So Scott first off let’s learn a little bit about yourself– what’s your background in fashion, when did you first became interested in it and so on?
My dad’s in the manufacturing business in fashion so I was always around it in the factory. They’ve done stuff for Paul Smith and some smaller brands. In school I was good at art, and growing up I was always into clothes and styling. I was the one out of my group of mates who actually cared about clothes. I did an art course and the only part of that I liked was fashion. My teachers who were all womenswear based used to try to tell me to stay in Newcastle but I wanted to go to London. I studied product design and development in the clothing industry at London College of Fashion; it was a new course and I liked the sound of what it involved. I was doing womenswear to start with, and I did a placement for a year working for a design manufacturer. I realised quickly during this time my primary focus was best placed in a menswear environment. The majority of my time there was spent sitting looking at men’s blogs and publications.
I went back and did my final year creating my own brand as part of my studies, it was a very heritage focused brand. I was looking at local influences such as Nigel Cabourn, but I was also looking at streetwear. It’s weird, I look back at my portfolio and I feel like the stuff I was producing back then is still relevant. My main inspiration was Junya Watanabe, a lot of patchwork, being his signature trait. When I finished my course, it was hard to get a job in London. A lot of the people I went to university with went on to work for companies like Burberry for free, but I just couldn’t do that. I had an interview for Aquascutum at one point, but after discussions the money they offered still wasn't appealing enough.
I ended up working for End Clothing at their store in Newcastle. I went for other interviews and the whole time I was there I kept saying I’d do my own thing. I went for an interview with a fast fashion chain and they wanted me to do a project on Navajo. I did it and their reaction was a lot of back and forward about the commerciality of the product, I think their exact words were ‘your use of Navajo is a bit scary’ and this was me trying my hardest to design commercially. So I got to a point where I said let’s try and do something.
That’s almost a narrative in itself. So how did that idea translate into the actual garments?
That came from years research and throughout my time at End. I just started drawing. I’m not a great pattern cutter, so I brought a guy in who’s a real craftsman at patterns. We sat with all my drawings; all the things I liked visually, mood boards, fabric samples etc. I didn’t have many fabrics at that time, but I knew what I wanted. Everything had to be really heavy and structured, with technical details but I wanted to keep sharp lines and really clean design.
If you notice the details on the clothing, everything is hidden and concealed. I wanted to keep things minimal, but interesting at the same time. I love London designers and fashion – catwalk stuff, but it’s a bit mad. For instance I’ll see something by Yang Li and think it’s great, but I’ll show it to one of my mates and they’ll be like how the hell do you wear that? But if you style say the shirt, with some nice denim it’ll look amazing and wearable. I guess that’s what I try to create, things between catwalk and some of the more conservative, contemporary menswear around at the minute. High-end but wearable, I want people from up here to be able to buy it and wear it, as well as more fashion forward cities like London and Paris.
What non-fashion related factors influence you and shape your perspective on design? Any sort of cultural references you draw on; musical, artistic, architectural and so forth.
In this day and age people who are classical designers will probably frown on this but, Tumblr. I remember first discovering JJJJound. I guess that’s why there are so many designers now, or creative directors anyways. To be fair, I say I’m not a designer myself , I sketch but I don’t really pattern cut and I don’t really sew. I can just visualise how I want things to look. Eventually I’d love to have a huge team of people; graphic designers, pattern cutters, seamstresses. At university I wasn’t friends with many people who did fashion, I was mainly friends with people who did fine art and they didn’t give a fuck about fashion, but they would still know good stuff when they saw it - people like that influence me.
I never look at models and think my stuff would look amazing on them; I look at my mates and try to visualise what they’d look amazing in. Overall, I can’t really pinpoint many influences. My mood boards are a mixture of everything. There’s fucking plants on there. I couldn’t tell you where that comes from, I just like the look of them, and they fit well with these other images I’ve got. Other than that it’s largely just clothes that I like to wear.
You’re definitely designing for yourself by the sound of things. Tell us some of your opinions on menswear. What are you backing aesthetically right now, and what are some things that you just can’t get behind?
People will frown upon this but I don’t really like the stuff that comes out of some of the huge catwalk shows in Milan and Paris. I love the London scene, I love seeing the mad shit. I love Mathew miller, and Craig green is another one I love. Honestly a lot of the people I’m into I might not even like their clothes, but I like their whole ethos of ‘fuck it I’m doing it because I want to do it. I think this is cool and it should be cool’. But then again people might look at my stuff that seems fairly ordinary looking at first glance might say you’re not doing anything mad. But I’m doing my own thing, this is my vision. I can’t get behind these t shirt brands that people are doing now with the screen prints or the quotes. Fair enough if that’s your thing but it’s just not for me. I know this sounds weird, but I hate when huge hordes of people jump on stuff. I’m sick of seeing Yeezys purely because they’re everywhere you look now. I just hate when people take things past the point where they’re maybe a little bit cool.
What does the future have in-store for Scott Robert in your mind?
I want it to be more established. I’ve had conversations with my business partner, and because he’s business minded he’s all about ‘we need to sell this and do this’. But for me I don’t care about money at this point in time. I know I need it to keep going but what would make me happy would be to see people on the internet wearing it or walking down the street wearing it, thinking that it’s good stuff. So to get there, I’d like to be in some stores. Originally you’d like to have the following to sell by yourself, but I understand you can’t do that without a lot of marketing. I’d just like to be an established menswear brand really. Nothing crazy, I just want people to mess with it.
And what about the collections growing, are you thinking about increasing the size of the collection or incorporating anything new like footwear?
Yeah I’d love to do a pair of trainers, and bags at the moment too. Eventually I’d love to do a womenswear line. I’ve even got people in mind, some mates in London who’d be cool to work on a womenswear line with. It would be like the stuff I’ve done now, but just tailored differently - a bit more feminine. Right now though we are focusing on expanding the next collection to double the size for AW17.
Finally, if you had the chance to create a collaborative capsule with another designer or brand whether it be footwear or accessories or a full line, what would it be and why?
I’d like to collaborate with a couple of my mates who do art. One of them has a show in Glasgow right now, and another has a painting show in Kensington coming up. In my head it would be great to have a big group of mates who consistently collaborated on projects. Its way cooler than me going to some big designer and being like, ‘let’s do a collection to get my name out there’, when there is no real connection. When I was at university, me and my two mates would just sit all night with a few bottles of wine just sketching and brainstorming ideas for hours. That’s the sort of thing I’d like to do, where it’s natural. Oh.. And maybe a pair of Scott Robert Jordan 1’s would be nice (laughs).
Shop the debut collection at Scott Robert Clothing
Late last year you launched your debut collection, tell us a little bit about the process you went through developing the collection from the conceptual stage to producing the garments?
When I decided to do it, I spoke to my brother who’s now my business partner and he knew I’d wanted to do this for a long time. It works because he’s great with the business side of things, I want to focus all my energy on being creative. Obviously my ideas changed a lot over the period I was working at End, getting introduced to new brands and my own personal tastes developing. But the idea was always there, so as soon as I actually sat down and drew out a collection it really didn’t take me that long.
And what about the main ideas behind the collection?
It’s pretty much just what’s aesthetically pleasing to me. People always tell you that you have to have a narrative to go along with your product, but I just like what I like. That’s how the whole ‘where’ concept came about. I used to randomly sketch these line and arrow designs, and one day I researched what it meant. Apparently it’s subconsciously wanting to be somewhere. That turned into me sketching these triangle designs pointing in every direction, leading me to the conclusion that I really don’t know where I want to be. So as much as everyone wants a story, I really don’t have a story to the collection. You get these sort of questions in the industry but I just want to make some stuff that I like, my friends like, and people can actually wear.
That’s quite a democratic way to approach your designs.
Yeah anyone can wear it, if you’re into fashion you’ll notice the details and the cut and such, but if you know nothing about fashion you can still look at it and like it. It’s only a small collection, but this is our base to build on, each piece we’ve created can be changed and augmented into a completely different piece. Our pattern cutter took my drawings and came back with these basic silhouettes, and during the first fitting we were just drawing pencil lines, placing pockets, cutting fabric and pinning things. Then we had the model walk around the factory so we could see it in motion, it was very organic, and things just went from there. It’s fun to draw on fabric when on model, because I can actually visualise the final outcome.
What’s it like from a designers perspective to start your own label from the ground up?
It’s hard and its long, I always knew it would be. People say to me look at Common Projects, they were in the same situation and 10 years later everyone is rocking their shit. To start it was always going to be hard, honestly the stuff I’ve learned in the first 6 months of producing this was more than I learned in 4 years at university. The way fabrics sit, things like that they just don’t teach you at university. I noted frustration of myself as most likely most designers in all fields is; having an idea in my head about how something will look, then when it’s constructed it looks shit because of the fabric or the construction.
Getting the ideas realised has definitely been the best part so far. The amount I’ve learned about fabrics, I’m constantly collecting fabrics now and thinking of how they’ll sit.
Did you have any pre-conceptions about running a label that you’ve experienced now?
You think you’ll be able to make clothes and sell them, but it doesn’t work like that. You need these skilled people like our pattern cutter, and a business advisor I’m working with to help actually turn it from clothes and concept, into a brand. I had ideas in my head for all these pieces I wanted to complete in certain fabrics but half of it just isn’t feasible yet. We never started with a huge sum of money to invest in the brand, we’ve had to work with what we have. But I said from the beginning, if I was going to do this then it had to be exactly how I wanted it to look and feel. There’s still work to go with the product, but what we’ve done so far without any money I’m happy with.
We’ve had meetings with some people in London, they were impressed by the fact that we’d gotten as far as we had. Most brands didn’t even have a look book to show them. We had a cut & sew collection and a look book. The conversations I’ve had so far are promising, but it’s all a learning curve. There are just so many small issues you wouldn’t think about; like neck labels for the t shirts. It took us two months to get labels, it shouldn’t fucking work like that. I saw an interview with Nasir Mazhar, and he was explaining how when they get an order in they get a deposit, and by the time you manufacture sometimes you’re even losing money. We’re lucky because we have a factory based in the UK that can produce stuff in small runs for us.