Not content with the gangs available to her, Fashion East’s Claire Barrow has created three of her own. Each is represented by a leather biker jacket, the ultimate gang symbol, illustrated in the unique DIY aesthetic that has made Barrow a cult designer to watch. Mythical tales of jewel lakes and protective angels merge with the dark femininity of girl gangs; sound tracked in the collection video by another gang we want part of – Skinny Girl Diet. The collaboration with Matches also features three illustrated leather clutches.
Dazed Digital: Can you talk us through each of your three gangs?
Claire Barrow: The Embers girl gang is based on the fire element, with spirits in the red flames and dancing girls who light the dark night. The Jewel Lake Ritual story is based on water, and is the more macabre gang out of the three. The women join on the beach, at the side of the city, at midnight when the full moon is out. As they pass through the joined arms of the water spirits they hope the water goddess will provide them with free jewels as an offering of kindness. If you are there for greed she will turn you into jewellery. Earth Angels are living and spirit women coming forward, or flying forward, to fight for what is right and good.
DD: Which gangs or tribes have influenced you?
Claire Barrow: The Surrealists of Paris, Asgarda girls of Ukraine, Maasai women of Kenya, The Cockettes of San Francisco, The Savage Skulls and The Savage Nomads of New York, and The Pink Ladies.
DD: If you could join any gang anywhere in the world which one would it be?
Claire Barrow: I’m not sure - maybe it’s time to create a new collective.
DD: When did you purchase your first biker jacket?
Claire Barrow: I had pleather as a child including a pink snakeskin piece, then real leather around 2010. It has 'GERMS' painted onto the back. I thought I wouldn't suit a biker jacket, but it’s a piece of clothing everyone can look good in. Leather bikers have such a rich social history in their own right.
DD: Have you been influenced by any iconic biker jacket images?
Claire Barrow: There’s a really nice leather jacket with chains running down the back in the ‘blue velvet’ scene of Kenneth Anger’s Scorpio Rising. Danger is sexy! Also, Sandy’s transformation in Grease into bad girl Sandy, which starts with a black leather biker jacket; “Tell me about it…stud.”
The six piece collection will be available exclusively from Matchesfashion.com