Adam Jones has been trying to recreate the pub in his own flat during lockdown, with mixed results. “I’ve been buying those mini kegs,” he says, before emitting a small groan, the suppressed memory of a Saturday morning headache rising to the surface. “It’s not quite the same though, is it?”
For Jones, who is 30 and originally from the tiny village of Froncysyllte in north Wales, the pub is more than just a place to overcook it on a Friday night. It’s histhe main source of inspiration – the inanimate muse – for his namesake brand, which takes old Tetley, Carling and John Smith beer towels and chintzy pub artwork, the ephemera and tchotchkes of the Great British boozer, and turns them into printed shirts, sweater vests, trousers and tote bags that are sold in concept stores in Seoul, London and Berlin. Clothes that are loud and heavy with reference. For the pub and from the pub.
“I find fabric at car boot sales, on eBay and at my grandma’s house,” Jones says over the phone from his studio in southeast London, where he now lives and works. A one-man operation where he serves as designer, manufacturer, PR and wholesaler. “It’s designing within my means and with certain restrictions. Taking old things and making them my own.”
Jones’s eye for the retro and kitsch was honed inside said grandmother’s house as a child; the oranges and browns and plastic fruit, the sense of being stuck in another era. “I spent a lot of time there as a kid and it solidified my aesthetic, the old curtains and the tea towels,” he says. It was his grandmother who first taught him how to sew, before a BA course nearby, where he was educated further by no-nonsense women who worked in the local M&S and Laura Ashley factories. Jones then found himself in Manchester, where he graduated from the city’s school of art in 2013. He worked for the designer Christopher Shannon for two years, before being discovered via Instagram by Judy Blame, the late legend of London nightlife and subculture and the inspiration for a recent Kim Jones Dior menswear collection.
“There was this trend for logomania and graphics around at the time,” says Jones of the early inspiration for his brand. “All the pubs in Wales, the old man pubs that I used to go to with my friends, had the tea towels and beer mats that really reminded me of home. Wales is stuck in the Seventies a bit, so you still see that pub memorabilia everywhere. I think even when they try and make a pub trendy, it falls back to how it used to be. One of them was closing down and there were all these tea towels in skips. I just asked if I could have them.”
Patchwork is now a well-established thing in fashion: Kapital, Beams, Sacai, Story MFG, Nicholas Daley and, most notably, Bode, have all incorporated different swathes of colour and fabric into luxury clothes over the last few years. Pubcore, too: Martine Rose made a hoody out of beer mats back in 2013, while Palace recently released an irony-laden collection with Stella Artois. Despite his affinity for old fabric, Jones doesn’t want to be seen as a boozy Bode. “I don’t want my clothes to look too upcycled or to be one-offs,” he says. “I could reprint these designs, but that doesn’t appeal to me. My design process is what I stumble across.” He still sees plenty of potential in the pub for future collections. “I’m not going to be doing tie-dye anytime soon.”
Along with forcing him to take the pub to his living room, these Unprecedented Times have also changed how Jones views his work. “I want less than I used to, he says. “I used to think you had to be at Fashion East and Dover Street. Now I’m happy to be able to come into the studio every day and to see kids buying and wearing my stuff. I’m most gutted about not being able to go to charity shops or car boot sales. I keep thinking about all the people having clear outs and what they’re throwing away. What I’m missing out on.”
When we speak on the phone in February, the re-opening of pubs is still a Boris Johnson press conference pipe dream. There are a few long weeks of lockdown kegs to endure yet. What’s the order when that creaky door does re-open and your place at the front of the queue (or app) arrives?
“The most flavourless bland lager I can find!” Jones shouts without a second of hesitation. “Heineken, Stella, Amstel!”
In other words, don’t expect an Adam Jones BrewDog sweater vest anytime soon.
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