The Clothsurgeon: Q&A with Rav Matharu
Clothsurgeon: Bespoke Streetwear from the UK
Streetwear comes in many forms and variations. Some streetwear themes remain perennial staples from season to season, whilst others gain momentum and quickly fade away into the graveyard of “here today, gone tomorrow” fashion trends.Clothsurgeon takes an entirely different approach to streetwear. Based in London, the brand headed by skilled tailor and designer Rav Matharu takes a bespoke approach to their versatile creations. Employing a Savile Row methodology, Clothsurgeon pieces (many of them crafted from the finest leather) are meticulously cut and sewn with quality, fit and wearability as the overarching standards. In addition, a major facet of their business consists of custom garments created from scratch for a wide range of celebrity clients including Nas and Kendrick Lamar. Clothsurgeon recently unveiled their Fall/Winter 2013 collection, and we interviewed Rav Matharu about his overall brand concept and style inspirations.
SNC: Can you give us a brief timeline of how you went from working at the House of Billiam to becoming the Clothsurgeon?
Rav Matharu: I was at House of Billiam for nearly 3 years before I started Clothsurgeon. I wanted full control and creative direction of what I wanted to do with my own brand so it was always on the cards.
What pivotal moment in your childhood directed you or gave you a hint that you belonged in the world of fashion?
I grew up playing soccer from the age of 11-21. I was at professional club Leeds United, this was my first passion, but I had a huge love for clothing and footwear throughout those years. Things didn’t work out and I lost the love for soccer, so I decided to go back into education. An Art & Design Foundation degree at Loughborough was my first step into the world of fashion.
What are the specific elements of men’s tailoring and pattern cutting that make you a master in your field?
It’s not just the pattern cutting element, it’s the fabric use, understanding how garments are made and generically modifying a classic piece with Clothsurgeon’s aesthetic.
What’s the most difficult thing about creating leather garments? Also how would you describe the genre of streetwear clothing you specialize in?
Firstly Clothsurgeon is high-end streetwear brand that does seasonal collections. But there is also a bespoke side of the business where customers can make and create whatever they like. Understanding the fabrics you use is very important; the way it drapes and sits on the body, the finishing of the items is also important. For example, you can press the seams flat on a wool garment, but with leather, you have to glue and gently hammer to create that flush external finish.
You’ve been able to get your garments on some of the top music names in the game – J.Cole, Kendrick, Big Sean, Nas etc. From the outside looking in, it seems you have great taste in music and you’re highly connected too. How did you score these clients?
I respect a lot of these artists and working with them, or them wearing my garments is a huge pleasure for me. Everything has been quite organic. I haven’t forced my work onto anyone. Their stylists always get in touch and want me to create special pieces for their clients. It’s the advantage of being able to make anything I want, or YOU want.
How would you describe your creative process – insanity, deliberate, collaborative etc.?
Ideas just seem to pop into my head at the right time, nothing is forced, its more nurtured and refined into a final product.
When it comes to your own personal style, what are your fundamental style essentials?
I’m constantly working, so comfort is essential. I like to layer, and black, whites and greys are usually the only colors I wear right now.
Who are some of your style icons, both past and present?
This is a really boring answer but I don’t really have one, there are many icons from the past I refer to when researching. Run DMC for example were a huge influence for my debut collection. Andre Agassi is an influence for this season, so it varies all the time.
What is the overall direction from Clothsurgeon for Fall/Winter 2013/14?
It has a slightly more grown feel than my Freshman Year collection. Each collection has an initial point of reference that I like to research into. The movie New Jack City was the basis of my research for this season’s collection.
If there was one short sentence of advice you would give to men about personal style and looking good – what would that be?
Be comfortable, and buy classic pieces that last you a lifetime.
What quote, song or image do you keep returning to for fuel or inspiration when times get difficult creatively or personally?
There is a song by The Knife called Heartbeats. It always takes me to another place when I listen to it. It’s kind of like a refresh button on my brain.
What does the word “risk” mean to you?
I would like to think I don’t risk anything. If I don’t like it I won’t release it, or do it, even if there was a huge financial benefit.
When it’s all said and done, what would you like your contribution to the fashion world and the world at large to be?
The fashion world is forever changing, I am creating a brand where you can come and create what you want and personalize the garment to your specification. A streetwear Savile Row so to speak.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
My mother and my wife, behind every great man there are usually two incredible women.
(See looks from The Clothsurgeon Fall/Winter 2013 Collection in the slideshow above)
For more info visit: www.clothsurgeon.com
Geo Hagan is a menswear and culture writer based in NYC.