I am sure most people reading this will have a favourite brand whether it is for design reasons, style or fit there is usually one that will stand out for you, for me it is, and always will be Fred Perry.
It started 20 years ago in 1994, I was just starting to take a real interest in music as a 13 year old and what a year it was. Oasis burst on to the scene with the incredible debut album Definitely Maybe and singles Supersonic, Shaker Maker, Live Forever, Cigarettes and Alcohol and Whatever. Blur’s brilliant Parklife was released along with Pulp’s ‘His and Hers’, Inspiral Carpets ‘Devil Hopping, The Stone Roses ‘Second Coming’, The Charlatans ‘Up to Our Hips’, Morrissey’s ‘Vauxhall and I’, The Prodigy’s ‘Music for the Jilted Generation’, Shed Seven’s ‘Change’ Giver’, Suede’s ‘Dog Man Star’ and many more.
It is only looking back at this, twenty years ago, that I can realise how lucky I was. Incredible new music was breaking through and returns from the likes of The Stone Roses and Inspiral Carpets made it the perfect time to start taking a real interest in music.
Of course, when you start getting into something new you have to try and look the part and Fred Perry polo shirts could be seen on most of the stars of the day. Myself and my brother ended up getting our first FP’s from Makro of all places, a cash and carry type store on the outskirts of Glasgow. I got a plain, light blue/green shirt and a light brown twin tip with black and red while my brother got a plain white with black laurel and the classic black twin tip with yellow. The brown and black shirts are still going strong, they have seen better days but they still get dusted off every now and then.
In the intervening years I have bought (and lost) more polos than I’d care to count, shoes, socks, t shirts, sweaters, jackets, hats, scarves, umbrellas, wallets, bags and I can’t imagine there being a time when I stop.
Started in the late 40’s with Austrian Tibby Wegner the famous Laurel Wreath almost never happened with Perry, a keen pipe smoker, wanting a pipe logo. It would be interesting to see if the brand would have taken off if that was the case.
The tennis shirts proved popular and soon they became the first sports wear brand to break into street wear. As demand grew as did the choice, the early Modernists of the late 50’s saw them as the perfect way to stay smart in a more durable and versatile way.
While British Subcultures grew and evolved through each other one thing that remained was the popularity of the famous Fred Perry shirt. Mods, Skinheads, Suedeheads, Punks, Rudeboys, Soulies and more have all been seen sporting the Laurel Wreath and it is that history that makes it stronger and more popular than ever today.
Throughout the years the shirt has been worn from people as diverse as JFK to Liam Gallagher with star such as Paul Weller, Amy Winehouse and Bradley Wiggins lending their names to collaborations. Constantly unveiling new collections like the Twisted Wheel, Northern Soul inspired pieces, showcasing new styles and working with top designers like Raf Simons Fred Perry not only stands strong in its tradition but is always willing to evolve and experiment.
I am lucky enough to have a Fred Perry Authentic Shop close by in the Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow, if the staff in other Fred Perry shops are half as good as them then they will be well worth checking out. You can find stores up and down the UK as well as interntional branches in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Egypt, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Malta, Netherlands, Philippines, Portugal, Russia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, UAE and the United States of America. I wonder if Fred Perry every imagined his name would one day be an international brand of this magnitude.