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Check out all of the posts in the category ‘Interviews’ below. If you still can’t find what you’re looking for, try searching by using the box on the right hand side of this page.

Paddy Smith's Patches

We spoke to Paddy Smith, the man behind the specially designed patches featured in our Spring 2014 Margate on the Run collection. After purchasing his first scooter in 1967, Paddy became a regular fixture at rallys during the 80s and 90s, selling his self-designed and produced patches from of the back of his car before a love for travelling by scooter took him into the local pubs and campsites. Paddy's patches gained cult following and are now synonymous with the scootering scene, added to shirts and parkas as a momento of each rally or ride-out.

Fred Perry: How did you originally become involved with scooter rallies and the scootering scene?

Paddy Smith: Although I was a mod and rode a scooter for a brief period as a teenager in the sixties it wasn’t until 1981 that I became involved again following the mod revival of 1979. It was after my brother in law had been to the rally in Scarborough the previous year that I went to Skegness in '81 with 15 t-shirts printed with a simple logo and ‘Skegness Scooter Rally’.

FP: How long have you been creating Paddy Smith patches?

PS: The first patch was a one colour print featuring a silhouette of my brother in law’s Lambretta LI 150, which I printed for the Yarmouth rally three weeks after Skegness. My wife, Annie, and I went to all of the rallies after that and the designs became gradually more complex.

 Archive Jacket Paddy Smith

FP: Why do you think your patches became so popular amongst scooterists?

PS: Scooter clubs were springing up all over the country in the eighties, as a generation who the Sex Pistols observed had ’no future’ lived if not for the present, at least for the weekend. Old Lambrettas and Vespas were not only cheap and stylish – they took you to places away from the boring town you grew up in.

It was never a fashion thing, most people fitted the mould of mod or scooterboy but as the scene developed it attracted skinheads, psychobillies, rude boys and even a few hippies! It was about scooters, being different and getting away. That’s why the cult of scooter boy or scooterist, whatever you want to call it, was not a London based scene.

When the sartorially diverse youths arrived at a seaside town nobody cared much about what you were wearing, but they were interested in your scooter or the tales you had to tell of your adventures on the journey. Travelling hundreds of miles on old bikes designed for shopping or commuting created challenges as did the animosity of ‘grebos’ and ‘casuals’ along the way so everyone had a story to tell.

Scooter clubs had their own patches and people would swop them on rallies so your jacket became a record of your affiliations. When rally patches became available jackets became historical documents that displayed how far and how often you had travelled.

 Badge 1

FP: How did the popularity of your patches spread?

PS: The scene grew rapidly in 1982 and there were a few people doing the same as us – walking around the pubs and the sea front selling rally patches. I think even then mine probably outsold the others on the strength of their design but it was in 1983 that mine became regarded as the ‘official’ patch. No official body ever endorsed them but for that year I adopted a new format which was 4” square as opposed to the 6” which was generally accepted and continued to be popular with the Parka wearing mods. Because there were nine national rallies a year now anybody who bought all nine patches found that they could sew them onto the back of a Levi denim or MA1 flight jacket and they fitted nicely into a square.

Because I had ridden to all the rallies in 1982 on my Vespa P200E I had become acutely aware of why people were proud of their patches and regarded them like campaign medals. Other patch sellers were unloading any surplus left after a rally either on subsequent rallies or in Carnaby Street which was causing resentment amongst the rally going ‘troops’ who saw people wearing patches for rallies they had never been to. I made the promise that my patches would only be available on the rally they were made for and any surplus would be burnt the following November 5th. Because a parts dealer had one of my patches copied that year every subsequent patch carried a copyright and my signature.

Alongside the rally scene there was a growing custom scene expanding and hardly anyone rode a completely standard bike so I started featuring interesting looking scooters that I photographed on the rallies.

So that was what made them popular: they were the best designed, they were only available on the rally, they featured a scooter from the fast growing custom scene, they fitted nicely on the arm or the back of your jacket and the bloke who made them was ‘one of us’.

FP: Do you have a most memorable rally or ride-out that will always stick in your mind?

PS: There are too many to choose just one but generally my best memories are of the rallies I rode to in the eighties and the European ones we had a stall at in the nineties.

 Scooter Rally Patch 2

FP: Can you talk us through the process of creating each patch?

PS: The scooter is always the star. My background is in fine art, not graphics so what I’m doing is making little pictures. When I was doing them to sell on the rallies in Britain I would search out a new interesting looking scooter and photograph it at one rally to feature on a patch later that year. For the patches I print now for rallies organised by clubs across Europe and Australia I work from photographs they send me. I start with a line drawing for the black and make separate drawings for the colours. The colours and style of the scooter dictate the background which might reference the name of the scooter or the rally or may simply reflect the lines of the scooter in some way.

FP: Do you have a favourite design?

PS: Once again there are too many to choose from but I believe the period from 89 to 92 was my most creative in terms of patch design. This came about for two reasons: firstly it was a period when the custom scene was producing increasingly outstanding scooters and secondly because I had become so well established that I was confident to introduce some fairly obscure decorative influences and motifs.

FP: What were the ideas behind the patches created for Fred Perry?

PS: The collection was to centre around the seaside town of Margate where there had been clashes between the mods and rockers in the sixties and they were looking to make cultural links with the later rallies. I am very conscious of the signs and symbols associated with the mod scene even though I normally choose to avoid them. As the collection is aimed at a mass market I kept the references simple using targets and checkerboards along with some musical references and some landmarks from the town. Style- wise I used blocks of colour with black outlines to give them a sixties Pop Art feel.

FP: What are you working on at the moment?

PS: I live in France now and divide my time between running a contemporary art gallery, my fine art practice, designing and printing rally patches for scooter clubs worldwide and selling my range of scooter related t shirts from my website.

At the moment I am working on a series of prints entitled ‘ It’s only Rock n Roll’ and have an interesting collaboration coming up with the American artist Alan Sanchez. I’m organizing the fourth Paddy Smith’s Sun Run for this June and I’ve just posted some patches to Germany for ‘Scooterist Meltdown’ (a weekend of mayhem in a disused nuclear power station). I’ve got some more patches to design and print for rallies in Britain and for a charity ride out organized by the Norwich Scooter Collective. I insist on complete artistic control when doing the rally patches and am still enjoying playing around with the format I invented. I also still manage to go to a couple of rallies over here every year with my son Sam on our Vespa T5s. It’s in the blood!

See the Spring 2014 men's and women's Margate collections online and in our Authentic shops now. Find out more about Paddy Smith's work here:

www.paddysmith.eu 

A Chat with Pauline Black of The Selecter

We caught up with Pauline Black, frontwoman of The Selecter, to talk inspirations, icons and what's up next for the band. Following a stand-out performance at this year's Coachella festival, the band are heading to America's East Coast this September for a series of shows. 

Pauline Black The Selecter

What are The Selecter working on at the moment?

We’re about to shoot a video for our single Secret Love, which we’ll release online. Hopefully we’ll get that done before we head out to America, and we’ll have it in time for when we go on tour with Public Image Limited in October, which we’re really excited about.

John Lydon has been aware of us for a while - a long time ago we were playing the Palais with The Specials, John Cooper Clarke and the Modettes, and in the audience that night I just saw John hanging around at the bar, looking a bit shifty. He was known as Johnny Rotten back then, and I’ve always liked him and the stance that he has. 

Many people refer to you as the ‘Original Rude Girl’ – how would you describe your style?

People say that, but in truth, the idea of a ‘Rude Girl’ didn’t exist – I invented her! There were no ‘Rude Girls’ in that sense. There were Rude Boys, and I just thought to myself; you can either stand onstage and do the whole girl thing, or just get down there and wear some smart trousers, a good little suit and a hat. I mean a hat solves a multitude of problems – you never have a bad hair day for a start – and my style of dress just came down to that. I’d seen films such as The Harder They Come, and I had the sense of what a Rude Boy looked like, but it was just organic really – and a trip to an Oxfam shop!

And for you, who is the ultimate Rude Boy?

For me, the one and only Rude Boy has got to be Neville Staple of The Specials. I used to stand at the side of the stage when we were on the 2-tone Tour, and just watch Neville do Monkey Man standing on top of a huge stack of PAs , making monkey noises to a crowd of skinheads.  I mean, that takes bottle, and he has my ultimate respect for doing that.

Of all the songs that you’ve written and played, is there one that you most enjoy performing live?

Probably the last single we did! I mean, always, the audience wants to hear the hits. That’s what they pay good money to come and see, but I credit our audiences with more intelligence than that. They don’t just want to see us play the same songs time and time again – you can go on YouTube for that! I still feel we have to prove our worth as a band, and come up with new stuff.  If people don’t like, it, they don’t like it – they vote with their feet.

How was it performing at Coachella festival earlier this year?

It was just fantastic – I mean, in some ways we were completely amazed to have been asked to do it! I think apart from Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra, we were the only Ska band out there doing it. And a lot of people were obviously at the festival to see the headliners – the Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Blur, etc – and a lot of people there probably weren’t even born when we were around, so were coming out of curiosity. People come along to have a look, and to see what you do, and I think they got a bit of a shock!  For the first weekend we played it fairly safe and gave people the Too Much Pressure album, but for the second weekend, when we came back after having been on tour up the West Coast doing new material and it doing equally as well, we thought we’d try it out at Coachella. So we bit the bullet and did that, and it went down a storm. If anything, it was actually better than the first week! So for our contemporaries who maybe want to stick to what they’re known for, and do the heritage thing – I just say be brave, just do it. What’s not to like? And it proves your worth as a band.

If you were asked to curate a festival, which three artists would headline?

I’d have to say Bob Marley, Billie Holliday and oh, I just think it would have to be The Supremes – they were poppy to the extreme but just so wonderful.

You were a contributor to our Don Letts Subculture Films, but what would you say your personal connection to Fred Perry is?

Well I’ve been wearing Fred Perry since 1979, and certainly in the early days, a lot of us wore it on stage. I see it as a symbol of youth, so now, everyone who comes to see us is wearing Fred Perry. I’ve known Don Letts a long time, and it was great he did that series of films. Fred Perry’s are really comfortable, and I think women can really rock them as well as men.

In New York on the 20th September? Win tickets to see The Selecter live at the Gramercy Theatre in our competition - enter here.

A Chat with Dean Chalkley

We caught up with Dean Chalkley, the man behind the lens at our Twisted Wheel Collection shoot.

Fred Perry had seen my Young Souls project and knew that there was a love and passion for Northern Soul – that project, in particular, showcases that there’s a younger generation who are now really into that music. When it came to the Twisted Wheel shoot, we talked about the approach and really wanted to capture the environment – the essence of the moves, the dancing. There’s a joy in it, which is completely real.

Duo Shot

For this shoot, it was absolutely vital that we captured dancing and movement whilst showcasing the clothing. It’s a contemporary study – looking through the shoot, we can see that each person is in their element. There’s a great picture of Tomas, where his face is completely in the moment. He’s not smiling, he’s not posing for the camera; his focus is completely on dancing. Similarly there’s a shot of Emma, where she’s concentrating on her moves but there’s a lot of composure – Northern Soul dancing has a high level of energy and crazy moves, but there’s often a lot of grace and composure there too. It’s almost like a gymnastic performance – it’s like doing a vault, you have to land it properly.

Music is a vital influence for me and my work. Some people think that I’m actually a music photographer – I love music, but for me it’s so much more than a collection of notes and lyrics on a page that’s been performed incredibly well. For me, music is an all-encompassing thing – for example, when you think of Northern Soul, there were plenty of live bands that appeared at the all-nighters, but the scene was largely based around records. People will adore a record, because it makes you feel a particular way, it makes you adopt the essence of the scene. That links up music and photography for me, because I might go see a band play, and then when I photograph that band, I’ll work with them to try and apply the essence of their sound to the shoot. When you look at Northern Soul records, when they’re played out to an audience that are really into it, the dancefloor itself becomes the illustration of this sonic experience.

 Black Patch Shirt

It’s really nice to see how Fred Perry have peppered little details through the designs – the rose, the badges. The Northern Soul scene is very diverse – there are the styles that are specific to the movement; the baggy trousers, the swing skirts, but the Twisted Wheel itself actually started out as a Beatnik club. The thing I love about the Northern Soul look is that it’s actually all-encompassing. Obviously things like the Fred Perry shirt have travelled throughout the whole of that period, they’ve always been worn on that scene – not only are they great looking, but they’re very practical, and perfect for dancing.

The models featured in the shoot are genuinely into it. They’re real people; they’ve not been selected from an agency because they fit a certain aesthetic. They have a depth of character that makes them a perfect fit not only to Fred Perry; but to the Twisted Wheel Collection itself.

See the men's and women's Twisted Wheel Collections online and in Authentic shops now. The collection is also available in our Manchester Laurel Wreath Collection shop.