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Photography by Jonnie Craig

Studio Visit: Kit Neale

The LC:M designer on Miami Vice prints and creating his own Peckham Riviera

It all begins with prints for Kit Neale. Combing the ideals of adolescence and discovery, the London based designer is stripping it back this season. Returning to his roots, Kit Neale is drawing references from his South London surroundings, conjuring up his own Peckham Riviera. We spoke with the designer in his studio before his SS14 show to uncover more of what to expect.

Dazed Digital: When you start the next collection do you always start with images on your reference wall?

Kit Neale: Yeah, we start off with prints and then it builds more and more as it goes on. What I noticed this time especially was how references that I’d seen previously were subconsciously in there and they’d come into play. Lord of the Flies and Son of Rambo were referenced. It was more subconscious this time but there was a theme that has stuck, which is this age of adolescence, childhood, discovery which is kind of Lord of the Flies, Son of Rambo, Party Monster-esque.

DD: And can you talk a little bit about the prints? That seems to be one of the key elements of the collection.

Kit Neale: Yes, the prints came from a million different places. The first one we worked on, we wanted to see what we could do with doodles. We spent Saturday eating pizzas, doing doodles and we vectorised that into what it’s become.

DD: I’m really interested in the Peckham thing, I think it’s so amazing…

Kit Neale: The Peckham Riviera? One afternoon I went to Argos because I wanted to get that road rug and I was like, "I want to do a print with this." Then we talked about the ideas. We were looking at all the different rugs and there was the Wacky Races rug, and then we just thought Peckham – that’s where we live.

DD: But what is it about Peckham and it’s relevance within London?

Kit Neale: It’s a weird new place. I love it because I’m from that neck of the woods. I’m a Peckham boy. Peckham’s amazing, it is an amazing place but it’s a dump at the same time. It’s a weird neighbourhood; it’s not really residential. 

DD: Why did you want to turn it into this Riviera idea? Was it because of the contrast?

Kit Neale: Yeah, I guess so. It’s got a Miami Vice type of print. I guess it’s kind of a piss-take. Someone’s definitely going to do a bar called the Peckham Riviera at some point, aren’t they?

DD: With the final countdown to the presentation, how do you like to prepare for it? Are there strange things you do to put things in order or is it very up in the air?

Kit Neale: It’s never usually up in the air. This season I’m very much commercially focused about where we take the brand, so we play that into the field. We think about the buyer and consumers' perspectives, how they read into this, how they can wear it because that’s the challenge or what we want to do – make crazy prints actually wearable. There’s lots of build up, fittings and styling options where we work out which one we like best and take the direction.

DD: Last season you really created a frame for your work with the Kit’s Cafe. I know this season you said you want to keep it quite clinical. Can you talk me through that transition?

Kit Neale: Last season it was a real fantasy. We really walked into it. It was basically a business decision. The press loved it all last season, but for our buyer being the end consumer, how do they attempt with that? It’s like a style-focused magazine. You can do that shoot and you’re appealing to that niche fashion market but the niche fashion market isn’t going to buy or put money in. They don’t have money. It was amazing to do it but, on reflection, there was that business strategy, putting your business head on. Everyone still loves it and talks about it but how the fuck can you read into it? Are you going to be able to think, "That’s a nice tee-shirt I’ll wear that on holiday?"