We sat down with Sam Lambert and Shaka Maidoh, the design duo behind Art Comes First, and talked about their latest cooperation with Fred Perry, why Rudeboy culture plays an important role and what was so appealing about the partnership with Fred Perry.
Tell us a little about Art Comes First; how did you guys meet?
We met back in late ’90s in West London in Portobello Market. The passion for vintage clothing, vinyls, photograph and art made us start the label. In the beginning we didn't aim to make clothing, we just wanted to express our frustrations and by expressing ourselves every day we created a tribe of individuals who resonate with our vibe. This is one of the reasons for the focus on the art of self-expressionism; it’s really important to be your true self. You will be surprised how many people out there think just like you.
What about this collaboration, what was the inspiration behind it?
The inspiration is always that rudeboy culture captured through, style, music and art. The idea is to keep that rudeboy attitude on everything we do; culture needs to be appreciated not appropriated. This season the pieces we picked from Fred Perry vintage archives reminded us so much of the images that British photographer Dave Hendley captured in Jamaica/UK rebel music 1977-98 –what we call rudeboy movement documented. Many of the Fred Perry archive pieces didn't feel like clothing to us, they felt more like characters from Mr. Hendley’s pictures, and that inspires us for days. We are very proud just to be able to continue telling that same story you see documented in those picture through clothing.
You guys have referenced music as a place of inspiration in the past, what’s the relationship between music and fashion for you?
Music is the heart if fashion is the brain. Music makes everything feel alive and fashion helps to illustrate that visual through style. It’s like making a movie following the soundtrack instead of other way around; everything feels so expressive and real because you have all these melodies and sounds to follow. That’s how you get your right details on the garments and the styling comes easier because now you can literally see sounds through clothing.
Why Fred Perry? What about the partnership was appealing to you?
We always been fans of Fred Perry, the impact they had on the youth culture, plus all our heroes we used listen to wore Fred Perry. You can't get wrong when you mix subculture and some rebel punk tailors. As ACF we love when a vintage piece of clothing has a lot of story to tell; we can bring that story to the modern day so it can live to the future. With the Fred Perry archive it’s like we are kids in the candy store again because there is so much culture in those pieces that link to so many people. We feel very honored and so inspired to work with them.
How do your styles complement each other and how is that evident in the collection?
We have this DIY punk tailoring approach to very clean sport smart-looking pieces. There is a very idea of what we what to say and they are very understanding and they have given us total creative freedom on the capsule. They complement each other because we both speaking from a cultural point of view. It’s a celebration of respecting and embracing cultural difference while keeping it very British still. Our details and designs are very unique to us, so you can see it on the collection through color palette, detailing and styling.
In what ways does this line depart from other collections you’ve worked on? What makes it unique?
It's very much theme focused. Here we have to think of yesterday, today and tomorrow. To explain: keeping yesterday in mind, relate it to today’s modern touch while thinking on tomorrow’s approach. Uniqueness is how we make a vintage piece modern without losing its soul. We consider fabrication, fit, finishes, dressing sense, everyday use and the most wearable colors of today.
Who is the target customer for this collection?
EVERYBODY! In this world of selfishness we want to be inclusive not exclusive, this is a subculture for everybody to have a piece of clothing and they can wear it their own way. Personal style matters here; self expression from every culture, gender, race, age, etc... We are here because of the people and this our way to give back.
What’s the reception been like?
It’s been great! Especially because we got a bit more playful with it this time, by using allover print, mesh and flipped few things upside down.
We hope to do a exhibition next year in March with the pictures of Dave Hendley in comparison with our street style Polaroid photos we’ve been taking of people wearing Fred Perry vintage archive around the world (we did Mexico, Paris, Berlin and Spain). Marrakesh, Angola, Brazil and Ghana are coming next.