Levi's Tailor Shop: Ferry Gouw

With festival season underway, Clash talks to the illustrator about patchwork individualism.

Levi’s says denim is ‘more than just a trend, it’s a badge of honour’, and this summer they’re making that statement a reality, thanks in no small part to the Levi’s Tailor Shop.

“With denim playing such a fundamental role in people’s wardrobes, the art of customisation and creating products that tell a story, was never more important than it is today,” offers Scott Boyd-Errol, the in-house tailor at Levi’s flagship store on Regent Street.

Boyd-Errol has been in place at Regent Street for perhaps more years than he’d care to indulge, but until now his role has been primarily about playing with the denim itself; tapering a leg here, sewing up a hole there.

Half an hour in his company and it’s clear the service is well used, as the conversation halts several times to accommodate customers collecting their jeans; nine times out of ten, Scott needs nothing more than to see said customer’s face to know exactly where or in what state their jeans are, qualifying the ‘tailor’ service in more ways than one.

For nearly a month Regent Street – like many Levi’s stores around the country (full list here) – has offered an updated tailoring package that now includes patches, the ideal ingredient to a perfect Americana inspired get-up, should that be your thing.

Introduced as festival season proper gets underway, the service can transform customers jeans into shorts (as rain or shine, a point will come when someone from your camp attempts to hack their jeans themselves, and experience tells us the results won’t be pretty), or with the help of aforementioned patches, offer the most credible way to ensure your mate finds you in a sea of denim as she returns from the bar halfway through so and so’s headline set.

There is one thing Regent Street has over the others however, and that’s a Ferry Gouw exclusive.     

          

 

The one time Semifinalist, Gouw is a London based illustrator and video director, most recently celebrated for his work with Major Lazer, producing all of the band’s artwork. “Nowadays design for music encompasses everything from album sleeve to merch to visuals,” he says. “You have to be versatile enough to translate the message into various formats.”

He continues: “By this point they trust me completely. In turn I have an instinctive understanding of the world we’ve built that I know what works and what doesn’t, so it feels effortless and fun. It’s a responsibility but it’s not a huge burden or anything.”

The big guns at Levi’s saw this work, plus his projects for Tom Vek – “they were looking for someone from a music/design background” – and hence the collaboration was born, with Gouw producing ten large patches to be sold and stitched exclusively in the capital.

“Naturally,” he begins, “My starting point was the history of denim customisation throughout pop and music culture, from biker gangs to hippies, punks, 80’s hip hop and so on. There’s a rich backlog of stories and design language to mine from.”

This translated to Ferry’s own work as brightly coloured designs, amongst which the following feature: a dog in a hat, a stars and stripes adorned ‘OK’, dancing figures, a Meadham Kirchhoff esc mushroom motif and a gold sheep skull, the latter suggests Scott, has thus far proved most popular.

“Co-incidentally I have recently been designing embroidered patches for Major Lazer, so I’ve had some experience doing it,” the artist lets on. Working with Levi’s he adds, was something of a juggling act, as the two emailed back and forth in search of the right balance.

“Ultimately we wanted to find a good range of designs that paid homage to the history I mentioned, but also making them new and uniquely my own.”

A former punk, customising as a form of personalisation was everything Ferry tells us. “It’s part and parcel of making a piece of clothing truly yours, it’s an intimate gesture,” he says.

As intimacy goes, denim makes for an interesting point of reference, but it makes sense. Denim after all is the fabric that feeds through (western societies at least), more than any other.

Words: Zoe Whitfield

Further reading: Go Wild In The Country: Wild Beasts Interviewed.

Your festival alter-ego? Levi's invites you to find out, here

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