection.
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