question6I’ve always wanted to do one. I was probably collecting football shirts before I was collecting trainers, because I never saw myself as a collector of trainers. I used to just wear them and look for the old ones, because we loved them and enjoyed the dead stock hunting. With the shirts I actually collected shirts, and then I did the trainers book that did really well and I always wanted to a football shirts book purely for the love of it. And it just happened to be the right time and place I think.

A big thing for me is I’m not into social media, when I started getting into social media, I sort of thought ‘oh god you can do this on your own now’. The world has changed. Print costs have come round and you can get hold of people. I didn’t have to go to a publisher, and that’s what appealed to me.

I think sometimes with me things bubble away and it’s almost like they spill out, it’s like I’ve gotta let them out almost, because it’s bubbling away in my head. So I could see it was formulating and it was a bit like that, so it was kind of like a necessity in a way, do you know what I mean?

question2No, there wasn’t an aesthetic, it was more of a just rule, and the first rule I got was basically to say that I had to have a reason. The thing that I find interesting about it is the common connective-ness of it.

question16Yeah connectivity and the universality of it as I call it, as it does literally connect all of us around the world, you know and that’s what I find so interesting, especially with shirts, like I know about a Boca shirt, I’m into like Brazilian shirts, and I love things like Penalty and Topper, all the old Brazilian makes. I got to know a Brazilian collector and he’s like, ‘oh, I love Umbro’ and we take it a bit for granted, he sees Umbro as exotic. And then outside of that it was literally just my own remit, of how I saw and connected. So I wanted a music chapter, so any shirt you know with the people that wore it, that shirt’s famous because it was in the World in Motion (New Order) video, things like that; politics and interesting stories, that was the rule for it.

Hmm, to be honest with you, I’m first and foremost a historian, I wanted to be an archaeologist, going around looking for the trainers in the 90’s I was more interested in the search for it, going in the old shop, that was more of the buzz for me. I loved the trainers, that’s what I was there for, but we’d take the clothes, we’d take all the other interesting stuff, we had all these interesting shops that had a bit of everything, all brilliant stuff. So with the trainer’s book, I wanted it to be like an historical thing.

question5Mmmm, I mean for one thing I think you’re right, they’re certainly rarer, it’s kind of like what the trainer scene was in the late 90s, because before that people who wore them just loved them. I was an old football causal, we were the first into it really. You know it wasn’t all the hip-hop heads, that’s a load of bollocks. You know it was only when people started to collect that you knew there was places where people were cataloguing it and keeping them. The football shirts are a bit more pure still, there’s just a few proper collectors who aren’t doing it to make money, or aren’t jumping on the bandwagon. They just are like proper geeky trainer spotters really, so it makes it a bit harder.

question7Oh yeah, without a doubt. I think like you said its coming. I mean I saw the Japanese magazine Clutch today, and they distribute my book in Japan. I showed him a picture of me in a magazine and he knew the shirt for starters, it was rare, a 1990 Gremio shirt. Without being modest, I think the books gonna help that, its gonna turn it more into a scene of collecting. You know it’s crossing over without me helping it, it’s become way more streetwear now, even the in the catwalks, people are rocking football shirts.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-16-29-22question9Yeah, I think the thing to me is quite obvious, because the tracksuit is so urban and so attached to hip hop and New York, whereas I think football shirts have got connotations of a big fat belly balding guy who might beat you up. I think fashion alarm bells ring. How do we make that fashionable? It’s polyester horrible fabric with a bloody sponsor on the front, like urging money, and I think its kind of hard for them. I think the big thing for me has been the trend where people have been false sponsors, so you’ve suddenly got people doing knock off football shirts and then putting Hermes on it and all that, it’s kind of like how they want football shirts to be.

I think it’s fear and not understanding, and I think anything linked with football has traditionally had a poor show in that world, even the casuals you know, the casuals were so under looked for so long, because it was just associated with fighting. Middle class kids who were mostly writing in the media wouldn’t go near it because it was too unfriendly for them. Either that or they’d been beaten up by them in school…

question10Fraser is one of my best buddies, Fraser’s the one that brought me into looking for all the dead stock trainers in the early 90s. Again another one of those things were everybody brags about it nowadays, whereas Fraser is the least one to blag if you’ve ever met him. He’s the reverse, he’d go in the YMC shop and the staff may not know him. I mean he’s undercover, he’s the furthest thing from a poser in the world. He was one of the first people in the world to be trading in dead stock trainers. So basically it was two things for that with the launch, it was the statement of intent, my whole raison d’être with it was to be like look, there’s a fashion brand launching this, not a bookshop, not in a sports shop, it’s a fashion brand doing it. I wanted people to go ‘well why is that with YMC?’ Or at least to get it.

question11On BBC 4 they do the re runs of top of the tops right, have you ever watched it? They have top of the pops, say, 78, and then they have top of the pops 80, watch those shows right, this is what I’d say to anybody mildly interested in fashion, mildly interested in culture. What you’ll see on there is not only great artists, but a myriad of great movements, people dressed as punks, people dressed as new romantics, people dressed as Rastas, people dressed as suede heads. All those people who knew something, really explored their mind, created, expressed themselves like you wouldn’t believe. Why would somebody be called Bauhaus, what’s Spandau Ballet? You know, they were normal cockney lads. That’s what been lost..

spandau-12question12Well everybody says there’s no point having a trend because social media will be all over it so fast, and yeah I get it, but also if you look at, like I said some of those old photographs you’ll see so many movements, so many unique looks that you could have and nobody could pigeon hole you because people wouldn’t get it. If I was doing something now right, if I was a younger man, I would be looking in every shop, but the last thing you would find me in would be a fashion shop. I would be doing something which had a directional look that people would know, but if it was on the telly or if it was advertised or in a mainline shop I wouldn’t be wearing it.

question13Well I think it could be a thing to free you, but they’re turning it into something that stifles you. You know not just in fashion, in everything. Instead of this being that we have masses of information, the most information savvy generation, we are probably the worst, the dumbed down generation, even though all information on tap. Less is more. There’s that saying, I think it was Orson Welles who said, Switzerland had a thousand years of peace and invented the cuckoo clock, and Italy had the Borgia for 30 years and had Michelangelo, the Renaissance and a million inventions.

You need a bit of lunacy to create.

A Lover’s guide is available to buy here.

Interview by Ollie Irwin.