Glitz Spotlight: Fashion Designer John Richmond Shares All About His IDGAF Brand

Visit his boutique at The Starhill!
By: Astrid Zulhaime
April 4, 2024

Most people tend to be set in their ways when it comes to how they dress. Chances are, you found a specific style that you believe works best for you and you’ve stuck to it ever since. But as a form of art, fashion is all about taking risks, venturing out of our comfort zones, and always challenging ourselves to outdo the last outfit we wore. So instead of shopping at your old, reliable brands this season, what do you say to trying out something entirely new and exciting?

Visiting the first-ever John Richmond boutique in Asia is as new and exciting as it gets when it comes to the latest and greatest in Malaysia’s street style fashion. This luxury British brand was founded in 1982 and it embodies the non-conformist attitudes of punk and rock & roll. Picture Canadian rapper Drake’s viral track IDGAF, but make it fashion.

At the official opening of the John Richmond boutique at The Starhill, Glitz sat down for an interview with the man behind the iconic brand himself. To fall in love with Mr. Richmond’s designs, one must first understand the history behind his fashion line, so we’ve got all your burning questions answered down below.

Our Interview With John Richmond

What’s the story behind the start of your eponymous fashion brand?

John Richmond: I come from the first generation of London designers, a post-punk generation. The 80s generation all went to art school during the whole period of punk and I think we all came out of art school, fashion schools, with the same attitude: “I can do that. I’m not gonna work for somebody on the outside, I’m just gonna do my own thing!”

It was a great period in London, the early 80s. There were many young designers like myself, all came out of art school at the same time. There were great magazines like The Face and i-D. So, it was a perfect storm situation. I just started my own small company from my flat in London. It was a different period, there weren’t the corporate brands there are now. It’s never easy, but in some ways, it’s probably a little easier for a young designer to start now.

Most of your designs are inspired by the music from your teenage years. What about that era of music appeals to you?

John Richmond: Well that became my DNA. That became part of my vocabulary, so to speak. The music I was into as a teenager; glam rock, punk, new wave. They were all genres that wasn’t just about the music. It was the style, the fashion that went with it. Each genre of punk had its own codes, glam rock had its own codes, new wave had its own codes, new romantic as well. There was the fashion as much as the music, which is appealing, so the two would join, the two were together.

Would you say that the music now has that same vibe?

John Richmond: I think it’s very difficult now to have that same vibe because it’s a very different world. I’m not saying there’s a better one between the two. It’s just different now. The environment has totally changed.

What was your biggest inspiration for your latest collection?

Source: Instagram

John Richmond: The biggest inspiration for the latest collection is this hip hop attitude of taking things and mixing them up. There are collages outside, they were part of the designs in the collection. The flowers, the guitars, the rapper’s mouths with the diamond teeth, the jewellery. It’s very associative; all the rappers wear lots of jewels. So I took that and put it into the clothes, so it became print. Some pieces look like they have holes, but they’re printed to look like holes, worn denim. I call it a hip-hop mix of many different things.

So is it fair to say that you were somehow inspired by the musical era today? By current rappers in particular?

John Richmond: Oh yeah, definitely. I’m very up-to-date on what’s going on. Hip-hop, rap. There’s a great movement at the moment of jazz mixed with hip-hop and rap. There are lots of interesting things happening. You’ve got new musicians of the highest calibre experimenting with rap and street, which to me is progressive. I’ve always wanted to be progressive in what I do, not to look back. If I look back, it’s to take something to bring it forward. It’s about movement and being progressive.

You’re known to have dressed a lot of very famous musicians. What was that process like? Was it different from designing a collection?

John Richmond: Most actually just came to buy the collection. But the ones that I worked closely with like Dave Stewart from Eurythmics, I was making things. I did the merchandise for him, I directed the video, and I did the album sleeves. I was a part of the whole thing, it was great fun. And with Mick Jagger, I did the clothes for the tour, so I’d meet with him and talk about it and design new things specially for him.

It’s nice to work with people because it’s hard to be collaborative in fashion. I always envied musicians who make music, you can just go to the studio and put things together. It’s easier to do with music. It’s not so easy with fashion, but I think it’s becoming more open now.

Can you share one of the biggest highlights of your career so far?

John Richmond
Mick Jagger, wearing John Richmond’s designs at his Voodoo Lounge World Tour in 1996. Source: Facebook.

John Richmond: The biggest highlight was earlier on when the people that inspired me, like David Bowie and Mick Jagger, all these musicians, they came to buy my clothes. That was amazing, to have this connection with the people that inspired me. And then I got to work with musicians who were very inspirational. It was great fun.

Has your brand evolved over time? How?

John Richmond: It just constantly keeps moving. You have to evolve because the world changes, so you can’t stay still. Fortunately, I’m a Capricorn and Capricorns have this attitude that we have to get to the top of the hill, so we’re constantly moving. It’s not what’s behind, it’s what’s up ahead. It’s a good trait to have in the world we now live in because the world is constantly changing.

Speaking of much-needed change, you can start by changing up your wardrobe with John Richmond’s rock & roll designs, exclusively available at The Starhill. Click here to view the latest collection.

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