Tag Archives: Sophia Prantera

Where is Silas?

As promised yesterday

From the earliest days of Silas, its creators were determined to do things a little differently to ensure they stood out.  Reasoning that well-made, craftily designed and cheekily executed clothing will only take you so far, they worked with an array of talent – including designer Fergadelic, artist Ben Sansbury, photographer Clare Shilland and others –  to craft stories and characters that evolved across websites, brochures and catalogues to become part of Silas’s trademark.

These back stories were always clever, irreverent and knowing, executed with total commitment, yet with enough of a knowing wink to credit the reader with the sense to know that they were being duped.

You know that it is really East Croydon, but it is seductive to suspend disbelief, to imagine instead a futuristic city, built to ‘maximise the satisfaction of its residents’ and full of arts and culture institutes, sport and leisure complexes.  And, of course, with all of the happy, well-adjusted inhabitants dressed in an incredibly stylish manner, even as they satirise the lifestyle brands whose grand claims for their products’ ability to change the world are partly what got us into this mess in the first place.

The Autumn / Winter 2003 / 2004 catalogue was built around the uncompleted film ‘Where is Silas?’ and folds out into a poster for the film of a book considered to be an unfilmable work.  There are pictures of the clothes, of course, but presented as a behind-the-scenes record of the making of this ‘lost classic’.  This catalogue based on the film of the book became a book itself, showcasing illustration, photography, design and writing from long-time Silas contributors.

Architectural artist Sam Griffin contributed original drawings to the Silas Summer 2004 catalogue:

However, the most famous Silas collaboration must be the one with James Jarvis, from which Amos Toys was launched.  Jarvis’s original creations for Silas are as rare as hen’s teeth and fetch untold wealth whenever they appear on eBay, yet they have been followed by more easily acquired friends.  This fold out poster features Major Moulty’s Amazing Magical Plastic Band among others:

With the original founders having moved on, Russell Waterman to work on Vortigern’s Machine with James Jarvis and Sophia Prantera to spend time with her family and concentrate on Amos, the company has decided to focus on sales and distribution in Asia.  The new website features a blog in Japanese and prices in Yen, so I am looking forward to renewing my acquaintance when I hit those shores.  However, Japan’s gain is the UK’s loss as it does appear that such witty, multi-layered and inventive campaigns are to become a thing of the past.

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Save the Silas!

And that is as much politics as I can handle this weekend.  Have a story instead…

Back in the day, when I was a yoot (that is eight or so years ago) I was an avid collector of Silas.  I think I was going all out to be able to dress head-to-toe in it, every day of the week.  I had jeans, a skirt, jumpers, hoodies, blouses, vests, jewellery and two handbags, a coat, a jacket and an anorak.  Had I ever left the house wearing it all and had I bumped into label founders Sophia Prantera and Russell Waterman that day, they would have laughed their asses off at me.  And they would have been right to, except it would have been a slight bit nasty, given that I must have been one of their best customers.

How I managed it on a student/first job budget only the bank manager knows, but it was definitely a fun game to play, trying to sneak a bit of Silas into an otherwise boring working wardrobe.  It was easier with some things than with others.

This used to go well with a suit and white shirt for work.  I was dead proud of the ensemble too, until a well-meaning but ultimately deluded co-worker asked me if I had bought the jumper in Gap and I nearly chinned her with a wail of ‘That’s prime grade premium skate wear!‘ before I reasoned that I had better let it go.  As P Diddy says, there are two types of people in the world: players and player haters.  She wasn’t to know the error of her ways.

Next up, we have some lovely camisole-style vests.  They look ever so cute and butter-wouldn’t-melt from a distance and are great with old cardies and jeans.  Close up the patterns are a little more devilish as Silas is all about the essential details (you can click on all thumbnails to enlarge).

They also never lose that, if I can just get all fashion writer-y on you for a moment, essential rock aesthetic, especially with the accessories.

These leather cuffs in dark brown and white are suitably chunky, embossed with studs and the Silas logos.  They have the feel of something you might have nicked off a now long-dead roadie in a back-room poker game, somewhere near a highway in Alabama, sometime in 1973.  See how just wearing them makes me clench my fist in a RAWK-like manner?  Grrrrrrrrr.

For all the different influences they have embraced over the years, the Silas designers never lost sight of their origins providing quality, hard-wearing skate clothing.  This jacket is one of the best things in the world ever, comfortable, light-weight and shower proof, even though the closest I ever got to really needing skate wear was playing Tony Hawk Pro Skater:

Best of the lot has to be this bag.  Nearly ten years old and it still looks amazing, garnering compliments wherever it goes:

Again, it is the details which make the bag a joy to use for transporting possessions about the town, from the plaited leather strap, to the wooden fastener (I’ve been asked more than once if it’s a pencil.  If only.  That would be the only thing that could make this bag better.  Built-in stationery) and the studs all over everything.  It is truly lovely.

Since 2006, Silas has been concentrating its efforts on Asia, which is frustrating but comes as no surprise as there were always items in every collection which, it was whispered, could only be bought in Japan. So, since the Silas won’t come to me, it is my best reasoning that I will have to go to it.  I can’t wait to get out to Tokyo this summer, check out all the exclusives that were never produced in the UK and start building up my collection again.  And I am sure I will be able to resist the temptation to wear it all at once.

Another thing that Silas is known for is its collaborations with designers in the creation of clever and inventive marketing campaigns.  Stay tuned for more on those tomorrow…

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