Fergus Purcell: Aries Arise

Clash grabs five with the label's co-founder.

Iridescent gun stickers and photos of ‘no bullshit’ tattoos, are not the website must haves for your average new womenswear label, but this is exactly what you will find on Aries’ homepage.

The British based, Italian crafted label was founded by Sofia Prantera and Fergus Purcell – who first met while each working with the 90s brand Silas – and is now in its third season.

Easy going and with effortless appeal, amongst the collections you will find tie-dye trousers, thick knitted jumpers, buckle-free leather jackets and motif tees (Purcell’s other job is with skate label Palace).

With an epic tale to tell, we grabbed five minutes with the man himself, for a chance to run through the finer details.

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Your life’s been pretty consumed by music. What musical venture are you most proud of?
I'm currently working on an exciting project called Night Ops, hoping to do a 12" at some point... But that's for the future.

The thing that I've completed and am most proud of is the Die Verboten band that I was in alongside Dave and Steph (2manydjs) and Henry (Riton). I played drums, but was able to play an equal role in the composition and production of the music, so it was a totally fulfilling experience. We recorded in Dave and Steph's studio in Ghent and also poolside in Ibiza!

The whole process was just a joy and I'm very proud of the music that we made. We released a one-sided 12", with one 19 minute long track. There's about an album's worth of stuff yet unreleased and very loose plans to do more... We'll see.

You met Sofia in Slam City Skates. What does that store mean to you?
It's where my whole career started (I first did stuff for them in '87) and more than that, it was such an important cultural meeting place.

In its early incarnation, Slam City was in the basement of the Talbot Road branch of Rough Trade, so you had that nexus of the skate thing along with Rough Trade's underground music thing. That combination turned me on to so many things that still influence me profoundly.

I do stuff for Palace now, which is affiliated with Slam, so I'm really glad to still be directly involved.

You started with T-shirts, what made you decide to work on a fuller clothing label?
It was Sofi's idea and seemed like a really interesting challenge. Making textile designs for clothes is really fun – it's awesome to have women's clothes as a canvas.

What does Aries bring out in you that past projects didn’t? It’s a lot softer than other work.
Aries started out as a 50/50 men's and women's brand, at least in our initial concept, but the realities of making and marketing clothes meant that we quickly decided to commit to making womenswear.

This is high quality womenswear, so it requires a certain delicacy in approach. It's a question of colliding my trashy street aesthetic with Sofi's more sophisticated sensibility.

What’s the Aries girl’s drink?
Mine's a lager; Aries lady can drink anything she wants, I've got no preconception about that.

What’s her favourite record?
Oh anything. I don't approach my Aries input in this way. Personally, I'm hugely influenced by certain music but I don't want to make images for a particular niche or impose that musical taste on the Aries customer. Especially as the modern way of consuming music and marrying it to fashion is totally different than when I was a teenager.

In the 80s, things were very tribal in that way (which was fun), but now there isn't necessarily a specific look/uniform attached to a musical genre. And there's nothing wrong with this phenomena, it has it's own virtues. Look at Lady Gaga, she makes essentially Europop, but her visuals sample from hip hop, R'n'B, goth & even crusty punk.

What part of Aries are you most proud of?
The whole thing… Just to put my twist into a high-end womenswear thing is cool.

Are there any plans for a men’s collection from Aries?
Not necessarily... Maybe.

Aries’ pieces are about longevity. What’s the oldest T-shirt in your personal collection? 
I've pretty much traded and given away all my old T-shirts. The one I've probably had the longest (and is now much too small for me) is a Metallica ‘Metal Up Your Ass’ tee.

Words: Zoe Whitfield

ariesarise.com

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