The story of Luke Brooks and James Theseus Buck meeting is unconventional, aptly setting the tone for their offbeat fashion label Rottingdean Bazaar. Though Brooks and Buck were both students at Central Saint Martins, they were two years apart and only knew of each other vaguely, through mutual friends. It was their body hair that ultimately united them, as both responded for a call out from artist, Julie Verhoeven, who was seeking hairy-backed models to star in her video piece, inspired by the book, The Joy of Sex. After filming, Brooks and Buck decided to go for a drink and a creative partnership was born.
Via @fashion_east "We're thrilled to announce our 3 designer recipients for January. Newcomer @stefan_cooke joins returning duos @artschool_london and @rottingdeanbazaar The three talents will showcase in a group catwalk event at London Fashion Week Men's in January with thanks to our MAN partner @topman Photographed by @lilybw For us" Thank you Fashion East, @_lulukennedy @topman and @trumanbrewery
Having completed BA and MA degrees at Central Saint Martins, they both achieved individual acclaim, both being selected for their respective final degree shows, under the care of celebrated course director, Louise Wilson. Brooks was awarded the L’Oréal Prize for his collection, which included crocheted garments and a bright array of paint covered t-shirt dresses. Buck’s inventive rubber casting and flower-pressing methods caught the attention of Kanye West and he was recruited to work on textiles at the rapper’s label, Yeezy, in LA, after graduating in 2015.
After a few months with West, Buck decided to return to England and work with Brooks on their own label. Finding themselves with little money, they moved into a small studio flat, owned by Buck’s mother, in Rottingdean, which came to inspire the name of their label, Rottingdean Bazaar. The “Bazaar” part of the name was taken from Hampstead Bazaar, a store Brooks walked past every day as an MA student. With an interest in appropriating found objects for the fashion world, Buck and Brooks launched their “Badge Taste” project, which placed cigarette butts, dead insects, pubic hair, ketchup sachets, socks and condoms, inside clear pin badges. After being selected as one of Lulu Kennedy’s prodigy labels, under the MAN scheme, the Rottingdean Bazaar AW17 collection showed sports socks stretched out to absurd lengths and pressed onto garments.
The words “Yes” and “No”, spelled out with flesh-coloured tights, were sewn onto the front of jumpers and a t-shirt was decorated in hair to spell the word “God”. Last year, Henrik Vibskov’s stores placed an order for their garments, including a t-shirt featuring Cuban revolutionary, Che Guevara, made up of pubic hair. Their interest in the everyday bizarre is perhaps a tribute to the gift shop Buck’s grandmother owned on Rottingdean High Street, which inspired the-local-shop-sketch in The League of Gentlemen.
Developing Buck’s university concept of rubber casting further, the pair’s recent work has featured life-size rubber casts of hardware and garden tools, including pitchforks, scissors and saws, sewn onto plain garments. Inspired by the extraordinary potentials of the ordinary, the Rottingdean Bazaar duo take inspiration from the buildings and objects that surround them in daily life. Outside of design, Rottingdean Bazaar are also regularly involved with consulting, styling and creative direction, having worked on a number of collaborative editorial projects.
On the influence of the internet:
“The internet is taking us back to a hamlet state, even if just on a personal level, where you can be in a little tribe in the middle of nowhere.” – The Guardian, 2018
On their interest in objects:
“… We wanted to make more things. And we’re trying to come at the angle of this being a shop not a label. So it can include anything, not just clothes. We’re trying to focus on the objects as things. We’re into the craft.” – Vogue, 2016
On high street retail:
“Lots of things on the high street aren’t real, they’re simulations dictated by high fashion; it’s like a parody. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Inexpensive things can be real.” – i-D, 2017
Words by Niamh Leonard-Bedwell | Feature image: James Theseus Buck, Photo by Lucy Alex Mac (via James Theseus Buck)