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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Q&A with Simon Foxton, half of &SON—with stylist Nick Griffiths—and fashion director of i-D and Fantastic Man. Fred Perry commissioned &SON to create its seventh men's Blank Canvas collection, which is anything but blank...

For Fred Perry’s Blank Canvas project, you and Nick created four styles inspired by the camouflage of wartime British battleships, but in a pulsating fiesta of rainbow colors. How much absinthe were you on?
Well, none, to be honest. The designs are inspired by the use of dazzle camouflage from the First World War. Dazzle camouflage was inspired by cubist and vorticist painting which was in new at the time. If you have a look at the real thing, it is so out there—huge ships painted like art-deco ornaments. So strange and appealing.

Do you play tennis? How would you describe the intersection between sports and fashion?
I've never played tennis in my life, but Nick is a keen badminton player. Sport has been such a major influence on fashion for at least the last forty years. As the idle rich have become increasingly body-conscious, the use of sportswear is now seen as a shorthand for health. Of course, it's a two-way street, with the catwalk or guest designer now informing most of the sports brands. Fashion and sportswear are more or less interchangeable.

Can you tell us more about &SON? What’s the mission? What projects have you got going?
&SON is a creative practice that Nick and I set up about 18 months ago. We both come from a styling background, and as we enjoy working together, we decided to create projects that would utilize our different talents and experience. It's about doing things that are creative and not just the run-of-the-mill styling jobs. We're very into collaborative projects. Apart from the Fred Perry Blank Canvas range, we have been working for some time with the Italian company Stone Island, creating a new advertising campaign for them and consulting on many other facets of their business. We are about to get started on a new major collaboration, but we can't say who yet and we're about to print a limited-edition range of T-shirts.

Would you say &SON is a reaction to drab menswear? Should men make more of a statement with what they wear?
No, don't assume that we will only be coming out with things in giddy colors and jazzy patterns. We felt that that look
was right for Fred Perry, but we can do sensible and tasteful, too. As for men making more of a statement, I'm not sure that's always such a good idea, when you see some of the statements currently being paraded. Rather than make a big statement, I'd prefer that men were a bit more thoughtful in their choices.

What role, if any, does gayness play in your designs? Is &SON the best of both worlds?
Well, I'm gay and Nick is straight, so I guess we come at it from both sides and generally find a good balance. But that's kind of too hard to answer, really, because I think what you are informs what you do in some way. I don't sit down and think: Right, I'm going to design a queer pair of pants. I just design what I like and what I think others may like.

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