By Juliana McLeod
Last week, I had the chance to speak with the founder of REVIVALS Vintage, a Massachusetts-based fashion company with an emphasis on punk and grunge looks. REVIVALS, which will be showcasing some of its pieces at our fashion show, is a fairly new company that is just making its way into the fashion world.The founder, Robert Farrell, spoke with me about everything, from the car accident that changed his life to what the future of his company holds. Read on to find out more!
Revivals Vintage: REVIVALS was founded as an open, collaborative collective of designers. The collective’s roster was initially comprised of self-taught designers from Massachusetts punk communities, and has since expanded to members with formal educations in fashion design.
HF: Why did you choose to design in Massachusetts?
RV: The decision to design in Massachusetts was initially circumstantial – I’m a Massachusetts native, and was injured by a drunk driver in spring 2012. REVIVALS developed through my recovery. At present, the success of REVIVALS is owed to members of Massachusetts-based arts communities. I hope to continue to offer residents of Massachusetts the opportunity to participate in the development of the Massachusetts fashion/arts industries.
HF: When and how did you know that you wanted to work in fashion?
RV: My background in architecture, alongside years of knowledge of traditions and techniques of punk design, translated very well to my ability to work in fashion. The process of recovery for the car crash launched my interest in bringing my designs work public. In a recent interview with The Guardian, Vivienne Westwood dismissed punk as “just an excuse to run around.” After spending so much time in hospital, an excuse to run around was just what I needed. Much of the punk and grunge style is story-making and story-telling – when someone compliments something you’re wearing, it’s wonderful to have the option to share a fun, amazing story instead of simply saying “thank you.” I love the adventures for rare, comical, or just weird items that I incorporate into designs.
HF: What made you so keen toward the use of leather and studs in many of your designs?
RV: The use of leather and studs is with reference to traditions in design. I explore and apply leather, now commonly worn as a protective layer for motorcyclists, as a sort of urban armor. The studs and spikes have a historical lineage as war armor. My intention isn’t to produce any sort of literal armor, but to instead empower clients with a distinct sense of safety, even if it occurs at some subconscious level. And just as importantly, clients can then project that mentality of confidence and security when wearing the item out. People don’t go out of their way to disturb you when you’re wearing spiked leather.
HF: Who or what is your inspiration for your designs? Does your inspiration change or has there been the same muse over time?
RV: Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren’s work in the 1970s has always been a consistent source of inspiration. My work with grunge operates with reference to street punk style from the 1970s to present.
HF: Do you think you will move away from the grunge and punk look, or will you try to maintain this style?
RV: My aim is to capture the essence of the punk and grunge street fashion’s evolution, and present those qualities in a sophisticated, elegant and accessible manner.
HF: Over the years of working in fashion, what do you think is the most important lesson you have learned about the fashion industry?
RV: Network! And when you start to think of yourself as a full time business owner, part time designer – expand.
HF: What are the pros and cons of working the fashion industry?
RV: Pros: Seeing and knowing that people all over the world are wearing the items you create. Meeting other members in the industry, especially when they defy stereotypes.
Cons: As an independent designer, your quality of work must exceed that of any visually similar item released from a major fashion house. You’re always on call, but you love it.
HF: What is your favorite piece currently available at Revivals Vintage?
RV: A vintage 1950’s Levi’s deep blue denim jacket meticulously covered in intricate arrangements of various studs and spikes. It’s beyond comparison.
HF: What do you have in mind for the future of Revivals Vintage?
RV: Collaborations, more made–to–measure pieces, and lots of experimenting.