photography by MARGOT NOWAK
    picture of Amy Winehouse wearing FRED PERRY x AMY WINEHOUSE
    photographed by Bryan Adams

    An interview with Charlie Middleton

    Written by Tsemaye Opubor by Michaela Widergren

    Dressing the tribe: Fred Perry’s subculture style

    British subculture style as we know it wouldn’t be the same without Fred Perry.

    Generations of teddy boys, mods, skinheads, soul boys, and rudies have all worn the iconic Fred Perry cotton pique shirt or Harrington jacket, adopting the pieces as an essential part of the uniform of the underground.

    On a sunny morning in May after a Bank Holiday, I was invited to Fred Perry headquarters to meet Charlie Middleton, Product Director for the brand.

    For a dedicated Fred Perry fan, stepping into the lobby of the building is like entering “the mothership”. Fred Perry’s laurel wreath logo is visible already from the door, built from birch plywood in a sculptural form that stretches some 7 metres from the door all the way to the built-in reception desk, where Fred Perry pin badges are placed strategically for visitors to take with them (yes, I took a pocket full).

    The lobby is a gallery space in miniature, and on my visit there were large format black and white photos on the walls of many of the musicians and personalities that are also devotees of the Fred Perry brand.

    TO: Fred Perry has reached British Heritage status as a company, although it is no longer British–owned, having been bought by Japanese investors a number of years ago. How does the company manage to keep its Britishness with foreign ownership?

    CM: In 1952, British tennis champion Fred Perry and a business partner launched a slim fit cotton pique tennis shirt with a laurel wreath embroidered on the front. It was a hit on tennis courts, and players liked the slim fit. Today in 2014, every piece that is produced is approached from the same starting point. Take a white shirt: the design team asks the question how can we make this piece very Fred Perry? From there we look at our different themes within the brand, to see what we need to do to achieve our goals. Finding what is in the brand DNA, and identifying the Britishness of the brand and holding on to it, and doing it in a contemporary way, that’s what keeps us relevant today. So, in that way, keeping an element of Britishness in what we do isn’t hard, because our identity doesn’t change so much.

    TO: What did the early subcultures like about Fred Perry?

    CM: It was The Teds and Mods that made Fred Perry the first sportswear to streetwear crossover in the 1960s.

    From the start, wearing a Fred Perry shirt was a clean, sharp, way for young people to dress. The clothing was different to what their parents or even other kids were wearing. When young people from different early subcultures like the mods, teddy boys and suedeheads discovered and dressed in Fred Perry clothing, I think rebelliousness got associated with the brand.

    TO: The brand still manages to create a buzz across a wide range of subcultures, more than 60 years after the start of the company. Why is that?

    CM: After 60 odd years, it would be very easy to sell it out. We keep an eye on trend but saying that, we don’t follow fashion. Fred Perry has a unique way of resonating with different subcultures, still, and music is really closely linked to the brand. Today we have new fans: from scooter boys in Taiwan to skateboarders on the west coast of the United States, and Brazilian 80’s casuals. They are all looking for the simplicity of the clothing and they are embracing the brand’s underground heritage as well.

    TO: Fred Perry and music seem to go hand in hand. Why is that?

    CM: We are lucky that music gives us a platform at the grassroots level to be involved with the music scene. We are able to showcase musicians at gigs on a monthly basis.

    Music is always contemporary. We can through music refer to a previous time that was important to the Fred Perry brand back in the 60’s, and still stay relevant today.

    TO: What can you tell me about The Amy Winehouse Foundation Collection?

    CM: The Amy Winehouse Foundation Collection has been produced for several seasons now. The evolution of the clothing was due to Amy’s passion. She was very much a part of it. She thought most of the pieces were perfect as they were and she didn’t think they should be “messed with” too much. She was such a purist. She loved the brand so much. We created many of the pieces in the collection by examining the way Amy wore Fred Perry. Her upturned collars, her colour choices, lots of things.

    We worked with Amy Molyneaux, who was Amy Winehouse’s stylist, for a few seasons after Amy sadly passed away. The collection is now designed in-house and we will be launching a special collaboration competition with Central Saint Martin’s University for SS15.

    TO: What’s next for the Fred Perry brand?

    CM: Product categories aren’t likely to change much, as we work really hard at what we do. That being said, new markets are emerging around the world and I think there are a lot of similarities in the kinds of people that wear Fred Perry, even if they are all individuals and in some ways all very different.

    So, what’s next for Fred Perry is cementing the various tribes of loyal Fred Perry fans and bringing them together globally through #WeAreTipped. We’re a special brand in terms of the diversity of our customers that choose to wear the Laurel Wreath as a badge of honour. Everyone is invited to be a part of Fred Perry, to be ‘tipped’.

    sleeve detail of a bomber jacket from the archive
    Charlie Middleton, Product Director
    employee at the Fred Perry Shop 
    bomber jacket patch detail from the archive
    employees at the Fred Perry shop
    Fred Perry showroom
    men’s shirt from the archive

    An interview with Magnus Gjoen

    Written by Michaela Widergren

    Magnus Gjoen is the former Vivienne Westwood denim and graphic designer, who abruptly changed his career from fashion to art while trying to decorate his own home. I got the opportunity for a quick Q&A with the London based artist who is using objects containing strong symbolic meanings in a beautiful and sensible way.

    MM: How’s London, and what are you doing today?

    MG: London. Well right now I’m in the bathtub which is the only place I have time to write this (or dictate to my iPad). There’s a lot to do with three shows on the horizon, moving to another house and quitting smoking (electronic).

    MM: How did you end up where you are?

    MG: I’ve been doing art for a few years now. But I started working in denim and fashion design for the last 10 years. It all started with wanting to decorate my own flat some years ago, and before I knew it, and with encouragement from friends, it had snowballed into having to leave my day job and become a full-time artist.
    It wasn’t just about what do I want on my walls it was also about what other people would hang on their walls.

    MM: Your artwork is edgy but also a bit romantic, so what do you want the work to convey to others?

    MG: I tend to look for beauty in the macabre. It’s about showing the audience something which they have a different relationship to and changing this and making them see that it can also be seen in a different light. In the end it’s about beauty and the unexpected, but also play to peoples’ emotions towards certain objects.

    MM: Do you get inspired by art, fashion or life itself? What’s the most important source of inspiration?

    MG: I get inspired by everything around me. Art is for sure one of my biggest inspirations whether it’s street, contemporary, modern or Renaissance art. You can take little snippets from each one, whether it’s a shape or color, it all coalesces into something new or different. I’ve been living between London, Bologna and Florence for the past two years for this reason; the more you see the more you get inspired.

    MM: What do you have planned for the future?

    MG: I’ve got a few shows coming up, two in London and a solo show in Florence. We’re doing a lot of porcelain pieces for the Florence show, so that’s exciting. And we’re currently working with Converse to make an art piece for the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

    MM: Coming to Scandinavia anytime soon?

    MG: Nothing on the calendar yet, but I’ll go back to Norway for a week to see family at some point this summer and there is a long overdue trip back to Copenhagen where I used to live.

    AK DELFT  
  • An interview with Fredrik Wikholm

    Written by Michaela Widergren


    It’s early summer, the sun is a bit to brave for the season and I’m on my way to meet up with Fredrik Wikholm the co-founder and creative director of men’s clothing brand: Uniforms for the Dedicated. We meet up outside their office space but decide to take a walk along the crooked streets of Södermalm to visit their concept store, located on Krukmakargatan 24. The store is industrial modern with some hints of green and there’s hip hop music playing in the speakers. Outside the large display window there’s a white bench, inviting for the passing to rest. But the interview has started earlier, while walking there.

    MM: Has the journey’s been long, when did you guys start?

    FW: Yes, it’s been a while, we started up somewhere around the autumn of 2007, but just before then a bunch of us were living in the states, we had a snowboard collective in the mountains of Vail Valley, Colorado.

    MM: I’ve heard Uniforms for the Dedicated was a snowboard brand from the beginning, is that so?

    FW: I guess in a way we were a snowboard brand, that’s where we came from, what we knew. We never referred to ourselves as a snowboard brand but our values came from it. At the time, we were mostly living for snowboarding, climbing and surfing. We wanted to become a great example of entrepreneurship inspired by learning and by doing; with that we started a platform for creatives. We’d done some t-shirts before and therefore thought about fashion.

    MM: Did any of you guys have an education?

    FW: No, not at all. Well, I’ve got a degree in Behavioral Science, some of us studied marketing but most important of all we learned from life. We were totally newbies in the fashion business and just wanted to do our own thing.

    Fredrik talked about how they all were so determined to do everything themselves and maybe that’s why they got a slow start. They were pretty crappy at doing research but learned by doing and by doing a lot of errors. They didn’t just do fashion, they created music, art installations and even attempted producing a movie.
    MM: What kind of music were you doing?

    FW: Mostly electronic, one of the co-founders and a close friend to me, Jonas Rathsman, who’s now a known new disco and house producer and another guy that’s also very successful today, Nils Krogh, produced Uniforms for the Dedicated music.

    MM: How was the collective accepted? Did people get confused when you focused on so many genres?

    FW: Yes, I think it was kind of confusing, but the people who liked it, really liked it. You could buy our music, clothes and furniture while looking at our conceptual music videos, you could take part of our philosophy in many ways.

    MM: How did the first collection turn out in all of that?

    FW: Well, we managed to make clothes. It wasn’t really a collection, it was more of a hodgepodge of garments. But we made a few pieces that was greatly received and I guess a few pieces that did not create a lot of buzz.

    MM: Who was the main designer?

    FW: It’s varied… from the beginning it was Mike, who’s now our sustainability director. We quickly realized that bringing in some external competence wouldn’t be such a bad idea. When the company grew we could hire new people.

    Fredrik and I reach the store and take a seat on the bench outside; this is when we start talking about the true essence and passion of Uniforms for the Dedicated. Fredrik tells me that the brand is mostly about taking a stand and doing what they can to keep our planet up and running. All this time I thought this was a regular men’s fashion label. I was completely wrong. This is a brand about recycling and preserving.

    FW: We have a goal, that in five years: Uniforms for the Dedicated will be the leading company in sustainability, in the world. The concept that we are trying to reach and create for ourselves would also be relevant for other types of organizations and companies. It shouldn’t matter if you’re a large company or small, or if you’re in fashion or some other business.

    MM: How are you working with sustainability?

    FW: We do what we can with the resources that we have. That includes everything from having a well functional waste sorting to looking over the logistics in the company. When producing a new collection we always aim to have the smallest possible effect on the environment. If you purchase a jersey or a t-shirt I can guarantee you that 80% of the cotton is organic and this August you will be able to choose if you want to buy your new suit in 100% recycled wool. We try not to mind the trends but instead create pieces that are classical, when thinking about trends, the relevance of the garment disappears way too fast. We need to think ahead and in the long run, by offering our customers commercially desirable and sustainable clothes that can be used more than one season. To be honest, I’m not that interested in being in the fashion industry, I’m here because I’m interested in having an influence in the fashion business.

    Only using eco-developed materials isn’t good enough, Uniforms for the Dedicated’s main focus is to use already existing materials. The problem with recycling organic materials is making the quality as fine as the newly produced products. It’s hard and because of that it offers an easy way out for the bigger companies, they just say, the products won’t reach their standards. But there are ways, Fredrik tells me they work with recycled wool from a place called Prato, just outside Venice and that the village has a long knowledge and tradition of recycling, from the beginning because of economic reasons.

    FW: Another way of keeping the planets’ resources intact, is not buying at all and for that we have a rental system, so if you’re in the need of a suit you can rent one in the Uniforms for the Dedicated store. We’re also working with a new project together with the non-profit second hand stores in our neighborhood, the idea is that after you bought something, when you get back home, you turn the shopping bag inside out, collect an old piece out of your closet, put it in the bag and send it away to one of the second hand stores. The bag already has an address printed and the shipping’s been paid for. One piece in, one piece out

    MM: This is a large part of your image, right? So tell me about another part, the older male model that you’ve been working with for a while, Aiden Shaw, how did you find him and what does he help you represent?

    FW: From the beginning, it was a suggestion from my friend and our photographer Kalle Gustavsson. He told me to check him out and I’ve always disliked how some brands show their collections on seventeen year old boys. I mean that’s not who we or our customers are. Aiden’s a guy who’s taken bold decisions and he always seems to be looking for excitement; he’s an old gay porn star, but he’s also a musician, a poet and a writer and environmentally engaged. Somehow I think he summons very well who we are and want to be. The idea is always to work with models who can bring something more than being beautiful to the table.

    MM: You definitely got the best models last fashion week, all of those guys all looked really cool.

    FW: Thank you.., when we put together our fashion shows we of course want the models to look good and casual cool but it’s also essential that they reflect our customers and the people that we want to see in our clothes, that’s why all of the men walking down the runway were in different shapes, colors, and ages and in the end we got a lot of positive reactions for that. I’m not interested in having 15 pink people walk down the runway, it takes more, and any chance we get to show that the world is a diverse, cultural and colorful place we will take.

    There’s a freshness in how Fredrik talks about the planet, often referenced to as mother earth. He’s political and not ashamed to talk about it, nothing’s not important. As a lot of young people in Sweden, Fredrik says he’s sick and tired of the political situation and that no one really speaks up about it. There’s a big pink elephant in the room that makes most people look the other way. I ask him what he’ll vote for in the upcoming election, he answer’s either the feminist or the green party. He also says he’s hoping for a matriarchal rule in the future, maybe the world would be a better place than it is now…



There’s nothing to see here.