24 Hours With... clothsurgeon
This is a snapshot into the life of clothsurgeon's Rav Matharu. Literally.
First thing you think when you wake up?
F**k! Got so much to do!!!
What’s the best way to start a day?
Run. Stretch. Hot Shower. Coffee.
Describe yourself in three words…
Pragmatic, attentive, and grafter!
What’s the clothsurgeon aesthetic and message?
The personal message of the brand is in the name; all lower case and all one word, meaning we as people are all equal and one. The clothsurgeon brand itself is primarily a bespoke luxe streetwear brand that allows the customer to create whatever they wish from whatever fabrics they desire. From one piece to their whole wardrobe, we aim to merge the worlds of sport, Savile Row and luxury.
How has your upbringing influenced who you are today?
My mum shaped me as a person, watching her relentless hard work really instilled the work ethic in me. She is extremely intelligent and created a life full of support that enabled me to go out and do whatever I was passionate about.
Your youth was dedicated to football. What’s the story there?
It was - I did nothing but play football and draw. I signed for Leeds United aged 10, then signed pro at 17. I left at 20 and trialled at various clubs, but I gradually lost the love for football. I then went and worked in retail. Back then I was quite down and depressed, and I spent most of my pay off from LUFC on trainers and in clubs… it was a fall from grace, but those years in retail proved to be so vital, as I gained so many friends and a valuable network.
What’s your earliest memory of noticing fashion?
I was obsessed with football boots, trainers and kits from a young age…. I remember wanting a pair of Kronos football boots so bad. A player called Hristo Stoichkov wore them. They were made in Italy from the softest kangaroo leather. Another moment was creating an outfit whilst watching Jason and the Argonauts. I ran upstairs and cut up my Mum’s salwar (traditional Indian pants) because they were the same shade as Jason’s get up. I made a toga-like outfit with matching socks/shoes! The reconstruct guru was born!
How did you become a designer?
It was a natural progression from football. I’d been obsessed with product for so long and had subconsciously acquired all this knowledge of sportswear. I started by doing a foundation degree in Art & Design. I was then offered a place at London College of Fashion but due to the expense of living in London I dropped out and moved back to Leeds. I’m a Yorkshireman…. so I’ll never get used to London prices! I then graduated from Leeds College of Art & Design with first class BA honors in Fashion Design & Technology and moved to London in search of work….
What was the genesis of clothsurgeon?
The clothsurgeon name came in the first year of uni when we were learning to cut patterns. I would use a scalpel blade, which I felt would give a more precise line than scissors… my tutor said I was like a surgeon. I set up a very basic website, but it was probably about 7 years until I actually did something with it. Celeb-wise, A$AP Rocky was the first to champion the brand. He wore the leather sleeve sweater and it caught like wildfire. The likes of Nas and Kendrick Lamar came soon after.
What are some of the key motifs and colourways of the Sneakerbeast line?
The collection is made up of reconstructed Supreme, The North Face, and Nike instantly recognisable items. I reinvented these into pieces to fit the clothsurgeon aesthetic whilst trying to make the most of the original detailing on the initial pieces.
What are you reading right now?
The Art of War by Sun Tzu.
Favourite piece of art?
Wassily Kandinsky Composition VIII. Probably due to the fact that a poster of it was sellotaped to the ceiling of my bedroom growing up.
Favourite piece of music?
N.E.R.D. In Search Of… Got me through troubled times.
What’s your most used app?
Insta. Obvs. And Uber Eats...
Do you have a lucky number?
10 and 14. Maradona & Cryuff respectively.
You design and make your pieces in the UK. Why is this important to you?
We make it in-house in London as it allows us to keep a close eye on the finished product.
What purchase has been your biggest wardrobe extravagance?
I have a watch obsession. Gold Vintage Rolex with an Onyx dial is probably the most extravagant one.
What’s been your biggest fashion faux-pas?
String vest and mullet…. damn.
The best advice you've ever been given?
If you’re going to do something, do it properly.
Top tip for breaking into the design industries today?
Stick to what separates you, and work hard and constantly evolve that. Fashion is in the arts, so it may take time for you to get noticed or fully appreciated, but it will come if you wholeheartedly believe it will.
Where do you look to if you’re stuck for inspiration?
Books, vintage stores. They generally spark a thought that then unravels into a whole collection. I’ve spent so many years carefully observing and obsessing about product that I’ve built an encyclopaedia in my mind that even I don’t know exists. It just takes certain triggers to inspire me to create something new.
How do you waste time when your schedule is clear?
It’s not been so clear for a while, but I try not to work weekends so I can spend time with my beautiful family.
Where do you go for an after-work drink?
I enjoy a Pisco sour at Shoreditch House, or an old fashioned at The Edition punch room…
What’s usually the last thing you think before you fall asleep?
F**k! Got so much to do!!!