There are few men I know as dedicated to a life of style as Scott Fraser Simpson. As a vintage collector and creative consultant, his knowledge of the history of menswear is as impressive as his apartment filled with vintage finds. With probably the largest collection of vintage knitwear in Europe, I got him to try on a few of his favourite pieces while we chatted about his life growning up in Hong Kong, building vintage mopeds and where he gets his creative inspiration from.
Not only is Mr Simpson a menswear enthusiast, he also has his own line of products that respect the mid-century aesthetic. Find out more at ScottFraserCollection.com and see photography from our shoot in South London below.
Scott Fraser Simpson, Vintage Collector
What's your star sign? Scorpio or the year of the Snake.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? It changed so many times. From about 4 I wanted to be a horse rider, from 8 a primary school teacher, 13 a stunt man, 15 an Ad man and then by 17 years old I wanted to be a tailor. That's currently where I’m at and it seems to be working with my own colletion. www.scottfrasercollection.com & www.styleandclassics.com)
Describe yourself in 5 words? Determined, entrepreneurial, collector, meticulous, proactive.
Where did you grow up and where do you live now? I grew up in Hong Kong until I was 13, then moved to Brighton (England) until I was 17 and now I’m living in South London.
How has living in different countries influenced you? I think that living on two sides of the world has made me a bit more inquisitive about what else was out there - Growing up I was fascinated by Chinese and Japanese style and the fastidious detail that they put into everything they do. When I moved to England my world was opened up to British subcultures, the depth of history and culture that came out of these scenes has kept me busy and interested since.
Scott wears 1950's British made Beacon coveralls, Scott Fraser Ochre short-sleeve shirt, Scott Fraser neckerchief and Stacey Adams lace-up ankle boots.
Best place to live and why? It may sound biased but it’s got to be London. The diversity and acceptance in regards to what you wear and do is just second to none I’d say. Music-wise you’ve got everything from be able to go to a Punk gig on the same night as funk club - it never stops amazing me and that’s why it keeps me here I guess. Saying that, New York has always got a little place in my heart and I’d be tempted to try it out, but I think I’d just miss all the British sensibilities that I get over here. Finally Berlin, I just got back after wanting to go for ages - I was blown away, the place was brilliant and really inspiring.
Why not Brighton? You've got a strong connection to there and the style is presumably in-line with your taste? I've lived in London for coming up for the last 9 years. There is something about this place, it's hum, the people, the different little villages of areas making up this big city. Spending my teens in Brighton was great, but being city boy at heart being born and raised in Hong Kong, I felt that at the end of my time there I needed somewhere bigger. Saying that, my Dad now lives there and I get to visit whenever, so I guess I'll always have that connection. It's all about leaving every door open in this life.
Where did your passion for vintage style begin? It started about 10 years ago. When I was about 14 I started to get interested in the 1960s Modernist thing. Living in Brighton it was something that you really couldn’t not be influenced by. I went to a small shop called Ivy’s in the lanes which is still there, known to most as ‘the dead mans wardrobe’. It's owned by a 70 year old guy who had mountains of coats, suits and bags. Here I scored, from memory, my first piece which was a Donkey jacket - a navy blue wool coat with tartan lining and leather patches on the shoulders and elbows, most commonly used by bin men in the 70s! Days later I'd returned to pick up some Macs, leather double breasted coats and shirts with elongated collar. I was hooked as all the items cost £5 each.
What's your favourite classic film? I’m not a film buff by any means, I’ve watched my share but I’d have to say it is Casablanca from 1942. There’s something about cream linen suits and hats that I just can’t get enough of, set in an era which I would arguably say was the glory days of menswear.
Scott wears 1950s Home-made roll-neck jumper, 1940s wide leg trousers, Stacey Adams lace-up ankle boots, Scott Fraser pocket chain, 1950s fedora hat and 1970s Persol frames.
We both have a love of the Austin Healey – is that your ideal car? If you could own any what would it be? I can’t only say that my love for old things came from within, my Dad is very similar to me in ways and he was the person that introduced me to the world of vintage cars. When I was growing up, he would take me to school in his 1961 Austin Healey or 1959 Mercedes 190SL. I think although the Healey is up there in my favourites I’d probably have to go with the 300 SL Mercedes, which is the gull-wing version of the 190.
When we shot you had seven bikes in your garage. How did you get into riding? What started out with a way of getting into college everyday when I was sixteen has now grown into a love affair. I started riding a 1980s Vespa 50 Special, joined a scooter club down in Brighton, where I spent my teens, it was here they showed me how to work on them and enjoy them. In the last 10 years, I've built scooters and bikes from boxes of parts to complete scooters. I used to sell them on after riding them around for a while, but after putting so much thought and attention-to-detail into them it made it quite hard to let them go. I guess it's like having kids.
See the full shoot by clicking below.
Do you have a favourite model? I like all of them really. There are so many amazing models and makes out there, so it's hard to choose really. What I like to see is when someone puts some attention into the look of their vehicle, be that with paint, accessories or an engine. The most important thing is just about having fun on them, it's always best when you're on the road with friends.
Best place in London to get a vintage find? It’s inevitable that vintage is getting harder and harder to find. I wouldn’t say that there are specific areas to visit but more specific shops. In east London you’ve got Hunky Dory, The Vintage Showroom and Levisons. West, you’ve got Black out II, Vintage Showroom and Reign. North, in Camden there’s The Vintage Collection, Dandy in Aspic. Haven’t been to Portabello market for a few years but there’s always something you can sniff out if you’ve got you eye in.
Who are your style influencers? I try not to hold to many people as influencers to be totally honest. I like to appreciate people for their flair and creativity but try not to emulate them - it’d be a pretty dull world if we all tried to look like everyone else.
What blogs or magazines are you currently reading? I run my own blog Retrospective Modernism so I’m always scouting around other blogs, sites and magazines. Naturally I’ve got Jocks and Nerds, Free and Easy and Monocle on the coffee table. Online I’m currently checking Teams Equipe,
Rhythm Shaker, Selvedge Yard and Rivet Head.
What's on your horizon? I always try to keep myself busy, so that's about it really. My Scott Fraser Collection is running well and I'm planning to launch more pieces in the next few months/seasons. I feel like I've found the direction I want to take it in and just enjoy designing, sourcing and working with people to create the pieces. I'm planning to focus more on consultation and archiving of my vintage collection and am working on shooting and producing a book on one of my other loves - Italian American knitwear from the 1950-70s. I try to let things come together naturally, all with hard work and dedication. So, in answer to your question, the future's going to involve clothes.
Finally, leave us with some words of wisdom... Fashion is momentary, style is timeless. Understand and respect what has come before and you will never look back with any regret.
Scott wears 1960s woven pocket t-shirt, 1950s 2-piece suit, Stacey Adams lace-up ankle boots and Scott Fraser pocket chain.
Scott wears 1930s Keller Knitting co. Varsity sweater, Brooks Brothers button-down shirt, wide-leg Dawson Denim Japanese selvedge jeans, G.H. Bass Oxblood penny loafers.