Paul Weller: fashion designer? Antonia Wilson talks to the ‘Modfather’ about his menswear label Real Stars Are Rare, his love of craft and the relationship between music and fashion.
Weller wears RSAR paisley dress shirt, single-breasted jacket and tapered trouser, both in royal blue (Photos: Sheena at Nice, courtesy of 101)
There’s a couple of people I’ve spoken to who I’ve said, ‘I’ve started up a clothing line’, and they’ve said, ‘well there’s probably more money in it than music’. And it’s like… what… A: I wasn’t thinking about that and B: I don’t think that’s strictly true,” says singer-songwriter Paul Weller, who recently co-founded mod-influenced menswear label Real Stars Are Rare. “It’s not like I’ve got any delusions of being a designer, or being in competition with any brands. It was just a little thing we are doing, trying to make quality clothes and see how it goes really.”
Real Stars Are Rare is all about great craftsmanship. Weller might be laid back in his approach to the industry, but his passion for clothes is evident in the high quality fabrics and sharp tailoring of the collections. It stands in direct opposition to both the fast fashion industry and meaningless money-driven celebrity fashion endorsements.
“It’s all bollocks,” Weller says. “I think generally speaking, without mentioning names, a lot of the stuff people have been involved with is pretty naff. I don’t see myself as a celebrity for a start. And I don’t really see it in the same light as all that. I’ve always loved clothes for as long as I can remember and still do, so it’s really from that point of view.”
Original designs for items sketched by Weller
From the double-breasted patch-pocket jackets to the star motif jumpers, the collection is an extension of what the former Jam and Style Council frontman would wear himself. And Weller isn’t just putting his name to it; he’s involved at every stage. “It’s more like a labour of love really,” he says. “I just didn’t want to mass produce cheap crap, because there’s plenty of that stuff out there. I wanted it to be a bit more special. I’d only want it to be stuff that I’d wear myself – that’s the quality control really.”
It all started when Weller got talking to Phil Bickley, owner of Portobello Road menswear shop Tonic, who offered to help him create a few T-shirts. After a couple of years developing ideas, the first collection was released last October. In the main, Weller sketches and designs and Bickley sources and manages production, much of which is based in the UK and Europe. This includes working with Fox Brothers, a Somerset based clothmaker founded in 1772; other fabrics sourced from the Albini mill in Italy; and tailoring often carried out in Portugal. Suitably understated branding comes via 101.
RSAR tags with quotes from Weller, and branding by 101: “We knew the early modernist clothing was mixed with the military look, that’s why we used the font we did. And the little star was something Paul had sketched, so we used it as an asterisk at the end of the logo,” says 101’s creative director Mark Elwood
The collaboration is grounded in crafting clothes that fit well and careful consideration to cut and detail, with many items carrying the RSAR star, embroidered on the chest or lapel. The label’s name also in part relates to this appreciation for the finer things, whilst being playful and not taking it all too seriously. “I can’t remember who it was, but I remember hearing it, it’s a bit of a camp, showbiz expression, ‘real stars are rare, they only come out at night’,” Weller says. “I liked it and thought it was quite funny. It also says to me that to see real qualities you have to be more discerning sometimes.”
It’s not the first time Weller has ventured into the fashion industry, having worked with Fred Perry, Ben Sherman, and Liam Gallagher’s Pretty Green label on various collaborations over the years. Similar to some of his work with these brands, RSAR has a mod-inspired edge. “Anything I’d ever think about wearing, would be mod-centric, but in a contemporary way as well,” he says. “So I’m trying to make