The next instalment from S-Mag sees menswear designer Kit Neale’s unique vision and quirky sensibilities brought to life by photographer Kim Jakobsen To.
With internships at Gareth Pugh,Tom Scott and Duckie Brown under his belt, as well as three years at Ravensbourne College, it was only a matter of time before Kit Neale set up his own label. Founded in early 2012, Kit Neale has since emerged as one of the most exciting new prospects in menswear. We catch up with the South London native to talk print, prom outfits and the pros and cons of university.
YOU GREW UP IN PECKHAM – HOW DID THE AREA INSPIRE YOU CREATIVELY?
Peckham is mental! It is a vibrant, eclectic place that is full of adventure with an extremely diverse mix of people and different cultures living side by side. I try to bring this to Kit Neale and create a style that is unmistakably British with a multitude of references.
YOU OFTEN REFERENCE PECKHAM IN YOUR DESIGNS, IS IT IMPORTANT TO YOU TO REMEMBER YOUR ROOTS?
No, but it’s what I know. I can’t reference Egypt if I ain’t been there!
DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST ITEM OF CLOTHING YOU MADE?
The earliest item of clothing I remember making was my prom outfit. It was in blue taffeta and needs no further explanation. It was not cool…
WHERE DID YOUR LOVE OF PRINT STEM FROM?
I wanted to be an artist when I was younger and I guess print is like painting a canvas. Maybe it’s that.
DOES IT TAKE A STRONG CHARACTER TO WEAR HEAD TO TOE KIT NEALE?
Yeah I guess it does. But that is just how we style it, our collections can be dissected and paired up with other block colours or other simple pieces and it’s less in your face. It becomes just a nice shirt or jacket that stands out more than other pieces.
LAST TIME WE SPOKE YOU THOUGHT THERE WAS TOO MUCH EMPHASIS PLACED ON GOING TO UNIVERSITY PRIOR TO STARTING A CAREER IN DESIGN, STATING THAT YOU LEARN MORE FROM FIRST HAND EXPERIENCE, DO YOU THINK THAT’S STILL THE CASE?
Yes definitely. Don’t get me wrong, I am so privileged to have had the opportunity to go to university. I learnt loads while I there and had three years to explore myself, which is incredible. But university does not teach you how to run a business or how the industry works. I could not be doing what I am doing now had I not had the experience of working in the industry prior to, and throughout, my time at uni. And even with that I am still learning, but that is exciting and we (being myself, my business partner Caspar and the small team we have) are slowly building the brand, bringing together a wealth of different skills and knowledge to help grow our brand and business. In my opinion getting as much experience of the industry as possible is invaluable.
TELL US ABOUT YOUR TIME WORKING WITH GARETH PUGH – WHAT DID HE TEACH YOU ABOUT DESIGN AND THE FASHION INDUSTRY?
I was very young when I worked with Gareth Pugh, about 16 or 17, and it was one of my first internships. I was very nervous and very naive but I had bundles of energy and was keen. He had just started out and was slaving away every hour of the day, he worked about 20 hours. It is amazing to see where he has taken what he started, and without sounding naff, really inspiring. I learnt to be nice to your team and work bloody hard. I realise that sounds cheesy!
AND WHAT ABOUT TOM SCOTT AND DUCKIE BROWN, DID THEY GIVE YOU ANY ADVICE?
Working in New York was incredible.The market over there is very different to Europe. I find it very commercially driven, yetTom and the Duckie guys showed me how you can mix creativity with commerciality and still create a success out of what you are doing without losing what you are about. I think the success of London menswear at the moment owes itself a lot to this.
TALK US THROUGH THE CONCEPT FOR THE AW13 COLLECTION, WHICH WE SHOT FOR THIS ISSUE.
AW13 was originally inspired by a film that Michael Clarke did with Leigh Bowery called Hail The New Puritan. It’s a fake documentary, a mix of narrative, performance and fantasy.The vivid colours of the film really inspired the prints for this season.There is one particular scene where they are in a typical British, slightly run down pub and the contrast and clash between colourful characters and their surroundings was something that really intrigued me. My design references are always a clash and this season was no exception.
To read more, click here and download the latest issue of Leica’s S-Mag, and see S-League here