Charlie Casely-Hayford on Skinhead Subculture and Army Boots

Photography by Rory van Millingen

Rarely seen without truncated trousers that showcase his battered black army boots (and Arsenal-inspired socks), the London designer explains why the fierce footwear of bovver-boys holds such enduring appeal

"I wear twelve-hole army surplus boots pretty much every day – that’s been my thing for years. I pick up the real deal, they’re pretty hardcore with steel toecaps and I wear them until they’re falling apart. A lot of my personal style is attributed to skinhead culture, I wear a lot of MA1 jackets when I’m not wearing a suit, and my trousers are based on a 1960s skinhead jean, like drainpipes. All my trousers are cut exactly for my boots and my jackets are super boxy, like a Crombie. I’ve only got red socks, so it means I don’t have to think too much... when you’re working in an industry that is based on transience, I like having a sense of permanence. It’s nice to know that you can be a little point that doesn’t move around so much, and it allows my mind to flow more smoothly and quickly as a result. In a weird way, the clothes take on significance themselves and then have a memory of their own, because people associate the look specifically with me. I like it because then the look does the talking, so I don’t have to."

"Our brand is always about London and about the eras that my dad and I grew up in, and how those worlds collide," explains Charlie Casely-Hayford, one-half of the father-and-son design duo Casely-Hayford, from his breathtakingly spacious North London studio. Renowned for their fusion of Savile Row precision with leitmotifs of British subculture, the designers’ S/S17 collection, a blend of grime-centric sports silhouettes and 1970s rock'n'roll paisley prints (which also showcased their first womenswear made-to-order offering), hangs neatly on rails next to their A/W16 collection. A slick and celebratory mix of 60s psychedelia and anarchic skinhead culture, patched denim MA1 jackets are positioned next to suits in vivid, mind-swerving prints. Parkas embroidered with ornate golden thread sit alongside sweaters layered with military brocade and velvet, inspired by the Beatles’ 1967 Sergeant Pepper album. "I’ve always been into skinhead culture from the 60s, not the 80s," Charlie enthuses. "I like the idea of fusing signifiers from that period with modern tailoring."

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