CLASH, a feeling of community according to Reuben Selby

15.06.2021, Fashion Interview Mode
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For a year and a half we missed a lot of things. One thing we missed above all was wearing our most uncomfortable clothes to attend a fashion show. Although we collectively enjoyed the multitudes of amazing fashion films made during the past fashion weeks, we needed to reconnect with the unique sensoriality brought by a physical show. Surrounded by music the garments are magnified and being performed, the joy of a public presentation sets the tone. The purest pleasure of all resides in the sounds of the garments, the whistle of a sleeve catching the wind, the fabric of pants crinkling or the regular beats of stiletto heels along the walk of a model. Fashion ASMR.

The Reuben Selby show at London Fashion Week conjuncted those emotions: Joy was coming from the crowd, the sleeves were catching the wind and the music mixed by Maisie Williams, girlfriend and collaborative partner of Reuben Selby, were immersing us into the universe of the Spring Summer 2022 collection. «CLASH» bringing back a feeling of community as London reopens.

Made from deadstock fabrics and cactus leather the clothes are loud from the mix of prints and colours but the cuts are elegant and sharp, the clash. The fashion is a very current and wearable take on genderfluidity with a neo-romantic edge shown through a work of pleats and ruffles. The show looks were created in collaboration with fashion stylist Harry Lambert. Tasteful.

What brought you to fashion in first place and what pushed you to create your own brand?
Reuben Selby: It has always been something that I wanted to do, I knew that I was going to break through in the industry in a different format and not in a traditional sense. I think that’s why it has taken me a while to launch the brand, although I’m still quite young, because I’ve worked in so many areas of the industry and got experience from all of them. That’s what makes our collections different as I tend to come at it from more of a visual communication aspect and not focus solely on the clothes. I wanted my brand to be more of an art expression. We treat it as a whole to tell a story. The experiences that I had come from internships, existing in this industry, I worked very hard for 8 years and didn’t go to study. I was doing things and making things happen. It felt like the right time, people usually rush into things and put all those expectations on themselves. For me it was a natural progression to start the brand now, as at this point I have the vocabulary to talk to my audience. Being able to understand myself has allowed me to create in the way that I wanted to.

Your first show took place last year in Paris, what has changed for you since then?
RS: I think this show is going to shake everyone in the ambition of what we are doing. All aspects of it are on a whole other level compared to the first collection. The first show was more to put something out there, to start somewhere. I was proud of it, and it was the perfect launch for the brand but now we are getting more into the foundation of the brand, telling a story, standing for something. The first collection didn’t aim to make a statement as much, but more to let people know that we arrived and put our staple where we belong in this creative world. We are now bringing everything back to London, where I come from and I hope it will resonate to many people as well.

How is Maisie helping on the design part ?
RS: Maisie has a big part in the brand as a whole. She is one of the persons supporting me in the creation of my brand and giving me the energy to pursue my dream. That energy runs throughout the brand and allows us to take risks. She is always getting involved in a creative way that is unexpected. For example, for this show she is doing the mix although she never mixed live before. It’s never going to be boring with Maisie, she just paints out the walls with ideas that she spreads everywhere. I’m quite laser focus and always knew what I wanted to do but having someone whose complete opposite allows us to enter a new world and to push the brand further. We don’t have an official term for her role, but she really is assisting me as a creative director.

This collection is inspired by your Filipino roots. How did you include those references of your mother’s culture into your vision?
RS: It’s hard to put it into words because it is a very intuitive process. It is not really about me looking back at my mother’s culture and taking things from it. It’s more of a version of not actually knowing very much about this culture. Being born in the UK, in the countryside, I only visited the Philippines three or four times – which has changed my life, but I don’t really know what it means to live there every single day – so it also comes with a romanticism of me articulating those influences. It might be quite subtle but it is quite far from what a London brand would be expected to showcase. It is a pretty unique combination of two different cultures.

Genderless, sustainable, inclusive – Your brand represents the beliefs and needs of today. Was it something you already had in mind when launching the brand?
RS: Yeah for sure, that is exactly why it took me so much time to launch the brand. I have made clothes before, but never under a brand. Now I have full control over any decision and that is why the process is so organic. I don’t even have to be in the room to make the decisions, because my team knows what our values are and what we care about. Before I started the brand, I wrote a twenty-page document on what I wanted to do, what I wanted my experience to be and what is missing for me. It comes from identity and how the perception of identity is changing, but also how fashion can be so flamboyant. We usually say we design clothes for introverted people, as they still want to be appreciated from their friends but they don’t want people to stare at them, so I try to create a safe place and a sense of belonging without having to stand out in a very literal way. 

Design-wise is there any challenge working in a sustainable way?
RS: Yes for sure! That’s why people don’t do it right? First of all it’s very expensive and it takes a hell of research and development, which makes the timeline so much longer. You have to source from many different places and the materials are completely new, which is difficult to work with sometimes. But I like it, it’s fun and creative and we only know how to create in a sustainable way since it was our approach from the beginning. For this collection we are using deadstock, which gives us boundaries in our creative process. We have to work with a realm of inconsistency, which is related to the name of the show being CLASH, as their is many friction points.

How would you describe your personal style? 
RS: My personal style is about comfort. I can find comfort in anything.

Text by Marien Brandon
Images courtesy of Reuben Selby

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