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Designer Feature: Scott Fraser Simpson & repurposing vintage menswear
A conversation about subcultures, Ripley shirts, and the importance of having a good tailor.
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Super excited about today’s Brand Feature! Real talk, the first time I saw this dude’s work, it’s like he’d popped out of a menswear catalog from a post-World War II ad!
I’m referring to Scott Fraser Simpson, the wizard behind his eponymous label: Scott Fraser Collection. In many ways, Scott is stuck in the past, and I mean that in the best of ways. His work is an homage to a period of menswear that’s much simpler (and sophisticated) than our own. It’s a reflection of where he draws inspiration from.
With the resurgence of reselling, vintage wear, and secondhand goods over the last decade, it’s easy to find old-school stuff on platforms like Grailed, Depop, or Etsy. But finding people who actively take that inspiration and infuse it into their work is a different thing entirely.
Scott does the latter, and he’s doing it on another level. He’s no mere vintage reseller. Scott is a brilliant designer with an eye for blending past and present seamlessly.
What I love most about Scott is his ability to play with nuance in both color and fabric. He just gets it, and that shows in the product. The truth is, they don’t make shit like they used to, but Scott’s trying his best, and he’s nailing a niche that few seem to care much for these days: mid-century menswear.
Please meet my new friend Scott!
Tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Hong Kong, where both of my parents grew up too.
When I was 14, we moved to England to a town called Brighton, on the south coast. Brighton has always been synonymous with stories of the “Mods and Rockers” clashes during the 1960s, and thus became a place that got me interested in all things tailoring, soul music, and scooters. It opened my eyes up to the idea of subcultures and the rich history that exists there.
I got deeper into this obsession with clothes (specifically knitwear). By this time I was 17 and moved from the seaside to London. Here, with this newfound interest—and whilst studying advertising and creative design at university—I started working in fashion and modeling. I did this till I was about 23, I’d graduated from university, built up a web of contacts in the industry, and had some limited knowledge of how to run a brand (which helped me feel somewhat equipped to start my own). Right or wrong, I injected myself into the game and I’ve been here ever since, making my own clothes!
I still love it and I feel blessed for all the people who have helped me get to where I am.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
My mind is pretty erratic, so things come to me from all angles and places. I’d say the two things that I look to the most for daily inspo are:
1) Vintage clothes—I’ve got a huge collection of pieces, sorting and keeping them aside for future collections or using them as references for finishing. In short, I’m obsessed with clothes; I never stop buying and never stop looking.
2) People—London is where I run SFC from and it’s also where I call home. My friends, people I’ve met through the time I’ve been here or just those random people you walk past in the street. People are so important to me. There’s an energy I get from this city that makes me want to do more. When we had lockdowns and all the restrictions in place over the last 18 months, I certainly realised what I missed and needed more of.
Speaking of vintage, you collect a ton from the 50s-70s. How did that come about for you?
Again, I got heavily into the mod scene from age 17- 25. It laid the foundation for my knowledge of clothing, to be honest. Learning about the reasons why people wore that clothing, what the codes were, how things were made….everything. I wanted to know as much as I could and was super keen to learn — I apply that to everything I do, really. I’ll never know everything but I’m keen to know something more.
What's your personal archive look like these days?
I’ve got a time machine and every weekend I go back into it and dig out treasure before I go back to work on Monday.
Currently, my personal collection is looking nice though. I sell pieces from it through my Instagram and on my website, so it’s always fresh. I’m obsessed with Italian-American knitwear and have built a collection over the last decade.
There’s some mad shit, ugly shit, and sexy shit in there!
Outside of the iconic Ripley shirt, what are some of the defining products you've revived or are trying to revive?
I’m a big advocate for wide-leg and high-waisted trousers. That’s one of the main pieces I’ve been pushing for the last years over at my brand, Scott Fraser Collection. Once you go wide you’ll never go back—come and see.
You're also big on alterations. Why have a tailor?
I think your alterations person is probably one of the most important people in your life! In general, it’s important for you to build a good relationship with them because if they like you they’ll want to do a good job with your clothes. If you build that rapport, they will take the time to understand what you’re looking for. It might take time to find the right person, but once you find that person, you’re set!
Are there any style tips you live by?
I keep it simple—
1/ Wear what you feel good in.
2/ Be confident in what you choose and that confidence will show through.
3/ F the haters!
Well said, Scott.