With the Spring Summer 2013 collection having just dropped it seems the perfect time to shoot some questions over to CEO and head designer of Clothsurgeon. It’s hard to believe that this is only the second line from the London based brand, even harder to believe that it’s the vision and hard work of one-man team, 30 year old Rav Matharu. After three years as Head Designer at House of Billiam, a bespoke jacket tailoring brand based in London, Rav went solo in order to pursue his own vision and last year Clothsurgeon was born. The garments are distinctly contemporary whilst at the same time incredibly timeless. Championing a bridge between street wear and high end men’s fashion along with other current designers such as En Noir, Clothsurgeon provides the additional unique concept of customisation via its bespoke design service.
Drawing inspiration from his own and fictional cultural experiences, Rav often begins with historical references and adapts them to a contemporary audience by fusing them with the Clothsurgeon aesthetic. Already seen on both Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky, expect big things ahead for Clothsurgeon.
Can you tell us a bit about your background and education?
My initial career was as a professional footballer; I played for Leeds United from a young age until 21, things didn’t work out so I went back into studies. I have always been creative and had a huge love for clothing and footwear, so I went onto do a foundation degree in art at Loughborough. I was then offered a place at London College of Fashion but due to financial constraints I didn’t go. I later decided I needed and wanted to do this so I went to local establishment, Leeds College of Art and Design where I graduated with a First Class degree in BA Fashion and Technology. I then moved to London with nothing but an expensive collection of trainers and joined House of Billiam as Head Designer.
Fashion has just always appealed to me from a very young age, footwear in particular, I used to sit around for hours drawing sneakers. I remember being about 9 and drawing a Nike shoe with everything on it; Reebok Hexalite and E.R.S, tongue pump from the Reebok shoes, torsion bar from Adidas shoes, the air bubble and swoosh from Nike and I begged my mum to post it [to the brands]. Luckily now my designs are much more refined and carefully thought out.
What motivates and inspires you daily?
I’m constantly inspired. Everything is so visual and transient these days with Instagram, tumblr, Twitter and the Internet as a whole. But I always reference the past, may it be construction, shape, silhouettes or details. I make sure that my initial ideas are always developed with in-depth research.
You cited Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts as the influence for your Spring Summer collection, in what ways did it inspire your designs?
Yes the book is incredible, as I have been to Mumbai a few times I felt I could relate and picture everything particularly clearly. Lungi's worn by Mumbai males, (a traditional sarong worn around the waist,) usually in plaids and tartans, I adapted into shorts, vest and a Varsity. The marble floors, which are prevalent in so many houses, I printed digitally onto silk t-shirts, Mumbai air is quite polluted. I could imagine Karla and Linbaba watching the sunset, so instead of rich reds and oranges I applied a black to white fade on a tee to represent that. And also the colour palette, for example the Police khaki uniform, I translated into a quilt a-2 bomber. It was the initial inspiration that I fused with the aesthetic of Clothsurgeon.
Separately your pieces feel relatively timeless, together they feel distinctly contemporary. Do you intend for them to be worn together?
I am a huge believer of generic modification. I am not trying to re-invent the wheel, I’m taking classic shapes and silhouettes and applying certain fabrics, fits, details and textures to make it Clothsurgeon; contemporary classic clothing.
With A$AP Rocky and Kendrick Lamar recently wearing your designs, do you worry that, for fashion designers, their longevity can be compromised by famous credibility?
To work with these great musicians, I think for me, it gave a platform, and propelled me into a worldwide audience. My second collection was a test and the reaction has been incredible. I aim to do that every season, I am here to stay.
Are these your ideal clients? If not, who?
They are great clients, I don’t think I have an ideal client, I want to create quality high end street wear for all kinds of personalities, this is why I run the bespoke service alongside the seasonal collection so you can apply YOU into what you wear.
Music and fashion have always had a close relationship. To what extent does music influence your work? Do you listen to music whilst you work?
I like to listen to music while I work, Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar are usually on repeat. And I tend to relate to past musicians, for example the leather sweatpant from this season was based on the full leather tracksuits that Run DMC used to wear back then. Fashion is a cycle and music has a huge influence on fashion.
Menswear shows are gaining increasingly more coverage and interest at Fashion Weeks, do you have any plans to show in the upcoming years?
It is something I would definitely look at doing and want to do; as it’s just me on my own I feel that it will happen in good time.
Who would you love to collaborate with, brand or designer?
I am a huge denim and sneaker head, so Levi's and Nike would be incredible.
How do you feel as a young designer in London? Does London influence your work any differently to Leeds, your hometown?
Without a doubt. London is so diverse and such a huge mix of culture and people, you cant really compare it to anywhere else in the UK. As a creative it’s without a doubt the place to be... even if the rent is ridiculous.
What are your plans for the future of Clothsurgeon?
To keep building the brand and perhaps open a store in London. Autumn Winter 2013 will see the arrival of a line of Clothsurgeon accessories as well as Womenswear, stay tuned.
This seasons collection is available to buy now on the Clothsurgeon website.