The ties between music and fashion are intrinsic to the very fabric of pop, whether it’s Bowie reclining in a Mr Fish shirt-dress or Kanye West launching his latest assault on the fashion industry. Another name to add to that list is Freddie Cowan, guitarist in The Vaccines who has launched a new clothing line, Basic Rights.
With the help of designers Brianna Lance and David Chambers, Cowan is fronting a set of tees, shirts and of course – denim jackets, which you can take a peek at here. We spoke to Freddie to find out more about the line, his style icons and a quick update on then new Vaccines record.
How did this opportunity come about?
When Brianna Lance and I were making clothes for The Vaccines tour it organically came to us. There wasn’t one place a guy who wanted to be well dressed but not branded or overly plain could go to build a wardrobe. We couldn’t find it so we made it.
Were you hands on with the design process?
Very hands on. We took a lot of my favourite items had them cut up into pieces and remade. We then refined the pieces working on the material and cut more than any kind of external branding or print work.
What was the main influence behind your Basic Rights line?
In a band every fashion decision you make is a statement. If you choose to look like you haven’t made an effort, that’s as much of a statement as somebody who makes a noticeable go at a considered outfit. We wanted basic rights to provide a blank canvas for people who wear the clothes so the wearers personality can come through, not the designer or label. All fashion is tribal in that way and I wanted to transcend that.
How different is the fashion world to the music world?
A lot of the men who inspired us were musicians. George Harrison, Ian Curtis, David Bowie, etc. Some of the sharpest and most iconic men in history were in music so it’s a great source of inspiration.
Who are your ultimate style icons?
My top three are Paul Newman, Bowie, Paul Simonon.
What is your must-have fashion item?
I think you need more than one, otherwise you ruin a single good piece. A good trouser is probably the most difficult to come off the shelf as the cut is poor. Our tailor David Chambers made Bowie’s suits himself, he also tailored for Brian Ferry, Freddie Mercury, David Hockney, Peter Blake, Angus Young. He made the school uniforms. He’s the original British rock’n’roll tailor. He is one of a kind and does the best work I have ever seen anywhere.
Now you’ve moved into fashion and will also continue to make music, are you the new Kanye West?
There is only one Yeezy.
Will the rest of The Vaccines get mates rates?
They don’t pay.
Have you begun the process of writing The Vaccines next album?
Justin played me some new songs the other day and they blew me away. We are all spending some time apart writing songs and will see each other next week for the first time since 2016.
The Vaccines haven’t been announced for any UK festivals this year yet, are any on the horizon?
You have to go away to come back. We are focussing on LP4 in 2016, not on touring.