“Fashion is part of the daily air and it changes all the time, with all the events. You can even see the approaching of a revolution in clothes. You can see and feel everything in clothes”. I was transcribing the interview with James Long and meanwhile the words spoken by the desecrating Diane Vreeland buzzed like bees in my mind. “Fit like a glove!” – I said to myself.

The items by James are a mirror of the contemporary society. They perceive its changes, determine them. Just like Diane, James is authentic. His is a concrete fashion but able to elevate reality to an oneiric dimension, to transform while respecting it. His dreams do not create illusions, maybe dependence.

English, born in Northampton. A Master’s degree in Menswear and Accessories at Royal College of Art. Young, creative, outside the box. After a collaboration with Virginia Bates, James founds his namesake brand in 2007 in London. His man is strong, unbiased, self-confident. The critics fall in love. He soon becomes one of the most popular emerging designers in the United Kingdom. In 2011, he comes to be the NEWGEN MEN, the favourite, winning his very first award, and today his show are among the most awaited in the world. Leather and knitwear, the aces up the sleeve of a designer capable of shaping the material and rewriting with refined originality the rules of style.


Fucking Young! – Hello James! How are you? Let’s break the ice… Who is James Long, the man and what is James Long, the brand?

James Long – James Long the brand and the person are the same thing really, that’s the way I like it to be.


FY! – How and when was your passion for fashion born?

JL – I was always clear and passionate on my decision to be a designer. I think when my teacher Ike Rust at the Royal College of Art MA began to believe in me and encourage me to take risks is when it felt real. Having two years of incredible teaching and delving into yourself as a designer is such a creative luxury it just means you really lived and breathed your collections and I have never really stopped doing that. Lulu Kennedy at Fashion East really encouraged me to become the designer I am, it was very different showing with the MAN Show then than it is now, it was all very new and you really had to prove yourself.


FY! – After collaborating with Virginia Bates in New York and London, in 2007 you found a brand with a specific focus on male sportswear. How do you remember the beginnings? How have your items and, more generally, has your vision of fashion evolved over the last seven years?

JL – I worked for Virginia Bates who is one of the most inspirational people in my life both creatively and personally. Working with her opened my eyes to the history of fashion and also how much fun it can be. She taught me how to be inspired by almost anything and never just copy, how to be truly inspired.


FY! – Success is immediate. The press defines your first collection as one of the most interesting of the year and today your show is one of the most awaited in the London Fashion Week. What do you think your strong point is?

JL – My strong point is my sister and business partner Charlotte Long and my brilliant team at the studio who put everything into the brand.  I think you can tell when a lot of work and thought is put into a collection, this is the goal to make it the best it can be.


FY! – How much does London, the city where you live and serve, influence your work?

JL – London is an important city to design in, there is a lot of belief in the young, new and interesting. London nurtures talent. Anything goes in London which is a great place to be creatively.


FY! – It’s common opinion that knitwear and leather are the extremes of a line on which your universe is built. How can you succeed in making the fresh playfulness of the former join the aggressive attitude of the latter?

JL – It is always interesting to look at how fabrications can be developed using technology. I approach both the leather and knitwear parts of the collections in the same way, no rules.


FY! – Once you said you would have liked to work with the Maison Missoni… Is it still the case?

JL – Yes, I have a huge respect for the Maison Missoni, I love that it’s a family business – as I am. I have a Missoni dressing gown and towels and I love them. There is only one Missoni I like that.


FY! – Your man is strong, courageous, unconventional. Who could embody the spirit of the brand?

JL – The spirit of the brand is embodied by more than one person. I like to think it’s around 10 different men I know, one of them being me. Really the spirit of the brand is about the people who buy the clothes and wear them in their own way, at the moment the artist George Henry Longly is wearing my label in a way I feel embodies the brand. I am also a fan of his work.


FY! – Let’s come to the FW14-15 Collection. Blue-head guys marched orderly like soldiers about to leave for an extraterrestrial mission. Real or fantastic Japanese-inspired cosplays, they wear mesh or technical fabrics and coated denim. The colors are dark, deep. The lines are clean, futuristic. Graphics assemblages become ultra-detailed patchwork. Would you like to talk about?

JL – When in Japan I was very inspired by the order of the Kaos. I wanted to reflect this in every garment within the collection.


FY! – The most representative item in the collection?

JL – I think the bubble jacket in Look 10 and the woven leather in Look 12 were the key representational pieces from that collection, they really worked and felt like a full interpretation of the ideas that explained the vision. When the technique is developed it very much becomes a story that can carry the collection and infuse ideas for seasons after. I think it’s so important to develop techniques and construction methods in the studio.


FY! – And the one in the SS15 Collection presented in June?

JL – In SS15 I had been spending a lot of time in Ibiza experiencing the more spiritual hippy side of island life. Again there is a kind of organized kaos which I am very attracted to. Wherever I go I tend to filter the information and it comes out in the collections. Your life becomes the collections. I loved the opening look worn by Gryphon O’Shea it was a very definite vision of what the spirit of the collection was about, old ideas and new ideas – each collection is personal.


FY! – In this case, the tribute to Tom Hunter (photographer of squatters’ life) is clear. The one parading is an ex-boxer who gave up a career to become a hippie. The shorts – be in denim or in technical fabric – always have an elasticated waist. The socks are in lurex and the volumes oversize. Fabric strips are applied on jeans and jackets. The colours are bright: aqua green, coral, yellow. What can you tell us about?

JL – There is always a narrative as it enables me and the team to really get deep into the inspiration and live it for that season. The fallen boxing star having removed himself to a more spiritual hippy life, became a kind of sport Jesus look. Sometimes collections are more aggressive and sometimes more calm, but there is always a type of tension and I like to create something new to me. I also like mixing opposites to create something modern and desirable.


FY! – What does do fashion mean in 2014?

JL – Fashion in 2014 means so many different things to everyone, kind of how it should be, never really definable, constantly moving.


FY! – Can there be a compromise between the popular fashion and the fashion that makes you dream?

JL – Fashion changes essentially that’s what it means, I don’t think one should compromise popular fashion or fashion that makes you dream – you can have both, mix it up and make it your own.


FY! – What should not miss in your wardrobe?

JL – I love my black and white stripe oversize mohair punk jumper but I love when it is time to get out my sheepskin coats, mixing them with the mesh SS15 jumpers is a great look. Something that makes you feel like you can conquer the world be it your favourite black t-shirt or a denim jumpsuit (I have both). Just that thing that make you feel a billion dollars!


FY! – And the thing, instead, you could never give up in life?

JL – I could never give up sunshine. I love to read in the sun and just listen to the sound of the trees around me.


FY! – If you think about the future, how do you see yourself in 10, 20, 30 years?

JL – I don’t think about it that much, I tend to live in the moment, I don’t have a family, partner or children so suppose I don’t have to worry about it too much, just enjoy what I’m doing at the moment. I have best friends who are 20 and 70 – age doesn’t mean much to me. I sometimes think I would like to live in the sun permanently.


FY! – As usual for us, just another thing… What is really FUCKING YOUNG! for you?

JL – Freedom and ideas without boundaries with people to believe in them is Fucking Young!