lord of the mics made some clothes with phirewire and here’s what they look like
The grit and the grime of east London meets the pure and simple aesthetic of Tokyo on a new line of clothing by LOTM and PHIRE WIRE.
Since the days of Cassette Playa and JC De Castelbajac through to Nasir Mazhar and Astrid Andersen, grime's friendship with fashion is no new thing. Moving beyond merely modelling the clothes to collaborating on capsule collections is this line from Japanese based PHIRE WIRE and Jammer and Ratty's frenzied freestyle brand Lord of the Mics. Having been introduced through mutual friends and subsequently bumping into each other at various cities around the world, the two worlds recently collided up on a line that fuses the aesthetic, cut and graphic of PHIRE WIRE with the energy, imagery and innovation of LOTM. A true meeting of minds, PHIRE WIRE'S head designer KIRI sits down with Jammer and Ratty to talk through their new collaboration, available from Ejder in east London.
Jammer, grime started out being very much about tracksuits and caps before going through the LV Years. We've returned to the tracksuit again recently - why do you think that is?
Jammer: Well, not everybody left the tracksuit. A few people have, who are signed to major labels and started to get successful who can afford to go into Selfridges to buy LV and buy the brands that most street kids can't get their hands on. People like Skepta made a conscious decision to throw LV and Gucci in the bin. People like JME never changed the way he dressed and stuck to tracksuits and always remained so.
KIRI, what is it about grime culture that you relate to as a designer?
KIRI: The minimal and solid dynamism and the tension of grime are some of the aspects that I look for in fashion, and I am significantly influenced by the distinctive mood of the music.
How did you guys meet in the first place?
KIRI: I was introduced to Jammer by J-CUSH of Lit City Trax / Future Brown in New York. It was a kind of funny moment when I saw Jammer for the first time, as he was sleeping on the sofa in J-CUSH's apartment so he was still half asleep! I think it was the next day of a party of Astrid Andersen, where I met him briefly.
Jammer: I was in Visions where I was hosting a party for Astrid Andersen. KIRI and Kubo (the head buyer for GR8)approached Astrid as he liked my energy and we hit it off from there - we got talking and became friends. Then I went to Paris with Ratty [who runs LOTM with Jammer] to meet up with them and give them a segway board; two people from different places, who understood one another, not through language, through spirit. It came together organically, through conversations, clothes, fashion and music.
Why did you want to work with each other? What did you hope the other would bring to the collab?
KIRI: I proposed the collaboration to Jammer as it seemed he was very interested in Japanese culture and I thought there would be a certain chemistry if we worked on something together. I had been captured by his distinctive voice and beat of course, especially the likes of N.A.S.T.Y. and Chinaman and also by his unique character as a person. Besides, I had sympathised with the works of LOTM a lot, so I was very happy when the collaboration was confirmed.
Jammer: I didn't even know we wanted to work together at the start. We were two people that got on, shared the same energy and laughed at the same jokes. We are interested in the same style and industries so it made sense to do it. The team are great at making clothes and they think we are great at music and doing what we do. It's all down to respect, hence why we wanted to work together.
KIRI: The song Jammer did with SILVERLINK ages ago was so impressive for me. His attitude challenges something new with his humour while keeping his own style, maybe that's similar to me. Also, his performance on stage, and his love and passion for the grime scene is incredible. I have never put my heart into any specific scene and I don't think I have a great energy like him, so I really respect him in that sense.
Jammer: Nah, I think we share the same energy, we like the same music, we understand the same fashion.
Jammer, you've been doing LOTM clothing for a year or so now. How did you reflect the energy and the culture of LOTM within this collaboration?
Ratty: Mostly by using photos of raw, talented MCs. We specifically chose not to use the bigger names in grime; we wanted to capture images of that initial hunger and where Lord of the Mics was born from.
KIRI: Basically Jammer suggested classical grime styles to me and I made some touches on them. I designed with a feeling that it would be awesome if people in the grime scene wore MADE IN JAPAN garments.
Ratty: We merged together the ideas and focused on the design of the clothes, images, logo placement and the double wasted bottoms. PHIRE WIRE concentrated on the cut of the garments to reflect the Japanese style.
There are some great touches with the design of this collab that reflects on grime's own inventive nature, right?KIRI: We have the double tracksuit bottom style, which was suggested by Jammer.
Jammer: In urban culture people wear two tracksuit bottoms, one under the other. That's for different reasons; maybe to keep warm or to hide contraband from the police. This was big throughout the early 2000s and can still be seen in London fashion today, so I wanted to reflect that.
KIRI: I thought recent grime artists would wear narrow-fit T-shirts and jackets, so the bottoms need to be voluminous. I made some touches on the shape and zippers based on the idea. I would like people to wear these trousers with cropped / short tops to show the zipper pockets. The other thing we did was the print - the camouflage is an original pattern made of terrains of East London.
Ratty: We selected eight London boroughs that represented grime and focussed on the areas from where the top artists came from e.g. Tower Hamlets: Wiley, Dizzee, Roll Deep. Waltham Forest: Jammer, Ratty. Newham: D Double E, Footsie, Ghetts, Kano. Haringey: Skepta, JME, Croydon: Stormzy. Lambeth: Big Narstie and many others.
KIRI: This collaboration is composed of a collection with unwavering strength, based on the firm sense of solidarity that London and Tokyo have towards each other, respect for the cultures around grime and the unique perspective from Japan.
Jammer: It's a true mix of cultures, the Japanese are focused on the cuts and materials, the British elements are in the logo. It's all very organic.
The line is only available at Ejder - why have you chosen to keep stockists so select, particularly in the UK?
KIRI: I wanted to work with a retailer with a strong interest and overall support for the collaboration.
Ratty: With us being an independent brand, we respect other independent businesses around and Ejder has always been supportive to the up-and-coming fashion brands. They also have a real interest in grime and are big fans of the music, so obviously we love to work with people who understand us and our culture.
Do you have any other plans to work together?
KIRI: I would really like to invite Jammer to Japan to perform at my party - this is just one of my dreams though. I hope I can have a recording with him on the beats generated from PHIRE WIRE's projects, such as the ones by VISIONIST and NA (NGUZUNGUZU), to make an original dubplate!
Jammer: Always! We are family, we are beyond friends. We will, and we are looking forward to, working again together soon.
PHIRE WIRE X LOTM is available at Ejder