Following the JESUS logo items,Triple collaboration of The Salvages, Barnzley’s Wemblex and The Jesus and Mary Chain’s Douglas Hart DIY shirts filled with the spirit that has been passed down since the 1970s. Wemblex created by Malcolm McLaren, a legendary shirt series that gained popularity as “anarchy shirts” here in Japan.They added the post-punk essence of the 80’s to the popular legendary shirt series, you’ll want to collect it as an art piece that sets it apart from ready-made clothes. Continuing from the last interview, we asked Earn Chen of The Salvages and Barnsley about the enchantment of these DIY shirts.
——How did you meet Barnzley? And how did you collaboration items together?
Earn Chen: I have heard of Barnzley in London in early 2000s, his name was always spoken among people in the scene. At that time there was a cool store “Zoltar the Magnificient” by Barnzley. It was ahead of its time. There are cool stores like The Child Of The Jago, Thunders and so on. I knew his history at 430 King’s Road in the late 70s and early 80s. He is a pioneer in the the subculture scene.
——Can you tell us a little about the items that will be lined up in TOKION in the future?
Earn : We are planning more DIY items that can be only found in TOKION. We like the idea of the DIY culture, hand made and sustainable. When we were kids, we wanted to be different from others so we had to make our own. We hope to make more products in that spirit.
——Please tell us about the Wembley concept and brand philosophy. Why are you so obsessed with shirts? What “Wembley” brand name means?
Barnzley：I am not so much obsessed with shirts. Instead I’m very keen on Wemblex as a brand and developing it in an original, sustainable and original direction for the current climate.As far as obsession goes you could say as a young teenager in the seventies I was ‘ obsessed “ with the punk music and clothing trends that moved very quick just by seeing what people wore at gigs etc. And what happening musicians who were making great records wore in sounds, NME, Melody Maker and Record Mirror.That was our internet and we were very young.
We used to make clothes from things we would find in junk shops to look like things the pistols etc would wear. Without being a tailor or clothes maker . Just hand made with a needle and thread and old clothes That soon became a wheeling and dealing sex and Seditionaries clothes thing . Mostly based around the kings road and after Seditionaries had closed and people wanted to still buy the clothes . I guess it was an early version of the re seller thing but way -pre-internet and done from telephone boxes and outside pubs this went on all through the 80s and 90s (not in pubs and telephone boxes any more )and I think it was the same handful of people selling and buying pretty much . The one thing in that whole time that was as rare and was also a strong part of the whole thing was plain Wemblex shirts.
One because they were the base of the anarchy shirt but also because they were sold at sex and acme attractions and were a strong mod staple and before that big with the teddy boys . It was always one of the ups hardest to find items as most of them were users to clean cars by people in the kings road in the seventies . I ended up being smart enough to register the worldwide trademark and find original samples, labels and some dead stock with the luckiest provenance . The Original owners were very elderly and turned out to be someone that was a friend of mines family by sheer luck ,coincidence and serendipity . They closed the company in 1980 when the owner retired and no one was keen to step in to his shoes . So 40 years later I did my best Cinderella impersonation the shoe fit . In this case the shirt fit!.
——Please tell us if you have any challenges that the Salvages brand has never seen before in collaboration with Douglas.
Earn : I’ve been a fan of Jesus and Mary Chain since the 80s as well as Douglas’ music videos. (I used to dress like them when I was a teenager – messy hair, shirts tucked out and ray ban wayfarer sunglasses). So It’s natural for us to translate his taste in music and visuals to a product.
I think that the attractiveness of the items is increasing by modifying each item with DIY.
Barnzley：Douglas and myself have been friends for a long time and have played DJ together on many occasions including rock festivals , we have very similar taste in many things and i’m sure different taste in others but we have always had music, clothes , typography, posters and many things . I think the reason we have been friends for such a long time is we have a similar sense of humour and and don’t take things too seriously . Apart from small sartorial details that are so small that instruments have yet to be invented to measure them . And were both pretty much the same age exactly – ish (1965)
——I think that COVID-19 has made a big difference in people’s consumption activities. Has there been any change in the guidelines of the brand The Salvages and Wemblex?
Earn: There is no change in the guidelines for us. Our production has always kept to a small run and catered to the core customers. Me and my partner, Nicolette have always kept things organic, doing things at our own phase. She does the designs and we work closely together.
Barnzley：The lockdown had a huge impact on Wemblex as a brand . We have always been selective about customers and pride ourselves on not been for everybody but during lockdown there were no factory open so it was virtually impossible to make any production . We had a bad experience with 2 tailors one who when he saw we were working with both good hood and earn through dover street Ginza decided to double our prices because ehe thought the more we sell the more volume we sell that he should charge us more . I tried to explain that it was the other way round but the communal brain cell was being used in another part of the factory. Then we tried another place but they insisted we pay him upfront and when we went to collect the shirts he had left the country. So during lockdown my other half the very smart and very sweet Maddie (aka Molly mortimer ) one day bought a sewing machine . Needless to say my poor wardrobe took a beating and so did the towels and the bed linen but by this time me and Douglas and Earn had been taking and decided that for authenticity sake if we were going to make shirts like the old back in the day style that we should custom build old shirts . Needless to say me and Maddie had many sleepless nights making these things .
They just developed and developed so in the end we were using the best used shirts we could find . Odd 1950s and 60s antique buttons , vintage fabric patches and sewing a lot of it by hand . Maddie took lessons and is now very quickly turning in to an incredible tailor. All because ion lockdown . And with the encouragement of Earn and a few very loyal and patient customers in wont wanna embarrass them but they know who they are and I must say they have some very nice hand made one off clothes that were made with love and care . A little slow maybe
——Why do you think people are attracted to The Salvages, Wemblex items?
Earn : I think people are attracted to The Salvages and Wemblex because of its authenticity. Every product must have its purpose. The longer you have it and more worn out, the better they are. Just like vintage teeshirts or clothes you find in vintage stores. It’s a long term wear, repair and repeat. This way, it is more sustainable and builds character over time.
——What are the similarities and dissimilarities of each personality and character？What points do you find attractive each other?
Earn : We talk over the phone quite a lot. We get excited over the ideas just by exchanging our thoughts. I would say we inspire each other. Barnzley grew up in the punk era, late 70s, he was a kid who was a huge fan of the scene when Malcolm McLaren and Vivienne Westwood were running SEX and Seditionaries. I grew up in the post punk era, the early 80s. We grew up very different era but the same style vertically. Personally, he’s a legend and there are so much things I am still learning from him.
Barnzley：The post punk era was my era too really because I was a kid in this e punk day but I got to see the gigs and be fanatical about the clothes . I think that we both love making original items and work closely with our female partners so that in a way we are self contained and develop ideas at home . Also I think music is probably more important than fashion in the development of our ideas for clothes , me and Douglas are always bounding ideas off each other about clothes. I talk to Earn a lot on the phone and its not just clothes , music, movies, books, old styles , just general knowledge and interest you know. Me and Bobby Gillespie talk all the time and pretty much always about music. That’s something i’ll always love Bobby for he’s a true music lover and never gets bored of music . Not only that both Bobby and Douglas are dyed in the wool lovers of Pil(Public Image Ltd) , the banshees, Subway Sect , The Velvet Underground, soul , R&B, Rock’n’Roll as well as French pop, electronica , kraut rock, Hawkwind, Thin Lizzy, Status Quo, Psychedelia, Funk ,Sly & The Family Stone, reggae, cool jazz and Malcolm’s genius . As an introduction to almost every kind of music and our there “too much “ styles that ever happened since the beginning of the Rock’n’Roll . Like John Lennon said -Before Elvis there was nothing .