Nigel Cabourn – The Interview

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This week we were lucky enough to head over to Nigel Cabourn’s “Army Gym” in the heart of Covent Garden to chat to the main man himself on all things Fred Perry and Ping Pong.

Take a look here.

For our customers who aren’t already familiar with “Nigel Cabourn” can you explain a little bit about yourself and the brand?

I started a long time ago, I was at Fashion College from 67-71 and then I started my own business as soon as I left. I came straight out of the craziness of the flower power period and the introduction of pop music, when I started my brand it was all based on that.

Can you explain a little bit about this collection and the thinking behind it?

This particular project is really about Fred himself. Obviously when you do a collaboration, from my point of view it should be 50/50. I have a big interest in table tennis anyway, I was a young kid in the ‘50s and table tennis was quite a big sport then and that’s when Fred Perry began his clothing range.

When the team at Fred Perry came to me and asked would I work with them I immediately said I’d be interested but I wanted to focus on Fred because, by the way, he was table tennis world champion in 1929. They sort of dropped their jaws a little bit because I’m not sure how aware they were of that, everyone thinks of him as a Wimbledon Champion before anything else.

I said if we can do the collab on table tennis then we’ll do it, so basically this is a combination of my love of ping-pong as a kid and the fact that was where Fred really began.

Do you still play?

Oh yeah! I play a lot, I’ve got my own table and up until recently I was probably playing 4 or 5 times a week. I’m very much into keep fit but unfortunately I can’t do everything, I’m doing a lot more boxing and army training at the moment but table tennis is really good for your mind and quick thinking.

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What’s your favourite item from the collection?

The Sweat Suit is definitely my favourite, it’s basically what Fred Perry were making around 1954 and in 54/55 as a kid I was wearing that same tracksuit with the over the head half zip top which was actually a football kit of the day.

I love the full suit, you’ll see from my Instagram that I’ve been wearing it a lot. I’ve been using it for everything from riding my fat bike to boxing and playing tennis, it’s great.

Can you describe the collection in a few words?

It’s based on table tennis, it’s inspired by table tennis and it’s really what Fred Perry were specialising in from 1952. The collection is true to that and uses all of the original fabrics from the early 50’s as well as the original branding from the Laurel Wreath to the back neck label. It epitomises Fred Perry at the beginning.

Can we expect any more Fred Perry x Cabourn in the future?

Well this is the first one, I’ve designed two more since then so we’ve got three collections coming out in the next 18 months and I’m pretty sure we’ll be doing another one, so it’ll be a two year collaboration.

The next one is based on Fred training with the Arsenal football team in 1936, which again, not a lot of people know about. When he was a tennis player challenging at Wimbledon during the height of his success he was also at the training ground on a daily basis with Arsenal! The next collection is heavily focused on that. It’s really cool, there’s roll neck sweaters like the old goalkeepers wore mixed in with sweat pants and tops.

Fred Perry have got such a good following and the great thing about this project is it’s a very natural one for me, as you can see, you can’t just make that stuff up. It’s a big part my heritage as well, I’m 65 for god sake, my brand is already 45 years old, Fred Perry is about 60 odd years old. I knew a lot about this and the background, now seeing it as a full collection it looks great.

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Take a look at the collection here.

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