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Rat Race Blog

Rat Race Speaks With 60s Suit Co.

By ratrace, Feb 3 2016 05:23PM

60’s Suit Company Interview.


On 30th January 2016, we managed to pull Sean of the 60’s Suit Company away from one of his ever popular appearances at Rat Race. We discussed classic styles and Sean’s close and collaborating work with Rat Race. We also had a brief insight into Sean’s passion for his chosen profession.


RR:

SEAN, HOW LONG HAS THE 60’S SUIT CO. BEEN ACTIVELY INVOLVED IN THE MOD & 60’s SCENE AND CREATING QUALITY 60’S INSPIRED GARMENTS?


SEAN:

I’ve been doing the 60’s Suit Co. for five years but I used to run a company in the mid to late nineties called ’Soul Of 65’. The whole point of me getting into it was that I wanted to do something different and it’s something that I’ve been into since I was 16. The resurgence started in 94-95', helped along in part by the Brit-Pop scene. Bands like Blur in particular were famous for wearing Dr. Marten’s boots and high break jackets in the Mod/Skinhead style and in a way they were more authentic than some of the other British bands of the time. That helped to kick off the whole Mod scene in Camden along with a brewing Skinhead revival.

It’s evolving all the time and I want to do something that’s a bit different to what everyone else is doing. I’m a great believer in transcending styles and quite stringent in what I do as far as that the style has to be authentic. It has to look like it has come out of that period. There’s a lot of people out there producing off-the-peg Mod suits but I don’t usually consider them to be an authentic Mod or Skinhead suit fitting of the era. It’s the attention to details that make it.


RR:

WHERE DID YOU LEARN YOUR TRADE?


SEAN:

I learnt the pattern cutting and design from a tailor/pattern cutter in Berners Street, London, I am a pattern cutter so i’m very much on the design side of the business. I’m very hands on and I know all about garment construction and most importantly, what the right look is for each individual customer. You could be the best pattern cutter in the world, but if you choose the wrong cut for the customer it’s going to end in disaster, so you’ve got to work on an individual basis.


RR:

DO YOU THINK THE LINES DIVIDING BRITISH SUBCULTURES ARE BEING BLURRED?


SEAN;

In the late 80’s there were a lot of smart Skinheads about. There was a particular pub in north London, The Penny Black, where a lot of the harder styled Mods and the smarter Skinheads came together and started club nights together. So, the different subcultures are bleeding into each other, but I think that keeps it fresh. They’re taking on details from original 60’s suits but also doing things that make it their own.


RR:

WHERE DO YOU STAND ON AUTHENTICITY? SHOULD A SUIT BE DONE EXACTLY HOW IT WAS DONE IN THE 60’s?


SEAN:

You’ve got to keep it as near to the original as possible and add your own style and detailing on there. For example the styles in previous decades would literally change from week to week purely because people didn’t want to look the same as everybody else. So, because the evolution was so rapid there’s a lot you can do with it and still make it look authentic. Putting a lot of the detailing in is the difference between what I’m doing, and what other people are doing. The art of measuring properly is the most important part of the process and putting in any figurations in the pattern.


RR:

THIS IS NOW YOUR 5th SUIT FITTING DAY AT RAT RACE, HOW DID THE COLLABORATION COME ABOUT?


SEAN:

I was DJ’ing at a local Margate club and someone introduced me to Rat Race owner Laurence and I loved the shop and how he’d put a lot of heart and soul into the place, and it’s authentic. I’ve been asked to do suits for other stores that I wouldn’t consider, but when the chance came to work with Rat Race who are like minded, it was an opportunity to work with people who are on the same page.


RR:

IF SOMEONE IS THINKING ABOUT GETTING FITTED FOR A 60’s SUIT CO. SUIT, WHAT’S THE BEST WAY TO DO IT?


SEAN:

The best way would be to go directly through Rat Race. Eventually we would like to offer an off-the-peg range which I design exclusively for Rat Race. Rat Race would be involved in part of the design process to create and release a range of suits, tailor made for the Margate Mods & Skins. We are also going to be doing four different types of trousers, all in different fabrics, and something to appeal to the Mods, Skinheads & Suedeheads. All of the scenes now intermingle, you have whole weekenders that take on all the different music styles and genres. Our garments will be contemporary but also of an authentic Mod styling. Being from Kent myself, it’s great to work with people with a passion for Margate subculture history and street style.

What’s great about the style of the Mod & Skinhead suits is that if it’s cut right and they’ve chosen the right fabric, you make someone of 55 look just as good as someone of 25. We do an individual pattern for each person. You can make someone look fantastic and you’re never too old or young to look smart.


RR:

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR THE 60’s SUIT CO.?


SEAN:

We’re a small business and we’re growing year to year but I want it to grow organically. My whole business is that I want it to be a company that people are proud to be associated with.

Of course money matters in any business but it’s certainly not profit over quality, and it’s not profit over style. It’s something that I, as well as Rat Race, love doing. I enjoy what I do, I love interacting with customers and it’s great when you’re doing something bespoke for a customer and they put their own stamp on their style. People might say ‘That’s not Skinhead’ or ‘That’s not Mod’, but if they’ve got an authentic suit on and they’ve done something unique to their own style, it is completely Skinhead or Mod. The whole point of the scenes were that people infused their own individuality with classic styles.

Working together with Rat Race has been mutually beneficial, we’re both businesses who love what we do and that will come across in what we’re doing and people know that when they meet us. The shared respect for fashion and culture will come through in the product.


RR:

LASTLY, SEAN, WHAT’S THE MOST POPULAR STYLE OF SUIT THAT YOU’VE PRODUCED FOR RAT RACE CUSTOMERS?


SEAN:


The Three Button, High Break in Tonic are most popular. We are currently working closely with Rat Race on designing some classic off-the-peg suits and trousers which will be hitting the rails in the near future.


- Written by Pete Noble Jnr of Rat Race Margate.



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