Folk Clothing have consistently been one of the most exciting and surprising brands hailing from British shores since their inception in 2001. Founder and designer Cathal McAteer‘s career in menswear began as a teenager in Glasgow, working his way from the shop floor to his own design studio in London, to having his creations on the rails of some of the top menswear stores in the world. Folk’s timeless yet playful designs can now be seen on those in the know up and down the country, in pubs and art galleries, clubs and coffee shops. We put a few questions to Cathal to glean a bit of insight into his process, inspirations and the future of Folk.
(The interview has been edited for clarity)
For the uninitiated, what does Folk represent as a brand?
We represent a kind of ‘everything means something’; every colour and pocket stitch is there for a reason. But we are, on the surface, a balance of design, fit & quality.
Understated, subtle with fastidious detailing. Enough to drive one’s business partner mad.
We focus on a young artist, Alfie Kungu. Brilliant, uplifting prints alongside lovely colours combined with the season’s stone colour, which is, for me, the strongest. There is also a programme of shirts that have pre-sold so, so well… lots of woven patterns that work best in the short sleeve models.
What do you feel the state of British design is?
Personally love it. But in the area of I’m a lover not a hater. So I look more globally at design every day and marvel at how it’s used: from the old doors of the Hayward gallery to model of a highly advanced eco house that’s going to be built down the street from my place.
What is the future of British design and fashion?
Design I feel will always be strong; fashion design [in particular] will be strong. The fashion business is a different story – I don’t particularly love the ethics and morals of it, the endless driving towards the pound note looks reckless.
Any stand out pieces you’re particularly fond of from the collection?
The Alfie print swim shorts, rivet sweat in stone, Oscar & Dean colab sunnies & the new trainer is banging.
How important is it in the modern day to cover culture and not just clothing?
The product we design and make and deliver would not be the same if it was not for culture. It’s so heavily influenced by culture & cultures – our process does not work without it.
Any news on the release of the Protest Jacket?
It’s out there! It’s been on demos. It’s been in NY, in LA, Paris. It’s talking to people – and it’s saying it how it is.
How important is the fabrication of Folk’s clothing? Is fabrication an overlooked feature in the modern day?
Hugely, but we can also use simple fabrics that have a story poured into them, like an artist or a show that influences the detailing, the trim, the hidden design.
What pieces from the Folk archive make up your wardrobe? Any prototypes for the future?
Archive – many, many trousers that are not commercial; an old indigo dyed grafter’s jacket – I have two in different states of wear, the fabric ages so beautifully.
Which musical artist or album best sums up Folk?
Levon Helm, drummer and singer in The Band – sometimes I watch footage of him and think, “that’s me, and this fucking excellent band ‘The Band’, that’s us at Folk”. It’s a momentary thought and then, puff, it’s gone .
Check them out in the film the Last Waltz – it’s incredible footage of the great which he is.
What up and coming brands are you keeping your eyes on?
I like A Kind of Guise…and of course Sports Direct is one to watch.
Finally, If you could start an imaginary social media beef with another brand or person, who would it be with?
It’d have to be Steve Bannon or Donald Trump but with a request that both parties had to take a triple dose of truth serum.
A huge thank-you to Cathal for taking time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions. Find all the latest from Folk Clothing in-store and online at Aphrodite, and keep up with all the latest happenings with our blog and social media feeds.