Proper have been big fans of Russ Gater’s work since we first came across his Heritage Research brand back in the day and we continue to love and admire his amazing clothing via his current label TSPTR. Though it’s a brand that offers more than just amazing garms as Russ puts his extensive knowledge of sportswear and American counter-culture into every aspect of TSPTR with his journal posts and instagram accounts both showing some incredible and enlightening insight into these worlds. So obviously we decided to ask our camera-shy but knowledgeable mate some probing questions about the current state of the world and what Snoopy & co. would make of all this madness.
So Russ, how are you and how has lockdown treated you? For some reason I imagined you filling your time in a bunker filled with Sixties era US military equipment, listening to CCR albums and smoking weed through an M16. I’m wrong aren’t I?
Aside from daily incredulity at the running of this country (and others) I’m good, making the best of it. Your imagination isn’t that far off. If you replace a bunker with a house in Brighton, CCR with KISS and weed with peppermint tea then it’s pretty accurate.
How has the pandemic affected the running of TSPTR?
I think it’s fair to say that lockdown has suited the brand to some extent, both myself and Dan are quite reclusive anyway. We’ve stayed holed up in our respective homes, only venturing out at the utmost of need, business as usual really! To be honest, neither of us are particularly enamoured with the fashion industry itself and we both reserve a special kind of hatred for trade shows so the lockdown has bought a welcome few months of quiet. We’ve done our best over the last few years to try and extricate the brand from that whole machine.
The day to day running of the brand has proceeded as usual, bouncing ideas daily, finishing the SS21 and FW21 collections, working with our guys in Portugal, usual stuff. We’re lucky in one respect that the brand is very insular in its influences, they’re very specific and firmly rooted in what we personally find interesting so all of the inspiration comes from within rather than outside. We follow our own path as opposed to looking at what anyone else is up to.
What do you think Mr Schulz and the Peanuts gang would have made of the current state of the world and the US in particular?
I think Chuck would’ve had a lot to say regarding current events both in his own country and worldwide. He’d have probably done it in his usual quietly acerbic way but I’ve no doubt he’d have found the US President as much of a dangerous moron as the rest of us do and would’ve called out their ridiculously corrupt policing system. I’d like to think he would have also lent his support to the various contemporary civil rights groups as he did in the 60s, subliminally educating Americans via the funny pages over breakfast.
Something of a rarity in a world full of hype-obsessed, narcissists, your instagram account and online journal are both packed with incredibly well researched and fascinating features on American counter culture and politics. Have you ever thought about making a documentary or writing a book and if so which area/era would it focus on?
Yeah, I’d love to write a book at some point, most likely focusing on those crucial moments in US history where politics, style and music all intersected, informing the counterculture and creating change. That or something relating to British folklore.
In terms of the civil rights movement what do you think we can learn from history to help rid the world of bigotry and racism?
That’s a big one. I’d say that much of the early civil rights movement proved that peaceful protest is ineffective for real change unless it involves a vast proportion of society. Fred Hampton showed us that education, organisation and solidarity is the key, he consistently advocated this and it made him an FBI COINTELPRO target, eventually he was murdered in his bed by a 14-man team of the Chicago Police ‘Special Prosecutions Unit’. The US government was extremely concerned as Hampton was successfully building a ‘rainbow coalition’, using the common factor of poverty to bring together people of all colours. Educating these disparate groups that their real enemy wasn’t each other but actually the mega corporations and the wealthy people that own them. If that message could be widely disseminated again today and tens of millions of people organised, turning their frustration and anger against the people who constantly promote racial division as a method of control then I think bigotry and racism would start to dilute as a matter of course.
Can you tell us about the latest collection and your favourite pieces?
The graphics for FW20 wear their heart on their sleeves (joke intended), expect more timely social commentary with a dash of LA bad trip weirdness. I really dig all of the new purple and orange corduroy pieces, I’ve already snagged some of those for myself. I literally live in our Zuma pants so I’ll be grabbing some more of those too.
Your recent Saucony x TSPTR shoe & tees were amazing, do you have any more collabs with anyone planned?
Yeah, we really enjoyed the Saucony collab and from the feedback a lot of others did too thankfully. We’re currently in discussions with another footwear brand which could be interesting, also continuing our ongoing collabs with Rivendell Mountain Works and Crescent Down and working on some merch for our friends at Curation Records in LA.
If TSPTR was a film which songs would have to be on the soundtrack?
To genuinely channel our respective music tastes I think it’d be some kind of Detroit funk disco meets West Coast Yacht rock crossover, definitely a gatefold sleeve double album.
To each his own – Patrice Rushden
Peanuts Butter – Gwen Guthrie, Larry Levan
I love you more – Rene and Angela
It’s my house – Diana Ross
Sucker for a pretty face – West Phillips
I’m doing fine – Moodyman
Love Thang – First Choice
Atomic Dog – George Clinton
The Ballad of Dorothy Parker – Prince
Casablanca – Dane Donohue
Disco Apocalypse – Jackson Browne
Seabird – Alessi Brothers
Where are you hiding – Terence Boylan
Backstage Pass – McGuinn, Clark & Hillman
Bad dream – Shigeru Suzuki
Cool Breeze – Jeremy Spencer Band
To prove my love – Ned Doheny
Belle of the ball – Ricci Martin
What can we expect to see in the future from TSPTR?
Variations on the ongoing theme : )