Sustainable Styling for Gang Of Youths & White Lies
By Costume Designer Freddie Kemp
Styling can often mean a lot of buying and returning from well-known retailers. It’s something I’ve had to do a lot, but often it can be wasteful, stressful, and costly (especially working on music promos where there’s often a lot of movement and outdoor environments).
We’re all actively trying to make changes to be kinder to the planet, but personally, I didn’t want that to feel exclusive to my private life. So, over the last couple of years, I’ve been making some changes to the way I work too. The goal was to never compromise on the quality of the work I put out, but if I can do it in a more sustainable way, then that will be the deciding factor in the clothing decisions I make.
The three areas I focus on are Charity shops, Hiring & Collecting Vintage. These three have featured heavily in two recent music promos I’ve worked on for the bands: Gang of Youths & White Lies.
London is incredible for finding gems in charity shops. I keep my favourite places close to my chest, but areas like Marylebone, Notting Hill, Westbourne Park & Chelsea, I visit frequently and have found loads of pieces I cherish. They get used for work and also worn personally.
When looking to hire, I can’t recommend The Costume Studio in Hackney highly enough. They have a great selection for any period or genre and the team’s knowledge is extensive. As a stylist, you can often feel like you should know it all when it comes to clothes, but I’ve found you’re most likely to gain period-specific knowledge when asked to hit a brief. So do the research, but also don’t be afraid to ask those who specialise or have been doing it for a long time.
As for vintage, I’ve been collecting for around 18 months now, so still new to it. It’s an investment, but one I’ve found really pays off. It allows me to have an extensive wardrobe to draw on when time is short, or budgets are tight. It takes a good eye to get right. And whilst mine is still being trained, I have a couple of partners I trust who know I’m always searching for good pieces. Having connections through Europe as well as London is a real asset. Check out @faunt.le.roy on Instagram if you’re interested in shopping this way. Izzy has a gift for finding stand out pieces!
When thinking about what to collect or search for, there are two keys for me. One is the old cliché that style is permanent. There are certain pieces, especially within Menswear, that will always look good. And the other is knowing that fashion is cyclical. If something is well made, has character and a story it’s worth keeping. Even it starts to feel a little irrelevant one day it’ll come back, and you’ll be glad you held on to it.
Styling like this definitely takes more time, often costs a little more and will push you outside your comfort zone, but I’ve found it always leads to the work I’m most proud of. Clothes should always tell a story.
I’ve highlighted a few key pieces from the Gang of Youths video that were sourced in this way to show them in action:
Vinani playing our Mime Artist
I wanted a classic French street performer style for this. The Breton roll neck, beret, waistcoat and high waisted trousers were sourced from The Costume Studio. These particular trousers are cut for dancers. The shoes are Vinani’s own.
As the couple were our most glamorous, I wanted something elegant and form-fitting but to also leave enough room for her to dance freely. The gold sheer fabric really symbolizes Hollywood glamour. The dress is another piece from The Costume Studio. The padded overcoat is one of my vintage pieces soured through @Faunt.le.roy and the Hermeś neck scarf was my Mum’s which she bought in Paris back in the ‘80s.
Mollie playing one half of our couple
Dave – Lead Singer
Dave loves clothes, so was a real pleasure to dress. We referenced Gene Kelly amongst others for this opening look to help cement the Hollywood musical feel. The sharkskin fabric has an excellent texture that I felt would bounce nicely in the moonlight. It’s a DB, loose cut that was made bespoke for another production but fit Dave brilliantly. It’s from the archive at The Costume Studio. We rolled the cuffs and left the jacket open to bring in little elements of Rock ‘n’ Roll. The tie and pocket square are from my time on Savile Row and the shirt is a vintage piece I picked up in Milan a couple of years ago. For this look, it needed to have a long soft collar to fit the period.
Charlie, Jamie (playing our football fans) & Lee (playing the Policeman and the pub punter)
All three trousers worn by the dancers here were sourced at Cancer Research on Marylebone High Street. Of late they’ve had some brilliant legwear and I’ve picked up a few pieces that I’ve added to my stock but also wear personally. Charlie (left) also wears a vintage knitted polo I purchased from Scott Frasier Collection a few months ago. He’s an avid collector of vintage menswear and one of the most knowledgeable people I know when it comes to clothes. A final little touch I wanted to mention is the scarf Jamie (right) is wearing. Dave is a big Everton fan so when two of our characters were football fans, I wanted to source an old school Everton scarf. It’s all in the detail!
Watch the full video below: