‘Without sounding cheesy, music is the only force that can bring people together,’ says Nicholas Daley as The Jackal talks to the designer about his new nine-piece menswear line for Fred Perry. ‘You’ve got a sound system in the street. You’ve got your mates and some Red Stripes, and then everyone is vibing. That’s what I do with my shows and that’s something we’ve done with this collaboration.’
Hailing from Leicester and now based in London, Daley’s collections are first and foremost enriched by his Jamaican-Scottish heritage. Influenced by his parents’ Reggae Klub – a travelling clubnight that toured around Scotland between 1979 and 1982 with the purpose of bringing people together across cultures – and his own love for reggae and jazz, Daley’s shows at London Fashion Week Men’s have also regularly involved immersive presentations with his clothes showcased on some of the capital’s coolest musicians.
Considering music is so central to Daley’s creative psyche, it’s hard to think of a better brand match than Fred Perry – a British label that’s been adopted by nearly every music subculture this nation has nurtured over the past 70 years. Look at throwback photos of groups of New Romantics, Teddy Boys, Punks – you’ll see at least one of the sports brand’s instantly-recognisable laurel wreaths on a polo shirt or two.
It was only natural, then, for Daley to bring his love of music to the cutting table; two genres that have long struck a chord in the designer’s heart. Not only is it there in the design of the pieces themselves (many have been inspired by cross-cultural subcultures), but also in who he’s chosen to wear it for the lookbook: the supremely talented jazz prodigy Mansur Brown. ‘For me, he’s the best guitarist of his generation,’ says Daley. ‘I’m so inspired by what he does.’
So what does this mean for the clothes themselves? First up, it’s not just the British jazz scene he’s supporting, it’s also the homegrown manufacturing and textile scene. His hero piece – the M-65 parka jacket (above) – was one of the first designs he mocked up with the team at Fred Perry and it’s been entirely made in the UK: the dry waxed cotton comes from Halley Stevensons in Dundee, and the contrast grey corduroy paneling from Brisbane Moss in Yorkshire. He describes the latter as being an ‘OG’, as they’ve been weaving superb corduroy and moleskin for brands such as Ralph Lauren for years.
In addition to the outerwear, there’s a comprehensive offering of shirts which are inspired by photographs of Jamaican rudeboys and heavyweights of reggae music like Gregory Issac and The Wailers. These might be woven in Italy – but Daley’s got his reasons. ‘In terms of the narrative of where those garments were made, a lot of those pieces those reggae artists were wearing were from Italy – so it hasn’t lost track of its narrative,’ he explains. Italy has always been the master when it comes to fine-gauge knitwear. The highlight is the panel shirt in teal and white (pictured below). It’s a sporty style, and its oversized collar gives it playfulness – you could get adventurous and pretend it’s 1973 by wearing it under a tweed blazer with the collar spread out on top.
The Seventies vibe continues through the rest of the collection, mostly thanks to another of Daley’s passions: football. A two-piece navy, orange and red tracksuit, was inspired by the beautiful game and Fred Perry’s history with the Casuals. ‘I was looking at vintage football tracksuits and there was one from West Bromwich Albion from the Seventies that had this embroidery on it,’ he says. ‘I then spoke to my friend Guarab Thakali, who’s worked on posters for my shows, and asked him to do a version with my dad’s DJ name, Slygo.’
Music might be something that brings people together, but we’re glad it’s also resulted in one of the coolest menswear collaborations of the year so far.
Available now in Fred Perry stores and online, fredperry.com