We recently interviewed d.so user and accessories maker Contrapaul. He…
Welcome to another installment of “Fifteen Minutes With,” our user profile series. This time I talked to potatoecam about brand loyalty, football subcultures, and a bunch of British stuff I had to look up.
It doesn’t get much more British than CCTV selfies & #TeaTime, via Potatoecam’s Instagram
dressed.so: Who are you?
potatoecam: I’m John, 19 years old, and live in a small commuter town just off the M4 outside London. I like romantic walks by the river, eating at chain brand £10-£15 restaurants and £2.15 pints of Foster’s at Wetherspoon’s Monday club.
I don’t know if anyone reads my captions but I am amused at the amount of drinks featured in these photos. Total: 3
d.so: What’s the story behind this picture of you and Christopher Raeburn?
potatoecam: That was taken when I went to the Christopher Raeburn sample sale. For about seven or eight months now I have been excited by his work to the point where it is obsessive. I met up with a friend and upon entering the man himself was there to greet us, and I was star struck. When browsing the rails he finally approached me and said “full Raeburn–nice” and when I turned round I must have sounded like I suddenly lost how to speak; words just fell out. After a conversation he offered [to have his in-house team] fix the jacket I had in my bag while we waited and had a beer. During this time I asked him if I could get a photo, explaining it was for a thread on British designers over at care-tags.org, which I thought was awfully cringe, but he seemed to be okay with it. Afterwards I left with handfuls of cheap Raeburn and was on my way grinning ear to ear.
More images of the sale, via imgur album
d.so: What are some of your favorite pieces right now?
potatoecam: Right now I’m massively hyped on the Christopher Shannon AW14 collection, as it was such a fantastic show. It’s like he’s gone inside my head and made it specifically for me. The collection was based around a Liverpudlian teen walking home from football practice and peering in the windows of old dilapidated houses with garish floral wall papers with a distinct Shannon, venerable, almost homoerotic look. The colours are bright and the prints are bold with the pieces themselves featuring plays on sportswear classics as well as some more revealing pieces like PVC swim shorts, leather shirts and long knitted sweaters. I aim to pick up the pink floral tracksuit and one of the “fag knits” [potatoe’s note: ‘fags’ are cigarettes in the UK, and this is how the designer refers to them].
d.so: What’s on your shopping list at the moment?
potatoecam: Right now, sporty wool pants. A pair of wool trousers which have a zip hem, elasticated waist or general cool feel about them. Closest I’ve found is the maharishi ones but they don’t fit my legs sadly. I’m all about my brands and if I can’t make an “emotional connection” to a piece further than it just being a cool bit of fabric to me it’s useless. One of the reasons I’m so passionate about the brands I do buy and enjoy is that they mean something to me past being a “pair of trousers”.
d.so: You say, “I’m all about my brands”– what are they?
potatoecam: If I had to make a top list–
+ Christopher Raeburn. I love military clothing and sportswear, but above all I like my clothes to be modern and relevant to the times we live in, and he takes this rich historical heritage and literally deconstructs it to rebuild it into new garments for today’s market. One of my favourite pieces I own by him is a SS14 Rebuild Bomber–made from surplus bivouac fabric from the 1950s and Dutch rubberised cotton capes cut apart–made into a ripped bomber with hidden pockets and utilitarian design that still portrays the idea of a desert operations officer. Fantastic. On top of this, his dedication to reusing fabrics and minimising waste and fixing his clothes is a perfect example of how even large and mostly wasteful industries can still do what they love and excel at it while being environmentally conscious.
Above: Potatoecam in Christopher Raeburn.
+ Christopher Shannon. He’s a young designer recently gaining huge traction off the back of the last two shows in London. He portrays the working-class English man in all forms, from work to play. Yet the way he does it he gives a very vulnerable and, as mentioned above, homoerotic edge. Taking traditionally violent subcultures and portraying them as these timid, loving creatures. I can relate to the designs he puts out as I wore a lot of it at some point, and he just reinterprets it. It has the charm of Raeburn–historical social themes reimagined and modernised to a garment relevant to today.
+ Stone Island. The template for the modern sportswear brand, making technical, utilitarian apparel of all forms from the 1980s. They have made the same pieces for the last 20+ years, just updating them, adding and removing pockets, and improving techniques. Where the brand really shines, however, is their material R and D, which is second to none: liquid reflective glass jackets, thermo reactive wools, hand panted sheepskins, and metal effect plastics, the list goes on.
+ C.P. Company. Their big break came when they were asked to design a commemorative jacket for the 24-hour road race the Mille Miglia, which they answered with the goggle jacket named after the race. This jacket has been remade in different colours and materials ever since, and the best quote to describe it comes from Aitor Throup who designed the anniversary jacket: “Even when no one is wearing it, it feels like someone is inside.” The goggles and modular construction of the jacket give it this effect, and it’s hard to understand unless you’ve seen one hanging up. I own one myself, and I have to say it is above and beyond my favourite piece of clothing of everything I own.
Above: Potatoecam in C.P. Company.
Both Stone Island and C.P. Company also have history. Back in the 70s and 80s football hooliganism was at its largest– these were men from 14-40 going to games on a weekend specifically to fight with rival firms. The most defining feature of these people was how fashionable they were: Adidas classics like Trimm Trabbs, Forest Hills, Stan Smiths; Stone Island jackets; Italian track suits. It’s when they started to go abroad that they would loot these high end boutiques that had C.P. Company and Stone Island, and both brands grew to be the most defining brands of the era. No one wanted to be seen without a Stone Island or C.P. Company jacket. The idea of 30-something overly-aggressive, hyper-masculine types sitting there discussing their favourite sweater is massively appealing, and a great “fuck you” to gender roles which makes me love it even more.
d.so: What or who are your major sources of inspiration? Any non-obvious, non-fashion inspiration?
potatoecam: I think the working-class, scally, youth undertones are pretty obvious in what I wear, now at least. Probably the most non-obvious thing to someone I’ve not spoken too would be that a good majority of the fits are from how I envision characters in films or songs to dress, either directly or indirectly. Arctic Monkeys and Mike Skinner for music, and films like The Firm, La Haine, and probably my absolute favourite Away Days, or “Raf Simons archive, the movie”.
d.so: Who are some other d.so users you are excited about?
potatoecam: Tanders puts out this great cyber-corporate feel in all his fits which I like. AlGoreVidalSassoon also does this great 18-year-old waster kid turned farmer which I find particularly pleasing and a fun use of the brands he wears. Outside of the notable names (to me) I’d say people like forestfeet, chadnik and pflippa all seem really cool and consistent, and from my interactions all seem humble and cool.
d.so: What do you think is the best fit you have posted to d.so and why?
potatoecam: Probably this, as to me it’s one of those outfits you put on and you’re just like “wow”, not in a big-headed, egotistical way but in that you feel it completes what you set out to do. All too often we put on clothes and make do or look over things as they’re not a big deal, but when you feel there are none of these the outfit feels truly special to you.
To break it down: the whole idea was to create a relaxed sportswear look, something worn by those who would be quick to knock you over the head outside Poundland for making eye contact a second too long. The colours used to accent it, however, like the red on the collar, the yellow on the jumper and the white on the hat all give it this child toy box colour palette, which serves as a stark contrast to the aggressive styling and pieces. Leaving the outfit feeling fun and whimsical making an almost mockery of the violent or antisocial behaviour people associate with this sort of wear. That to me is important: people questioning first appearances and not just writing off someone because of the way they look, especially when in a casual setting.
Above: Potatoecam’s Favorite Fit via
d.so: Your answer to that question was very thoughtful and purposeful–do you think about your clothes that way regularly, or only when pestered by blog-folk?
potatoecam: I do think about my clothes like that a lot. I’m interested in the pieces themselves and what they say with the stories behind them rather than what I add. Brand identities and direction matching and gelling matters just as much as the pieces visually working, if not more, in my eyes. I’m nothing more than a sentient clothes hanger. This is not to say I don’t put clothes on some days that just “look good together.” The other night I went to the pub wearing Raeburn and C.P., which is a brand synergy sin, but in an ideal world for a fit to be truly cohesive, the “behind the scenes” has to be in order just as much as what I visually see.
To some it sounds pretty elitist and they’ll say “why limit yourself and not just wear what looks good?”, but I don’t see it as limiting myself I just see it as putting together and buying cohesive outfits. I don’t wear clashing clothes together, so why should I wear clashing brands? People say that the story the designer gets across, or the thought process he comes from, help make even the most outlandish and crazy shows look cohesive, and this extends into what we wear every day. If someone doesn’t like what you’re wearing, you can explain what it’s about, even if you don’t agree. Rather than “I think it looks good,” “Well I don’t, so let’s just fight over our personal opinions on what looks good which are outdated in 6 months or less,” focus shifts onto execution of what you’re wearing rather than opinions on what someone does or doesn’t like. That to me is a far more interesting and useful conversation.
Bonus: Aggressive Canine Youth