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Fred Perry Soho Neon - on the streets of Soho

As night falls, London’s Soho district becomes alive and exciting, all dark narrow streets and neon lights.

Our recently launched Soho Neon by Fred Perry collection takes direct influence from the streets, history and neon signs of Soho. 

As the long-time nightlife hub of Central London, Soho has always been a spot for subcultures to gather and entwine. 

One night, we took to the streets ourselves to discover the area that inspired the collection…

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Bar Italia. Long-time favourite Mod hang-out and Soho destination, marked by the iconic Bar Italia neon clock sign. Find out more about the origins of the Bar Italia clock, and many other Soho neon signs HERE

The Soho Neon Collection is available in Fred Perry Authentic stores, and online now for Men and Women

Find your nearest Fred Perry Authentic Store.

Thanks to Bar Italia Soho

Gods Own Junkyard - East London's neon wonderland

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We recently launched our Soho Neon by Fred Perry collection. Designed in London, the collection took direct influence from the area surrounding it - specifically London's wild, neon-illuminated Soho.
Cafes adorn the streets by day, but come nightfall the streets of Soho are alive with revellers heading towards gigs, jazz bars and coffee hubs, guided by bright neon lights.
When designing the collection, a place that gave the Fred Perry design team key inspiration was East London neon wonderland "Gods Own Junkyard"
The brainchild of iconic neon artist Chris Bracey, "Gods Own Junkyard" is a visual feast of bright neon light.
By salvaging and restoring signage that is no longer being used, neon signs are resurrected and carefully curated to create an oasis of light in the middle of East London's Walthamstow.   
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We met with Junkyard curator Jon Blake, to discuss the history of the neon sign and how this had a direct influence on our Soho Neon collection. 
Hello Jon, nice to meet you!
Hello, thanks for coming down.
Tell me a bit about the junkyard, there must be a lot of history behind it? 
We actually moved about 2 months ago! We were previously at a different location not too far away for about 7 years, but we had to move. 
I think we are an interesting prospect - I like to refer to us as "a living tapestry". Old signs are found, restored and are woven into it. The order is not set. Pieces are added and moved as feels necessary. 
There is so much to look at! Its almost initially a bit overwhelming.
"Gods Own Junkyard" is the only section that is open to the public, a couple of days a week. We do a lot of fashion shoots and editorials here as visually the Junkyard is rather unique. People travel here especially to use it as a location.

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Where do all the signs come from? Everywhere I look I see something new. 
It's a real mixture. Many of the signs here are made by the artist Chris Bracey's company. We have a whole other workshop across the road. Some of the signs here are special commissions we have made for retail stores or restaurants that were only used for a small period. Some are from businesses that no longer exist. We also rescue, and restore many old neon signs - some are not in a great shape when they arrive here. We see it as a resurrection, restoring them back to their former glory and putting the signs on display.
What is the history behind the company?  
Whilst "Gods Own Junkyard" has been here for around 7 years, we've actually been a business since 1952 - which I believe is the same year Fred Perry first started producing clothing. It's very much a family business, and over the years we have been responsible for many of the iconic neon signs people will have seen, particularly around the Soho area. The iconic neon clock outside Bar Italia on Frith Street is one that Fred Perry readers will probably be most familiar with. 
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Do you currently have any exciting projects the business is working on?
 At the moment one of our biggest jobs is restoring the original Madame Jojo's sign (Madame Jojo's is an iconic Soho gig and nightclub venue). It's a huge undertaking! We are restoring the sign exactly how it was originally - a gigantic sign of a woman. The venue has just had permission granted by the council to display the sign again, which is really exciting - it's a great nod back to the Soho of the 1950s. 
Our Soho Neon collection was directly influenced by Soho in the 1950s..
Soho has always been such an individual area, with its own personality. It depresses me when I see areas overtaken by generic chains. Putting the Madame Jojo's sign back up I see as a way of Soho keeping hold of its roots. 
You recently created a sign for Fred Perry too! 
Yes a gigantic neon Laurel, as I mentioned we make the signs here on location. The Fred Perry giant neon Laurel Wreath was made here across the street from the Junkyard.  
Below - our giant Laurel Wreath neon sign in the workshop. 
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Tell me something I probably don't know about neon signs. 
Neon is actually the gas that runs through the signs. It's not just neon actually - neon is just for red signs. If the sign is another colour, the gas that runs through is called argon. Neon glows red, argon runs a dull blue. So a more correct way of referring to them would be neon signs and argon signs I suppose. 
If neon glows red and argon blue, how do you create so many bright colours? 
We powder coat the inside of the glass tubes we use argon gas in. Alone, it glows a dull blue, but with the colour coating it is much brighter and more colourful. Look at the bends next time you see a non-red neon sign, you will most likely see a dull blue colour seeping out. 
That's something I never knew. Anything else of interest you can think of? 
Far too much to go into detail now! However the longest length of a sign we usually deal with is 1 metre. This is then fused with lots of different 1-metre lengths to create the sign as a whole. This makes the glass much more manageable to work with, and as a fragile object it is much easier (and cheaper) to repair and replace a 1 metre section than an entire sign. 
Jon, thank you for your time. 
No problem at all. Thanks for coming down.
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Soho Neon by Fred Perry is available now in Fred Perry Authentic stores and online. 
View Soho Neon for men online HERE
View Soho Neon for women online HERE
Find your nearest Fred Perry Authentic store HERE
Find out more information about "Gods Own Junkyard" and the work of Chris Bracey HERE
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Thanks to Gods Own Junkyard, Chris Bracey and Jon Blake. 

Interview with “Quadrophenia: A Way Of Life” author Simon Wells


We speak to British cult film writer Simon Wells (pictured left) about his new book “Quadrophenia: A Way of Life (Inside the Making of Britain’s Greatest Youth Film)”

What impact did it make on you the first time that you saw Quadrophenia? 

I was mesmerised, confused, enchanted, bewitched. Like many who saw it first time around – overall, it was the energy that totally captivated me. But beyond that, there was a raft of elements that were going on that made it fascinating. In a sense, Quadrophenia is a classic “Boy meets girl loses girl” type of film – a bit like West Side Story meets Saturday Night Fever – but the great thing was it was OUR story – a believable British film – one of very few.

Why do you think it has earned such a special place in the hearts of so many people over the last 35 years?

It’s the template for a generation; a blueprint for living. It’s a fierce reflection of youth – and that’s at the core of its appeal for me. That time period of 16-19 has a golden glow around it for many – and that is a time many of us reference as the most exciting period of our life. I haven’t heard anyone say, “I remember how great it was to be 27 or 35” No – it’s that time as teenagers that many of us remember as a slightly whacky period, and Quadrophenia is all about that.

Jimmy’s choice of Fred Perry Shirt and parka made it very easy for the kids on the street to emulate the leading character’s style. Do you think that helped people feel connected with the film? 

Fred Perry like Quadrophenia never goes out of style – it was a wise choice of apparel – and ensures that the film will look eternally cool. I am not surprised Fred Perry formed a large part of Jimmy’s uniform during the film.

Quadrophenia has almost become the definitive historical document of Mod culture in Britain. Do you think of Quadrophenia as a second hand account of 1960s British youth subculture, or more as a first hand artefact of the 78-81 Mod revival? 

It’s a good question and the answer is that it is actually a bit of both. If it was a straight reflection of 1960s life – it would fail – as it carries much of the fury of the late 70s Punk attitude. So welded together it is a very powerful, believable document.

What was the most surprising fact you un-earthed whilst researching the book?

In my researches I came across the story of a young Mod who actually fell to his death over a Brighton cliff in 1964 following the riots. It fascinated me, and I was intrigued to whether it inspired the album. Pete Townshend relayed to me that it did not, and he was surprised that it had happened - but then I found out that the boy’s brother went onto work for The Who and was a close friend of Townshend. So, it’s incredible – and if people are interested, the whole story is on a blog here.

You’ve written extensively about cult British cinema, including other iconic films such as ‘Get Carter’, and ‘A Clockwork Orange’. Do you think there have been any true Brit cult classics since Quadrophenia?

Very few to be honest – I would say Meantime (also starring Phil Daniels) is a bona fide British cult film, but few have seen it and it hasn’t got the romance of Quadrophenia. I wince when I hear films that are made in the style of a “cult” film because it doesn’t really happen that way – and with the internet, will probably never happen again in the future. Trainspotting and Withnail & I for me are probably the most famous cult films since Quadrophenia. While Trainspotting borrows heavily from Quadrophenia in terms of gang mentality and energy, Withnail and I is a bona fide cult object – the fanaticism to the film is very similar to those who follow Quadrophenia, and has endured generation after generation.

There’s been a lot of speculation in the last 35 years about the ending of Quadrophenia. Where do you think Jimmy Cooper is today?

Ha ha! What a great question. I think Jimmy is probably in a council flat – probably somewhere on the south coast - in his late sixties. He probably fathered a few kids in his time – not least the one with Steph! I sort of imagine life has been hard for him, and that he was unemployed a lot. In his quieter, reflective moments – he probably looks back on his time on the Mod trail – with great fondness – as we all do!


You can order Simon Wells' "Quadrophenia: A Way of Life" from Countdown Books, along with their other excellent titles dealing with British Subcultures of the Twentieth Century.