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My fashion life - Paul Weller

The rock legend has set up a label with Phil Bickley, owner of London store Tonic, but admits it’s harder than making an album.

Can you sum up the concept of your new men’s fashion line, Real Stars Are Rare?

Mod squad: pieces from Real Stars Are Rare’s autumn 14 collection

Mod squad: pieces from Real Stars Are Rare’s autumn 14 collection

It’s mod-based, as is everything I do, which is no bad thing. But the designs are also contemporary and classic, things that don’t go out of fashion.

How did you and Phil Bickley get together?

I’ve always regularly shopped at Tonic [on Portobello Road, Notting Hill], as I’d take my boy down to the skate park around the corner and we got chatting about clothes. I’ve always fancied doing my own line - I’ve dipped my toe in with other people. Then Phil said, ‘Maybe I could help you with it?’

Where did you start?

We began with core T-shirts and progressed to tailoring. I wasn’t thinking about any particular demographic or market, it was things I liked. Phil reins me in a bit. Some of my ideas were a little too much, mostly in terms of longer lengths.

What is your favourite piece?

I really like the star jumpers. To get something that sharp on a knitted garment was one of the challenges.

Where does the name Real Stars Are Rare come from?

It comes from an old showbiz saying, ‘Real stars are rare because they only come out at night’. I’ve always liked that.

Was this a learning curve for you?

Yes. It’s a whole new world for me. It’s hard, harder than making an album.

You’re known as a sharp dresser - do you ever relax in a pair of joggers?

The only time I wear a tracksuit is at the gym. Obviously I don’t sit around in a three-piece suit but I probably wear jeans or something respectable at home.

Where do you go shopping?

I don’t have a favourite shop. I tend to gravitate more towards independent places and like seeing people’s tastes coming through. Trunk Clothiers [on London’s Chiltern Street] is a good shop. Fashion and musical movements have historically gone hand in hand.

Is that still true today?

I’d guess so but I’m too old to say really [he’s 55].

I don’t see the same connection between music and fashion - it seems to work separately now. I might be wrong; you’d have to ask a 16-year-old. From what I’ve seen, maybe it is with some scenes, such as hip-hop.

You once said the Harrington jacket is one of the most iconic pieces ever, so why isn’t there one in the collection?

I don’t remember saying it, but I agree. But Baracuta [iconic British brand and home of the original Harrington] does it much better.

What are your plans for spring 15?

We want to try and sell this one first. We were always going to start small and develop slowly. This is the main core, and we’ll make it a bit more summery with lighter colours and fabrics. There’ll be a college jersey story added for summer and we’ll play around with printed shirts and things like that.

Is there more pressure with it being your label and not just a collaboration?

No. I stand by it and I like it, but beyond that, who knows? I think Phil feels the pressure but I’m the designer, so I just ponce about and flick my hair.

Where are the collections made?

The tailoring, jersey and corduroy shirts are made in Portugal, the knitwear is from China but made in a British-owned factory, and the shirts and ties are all made in England. We tried to go for really good-quality, well-cut materials.

Have you always been interested in fashion?

Yes, from the time I can remember. My mum was very young when she had me and was always clothes-conscious. When I was growing up, music and clothes were far more connected. It was down to what band you were into and copying the way they dressed. But clothes were really important on the street. When I was old enough to buy them, it was the early 1970s and post-skinhead - people called it suedehead. Everyone I knew was into those clothes and knew who was wearing what.

Did you enjoy starring in British label Daks’ 120th anniversary campaign with your daughter Leah?

It was a fun thing to do. A nice little earner and my daughter’s pleased.

Whose style do you admire?

[Actor] Martin Freeman always looks good, and [musician] Miles Kane always dresses well.


  • Represented by Index London, wholesale prices range from £24 for jersey to £185 for tailoring. Tel:- 07773 775092

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