We’ve been following you and your work for many years now. You are always up to interesting projects – but before we look at the present, we’d like to go back a little in history – The student riots in Paris and the birth of punk – when, where and how was the name born? Did 6876 have anything to do with your interests at a young age – and what were your interests?
The name was born due to the fact that I wanted to reject the egocentric nature of “fashion” and had no intention of naming the brand after myself, Chris Houghton (who I started the brand with both ex Duffer) and i were in a pub and we liked the way the numbers on old London buildings looked and particular Old Street where we worked as in 159-162 etc so we thought that’s it numbers! Then I thought they had to mean something and had to be related to my/our interests as it shouldn’t just be about clothing but bring into play all interests.
So it became 68 = Paris, situationist, Weathermen etc. and 76 = Punk rock/Soweto riots etc. My interests we initially playing football for Sunday and school teams but later through my brother Bowie then most significantly punk and beyond.
The idea behind the name was to create a spirit of independence and non corporate mentality..i.e no advertising/no fashion shows etc rather than stylistic references to the years, initially people couldn’t recall the name/thought i was pretentious but i liked that it created a reaction, plus it would only be pretentious if i didn’t have a knowledge/experience of the references which I do…and that’s a very large part of my work in that it has to believable and authentic in its image/ideas.
6876 started in 1995 and have now been around for almost 20 years now. You studied graphic design (if we remember correctly) and then went on to design clothing. How did that come about?
I studied in Dundee graphics (not that successfully) then decided I needed to leave Scotland initially with the idea of textiles but switched to fashion which to be honest was out with my experience or everyones expectations.
How much did you learn from your time at Duffer of St. George? Guess it was a pretty busy time and really interesting era of the 1990s?
I came from a more art school background there i learnt business, retailing, intuitiveness and about London, New York and Europe…plus a certain irreverence It was a good time and an introduction to London in a very special way..formative years/experience etc.
Was 6876 ever a vision to create something more revolutionary? And if so… is that a ethos you follow today?
My main view was a wanted to work for myself,create my own aesthetic although I wasn’t really sure it would be understood or accepted. Basically to create a modern British brand rather than the twee heritage view of Britain that had its accent firmly on product/ideas rather than hype/pr and to make it affordable/accessible.
Its a bit out of the regular way that most other brands work to not release full collections and I know that question has been directed to you before but was is the ups and downs working the way you are and is it something that will ever change? As the business is today it actually seems like it has evolved more towards the way you’ve always worked. Getting clothes out there regardless of seasons and collections. A lot of designers and brands have to compete with the larger chains that push fast work rather than creativity. What are your thoughts on the business climate and how do you work to find margins and survive?
There’s been so many stages in 6876 and i see this period as part of the overall cycle,part necessity part choice but also ultimately I think a progressive way…I travel but not extensively and many directions/ideas come from a reaction to what i see around me..I’d prefer to take my own path rather than follow for better or worse rather than what everyone else is doing…influences are taken from the usual or to me the usual people,culture/music etc…as form the methods I think the way we are working now is good but we just need to take it a bit further and release more products.
The Sonora and Capandula are now considered classic jackets alongside with garments from much much older brands. How do you feel about that?
Those jackets were designed/drawn in a very naive pure way so its gratifying that they’ve become popular and its great that they have such a following from such a purist crowd.
You were very early with collaborations – what’s the difference between working together with legendary labels like Rohan and Fred Perry vs working ”alone”?
There’s a difference between collaborations i.e Rohan and Cash Ca as they are joint design/business ventures and Fred Perry which was mostly a consultancy. Collaborations can be very pleasurable as each partner brings different skills/resources although working with larger companies can mean things go slower…consultancy is interesting in terms of coverage/resources but can be very frustrating as larger companies are very conservative
The work you did together with Regent Belts was in our eyes some of the best stuff you’ve done. Amazing quality and design and we wear our Capandula bags every week. How’s the future looking for R6?
The R6 project was very enjoyable and educational for me but ultimately frustrating as the factory went into liquidation which was really sad… so no more R6 but we are developing a bag with Chapman which will be quite out of the norm for them at the moment, anyway I am really proud of the R6 styles.
How did the CashCa collaboration come about? And how do you look at the future of the collaboration?
Gary Aspden who has worked at and now consults for Adidas is a friend (and in fact did one of his early internships @ 6876) and started to bring Kazuki to the studio as he thought he’d find it interesting and after a few visits he started to look through our archive with a few to a collaboration. For 2014 i’ve asked if we create a few more styles in different categories and going forward I don’t want to plan too much as at the moment it seems like a natural process.
Whats a ordinary day like for you in 2013?
Some days I take my children to school then the studio others start work at home then down to my studio which is the place i really enjoy being as I’ve created what i think is a good atmosphere and we have other creatives sharing etc plus i love the building..then its the usual planning product and sometimes visits to the UK factories.
Punk exploded in 1976 – when was the last time you heard a ”new” punk band that had the ”thing”?
Not sure that’s something that will happen in such a dramatic way again but I thought the band Factory Floor had a great sound/attitude when i saw them.
A lot of your pieces are quite technical, made to stand in harsh environments and situations. Are you often outdoors? What has been your most inspiring encounter with nature?
I enjoy camping with my family and the best trip we made was a few years ago for two weeks in the Outer Hebrides in Scotland,its a remote but beautiful place with extreme contrasts in weather in fact these Islands and its culture/climate are pretty unique.
How does your design process work and where do you find inspiration in the daily life?
That’s a big question! as its a small company and there’s the business/logistical side to take care of as well its sometimes tricky to make time to design so I just try to surround myself which as much of my source books and reference garments as i can but in reality directions for 6876 tend to be my reactions to what i see around me and more specifically I almost react against the prevailing trend or just decide i want to move in a different direction its difficult to quantify.
Is footwear something you want to incorporate more, seeing as you did the collaboration with Trickers in early 2000?
Trickers was a place/time and even though i would like to incorporate more footwear if would have to link naturally to the type of clothing the brand was producing
You have listed Alden as some of your favorite footwear, is that a possible partner for future endeavors?
Alden I wear and love as a brand but sometimes i feel that as a designer you have to still maintain that feeling of being a consumer/fan so there’s certain products like Alden and premium denim that I think its best to leave like that plus I think stores like Union Made do a great job with Alden so to me it wouldn’t seem relevant to replicate that.
We are suckers for lists. Which movies are on your Top 5?
I will give ten and it could have been 20 and will be different next week….
Battle of Algiers - Gillo Pontecorvo
Weekend - Jean Luc Godard
IF - Lindsay Anderson
The Conversation - Francis Ford Coppola
2046 - Wong Kar Wei
Blade Runner - Ridley Scott
Out of the Blue - Dennis Hopper
Deer Hunter - Michael Cimino
Fitzcarraldo - Werner Herzog
A Prophet - Jacques Audiard
You used Minor Threats font for one of your designs…even used an X:ed up hand. Was there a time in your life when you listened to old US hardcore/punk?
The whole history of punk and its ebb and flow from the US to the UK and the different ways it developed i think is very interesting. Also the hardcore scene was very interesting as they were mostly independent and the whole story of Dischord records within that scene as well as the music I found inspiring plus that linked to the british independent record label ethos which was a big influence on 6876. The reason we appropriated some of the imagery was at that time I was pretty irritated by “fashion” brands trying to aline themselves with what they saw as Rock star cool (there are still some designers doing this now) that I thought we would react against that by referencing straight edge i.e no drink, no meat or drugs just the music/community etc.
6876 is to a lot of us both very British, but also a brand without borders – recommend anyones reading this a bar, place, hotel, beach somewhere in the world that you think highly of?
As this is a 6876 feature the nature reserve at the far north of Corsica is an amazing place that’s even quiet in the middle of summer some people might recognize the name Capandula.
Finally. This whole thing can sometimes feel like it lacks humor and fun. What’s the craziest experience you’ve had with 6876? A situation or event that afterwards made you cry of laughter…
… in the late 90’s my then production manager who was very experienced (ex Paul Smith) decided we should visit all the fabric mills we are working with in Italy as we were manufacturing there as well.
It was a really good time (which to be honest I don’t think i really appreciated at that moment) as we took trains, were driven by Paul Smith’s Italian office and then we decided to hire a car as we were now as we thought getting the hang of it.
Unfortunately on our first outing a large truck reversed into our car and we had to take it back to the hire company and explain with our limited language skills what had happened…
Photography by Kenneth Mackenzie, Siripim & Our Culture, all rights reserved.