British-made menswear rooted in mid-century style

Fresh Habits Interview : Scott of Scott Fraser Collection.



Young British designer Scott Simpson has made an impact with his mid-century inspired brand, Scott Fraser Collection. He is passionate about the heritage of menswear, and doesn’t want certain aspects of men’s design to be lost in the mists of time. We  recently sat down with him to discuss his influences and the aspirations he has for his burgeoning label.
Hi Scott! So tell us how you got into designing?

Hey man. Well I’ve been somewhat involved in the fashion industry for a while, I did a spot of modelling and I also sell vintage menswear through my website Style & Classics. I guess the designing began when I couldn’t find specific pieces that I wanted. I’d have something in mind and couldn’t find it so I decided to make it instead.
What inspiration do you use for your designs?

There are vintage knitwear manufacturers that I’m into like Leonardo Strassi, Damon, Baron Dino and Oleg Cassini (who did womenswear). On the suiting side, the ‘Ivy League’ style that was popular in the the North East of the states during the 50′s. Current designers that really impress me are Harry Stedman, Private White, Brookes Brothers, RRL, and Dawson Denim who are doing cool things from Brighton. I suppose I’m drawn to reinterpretations of that mid-century style, but with a modern twist. I’m not into old-looking clothes but I really appreciate a piece where I can see where it’s come from, something that has real style roots.
As an individual you really encompass this mid-century lifestyle, what’s keeping you busy at the moment?

Well I DJ almost every week, I play mainly 50′s and 60′s stuff; Rhythm and Blues, Soul, moving over to a bit of Funk from the 70′s. I’ve collected a lot of Latin music over the years, like Boogaloo, Salsa, and Latin Funk. I’m trying to start a night around the corner at the moment actually. With that, the vintage store, the brand and my current job at Mendoza I’m pretty busy. I also do scooters up in my free time; I build old Vespas and Lambrettas and just cruise around town on those. I end up going to a lot of mod meets in and around London and down in Brighton.FH_SCOTT 2Aren’t you worried about your brand being pigeonholed into that mid-century niche?

I don’t want it to be that niche because I want to see people wear it! The way that I want to do the clothes that I’ll eventually be doing and the way I’ve been doing my bags, I really think it can be applied to anyone. I mean, obviously they have to like it but I don’t think it goes straight down to the mid-century enthusiasts. It’s got the roots of that style but I’m aiming for a much wider market. The pieces aren’t that offensive or too specific, hopefully they’ll just be a smart addition to anyone’s wardrobe.

The first product you’ve gone for are these duffel bags, talk us through them.

Basically starting with the bags was totally unintentional, I was going to go straight into menswear but I’d decided that I wanted to get a bag for myself. I had this rucksack that was on its last legs, so I decided to design my own bag. I wanted something other than a backpack, so I went with a classic duffel bag with a single strap. I wanted versatility, a bag that can fit enough stuff in when I’m going to the Post Office to send off packages and a bag that I can wear out at night. I realised that a duffel would be nice, and I was looking for one but I couldn’t really find anything. In the end I decided to go ahead and cut a pattern and get them made for myself. I source the leather in London, I get the canvas from up in Manchester, and everything is put together in East London by two brothers that have been dealing with leather for about 60 years. I’ve designed it so you can use the strap in three or four different ways: you can carry it as a holdall, you can put it over your shoulder, you can turn it on its side and use it as a kit bag, or you can have it over your shoulder and under your arm. To me it’s not a ‘vintage looking bag’ it’s just a functional bag with timeless style. They’re just the start, to get the name out there.


So what’s next?

Next I’m getting some patterns cut for jackets, I’m going to go for a work jacket. There are quite a few knocking about, vintage French jackets in indigo fabric, but I’m going to go for a simple patch-pocket jacket that buttons up, something extremely straightforward. In all honesty I’m taking it piece by piece because when you’re starting out you’re limited by cost, and I haven’t got the funds to go ahead and put together a full collection. It does feel natural to me, the way things are progressing. It’s quite transparent really, I wanted to get a bag and now I want a jacket. Generally the pieces that I’ve had samples made of, people have told me they’re into them, outside of my scene. People on the street, things like that.

How are you letting people know about your products?

At the moment it’s just online, but I’m trying to use all the contacts I’ve made through modelling to push the brand. A lot of people have said they want to help which I’m very grateful for, so hopefully I’ll be able to get my pieces into magazines and on to blogs. Jocks & Nerds have been so supportive of me from day one. Even before I started they were like, “Just do it, just do it”. I’m lucky to have that really, just to have that foot in the door. I want to make a few videos as well, things that get people interested in the brand visually. I’d love to go the fashion show route too, because I’ve done it as a model, and I know that it’s good fun. That wouldn’t be until the collection is looking a lot healthier though. Little installations here and there wouldn’t go amiss, and I’d love to start selling to shops like Anthem or Present. To be honest, there’s something about Mr. Porter that I really like. I respect what they do and I like mostly everything that they’re putting out. The kind of guys I’d like to get wearing my stuff are the kind of guys that shop there, who are into style as opposed to fashion. I think right now we are seeing a resurgence of men that are taking an active interest in clothing, it’s all very exciting.

Agreed, so where would you like to be in a year?

I’d like to be doing it full time, maybe starting my own concession somewhere or even my own shop. I’m looking around South London at the moment which I think is the only route for younger designers, and young brands that are starting out because of the price of space in London. I want to have a presence and be out there and just work with people. I’d love to do collaborations, even a shoe range with a brand like Bass Weejuns. There’s so many people that I respect for what they do and I think why not just come together and do something? You don’t have to be on your own, fighting your corner, you can actually team up and share a vision. I don’t think it’s about being selfish with your ideas, obviously you want to put out your own things, but there’s no need to be on your own. You’ve got to be in it together, and help each other out.



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