Sunday, 27 April 2014

ZX Flux-in with Gavin Watson for Planet Notion

Eras in Flux: Gavin Watson Interview

adidas are on fire right now and I’m not going to even begin to the long list of collaborations they have out/upcoming at this point in time… Pharrell, Mary Katrantzou… will it end? We hope not. Needless to say the German giants know how to keep us on our toes, get it? Ok puns aside, last week’s sneaker freaker news saw the launch of the ZX Flux – Original DNA and what better way to celebrate its launch than to collaborate with British photographer Gavin Watson, looking at the impact of the iconic design in the UK over the last 25 years. It all started in 1989 when the ZX8000 pioneered technology with its performance attributes – who knew that years later it would come to have the cultural resonance it does today. Talking trainers and subcultures, I caught up with Watson who captures the ZX Flux in its latest form as a testament to the style conscious creative’s it originally drew in.

What impact did the ZX 8000 have on subcultures when it was first released in 1989?
When it was first released in 1989, the ZX 8000 shoe became a style staple that crossed all style boundaries – thriving throughout the evolution of UK sub-cultures. I'm not a trainer geek but the ZX 8000 has a very distinctive shape and that caught the eye of many a rave goer. I'm not sure you can say it had a direct impact on sub cultures but it was intrinsic to what was associated with that era, as are many outfits, colours and shapes from that time until the present day.

How did you get into photography?
I was 14, very shy, lonely and isolated. I didn't really have any friends and considered to be living in my own world. I always wanted to draw cartoons as I was a good young artist but my biggest barrier was that I was full of insecurities. Alongside cartoons, I was heavily into astronomy. I went to Woolworths and found a pair of binoculars I really wanted and in the same cabinet was the camera, so I purchased them both. The camera was a Hanimex big 110 and I started snapping away - as soon I got the first batch off pictures back I knew I wanted to be a photographer. The images were so different, so sharp and crystal clear. I was shocked that I was capable of producing something so beautiful. I wasn't at college or even employed so photography became my thing.
At the time, did you even see yourself as documenting what became a cultural movement?
In all honesty, I was just into my mates. I liked hanging around with them and I was so into photography so I just started documenting them. I had to photograph the raves because it was my mates plus the rest in their element, just being them. I started to put the images into the library and let them build up. The guys who were organising the raves asked me to take photos and that's how I became known in the raving scene – by becoming an integral team member. Raving 89’ came about purely from enjoying my younger years with my mates! I was compelled to capture a golden era because it was close to me; I never thought it would become a moment of history 20 years later.  

What is the aesthetic behind Eras in Flux? What did you want to communicate?
I wanted to showcase a retrospective of iconic British underground music movements updated with the latest ZX offering. I really wanted to communicate a feel for each genre. I wanted the specialist to identify the authenticity from eras spanning acid house (late 80s), jungle (early-mid 90s), garage (mid-late 90s), and grime (early-mid 00s). I wanted it to be clearly distinguished so that people can actually say 'that's what I was dressed in back in the day'.

Do you feel sneaker culture is a subculture within itself?
Absolutely - it boggles my mind! I genuinely didn't realise people are train-spotters for manufactured products. I just had no idea! I find it fascinating from a complete outsider’s point of view.  My mate Nick from Crouch End is a trainer train-spotter and he's the only guy I've really known who has anything to with the scene and now I know loads like him!  I've enjoyed shooting the adidas ZX Flux product so I understand it a little better now but I won't be building a collection, let’s leave it there!

How has the ZX family developed significantly over the last 25 years? 
With every release through the years the ZX has created a new energy and loudness which started back at its birth in '89. The notable differences have been the colour and texture updates but most importantly, it's never lost its 'bounce' and each release, including the current Flux, is another step in continuing the ZX journey. 
What impact has it had?
The greatest impact of the ZX 8000 shoe can be measured in its cultural resonance, bridging ever-sprawling underground music movements. Now in 2014 the ZX Flux is a testament to the style conscious creatives & relentless passion that first brought ZX 8000 to the streets.
Looking back through the lens, in which ways have you seen streetwear/ street culture change?
For many years people defined communities by defining the streetwear they wore and the cultures they were associated with. I feel everything now has a lot less distinction, whether that's good or bad is up to each individual. The nice thing about looking back at the last 25 years of music sub culture, and shooting a campaign to reflect it was being able to clearly identify each genre with the rich product available and the help of the incredible team around me.

What do you like most about collaborating with adidas Originals?
Because it's adidas. That's all I can say. Pretty big fucking deal.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Zeitgeist: Waking up to Wang's news

Last night we all went to sleep dreaming of Coachella and why we weren't there...or was it just me? Anyway waking up on a sunny Sunday morning wasn't so bad and my Coachella blues soon turned into excitement following the big news: H&M x Alexander Wang. Via instagram. This November. I'm not going to waste time with all the details Twitter has already told you but I did re-hash an interesting piece I wrote some time ago now but never got round to publishing. 

America. Just saying the word brings forth a feeling of empowerment and the notion that somewhere across the pond lays a land of opportunity. Like many other people the world over, I too have always had an American dream and even today it is the dream that charges the business of US fashion. That said, America continues to need a revolutionary design hero/super brand each decade that can resonate with it’s vast population in a uniform way. The recent monopoly-like shifts in the fashion industry had me question whether the gifted Alexander Wang has unknowingly become a modern day Calvin Klein as the representative of the American Zeitgeist?

Calvin Klein, synonymous with American fashion is a brand that is as well recognised as Coca Cola, and even if you don’t like the drink, each year you await that fateful Christmas commercial marking the commencement of the festive season. As far as analogies go, think of Calvin Klein as the Coca Cola of fashion. Since the opening of the first ever store in New York City circa 1968, with ten thousand dollars, a dream and a childhood business partner, two Bronx natives began to form the mould that the likes of Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Ralph Lauren would be destined to step in; a mould that would come to be the image of the United States.

Described as the ‘last great American fashion designer’ in Lisa Marsh’s controversial business biography, ‘House of Klein’, Klein the man and the brand are subjects of great controversy. If you don’t believe me then redirect yourself to some of the banned commercials of the nineties that resembled seedy porn castings. Despite this, the company’s prolific work in apparel not only changed the way American’s saw denim, but also reformed the way the US market perceived underwear forever. CK became iconic and a must have for everyone regardless of their class who could purchase anything from boxers through to fragrance and high end collection lines.

Fast forward half a century and you’ll find modern day’s answer to Klein, in the form of Wang at the helm of his own eponymous label that mirrors the downtown cool of a bustling Manhattan. The recent shifts in fashion, and there have been none that were more surprising than Nicolas Ghesquiere retiring from French power house Balenciaga to be replaced by Wang, caused me to think about the impact he has had thus far on American fashion in particular. Wang’s label launched in 2007, welcomed by uber cool hipsters and minimalist hungry adults, sits between the lines of refinement and imperfection giving many the ‘I just threw this on look’ in a successfully stylish way. Responsible for his model of duty look combined with nineties nostalgia, Wang has learnt a lot from his predecessors and it shows. Both labels, entirely different in their approach (namely we are yet to see the release of scandalous commercials from Wang), carry the same aesthetic of dressing America in the uniform way with clothes that are refined from every day staples such as jeans, knitwear, basic tees etc.

Since it imploded in the seventies, I can’t help but associate the Klein empire with true American style and the importance of the all-star designer. Note there are many others who followed suit, yet Klein has been able to find a way to consistently be finely tuned with the zeitgeist regardless of scandal. Moreover, the brand has had a strong hand in creating the success of many of its ambassadors. In 1992, a young and innocent Kate Moss was presented topless as part of a denim campaign that would go on to largely contribute to her international success – reiterating the power of advertising and branding once more. It is the exertion of this influence that allows brands such as CK to become household names that everyone wants a piece of, something I see in the pipeline for Wang given his increasing popularity.

With a penchant for minimalism and simplicity, Wang’s vivacious enthusiasm alone is the reason his will fill the shoes as another American design great. The difference with Wang’s more modern approach is the abandonment of overly sexualised imagery (we have all lusted after a Calvin Klein model at one point or another as a result) has been replaced with the idea that covering up in a slouchy way is much cooler (yes I still use that word). As minimalism and all American go hand in hand, both Klein and Wang are celebrated and noted for their clean lines that have become the doctrine of true American style. It won’t be long before the latest Brooke Shields of today will declare: “You know what comes between me and my Wang? Nothing”.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Nazir Mazhar Interview x Frank151

London’s modern day answer to a milliner (he prefers hat-maker), Nasir Mazhar grew up as your typical London kid—embracing the sportswear scene, hanging out on street corners, and basically all of what the ’90s had to offer at that time. An apprenticeship at the hairdresser Vidal Sassoon in Brick Lane soon lead to Mazhar becoming a hat-maker extraordinaire, when he realized he was limited with what he could do in hair styling. As a result, Mazhar has gone onto design hats for your not-so-average celebrities (Lady Gaga if we’re name dropping) and still manages to remain humble and dedicated to the East London roots that continue to inspire him today.
Enticed by youth culture, Mazhar is not interested in the couture-like clothing at London Fashion Week that appears to bore him, hence his debut menswear and womenswear collections for SS14. The styles are reminiscent of a fantasy hip-hop rave that TLC would have attended back in the day alongside the LA Chola girls—you get the picture. Inspired by his friends, sportswear, street culture, and clubbing (yea I said it), Mazhar is primarily an accessories designer that manages to successfully use nostalgia to his advantage. Most of all, he just wants to make hats interesting and relevant to our time once again.
You grew up in London’s East End, how did that influence you as a designer?
I think all of growing up influenced me. The going out, the music, clubbing, sports, fighting, gangs, friends, clothes, playing out, school—there was a lot of good times, but it’s hard to say exactly how that influenced me. Proof’s in the pudding.
Describe your brand aesthetic.
Right now it’s brash.
Growing up, what kind of clothes and music were you into?
From about the age of nine until sixteen I listened to jungle, then two-step, R&B, speed garage, hip-hop, and garage. I only wore sportswear unless I was going out, and I’d wear a shirt and some smart trouser or jeans. It was kind of a uniform.
How did the hat-making venture begin?
I was assisting a hair stylist, working on editorials and shows whilst doing my own work, and the hairstyles I was trying to do slowly turned into headwear. I think I found there was more space to experiment with hat-making rather than hairstyling, so then a friend introduced me to Mark Wheeler who’s an amazing maker for theatre. I started helping him and where I learned so much I started taking courses with Jane Smith. Whilst doing this I was always making my own work and experimenting, and then I put a five-piece collection together and it carried on from there.
What was the inspiration behind your design signature, the box peak cap?
I was bored of everyone wearing the same style cap as me so I wanted to make something new and better.
The difference between a hat-maker and milliner is…?
There’s lots of different opinions but basically, milliner is an old name used for someone who trims hats and a hat-maker makes hats.
Since launching your own label, you’ve had the chance to work with the likes of Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Viktor & Rolf to name a few. What was that like and how have you become the go-to hat man?
They were all real big opportunities, which I’m really lucky to have had. Happy memories. I can’t answer that last part.
How do you feel about youth culture today?
There’s stuff going on but it feels kinda stagnant.
You bring back a certain gritty, urban, ’90s vibe to your work that London sometimes seems to want to hide—what is it about that time that you love?
I think it was a time when music, film, dance, fashion, and lots of things were really progressing; it really felt original and honest. I love those values.
Any current muses? 
Not really.
You debuted your women’s and menswear RTW lines for SS13 at LFW, what’s next?
I’m going to concentrate on this for now, there’s a lot of change to deal with.
Who would you most like to see wearing one of your hats?
To be honest, I most like seeing strangers wearing my work.

Straight Talking: T.Lipop x Frank151

Tom Lipop creative director of London’s much-loved menswear label T.Lipop surpasses any stereotypes people have of straight men in the fashion industry. It is also the first menswear label to collaborate with cult British store River Island with a 16-piece capsule collection, which launched last month – pretty impressive. Functionality is what drives the label and is at the forefront of all collections that set to defy the notions of traditional menswear garments – making fashion interesting again. It is no wonder then, that Tom ever became interested in fashion; designing football kits from a young age, the acclaimed designer sets out to create ‘Progressive technical men’s tailoring with a less is more aesthetic’ (tag line credit to Tom himself). Luxury fabrics meet innovative approaches to pattern cutting, resulting in the combination of sport and tailored silhouette’s. The labels’ pared-back style is refreshing and reflective of its savvy creative director. Like most guys, Tom is into football (soccer if you like) and also hold’s a Ski instructor’s certificate, which was until now, a secret. I caught up with the designer to find out just how he feels about fashion, his ever-growing brand and his reception in industry.

Tell us a bit about T.Lipop and who is behind it?

The T.Lipop team is made up of myself as Creative Director and Eser Aydemir, my business partner and Managing Director. The eponymous label, T.Lipop was born out of a desire to see cut and function above all else and something different from the London crowd. A kind of modernisation of a traditional art!

What did you feel was missing in menswear that T.Lipop makes up for?

We are very much focused on creating a brand that is timeless and here for the long haul. The brand centers its values on real luxury, using beautiful, rich cloths, fine construction, scrutinous detailing. I think it’s wrong when a designer brand uses a cheap cloth, a basic pattern and sticks a name on it calling it designer – It’s deceiving to the consumer and something I think happens far too often. I think with our focus on these values and staying true to ourselves we can, in the future, rival the more established houses.

We know you like football and other manly things, but what is it like being the straight designer in fashion, an industry that holds such strong stereotypes?

To be honest, in the past I would have said the industry was full of stereotyped men and women, but the industry has progressed and is constantly evolving, I would say it would now be prejudice to think this. I’m good mates with most of the London men’s designers: Agi & Sam, Matthew Miller and William Richard Green to name a few; none of these guys are gay and look where they are in the industry. We all play 7-a-side together and they are all typical lads who happen to work in fashion through love of design but love football, like to party and socialise and have typical male hobbies. They just have an understanding of how they see the fashion industry moving forwards and the backbone required to deal with stereotypical view. It’s about designing real clothes for real guys.

We are all over the word minimalism by now but how would you best describe the brands’ aesthetic?

I hate the word minimalism; it’s so overused; it falls into the category of words like luxury, high end, shabby-chic. We tried our hardest to avoid using this word hence the ‘less is more aesthetic’ tag line. For us, minimalism isn't about producing a garment with a clean look, it’s about maximising the potential of a garment through the deconstruction - removing unnecessary seams, perfecting cut, creating a garment that has all of the functions for purpose whilst maintaining the brands signature in an effortless way. 

I understand you don’t use pockets in your work, why is this and what do you suggest men use an alternative?

Actually this is only something we do in tailoring. When I was 11, my father bought me my first suit and he told me not to unstitch the lower pockets, ‘you don't want to ever put anything in them, it breaks up the silhouette’. This is something that stayed with me throughout my life, for me pockets don't add to the garment if they are there so why not remove them and have a beautiful clean garment that maintains its silhouette and looks timeless. If you want to carry more than a phone and wallet, then it’s time to get yourself a T.Lipop bag or document holder!

What kind of guy would wear your clothes?

The guy who appreciates form and function, has a keen eye for attention to detail, wants to look sharp and be noticed for the right reasons.

Do you have any style icons and have they influenced your work?

It’s got to be both Steve McQueen and James Dean. Both were guys of class and effortless cool, I guess that influences the way I design to some degree.

Do you still feel British tailoring is still incredibly an important part of fashion today?

It’s the backbone of the whole industry. The reason why we dress the way we dress. To me there isn't anything more important to the fashion industry than the historical lineage of British tailoring.

You have worked for some amazing designers (Henry Holland and Nathan Jenden) what did you gain from these two vastly different experiences?

From Henry (Holland), it was maybe too much responsibility as a first job, it was hard to learn technically when I was pretty much looking after a team of five interns. I guess I learnt a lot about the industry with a very hands on approach at House of Holland. Nathan Jenden was different and very much about the cut and finish. We had the opportunity to experiment but if it wasn’t perfect, it was redone. This is something I have carried through [to my own label] whereby I would rather not have the look than put something out that is just 'ok'.

What do you love most about London?

The amount of talented people all congregated in one place doing their thing and inspiring everyone around them. The architecture and heritage is pretty decent too!

Fjord Facing: Norwegian Rain x Frank151

It was an overcast day when I first stumbled upon Norwegian Rain (obviously from Norway) during London Collections: Men and tried on a “Raincho.” Intrigued by their design aesthetic to fight against the rain in a stylish way, it quickly became apparent this creative label was one to look out for. I caught up with the duo behind the design, T-Michael and Alexander Helle, to find out just why their raincoats are unique and surpass design expectations.
Who is behind Norwegian Rain? Tell us a bit about yourselves and your story.
TM: The unlikely meeting of the bespoke tailor and the business graduate. I have been operating from my base in Skostredet, Bergen for the last 17 years. I have my own line of suits, shirts, shoes, scarves, bag’s and own two shops in Norway. Alexander Helle—the creative director who decided to fight the rain and to shape the future—approached me after graduating from business school with this idea of making raincoats and we sought to find a solution to our lives. Alexander and I decided to merge my tailoring and design expertise with high tech and extreme weather protection know-how with Japanese sensibility.
How did Norwegian Rain come into existence?
AH: Well, born and raised in the rainiest city on our continent does make an impact on your mind. Sitting on the metro in Milan as part of a study exchange at Bocconi always put me in a state of reflection. I knew I soon was going back to Bergen. How [was I going] to make those two out of three days of rain a more pleasant experience? I decided to use [my] master’s degree to start exploring. The ideas from this thesis materialised when T-Michael came into play, followed by the graphic designers in Grandpeople—now ANTI Grandpeople, and photographer Bent René Synnevaag—all based locally. Actually it is a creative team that owns Norwegian Rain. The final addition to the team is Antwerp born Wesley Swolfs, our commercial director with a background from Damir Doma.
What is the brand’s aesthetic/ideology?
TM: We endeavor to look back into the past to find our inspiration from traditional tailoring techniques, then combine that with groundbreaking fabric technology to create fashion forward and stylistic rainwear with a Japanese-like aesthetic.
How did you manage to put a fashionable spin on performance wear?
TM: I suppose that comes from our departure point. It rains two out of three days in Bergen, waiting for that 'third day' to be stylish might never come. So, for us, it was very clear from the get go that the pieces will have to be able to be adapted and styled by many for all three days. The other aspect of the rainwear, which is the keeping-the-water out bit should be a given! And of course it should be breathable and comfortable.
What is inspiring you for the next season?
TM: We've decided to give Norwegian Rain an upgrade. It's Norwegian Rain 3.0, which means we are getting even closer to traditional tailoring. Wool like fabrics and menswear staples such as bomber jackets amongst other new pieces will be introduced. The goal is a thick warm winter coat engineered to keep all the elements out yet maintaining that stylistic factor.
Form over function or vice/versa?
TM: Form follows function.
European design is quite different to the UK despite the weather being similar, what is your USP for making Norwegian Rain internationally appealing?
TM: Quite simply by trying at every level to be the best in our field. We know rain, we live with it everyday. We strip off all the bits that usually accompany utilitarian clothing and add details that are relevant both functional and design wise, straying ever so slightly from all of the well known tailoring reference points. We like to think that that kind of design language is universal and not regional based.
What would you like the brand to achieve?
AH: We want to challenge every level of fashion with hard-core products that please the wearer. Functional, stylistic, ecological - no compromise. And then stir it with conceptual presentations that reflect our relation to design and water, in a way that hopefully will inspire the viewer.
In what way are your designs sartorial?
AH: Heat sealed seams, hi-tech membrane fabrics, functional construction… We put all our pride in hiding it. These qualities are camouflaged by cashmere qualities, satin lining, defined shoulders, horn buttons, pattern making, all inspired by T-Michael’s bespoke tailoring then adapted to performance, allowing the characteristics and nature of industrial production to create garment with its own signature. The allure of tailoring meets industrial rigidness. Our aim is to make the best possible garment for the wearer - versatile and adaptable.
How did you take Japanese influence and incorporate it within your designs?
TM: We base all of our work on contrasts, rain/ staying dry. Bespoke tailor/ business graduate. Black/ White. Tradition/ Innovation. Wabi/ Sabi, Kintsugi...the imperfections in beauty. These are influences found everywhere but are more predominant in Japan from my point of view.
What is your key piece, the one that you believed has nailed everything that the brand stands for and why?
TM: The Raincho; simply because it's the Raincho. Sartorial, quirky, functional, Japanese aesthetics, unisex, adaptable, versatile....
What is the difference between Norwegian Rain and other performance garment designers in the sporting industry?
TM: We know what we stand for. We don't know what the other brands stand for.
AH: The core of our project was to create garments that stylistically fitted myself and Michael’s everyday urban life and style, without compromising on function. Sport labels are active wear. The fashion labels have style as mission; none are forced to go the extra mile on both simultaneously. Living in Bergen, makes it a necessity for us.
What does the future hold for you guys?
TM: We've got this London Project underway. Norwegian Rain and friends, an eclectic mix of creatives sharing the same retail and showroom space in the heart of London. These are friends I have collaborated with on other projects and we feel it is just a natural extension of our admiration and respect for each other and our work. Watch this space!
As emerging talent, what has your journey been/ how have you been received in the fashion industry?
AH: We would be lying if we haven’t been enjoying every day since the start. Before we launched the label we were invited to gala dinner at Grand Hotel e de Milan with Franca Sozzani as part of Vogue and WHITE’s “Talented Newcomer’s 2010” - Straight from the rainy, unpolished streets of Bergen... that’s the beauty of today. It doesn’t matter where you are from. You can hit the tone from wherever as long as you are true to what you do and work like there is no tomorrow.
Do you like rain?
TM: I love Petrichor, the smell of rain!
AH: I wouldn’t say I liked it, but having been born into the epicenter we have had to deal with it. And now it’s turned into something that is no longer negative. The next step is to create an underground movement that transforms the city into something that explodes in sensual perceptions when it rains. The rain could be a [great] resource people better start realising it.

Bigger Issues: The Nervemeter x Frank151

In 2011 The Nervemeter was born. Founded by Ian Allison (editor) and Kieron Livingston (art director) the print magazine with a satirical twist set out to allow homeless people and those who have resorted to begging to make some cash by selling some issues. Fast forward four controversial issues later, I caught up with the two-man army behind the magazine to find out what issues are going to be addressed in the future, why advertising sucks and just how important second hand printing equipment really is to these guys.

Tell us a bit about The Nervemeter?
The magazine is quarterly at present and each issue works around some theme. The content has been described as “underground”; we like to focus on a mixture of social issues and also look at the various histories that lie behind today’s power systems.
We borrowed the funds to cover the first print runs and now the magazine relies on donations, money raised from exhibitions of artwork or other fundraising events such as putting on bands, and also fundraising done via the internet.
Tell us how NM began/ what was your trail of thought during its conception?
We started out back in 2004 with the plan to publish a kind of anti-financial free-sheet – black and white, newsprint with a masthead etc – which would focus on the iniquities of investment banks, hedge funds for the ultra-wealthy, mis-sold pensions, the hypocrisy of philanthropy amongst the city and so on. We did produce some copy but nothing that was ever published en masse, which was a pity given its prescience. 
I love your Ad buster style mock advertisements! What is your opinion on advertising on different media platforms? (Digital, print etc.)
Attacking advertising is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. That said, advertising is such an insidiously vile and toxic pursuit we are bound to detourne it one way or another. We refuse to pander to it otherwise; we would sooner beg for the cash to pay for printing than carry adverts.
Is NM politically revolutionary or do you just wanna give the small guy a voice?
We try to be original – politically repellent would be more accurate probably. We do like the idea of giving people begging on the streets something new and interesting to offer that deals with history, philosophy and aesthetics, and they like to belong to that process.
Why should people read it? 
Lately we have included a lot of quotations from many sources; these punctuate the articles. We believe that there is three pounds worth of citations in an issue. If you like the other material then it’s a bonus.                              
Who is your reader?  
It’s sold on the streets of central London, so hopefully a broad spectrum of passersby. We believe that your average commuter in London is probably a highly literate character – you shouldn’t underestimate them.

Are there any other publications that have inspired the zine?
Not so long ago we came across a magazine called Schism at an independent publishing fair in London. It was composed of odd pages from books – an obscure essay on geometric form by Albrecht Dürer, for example – all woven together to flesh out governing themes that were also, in some cases, quite obscure. We have gradually begun to dispense with syllogistic convention in favour of a more fluid form, or a style that’s formed out of constellations of texts and images.
What do you want the zine to achieve?
We’d love to one day buy some second hand printing equipment and start our own press.
What upcoming themes can we expect from the mag?
We are about to publish an issue themed on wealth, greed and finance. We plan to dedicate the next issue after that to the subject of addiction. Looking further forward, we are interested in doing something on modern continental philosophy – Kant to Sartre; vanity publishing; Empire and power in the post-colonial universe; an issue composed entirely of writing and artwork done by homeless people; a history of counter-culture movements in 20th century and so on …
What is your opinion on the current state of affairs from a global perspective?
No comment
What are your thoughts on magazines today?
Most magazines, especially those that are aimed at young people, are very top-heavy with review material: music, films, fashion, and listings of all variety. That’s what basically comprises the majority of highbrow magazines. The rest are full of so-called celebrities at play. Some magazines attempt to blend those ingredients, like the Big Issue, for example.
What have been the struggles with putting out an issue so far?
We have been contacted by the police a couple of times asking us to issue badges to our vendors and provide an official register of their names. But far and away the main challenge is amassing the money for the next print run in a timely fashion.
How can we help to get more issues from NM and where can we grab a copy?
We are working on global domination but are not quite there yet. If you can’t get a copy on street please go to our website ( and we will happily mail you the current issue or back issues.
Any final last words about the world?

We are forced to lead our lives forwards but can only understand them in reverse.

Top 10 London x Frank151

Each fashion season appears to come around quicker than your latest set of utility bills, bringing you more inspiration (and confusion) as to what you should incorporate into your wardrobe for the coming months. That said, more than any other capital, Vodafone’s London Fashion Week (13th – 17th September) remains to be the pinnacle of creativity from a global perspective – the one that is not hindered by taking a risk. London’s style, often labelled as quintessentially English is perhaps not the right term considering most of the capitals’ acclaimed designers hail from outside of the UK. We may not had have a Pharrell Williams take over as was the case at Calvin Klein’s end of NYFW party (no-one was more disappointed than I) but once you manage to get past the circus that surrounds London Fashion Week you will find that the city’s resident designers have a lot to offer.  

In the heart of September - fashion’s calendar month - London’s creativity is sandwiched between New York and Milan and what seems to occur each season is innovative design that sets the precedent for future trends to come. Building a strong brand business model is still important to London designers but is not a priority when it comes to the expression of how a woman should look, putting to one side the commercial aspect. Instead, the focus remains on craftsmanship and conviction. Injecting a sense of fun, as nonchalant as it sounds, into their collections, names such as Mary Katrantzou, House of Holland, Preen, Meadham Kirchhoff and J.W. Anderson are a few amongst British names that have gained a loyal global following – if you don’t believe me, the red carpet is my witness.

Relying on playing it safe really isn’t the London way. In fact, pushing boundaries is what has set emerging talent aside, allowing young designers to get the recognition they deserve. So in between your pit stop to the romanticism that will take place in Milan following what was a hugely successful week in business-minded New York, I present to you the heart of London fashion and the Top 10 labels you need to know about not just for next season, but for the foreseeable future.

Felder Felder
Hailing from a small German town and landing in the larger pond of London, twins Danielle and Annette Felder took a dive into the deep end. With water being a strong theme of the collection, perfect given the traditional rainy weather conditions, models emerged on the catwalk as if they had just risen from the waves.

Damp skin and slicked back hair all contributed to the effect where aqua blues and pale pinks textured in scale like designs made for looks that felt very deep blue sea. The Felder Felder woman appeared to be a modern day mermaid where neoprene fabrics, plastics and organza were the key design templates for next Spring. The twins have always injected a sense of romance into their collections and this was yet another that seemed to flow well. The darker black looks that were thrown into the middle of the show highlighted a more serious undertone for the woman you would find in the deep end.

Christopher Raeburn
Known for his take on military fabrics and developing unisex parkas and anoraks from military dead stock, Christopher Raeburn not long ago set out to start his eponymous label that debuted the runway for the first time this season. What’s important is that Raeburn provides a sports aesthetic for the woman who steers clear from anything overtly glamorous yet does not want to be seen as dressing head to toe in menswear. His technical skills were clearly apparent in his use of luxe fabrics  - take a lizard-patterned jacket for instance - yet Raeburn had worked extremely hard in refining his silhouette this season making shapes slightly more feminine. The utilitarian aesthetic is what makes Raeburn very easy to understand; it is wearable fashion that functions.

My first encounter with Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding was a few seasons ago when the duo had the support of London’s NEWGEN (New Generation) platform. Fast-forward to SS14, and the growth of the brand has been one worth watching. Known for perfecting the shirt – a wardrobe staple – Palmer//Harding has pushed the boundaries for refining and cleverly reviving one of fashion’s most coveted items. Never steering too far from their colour palette of well, just white, this season the boys introduced much awaited items such as trousers, dresses, skirts and t-shirts in pale hues, parallel to the brand’s relaxed silhouettes that sculpt the body in the all the right places. Inspired by rain, very fitting for British weather, Palmer//Harding have really pushed boundaries when it comes to the development of the white shirt.

Savile Row trained Paula Gerbase served time at the womenswear atelier of Hardy Amies and Kilgour, before setting up her own restrained modern tailoring label 1205. With a strong focus on cut and fabric, SS14 features a refined unisex wardrobe catered to lovers of constructed shapes and silhouettes as opposed to gender defining looks. Using high quality luxe fabrics, Gerbase delivered oversized shirts that could be mistaken for dresses and combined slouchy knits with sheer pinstripe shorts – in a boyish manner of course. Abiding strongly by a simple colour palette of whites, grey, slates and pale blues with a hint of khaki, 1205’s focus was clearly on the DNA of the garments themselves and the interpretation that the wearer will embrace when styling the key pieces next season for themselves. There is something so easy about 1205 that takes away from any kind of stoicism when it comes to tailoring.

Sister by Sibling
Fashion week can sometimes lose its spark, given the fact that running in heels from show to show really is unconventional (that and the fact that no one actually eats for an entire week), which is where Joe Bates, Cozette McCreery and Sid Bryan come to the rescue. With their general ‘cup of tea and biscuits’ attitude toward everything (how innately English of them) the designers’ who are hailed as the kings of knitwear were inspired by couture and sportswear, in the way of American luxe, for the coming season.

Their mutation of knitwear for SS14 resulted in pretty pastel shades associated closely with the happy days of the fifties – yet in the Sibling way bringing urban to suburban. Bright crochet skirts met embellished slogan jumpers and detailed zigzag pieces. To top it all off, what is fifties glamour without matching sugary coloured gingham sets? The question is rhetorical. In true Sibling style the collection looked about as fun as the models made out, as they smiled in a Mad Men-esque fashion down the runway on some form of sugar rush.

Everything about the Erdem Moralioglu is thoughtful. Inspired by the very British Eton schoolboy uniform (highly posh) – with a feminine take of course – Erdem’s intricate handwork and attention to detail resulted in a very pretty collection that most girly girls dream of. For those girls which romantic hopes, an Erdem dress in the wardrobe is a must. Even his take on a rugby shirt was done in chiffon and satin and dusted with feathers. Chantilly lace, organza panels and layers of tulle made for the perfect Spring-is-in-the-air type collection with Erdem being the dressmaker of every girl’s dreams. In a monochromatic theme, Erdem replaced cinched waists with more dropped 1920’s style silhouette whilst focusing on the key details – lace and any other sort of embellishment he could find. Heading down the bridal/couture route, there’s always need for a designer who can make you swoon and if that doesn’t do it then the orchestra halfway down the catwalk would have tipped you over the edge.

Nasir Mazhar
For Nasir Mazhar the concept is simple, as seems to be the rest of London’s attitude. He just wants to make the clothes that he likes to see girls wearing (note his muse is none other than Lil Kim). A true milliner at heart, Mazhar’s Spring/Summer collection paid homage to all things East London meets oriental street style meets (dare I say it) Rihanna. King of the club kids Mazhar understands what the partygoers need and isn’t afraid to shy away from details such as talon style nails the length of pencils and jewel encrusted accessories. His ghetto fabulous aesthetic is reminiscent of a certain Christina Aguilera video and there is no way you can hold this guy down – why would you want to? It looks like so much fun. Brash slogan sweatshirts, Tommy Hilfiger style logos, quilted backpacks, monochrome emblazoned tracksuits, visors and acid explosions in an array of candy colours provide the perfect wardrobe backdrop for festival trotters next season. Don’t forget to complete the look by taking a sefie.

Christopher Kane
What happens when you a get a financial injection into an already genius brand? Christopher Kane at his best, his most hands on, is what happens. Presenting a completely unique scientific take on florals for SS14, Kane placed his emphasis on the study of botanicals and the female anatomy – no room for roses here. The seductive collection displayed petal cutouts down the length of structured dresses whilst dissected flower heads were embroidered on sweatshirts and evening numbers. Longer length knife pleat skirts were juxtaposed alongside refined tailoring and more floral brocades. For Kane, there was definitely more than one idea in motion going from signature casual pieces with ‘petal’ slogans on them through to dream-like evening gowns representing femininity at its peak. From flowers to photosynthesis and female reproductive organs in the form of silvery embellishments, Kane managed to bring an intellectual charm into his work.

Thomas Tait
Canadian born Thomas Tait’s focus is on clean lines and understated structure when it comes to the boxy yet relaxed silhouettes that make his collections. Soft shades of sorbet and a green every now and then complimented perfectly the nearly all white collection that had a serene and peaceful tone to it. Experimenting with a range of textures and feathers for embellishment, Tait’s trademark of simplicity was met with vertical colour striped leather biker jackets, billowing anoraks and slinky plastic dresses whilst funnel neck jackets were teamed with boxy tailored shorts. Only a short time into his career, Tait has managed to create a signature aesthetic whilst also being able to show the ability develop and create more softer looks when needs be. As it stands his eye for detail and precision is what is allowing him to stay strongly afloat of the emerging talent pool.

Meadham Kirchhoff

When it comes to an eclecticism that is hard to define and sometimes even harder to interpret, can only mean that Meadham boys have nailed it. More importantly, you should know that a Meadham Kirchhoff collection is not without it’s theatrics and at the end of what has been a rainy filled, hectic week, it was the best way for LFW to go out. For Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff nothing is too extraordinary or beyond their reach, be it the haunted house style set up on the runway – complete with dead rose petals, or the spooky looks emerging from the vamp red-lipped models. Staying in line with a theme of black, white, red and gold as taken from their inspiration, Elizabeth I, the duo put together a playful mix that paid homage to various things. Babydoll dresses followed by embellished slips followed by punkish style tailoring showed an element of fun yet clear and perfect finishing on every last detail. The gothic fantasy as it was played out yesterday, really highlighted once more London’s desire to go wild with its imagination knowing no boundaries.

I Predict A Ryatt x Frank151

Davi Ryatt has a vivid imagination. Featuring depictions of Snow White burning Pinocchio after chopping him into pieces, the works of the young London illustrator teeter into macabre darkness.
Picking up a pencil back in his nursery days, when an infamous clown drawing set off conversations between teachers and gained him a gold star, Davi was always somehow working on something.
Deciding to then substitute his pencil in his teen years due to lack of encouragement for, well, more important teenage stuff, it wasn’t until he went to university and watched someone else absorb all the glory and reactions that he started illustrating again. Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
From the artistic murder of Smurfs through to Mickey Mouse caught in a mousetrap, Davi’s emerging talent continues to grow, as does his inspiration, making him an illustrator to keep on your radar.
Tell us a bit about Davi Ryatt, before the art attack.
Davi Ryatt is a 23-year-old illustrator/artist (bit confused as to which one, can we be both?) living in London. Always loved to draw (believe it or not), love to eat too. Nothing like a good meal! In fact I can never draw on an empty stomach. I just remember drawing this clown; I always used to draw clowns, I don’t know why because they scare the heck out of me now. I guess even then my artwork meant a lot to me sentimentally. To this day I cringe every time someone says, “I’m interested in buying the original.” It’s like someone offering to buy your kids. These marks on paper are my children.
I drew a lot at home too. I remember my pops having to buy me those dot-to-dot drawing books instead of the coloring in ones because I hated the fact that the drawing was already done for me. I then went to secondary school, where I was considered a “wasted talent” by most teachers; I wasn’t a classroom favorite. I think my artwork took a dip here, as I didn’t really get the encouragement that I could do something successful with it. Long story short I ran through my education and decided to go to university after, with the belief in my mind that my dodgy illustrations wouldn’t get me anywhere, so I studied design instead.
I went from doing logos for friends to being invited to art exhibitions by Evisu and things just escalated on from there. It was like a drug. The more people told me they loved my stuff, the more I wanted to draw. I guess that’s my motivation, people’s reactions to my illustrations. That’s my moment, that’s when I say, “Davi you did alright, you know.”
What gets you in the mood/sets the backdrop for when you start working?
A good song or film. I’m like one of those people that can’t wait to open things that they just bought from the shops. I’d be walking my dog, and halfway down the road, the song I’m listening to will trigger an idea, and bam! I quickly start jogging, rushing home to get this idea on paper. My dog loves it but does look at me like, “Why have we started running?” He must see some sort of pattern…
Even then it’s a short window—by the time I get home and catch my breath I don’t feel like drawing anymore. It’s usually a sudden spark that makes me want to go and create something awesome. Loud music helps; when music is pumping I feel the urge to draw. It happens to me a lot in clubs. I also don’t really like drawing at desks. I’m usually slouched on my bed with a piece of paper and a graphic novel for support. I need to be relaxed, calm and on my own. Drawing is my thing, an intimate moment, I don’t want people to watch. I can’t draw if I’m thinking about drawing, it needs to flow and come naturally. I let my hands do the work and I just kind of sit there and watch.
Do you have a particular routine or process when producing your work?
Firstly the most difficult part of the procedure is trying to find paper. I know, I’m an artist without a paper supply. So the beginning part of a drawing involves me searching draws and sketchbooks for an empty sheet. What happens after is a secret!
You've gained quite a lot of recognition, especially in the UK. Tell us about your work with Sway?
Above all I am a massive Sway fan, ever since I was about 15, so this whole experience is surreal. It’s awesome enough working with a celebrity, but working with an idol is something special. I got in touch with him over Twitter and told him he inspired a lot of my work and that he should check it out. I didn’t expect a reply at all but he actually took the time to message me back and take a look at my website. And that’s how it kicked off, he said he loved my work and we should do something together. So that’s what we are doing at the moment. It’s strange, his music inspired my artwork, and now I’m doing artwork for his music…
What is the highlight of your career so far?
Hmmm, I’d have to say working with Sway. After hearing his voice on the radio and then suddenly on the other end of my phone, it’s a personal achievement.
What are your views on digital art and more modern approached to illustrating? I’m not gonna lie, I was against digital art, I saw it as cheating. I think because it meant anyone could do it, anyone can be an artist if they own a computer and Photoshop. It took away from what you created. And I was very proud of my lack of digital manipulation being able to say that my artwork is genuine and original.
Then I realized how daft I sounded. It was about moving with the times. Almost like a developed brush, a new available medium that we should embrace. The first brushes were made from sticks or wood shavings, now they’re all acrylic bristles and synthetic this and that. Digital art in my new opinion is just another step forward in the development of the brush. Now I hand draw all of my artwork, and color it in digitally. I still don’t draw it digitally, it takes the fun out of what I love—scratching away at a piece of paper late into the night. The best part about drawing on paper is you can do it wherever you like. Digital drawing seems like a job, sitting at a desk with a computer. I don’t really find that fun.
B.o.B described you as ‘dope.’ You must have been chuffed, right?
It all started with the animated video I made for his song “Don’t Let Me Fall.” The day I heard that song this little video played in my head, and I had been planning it ever since. I’d been looking for a way to branch out and try something different other than drawing pictures and sticking them on Facebook. It took me a month to do, with over 200 individual drawings, and a lot of amateur video editing, but finally I had made my three-minute video to this song I had fallen in love with earlier in the year, stuck it on YouTube and it got a good response. I thought it had peaked when it got to around 4,000 views and I was happy. Then one day I started getting tweets and YouTube comment notifications left right and center. Some of the tweets and comments said things like: “B.o.B sent me here,” “You know this guy is going to do well when B.o.B is shouting him out,” at which point I jumped onto Twitter and there it was in all of its glory, B.o.B’s tweet with my video attached: “Shout out to whoever animated this version of Don’t Let Me Fall.” Within a week I had 150,000 views on the video, which then grew to just under a quarter of a million before YouTube stopped play on mobile devices for copyright reasons.
Later on I got tickets to B.o.B’s concert at the O2 and even backstage passes to meet and greet! So obviously I told him after all this time I am the face to the “Don’t Let Me Fall” video, to which he said, “Ah that was dope,” before turning to his bouncers and saying,“This dude is dope.” I told him I’d be quoting that.
Do you feel your art is a reflection of society today or any social issues in particular?
Erm… some of it is. Sometimes I draw things when I have a point I want to make about society, like my drawing of the boy watching the man working for the council taking down a ‘No Ball Games’ sign, and replacing it with a sign saying ‘No Dreams Or Aspirations.’ That’s how I felt things were and still are going. No one says, “You can do this, you can become whatever you like” any more. It’s all about playing safe or trying to stop other people doing better than you. Take my time at school for example.
Other times I draw things that aren’t really politically motivated and people interpret it that way anyway. Like the Uncle Pennybags drawing. Everyone was like “It’s so clever the way you have depicted the corruption of banks and how they get away with things by using the get out of jail free card,” and I’m just like yeah sure, that’s what I was trying to do (not). It’s always good to make a statement, instead of always making jokes.
To me art means freedom. You get to break away from the standard way of everyday life, the routine bus journey, getting to places on time, and doing things by the book. Drawing lets me break from that and do what I want, draw the world how I want it and how I want to be seen in it. Anything is possible with art. You can have a world where Smurfs are used to produce blue paint! It’s not so much an escape, but a comfort that not everything needs to be structured. Drawing is my pint of beer after a long day.
Is there an underlying message behind Davi Ryatt’s art that we should know?
It’s about what you create, not how you create it. It’s all about the idea. I think this is where I fell out with my art teachers at school. To them it was all about the types of brushstrokes and the way you captured the feel of the glass vase sitting on a silk cloth in the middle of the classroom.
Art is about releasing imagination; not being afraid to record it on paper and let other people see the weird shit that goes on in your mind. Being able to imagine is something people take for granted, because believe it or not, not everyone can do it. This is where I think the difference between skill and talent is defined. Anyone can become a skilled artist. But imagination, that’s the factor I believe you are either born with or without, you can’t learn it or grow it no matter what people say. But people are afraid to show theirs, in case people judge or disregard them. Who cares? Do what you want. I painted a boy sewing angel wings into his back when I was at school. They said I should try something less bold, so I drew it in pencil instead.