Gosh, one downfall about going on a hiatus to shoot content for the new site is writing it up. I have procrastinated with the new job and site launch in getting some of the features written up. Forgive me, all will come in due time. Now when my main man over at River Island emailed me the day before their big Spring/Summer campaign shoot asking if I wanted to come drop by. I couldn’t say no, especially as a photographer and a style enthusiast. Excellent opportunity to learn more about the craft and what the brand has coming up.
Naturally all good things start with food. Big up the River Island & photographer Lindsay Armstrong’s team.
The location is without a doubt one of the best I’ve ever been in, really want to do a Y&Y shoot there next time. If we have the budge and if Repton Boxing Club aligns with the brand/collection that is. With a unique history and an exemplary record in sport, Repton Boxing Club is one of the originals Even walking down to the location, which is down Cheshire Street. A place I’ve walked down many times but never past the Brick Lane end, it’s almost like walking into a time machine back to a part of Bethnal Green that hasn’t really changed in the past 20-30 years. It’s strange but nice to see an area that has yet to be hit by the wave of gentrification that’s taken place in recent years.
The gym was originally founded by Repton Public School which initially founded a Boy’s Club which over the years grew into the home of East End boxing. It was a way of giving support and encouragement to the young men in one of England’s more deprived communities. It’s birthed many stars over the years including Maurice Hope, Olympians such as Micky Carter, Billy Taylor, Dave Odwell and more recently Audley Harrison. The infamous Kray Twins used to train here in their heyday. So why did River Island pick such a location? It’s raw, gritty, most certainly lived in – there’s a wall with players names written in DUST. It hasn’t been touched for 20 years. It’s things like that make it ideal for Holloway Road. This season’s collection focuses heavily on the ‘lived in’ appeal, vintage feel, washes and fabrics with the aim of creating an authentic British denim collection. They’ve harnessed iconic British designs and materials by incorporating elements of seasonal fabrics.
Now you know the importance of aligning the clothing with the right location. As a photographer, I know how difficult it is to find the location and model but when you get it all together, it flows effortlessly and doesn’t feel like a shoot. Well when I shoot with the Y&Y family’s commissioned projects – that’s the feeling. River Island’s shoot was very similar, with their in-house team doing most of the work from production, runners and even styling.
Below: Yes that’s a dog. It starred in the campaign too, can you believe dogs have modelling agencies too!? I feel like I should be offended by the dog have model money. Clearly he’s better looking than most of us.
Below right: Michael Dale of River Island and the hairstylist/professional groomer Mr. Natty. You may have heard of his beard elixir? It’s heavenly. My beloved beard (RIP) loved it.
Now I’ll let the pictures do the talking for a bit. My rambling on will take away from the imagery.
As you can see, the collection takes River Island back to its roots. Their heritage dates back to Holloway Road in North London, hence the title. The company was first founded in a wool shop based in a lock-up garage in the East End, moved into its first permanent premises on Holloway Road. Bernard Lewis’ specialised in selling premium quality working menswear before embarking on a project to create his very own label and sell their ranges.
This is what River Island have tried to replicate with their premium collection, exploring back to their 1948 beginnings and fusing it with modern design styles to create a wonderful collection with a unique aesthetic. We sat down Andy Grant, Menswear Design Controller to talk a bit more about the collection.
Could you tell us a bit about the background of River Island’s Holloway Road connection?
Holloway Road is the location of our very first River Island shop! It opened in 1948. We wanted to take those founding principles and create a truly modern heritage collection.
Where did the key inspiration for this season’s collection come from?
We took our inspiration from British vintage work wear and the men who wore it, their lives, their aspirations. We then explored a variety of fabrics, wash techniques, and ‘Rip & Repair’ detailing to create an authentic denims.
The collection has a classic British look, what about Britain and British style inspired the collection and where beyond that did you draw ideas from?
Although, as you say, it has a classic British look, we as a team were determined to also create something contemporary. That is emphasised in the subtle design features and the detailing.
The collection utilises patterns, a strong trend at the moment, what do you think it is about patterns that are making them so popular
It allows the individual to be more experimental. It’s not just about the patterns, but what you do with them. Mixing in it with pattern on pattern or blocking it with contrast fabric or colour. Modern men like to stand out in the crowd.
Shooting in a boxing club creates the sense of a casual masculine, rough and ready collection, would you say this is the case?
The Repton Boxing Club, arguably the home of london boxing? I’d say so. We wanted to build upon its lived- in masculine appeal with the heavy wash treatments and fabrics used in the range.
Fashion is constantly changing and peoples personal styles developing, in what way would you say the collection does something different and appeals to those looking for something new?
This collection is something very organic. It evolves from season to season fusing together style, masculinity and practicality to create something that offers a certain unique quality to the customer… at the same time never sacrificing the quality and heritage which remains key to the brand’s ethos. Hard working clothes for a modern man.
What’s your favourite piece from the collection and why?
The cut and sew denim shacked is definitely my ‘hero piece.’ The attention to detail and authentic vintage look are fantastic. It’s a real premium looking garment for any season. The considered trims and fabrics play off the rugged distressed denim perfectly.
That’s all folks. Hope you enjoyed the imagery. If you’re digging the collection, then head on over to River Island’s site to purchase a few bits and bobs – click here.
If you’re wondering how the shoot turned out, check out a few of the images below.