Interview: Russ Gater.

Russ Gater is the co-founder of British based clothing label Heritage Research. Established in 2007, Heritage Research has quickly found itself being stocked in some of the country’s best clothes stores. Russ was kind enough to find the time to take part in this quick Q&A; discussing the past, present and future of the Heritage Research label as well as what inspires him on a personal level.

First things first, what are you wearing today?                                                              Vintage 60’s Reyn Spooner pullover hawaiian shirt                                                               Buzz Rickson’s USMC P-44 shorts                                                                                       Vintage 70’s Vans Surf Lovers

Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in the industry. How did Heritage Research come to be?                                                                                                I started out selling vintage denim, military and sportswear at Portobello market in the mid 1990’s. Through this I made a lot of contacts and really took the opportunity to learn as much as I could. I was teaching cultural theory on various fine art and fashion degrees when I started working with a friend on some brand ideas. Neither of us had any formal training in garment design but this was replaced with ideas and product knowledge and now we’ve both been working in the design and fashion industry for about 10 years.

Heritage Research was started in 2007 as project essentially fuelled by our interest in historical and military garments and their application in contemporary style. Each original piece was completely handmade and sold to a few handpicked accounts in Japan. The rest you know!

Sum up Heritage Research in three words.                                                            Concept, Narrative, Quality.

What’s been your favourite Heritage Research design from a personal point of view?                                                                                                                                      That’s tough – there’s a lot of pieces I like for different reasons! My favourite has to be either the Eastman for Heritage Research Roadstar Motorcycle Jacket, based on a 1940’s D pocket bike jacket or the Tokyo Tailor Jacket from the new SS12 line which is a soft tailored jacket made from this crazy Japanese double faced patchwork cotton. It’s amazing.

Initially Heritage Research was sold soley in the Japanese market but it is now also sold on British shores. Do you think this reflects a change in tastes for menswear in the UK?                                                                                               Definitely.

There’s been a real renaissance in the attitudes of British males toward style and clothing in these past few years. Men as a whole, I think, have become more interested in clothing whether it’s high street, designer or niche. As a result of this people have started to become more selective and are seeking out new things. As far as a lot of people are unaware of their ‘look’ becoming homogenised, there are others who really don’t want to look like everyone else. People forget that as recently as five years ago Nigel Cabourn was being sold in Debenhams at one sixth of the price! It took a real shift in the marketplace and perceptions to allow this renaissance to happen.

Shops such as Oi Polloi, End, Peggs and Son, Kiosk 78, Superdenim, Garbstore etc have all been instrumental in changing the face of mens clothing in this country and almost reintroducing the concept of quality, tailoring and classic style. Magazines like Free and Easy, Men’s File and Inventory have really helped reinforce the message and obviously blogs have played a huge part in creating an underground ‘community’ of like minded enthusiasts.

What is also interesting is the rate at which this concept has translated to the high street. The chino is now a staple in every guys wardrobe from age fifteen to fifty. Only a few years ago it would have been predominantly fifty upwards! Classic British brands are having a huge resurgence and are bringing back made in England production to their lines. It’s great but you wonder how long it will be until the next trend replaces it.

You’ve previously collaborated with a number of other brands such as Quoddy. Can we expect more collaborations in the future? And what are your thoughts on collaborations generally?                                                                                I think generally collaborations are used as a means to forward a brands profile off the back of another brand, most of them seem to fall flat or look increasingly bland.  Here at Heritage Research, we run a number of collaborations each season and will probably continue to do so. Unlike a lot of brands we only work with people who we are fans of. The criteria is non commercial and based around our love for their product.

For AW11 we’ve worked with Eastman Leather Clothing which is an ongoing collaboration, English jeweller Jeremy Hoye who has handmade Heritage Research’ men’s jewellery based on 40’s military and college themes and Lofgren Japan on a range of Japanese made hats and jerseywear.

What inspires you and your work? Where are your next collections headed?I’ve been collecting vintage clothing for nearly twenty years and have amassed quite comprehensive collections in the areas I’m interested in however I regularly come across stuff I’ve never seen before or something that’s just totally different. I think it’s that verve and passion that keeps the inspiration tuned plus all of our friends are enthusiasts of one form or another – whether it’s vintage surfboards, WW2 flight jackets, American Civil War uniforms, 40’s Hot Rod’s or vintage cycling – the enthusiasm is contagious and you end up learning and taking an interest in something you hadn’t considered before.

What can we expect from Heritage Research in the future?                                 You can expect a wide variety of clothing drawn from the 19th and 20th centuries, better and better fabrics and clothing that challenges the consumer. Hopefully we go a lot of places that other brands are too scared to follow! The AW11 collection is based around two concepts; Liver Eatin’ Johnson – a real 1860’s American mountain man and JFK – the sartorially inclined ex-President. Two very different aesthetics that compliment each other.

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Yuketen Summer 2012 Preview

It may seem odd but photos of what clothing or footwear will be released next summer always tend to surface a year or so in advance of their release. This year is no different and following the annual Pitti Uomo in Florence, Yuketen’s collection for next summer has popped up on the net. Yuketen have since 1995 prided themselves on their reputation for well crafted footwear inspired by classic American designs. Next year looks to be continuing on a very similar path, with similarly great results. More photos here.

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Gant Rugger.

A recent and probably unnecessary – if the past two days are anything to go by – addition to the wardrobe, this Ranger Parka is part of the Gant Rugger range. Although initially conceived in the seventies it is only recently that the Rugger range has been relaunched; focusing on a more tailored fit and less branding than the main Gant line, yet also retaining the impressive quality that their reputation has been based on.

The four pocket parka has long been a favourite of mine but the absence of a two-tone effort in my wardrobe and this appearing at half price in the sales made it an offer I couldn’t refuse. Although not much use right now, this will be perfect come the autumn.

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Cathal McAteer has on two occasions been nominated for Scottish Designer of the Year courtesy of his work on the Folk label. Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, Folk ticks all the right boxes and prides itself on the materials used with knitwear produced as far away as Uruguay, shoes manufactured in Portugal and accessories produced right here in England.

This polo shirt is a perfect example of what makes Folk great. It’s understated yet at the same time maintains a quirk and high level of detailing which makes it stand out from the others. While probably not practical for the hot days we may or may not soon receive, this little number will be perfect for cool summer evenings.

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The Football Archivist.

The Football Archivist is a website I recently came across after it was recommended to me on an online forum. A brilliant collection of footballing photos from yesteryear, this is essential browsing for anyone who wishes to relive a time when football meant more than eating a prawn sandwich or wearing 3D glasses down your local.

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Blawan – Getting Me Down.

Having become a regular in the sets of Hessle Audio co-founder Ben UFO over the past few months, the buzz for Blawan’s latest release was nothing short of huge. Here Blawan makes use of a sample from Brandy’s 1994 track “I Wanna Be Down” to create a house-influenced tune which maintains his usual hallmarks of grooving basslines and tight percussion and just screams at you to dance.

Needless to say I was pretty annoyed at having missed out on the initial release so news of a re-release was music to my ears. Let’s not let the small issue that I don’t presently have anything to play this 12″ on get in the way of things. This is a big tune.

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Spring Court.

Spring Court was established in 1936 by Georges Grimmeisen, although it was in 1952 when their unique feature of four holes either side of the sole was introduced. This was a measure to help prevent sweaty feet and increase the shoe’s ventilation. Spring Courts quickly became a staple in the wardrobes of professional tennis players and were later made popular by the likes of Serge Gainsbourg and John Lennon (who sports them on the Abbey Road cover); helping this French footwear label gain recognition for their simple pumps which are made with canvas uppers and a vulcanised sole.

Their retail price is possibly a little dear for what they are but fortunately I managed to pick them up at a discount price from a forum cohort of mine. Their simple design makes them a great match with pretty much everything; from chinos to selvedge denim. They even go great when worn with cargo shorts – though the British summer will need to brighten up a bit for this to become a viable option.

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