On Wednesday 18th September menswear designer Nicholas Daley and Fred Perry celebrated their 70s-inspired capsule collaboration. Daley’s first major collaborative project featured items inspired by his Jamaican-Scottish heritage and passion for intertwining music and fashion. A visit to Fred Perry’s headquarters to view the brand archives helped Daley cement the DNA of his mainline brand with the 60 year history of Fred Perry to combine their shared ethos. The eight piece collection features tracksuits (a first for Daley), piqué shirts, blue bomber jackets and knitted polo shirts, with corduroy accents on collars and pockets.
The launch night celebrated community and collaboration and featured a unique lineup of British talent including musician (and campaign model) Mansur Brown, Don Letts, Dennis Bovell and Jamaican dub poet Linton Kwesi Johnson, who were kitted out in the Nicholas Daley x Fred Perry collection as well as some of Daley’s mainline pieces.
I spoke to Nicholas the day after the event to find out what it was like working with Fred Perry, how community is at the core of his work and his family’s role in Britain’s reggae sound system culture.
How do you preserve your design ethos within the Fred Perry world?
You don't want to dilute yourself. With my mainline, I want the link between music and fashion to feel authentic, for people to get involved and lose the cliquey, fashion bubble! I'm trying to come in with something which I and my friends would feel comfortable in. Working with [frequent collaborators] Bolade Banjo on imagery, Stephen Mann on styling, and Mansur Brown modelling allows this collaboration to keep my mainline collection at its core.
The launch event felt like a gig…
That's what I was trying to achieve! My London Fashion Week shows always have a live music element, and Fred Perry do subculture nights at 100 Club. It’s an amazing venue with a lot of history, I've seen so many great bands there as well. For the line-up, I put together artists who I wanted to perform, who reflected the collection, or who I've collaborated with. Mansur, who was on last, is the best guitar player of our generation. And he's only 22 or 23 - he’s still at the development stage of what he's capable of as a musician. We actually went to Jimi Hendrix's house together on Handel Street a few weeks back. It was funny to see Mansur there because Jimi is a big inspiration for him.
What about your heroes?
Don Letts, Dennis Bovell and Linton Kwesi Johnson were on the launch party line up. Linton is a legend. Having him recite his poetry was amazing, and such a rare thing, because he keeps quite a low profile. Without his activism in the 60s and 70s, and being the first black poet to be released on Penguin Books, would you have a James Massiah? A Skepta?
Your Fred Perry collaboration continues your S/S 19 SYLGO collection, which was inspired by the club night your parents ran when they were younger. How have they responded to your Fred Perry capsule?
They came down from the Midlands for the launch party! My parents met in Scotland and started the Reggae Klub from 1978 - 1982, putting on British roots reggae bands. It wasn’t for money but to bring a community together. They instilled that sense of community in me, so my parents are happy to see me carrying on their legacy of bringing people together, designers, musicians and artists, friends and family. My parents were about the same age as me when they ran the Reggae Klub so they started to get flashbacks, they see certain styles with the 70s lean, and my dad’s like, "Oh I used to have a shirt like that!”
The collection is available online and in select Fred Perry shops from 19th September.