All this week, we'll be running articles about and around Peckham, the area of south London having such a moment right now. Expect articles on digital art, gangland, the pre and post-clampdown squatting scene, all-night dancing, self-publishing and fashion chicken shops. Here, we get we exclusively premier north-dwelling but Peckham born-and-bred menswear designer Kit Neale's new SS14 look book, and ask him about the patch of London that inspoired him.
Kit Neale is a born and bred SE15 boy. Despite moving his studio north of the river, the menswear designer has remained loyal to his roots, celebrating the rich culture of Peckham in his prints. From a playful take on the chicken shop motif, to reworking the classic children’s roadmap to that of Rye Lane – beauty salons included – Neale’s SS14 collection is a love letter to the area he grew up in.
Dazed Digital: How has growing up in Peckham shaped you as a designer?
Kit Neale: The fact that it’s such a rich and diverse and varied place, and so growing up there you’re surrounded by a mixture of amazing cultures and different people living together, whether it be your own sort of white middle class culture to having deep poverty surrounding you. A lot of my friends, when we were at school, were all of these kids coming from different cultures with different stories to say and I guess that’s been embedded into me, and like I was discussing with Caspar who I run the business with, I think a part of fashion is sociology, and I’m obsessed with culture and transforming culture into something.
DD: I know you’re very interested in the Buffalo collective…
Kit Neale: I think a lot of my work takes a sort of styling element more than a design one – I think a lot of designing has that sort of outlook anyway. Street culture, street style, whatever that is: I hate the term street style, The Buffalo era and what that represents is more of an attitude than just being clothes – about how you wear it, how you present yourself, how the clothes are carried on you and how you carry the clothes. That sets a presence of what you’re about, and that’s my obsession with Ray Petri and the Buffalo era and that all links in with my experience of growing up in Peckham.
I’m a vegetarian! I haven’t eaten meat since I was twelve and got food poisoning from the KFC in Peckham.
DD: What are your favourite places in Peckham? What are the hidden gems?
Kit Neale: Well everyone knows Frank’s but I think for me it’s about actually observing Rye Lane and the characters on Rye Lane. One of my favourite things to do which I haven’t done for a long time is just to go and hide myself away at the Multiplex and watch a really shit movie for about £2. But as for particular bars and things, there’s nothing to scream and shout about, there’s nothing you wouldn’t find anywhere else in London, it’s all about the atmosphere of being on Rye Lane.
DD: What’s going on in the area creatively right now? Is there any particular artists or designers that you like?
Kit Neale: I really like The House of Dreams in Dulwich.
One of my favourite things to do, which I haven’t done for a long time, is just to go and hide myself away at the Multiplex and watch a really shit movie for about £2.
DD: How have you seen Peckham change over the years?
Kit Neale: For me I think there’s a different energy there now. Walking down Rye Lane at one in the morning is completely different to ten, fifteen, twenty years ago. I remember when I was a kid and you’d get on the bus home at night through Rye Lane and it would be dead, and you wouldn’t get off until you got to the end. I think that for me is the biggest noticeable change. I think the change you see in Peckham is that the energy is going on all night and that’s part of the gentrification. The bars are there, there are new people in Peckham and people are going into Peckham who haven’t otherwise been there, the young crowd. But I don’t think the area has changed as quickly as other places in London, whether that be in the city or somewhere like Dalston or Shoreditch where in five years they’ve changed really dramatically.
Peckham, I think, is a little slower, a bit more hidden and not so exposed. You don’t walk down Rye Lane and think ‘Oh, there’s a nice new bar’, it’s just as it is. It’s much more hidden, much more tucked away and I think there’s something nicer about it. It’s something unique about what Peckham is. It’s a really rich community that are digging their heels in Peckham. While it will change – and I think it’s starting to change really quickly now – once no one would go south of the river or go to Peckham, I think there’s going to be a massive change. It’s going to be much more polished and cleaned up, and I don’t think that’s possibly a bad thing. Areas do have to change, as long as it doesn’t ghettoise the existing community that’s already in there, then it’s only a good thing.
DD: Finally, where’s the best place to get fried chicken in Peckham?
Kit Neale: I’m a vegetarian! I haven’t eaten meat since I was twelve and got food poisoning from the KFC in Peckham. I don’t have anything against eating meat socially or politically, I’m just scared of getting ill again. I wouldn’t trust any of the fried chicken shops! I always go for the Fillet O’Fish at McDonalds, it’s the best option for a pescetarian.
Styling: Way Perry
Set Design: Caspar Hodgson