After the long nights of Winter, it feels great to finally be sitting down with creative director, Mark, again to discuss the new Far Afield collection for SS19, ‘Jazz Club’. Read on to find out why you will want a piece of this nostalgic yet fresh slice of Summer… (Shop the full collection now)
How did you land on the name, ‘Jazz Club’?
In all honesty, the collection speaks for itself, and I think the inspiration is quite obvious for the customer to see. There was no being subtle about what the collection was about, so it made sense to go with something quite obvious as the name.
There’s no cooler club, than a jazz club. And plus it sounds good when you say it … “Jazz Club”.
Paint us a picture: what is it about jazz that encapsulates Spring and Summer for you?
What we did is concentrate on the aspects of the jazz scene that are colourful, vibrant, and playful, and ultimately what seemed to fit with the mood of summer. If you look at some of the old artworks, record labels, and cover sleeves of the 50’s and 60s, there are some amazing prints & illustrations to take inspiration from which, as this collections show, can translate to summer very well. This is what we concentrated on.
Paradoxically, the venues that are associated with jazz are probably the antithesis of summer. Dark, dingy, smoky basements, with (mainly) blokes dressed in sharp, multi-layered tailoring, smoking never-ending cigarettes, looking super-serious. They are the type of venues that never see sunshine!
What is it about the 1950’s jazz scene that interests you in particular over any other era?
Apart from some of the more easy-listening and obvious artists, I would say jazz isn’t a big part of my music repertoire.. If anything, it’s the more modern or contemporary nu-jazz stuff which tickles my fancy.
What did inspire me to start thinking about working on this collection was watching the documentary about jazz trumpeter, Lee Morgan (I Called Him Morgan – a great doc’ by the way, he sadly ends up being murdered by his wife). It was the whole 50’s/60’s scene – the music, drugs, booze, the speak-easy style venues, the dress sense – that piqued some interest, and after that I started to delve a little deeper.
Realising that jazz venues, and the way jazz players dressed, wasn’t really the direction to take the collection, I started to look at different aspects of jazz for inspiration.
Whilst already having a brief knowledge about how legendary some of the record labels and record sleeve artwork is from that period, we started to research further. Record labels such as Blue Note, Verve, Norgran, and to a certain degree Columbia and Epic, all put out exceptional music, with exceptional artwork. There is many a coffee table book on the subject, so it wasn’t like we were unearthing anything unknown, or niche.
The prints in this collection range from bright and bold to smooth and subtle, what inspired them?
Out of the collections we have worked on so far, I would say this was the most interesting and enjoyable to research. Lots of great music history to read about, and aesthetically there was so much to take inspiration from – almost too much at some points.
As mentioned before, the main research came from digging through the archives of old record sleeve artworks of the era, and then building a mood board around some of our favourites.
I love a good coffee table book, so thumbing the pages of the Blue Note and Verve archives, and the odd Jim Flora book, was particularly enjoyable. I would say Jim Flora and David Stone Martin – who was best buddies with Norman Granz (founder of Verve and Norgran) – were the two biggest inspirations in terms of prints.
Alfred Lion – who was one of the founders of Blue Note – was also a keen photographer. And obviously having access to the studios at the time, he has an amazing back catalogue of images which came in very useful for archival prints and also styling etc.
Most of the names for the pieces in the collection have a jazz-inspired reference, but I will leave that to the jazz nerds to figure out, so they can put two-and-two together.
The colours have a vintage feel but are still fresh, how did you pick the palette?
We wanted the palette to be summery and commercial, but at the same time it had to feel quite worn and vintage. The idea was to translate the idea of “smokey jazz club” into a summer palette. It was just a case of choosing Pantones that are basically washed out versions of more summer, primary colours.
What music did you listen to while designing that really brought this collection to life?
Quite a bit of Lee Morgan due to the documentary I watched, and then the obvious ones, like Miles Davis, Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald etc
Spotify has some best of ‘Blue Note’ and ‘Verve’ playlists, including some more contemporary remixes, so that was (and is) a bit of a go-to when in need of a jazz fix.
That said, we didn’t over do it in the office. The last thing anyone needs is to be caught in a jazz-like trance – we’d never get any work done.
The lightweight tailoring and relaxed knits are perfect for warm days, what are the key fabrics in this collection and how did you source the quality that makes the vintage-inspired cuts work so well?
The linens work very well as they give that worn, washed out look, that resonates so well to the era it was based on. And then we have a fine mix of various cotton weights and qualities, chosen specifically for the s/s season more than anything, as they breathe well and are light.
The knitwear yarns are sourced from Italy, and Turkey, and are made from 100% cotton. Some of the polo’s we have done this season I think are by far our strongest yet. We had a very positive response when selling the collection at trade shows last summer, and this has carried on over to online sales. They are selling like hot cakes – the Alfaro, Clifford & Blakey in particular – with shops re-orders coming in thick and fast. These wont hang around for long.
What are the 3 key pieces you would recommend every Far Afield man to have in his Spring/Summer wardrobe?
I am basing this on being pool side:
And finally, what is your favourite piece in the collection?
**Mood board images from various sources