SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON
Scott Fraser Simpson is the UK menswear designer making waves in the fashion world with his own take on menswear clothing staples from yesteryear. His collection includes superbly designed boxy camp shirts, as well as high-waisted Hollywood-style trousers – all Ponyboy favorites. Known as the Scott Fraser Collection, the looks are heavily featured on the designer himself on both his website and Instagram profile, which is quite natural with his Waspy 1950s style good looks. You may have seen his remakes of vintage Italian knitwear classics from the movies “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Goodfellas” on your Instagram feed or in the press. His collection is literally a cut above the rest, with his keen eye for exquisite detail, cut and fabrics. We could go on and on about the fantastic and visually stunning world of Scott Fraser Simpson, but no one can describe his aesthetic more than the designer himself in the bio he sent to us below…
MENSWEAR – FROM LONDON WITH LOVE
WE ARE HERE FOR THE STORIES, THE DEFINING MOMENTS AND THE ICONS.
WE LIVE TO LEARN ABOUT THE CUSTOMS AND EVENTS THAT HAVE COME TO SHAPE OUR CULTURAL WORLD. OUR PASSION IS TO RECALL AND REVERE THEM IN GLORY, IN MULTICOLORED CELEBRATION, AND ALWAYS WITH THE RESPECT WE MUST ALL DEMAND. OUR NET IS CAST WIDE, OUR INFLUENCES UNLIMITED. WE BRING YOU WHAT WE FIND, IN CLOTHING FORM, TO-ORDER, TO LOVE AND TO LAST.
THE LABEL ORIGINATED IN THE SUMMER OF 2013 AND IS BASED IN LONDON. BIRTHED OUT OF AN OBSESSION WITH VINTAGE CLOTHING, SUBCULTURES AND A DEEP EYE FOR DESIGN DETAILS.
AND I AM MULTIDISCIPLINARY DESIGNER BASED IN LONDON.
Lookbook/social media images courtesy of Scott Fraser Collection. Portraits of Scott Fraser Simpson by Alexander Thompson.
PONYBOY: Scott, we’ve been fans of your incredible menswear designs and Instagram profile for a while now. We’re very curious to know how you started designing menswear. Did you go to school for design?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: Thanks for the love! Designing and making clothing was born out of a deep obsession with clothes and wanting to create something on my own. First, it was a personal project but as I started working with a couple of local tailors the interest from friends and people I knew only grew. It took a little time for me to commit to the idea of offering something up, but I’ve never looked back since.
I didn’t go to formal design training college but have always been creative and curious about how things come to be: if that’s how something is made or problem-solving through design. I also am an obsessive person. I collect clothing and have done it since my mid-teens. Fascinated by construction, fit, shape and fabrics. I spent my teens and 20s surrounded by vintage clothing and the 60s soul scene. My coming of age was dressing in 3-piece suits, making clothes and living and breathing my lifestyle obsessions.
PONYBOY: Your clothing is made-to-order. What would you say are some of the difficulties that you’ve encountered with producing menswear in the UK?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: When I first started the label made to order was the only way I could make it work. With no financial backing or the ability to hold 100 pieces in stock, this was the only option. I still use this model because I still think it works for the most part. There is little to no wastage, we can be agile with designs and our direction. We don’t need to go into sale and undersell what we’ve made and we can make pieces that work for the person and not just for us. It’s the way I know I’d like to buy clothes – to be involved.
PONYBOY: Describe your customer – the Scott Fraser Man. And explain your Retrospective Modernism approach to your clothing.
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: They are far-reaching and I’m not just saying that. From young skate guys who are into the Italian knits, the vintage guys into the 50s look that need the pleated wide pants, to streetwear heads who rock the lace shirts.
We were in NYC recently for a pop-up and we were taken aback by the diversity. It’s important for me as a designer that we can speak to a variety of people. It’s not just for me, it’s about the people, they’re the ones that keep this wave moving and I respect that.
Retrospective modernism was our early design philosophy that we applied to the pieces we created. Elements of the old, the attention to detail, the drape of a fabric to be suited to the piece of clothing. All about the little touches that are there for a reason and not just for a trend. But it’s not about being in a time machine. We are here now and we need to bring a new energy, something fresh but with a strong nod of respect for what has come before.
PONYBOY: From what we can see on your Instagram profile, your collections are obviously heavily influenced by your own extraordinary vintage style and personal clothing collection.
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: I’ve been collecting since I was about 16. It was the moment I felt I really chose that I could be in control of who and how I was presenting myself. It also coincided with me getting my scooter license, of which I got a 1983 50cc Vespa 50 Special. That scooter, the history and subcultural ties to the modernist scene rocked my world and formed a huge part of my identity and learnings for years on. I owe a lot to those two wheels, the scooter club I joined, the people that took me to the soul clubs and the people I met along the way.
I’m a huge collector of Italian knitwear and this is my deepest passion. With over 300+ pieces of my own collection that spans from the 50-70s, these knits have helped lead me to create my own version. And also to work on design projects with brands such as Supreme, as well as getting involved with prime film and TV productions. I’m working on a photo book of the collection and also the deep and rich culture of the rather unknown yet extremely mighty Italian-American knit shirt.
PONYBOY: You also have a separate women’s line. What inspired you to take that leap into womenswear?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: As SFC has grown, we have naturally had to take on other people to help us keep our momentum. And with that, we felt it right to try to broaden our offering. My sister and close friend came into the team, and much like myself are obsessed by clothing and have a great eye of their own. I thought that we both could work on the collection together and they would give a real insight into the workings of this label. It was also a challenge working on a different sort of fit and a variation on the SFC mood, but I like challenges so we had a great time doing it together.
PONYBOY: Your business location moved recently. Explain to our readers – is it a free-standing boutique and workspace?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: The new SFC Locale is our home. It is a space to showcase our collection at our monthly open days or take private 1-on-1 fittings for people that want book-in. We also have a workspace downstairs where all our final packing and pressing goes on. We create, host and hang out here.
PONYBOY: You mentioned your obsession with knitwear, primarily the vintage looks that you reproduced from the films “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Goodfellas”. What is about those 2 films specifically that motivates and inspires you?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: The Ripley knit, is iconic and has been one of my holy grail pieces. It was my first challenge and one that I really felt I nailed. The Goodfellas knits, well I had the originals. After watching the film a few times I felt as though the vibe of the film was different from the laisez-faire coastal cool of the Ripley knit. I felt it was time to bring a darker undertone to the collection.
PONYBOY: Who would you say are some of the style “stars” that have inspired your formative years and collection, as far as actors and musicians?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: I don’t have many people that I look up to and idolize. There are two though if I had to say – Nat King Cole and Sinatra. Both with their own flavor and are just effortlessly cool.
PONYBOY: How many scooters do you own?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: Currently I have three. One is a race bike, one is a 1950s antique that is beautiful and the other is a relic of the 1960s still with the original paint on. It’s how I get around town and I love it. They are an extension of me and allow me to do so much more in my day. From visiting factories to collecting orders or taking a ride to relax after work. They are special things to me!
PONYBOY: We read that you were also a London DJ, spinning 45s. Do you still spin records occasionally?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: On occasion I still do. I was DJing a lot a few years ago as part of my work but felt that the repetitive nature of it started to take the fun out of it. So I do less now for other people and clubs and do it more for me on a personal level. Got to try and keep something for just me sometimes!
PONYBOY: What would you say is your go-to daily outfit, for work and running around town?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: The SFC classic wide leg trousers and some sort of knit polo/ or short sleeve shirt with a vest underneath. It always seems to work.
PONYBOY: The models that you use are all so well-suited to your vision. Do you prefer using agency models or real people for your lookbook shoots?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: Until now I have only used ‘real people’. People who I know or live in London. We are a London brand and that is important to share with the world. Also what I find to be the most important is that the person in the clothes feels comfortable in them. They know how to stand, and they understand the drape and the stance to make the clothes and themselves come to life together. That’s one of the biggest challenges when it comes to releasing new collections. But we have some great people around us that also seem to share the same passion and enthusiasm that we have about clothes and what we’re doing.
PONYBOY: We’ve noticed that you’re also a big fan of 1980s Giorgio Armani, which we love as well. What is it exactly that inspires you about this specific designer/time frame?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: It’s the generous fit, the cut is wide, it isn’t too sharply pressed but looks effortless and slick. Also, the fact that it was an era. Although I was a child, I grew up through it, so it has an appeal to me – a sort of nostalgia – in comparison to the 50/60s, which I have romanticized over for so long.
PONYBOY: You were here in New York City recently, and had a pop-up shop accompanied by an opening event at the Brooklyn Circus. What was that experience like for you?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: It was unreal! New York City, much like London, feels alive and the response from everyone who came only helped to cement that.
The majority of our collection pieces are making their way out to the states. So naturally, we were anticipating meeting some of the names and characters we’ve been speaking to over the last few years to come along and that was a real highlight. Seeing people in real life and understanding what they were about; how what we do has an impact on them. That in turn helps to inspire us. This collection is for the people that make it happen and help it to continue to grow.
Also shout out to the team at the Brooklyn Circus – so welcoming, helpful and inspiring. We felt like part of the crew while we were there and that made a huge difference in feeling like for a moment we too lived in NYC! Now that would be a great thing!
PONYBOY: With your vast knowledge of vintage menswear, are you still working with brands as a consultant?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: Yes we do. We do quite a number of roles with film and TV productions. It’s great helping to build characters and work alongside a large creative team. As well as that, we work with a selection of brands on mainly knitwear sourcing and development – that’s my jam. They can range from high-end luxury to skate lifestyle brands. It keeps my influences fresh for me and varied and that’s important I think.
PONYBOY: Do you have dreams of taking your company to a much larger scale? And perhaps having your clothes manufactured? Or do you see yourself staying on a more intimate level? You could be the next Ralph Lauren.
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: I personally feel that where we’re at currently is the right place for us. We can be us and we can be agile when we make to order. I think simply scaling a company isn’t always the answer to success, as with that comes the extra staff, larger premises, warehouses, and large stockpiles. Being true to my own and the team’s passions is how I feel and get excited, and for the best part I think I’ll be staying right here. There’s always room for learning and changes and I think by being that little bit smaller we can implement those things along the way much quicker. I’m excited for it.
PONYBOY: What advice do you have to people, especially younger men who are starting to have an interest in dressing in a vintage style or wearing vintage clothing, but are somewhat unsure or not confident about their choices?
SCOTT FRASER SIMPSON: Don’t feel scared to experiment. Part of dressing is about finding yourself. If you feel a little unconfident about a choice you’ve made try it and see if that passes. Never be afraid of breaking a code of dressing.