Your average skater may don baggy DC jeans, big-as-bricks Vans, oversized Supreme T-shirts and Stüssy hoodies, but this brand’s subcultural army has a far more refined fashion palette. Their trousers of choice are constructed of Japanese indigo-dyed and embroidered denim, their deconstructed jackets cut with Savile Row-like precision, their tops emblazoned with pixelated prints instead of in-your-face logos and their skateboards made of hand-quilted leather (courtesy of the brand’s new luggage collaboration with H by Harris). The entire collection was appropriately documented at East London-based warehouse-turned-skating space, Quaker Street Bowl.
“Skate has this amazing, raw energy. We were interested in this idea of a new age skater and a subculture existing within popular culture,” explains one half of the menswear label, Charlie Casely-Hayford. Together with his father Joe, he researched the scene’s different international reincarnations as a starting point for the new season, with a photograph of Apache skateboarders by Dustinn Craig proving to be of particular significance. “It just felt so modern, the fusion of these two cultures that don’t really belong together. We were looking at how you can integrate skate culture into your own society. Hearing about plans to shut down the Southbank skate space just reinforced our interest in this idea of a colony of people creating a micro culture within a mass cultural space,” he says.
Although the young designer admits to dabbling in skateboarding during his youth, his own relationship to the scene is more one of appreciation rather than participation. “I’m interested in the authenticity of the lifestyle. Skaters don’t just skate, it’s an entire world that everything is built around. There aren’t many things like that, where you completely immerse yourself in it,” he notes. The sense of liberation and freedom within the skating world also resulted in a more relaxed look this season around, evidenced in pieces such as a charcoal blazer with lapel-shaped cutouts, drawstring waisted wool trousers and a bomber jacket with an inner racerback construction.
It isn’t just aesthetics that attracted the father and son design duo to the world of skateboarding. There is also the aspect of a tribe-like culture, identical to those existing within fashion. “The idea of the Casely-Hayford tribe and what it stands for - this transcultural mix, where you take elements from all the different cultures around you to define you’re identity - is one of the main things that drives us each season,” Casely-Hayford says.
While sports culture is an integral part of the brand’s English sartorialism meets British anarchism philosophy, sportswear in itself has undeniably become a deeply embedded part of UK culture - chav connotations and all. “Sportswear is such a big influence for us because it’s almost like a British national identity,” he explains. “The uniform of our biggest subcultures now is a head-to-toe sportswear look. When people look back at our time, will that be what they see as reflecting the disillusioned youth of this period? Sportswear is so prevalent and such a prominent part of society, you can’t deny it.”