There are a lot of people out there who would give anything to be the head of wholesale at Pretty Green. The affiliation between music and fashion, and working with one of the UK’s biggest rock icons, make it one of the most desirable vocations going... but there can only be one man for the job - Dean West... and he knows his stuff...!
Up&Atom: I’m sure everyone knows, but can you humour us and tell us the Pretty Green story? How did it come about?
We started with a small collection based on the outfits worn by the kids in Ethan Russell’s photo book from The Who’s Quadrophenia album; a parka, a striped boating blazer, a Harrington, the target t-shirt. So with a core of traditional British street clothes, still at the heart of every collection, we’ve developed and grown those same looks into the broader brand offer you see today.
U&A: There’s several elements to the Pretty Green range, including limited edition collections. What’s the inspiration behind these ranges? Can you give us some inside info on future ranges?!
DW: We’re an extremely music obsessed bunch at Pretty Green and music is always at the heart of every collection. Pretty much every piece you see can be tracked back to an authentic link with the world of rock and roll. Our eponymous Lennon Jacket is based on the ones worn by The Beatles at their Shea Stadium gig in America, ’65. A print based on the embroidery on George Harrison’s kaftan in ’68, that jacket Keith Richards was wearing in the photo of him in a scuffle outside the Speakeasy in ’70, the graphic from the t-shirt Keith Moon was wearing in his incredible solo at Hammersmith Odeon in ’72. There’s so much we draw from. The embroidery on next seasons desert boots for instance is John Lennon’s guitar strap from The Beatles last live performance on the roof of Apple in Savile Row in ’69.
U&A: Pretty Green is a complete menswear brand with clothing, footwear and accessories in it’s range. What exciting pieces can we expect to see added to the range going forward?
DW: Well, we’ve really expanded the footwear offer, from 9 styles to about 50, so that’s very exciting. The tailoring collection is coming along very nicely thank you. The Theme collection next season is all about Abbey Road and the album cover artwork of Storm Thorgerson. We’ve taken the giant pig seen floating above the Battersea Power Station on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals album and used it as the collection motif, but we’ve embellished it with black and white stripes representing the famous zebra crossing outside Abbey Road studios.
U&A: You’ve been with Pretty Green from it’s inception, but what did you do before tackling this project?
DW: I’ve been working in fashion since I was very young. My Nan was a seamstress in Soho and my Dad, who trained at Simpsons of Piccadilly, made leather jackets and was proud to include Apple, the Beatles’ clothes store in Baker Street amongst his customers. I’ve had many roles over a long and happy career, from an international buying director for a key independent to creating and opening stores for brands in Tokyo, taking in retailer of the year, export manager at Ted Baker and working in a tannery in Mumbai along the way. Pretty Green feels like the role I was working towards the whole time though, to be honest. I love every minute!
U&A: What’s your favourite Pretty Green piece? Is there anything you’d like to add to the range?
DW: My personal favourite is the Fool On The Hill Overcoat from the second collection. It was a beautiful re-imagining of a British military coat from the mid 1800’s. We made it in the original fabric, a 900 gram cavalry twill, so dense it could apparently stop a musket ball at 100 yards and had a domed Pretty Green logo brass button specially cast for it. The half belt at the back and inverted vent gave it a striking flared-out silhouette. Really cool and very 70s rock star!
I’d quite like to do a version of the traditional Perfecto leather jacket. The double breasted, zip front, cinched biker jacket as sported by Brando, Iggy, Sid, etc but as it’s the jacket most associated with the Rockers of the 60s I’m not sure how well it would be embraced by our loyal mod followers!
U&A: What’s your personal style?
DW: I dress to fit my mood really, but I have a real passion for Japanese raw selvedge denim and only ever wear dark jeans, with a t-shirt and leather jacket ideally, but even to weddings, funerals and events with a tailored jacket. Now I’m an older gentleman, I would love to have a Savile Row made to measure suit and a Crombie overcoat, one day!
U&A: What’s next for Pretty Green?
DW: We have a few stores opening over the next few months and a really exciting collaboration launching later this year. (If I tell you, I’d have to kill you though!) Personally I’ll be concentrating on taking the brand a little further afield and into the global market place as my next step. Onwards and upwards!
U&A: Now for a question we always like to ask. Do you have an all-time favourite album and/or film?
DW: Soooo hard! Probably Quadrophenia and Clockwork Orange. Or Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On and Goodfellas. Or...
U&A: Finally, we’ve got to sneak this one in before we let you go... What’s it like working with Liam Gallagher?
DW: As Liam once described the original Pretty Green 12 colour paisley... ‘It’s fuckin’ Biblical, man!’
Big thanks to Dean!
This interview was originally printed in Up&Atom magazine, Issue 4 (Winter 2014).
Image of Dean and Liam used by permission, © Dean West.
Look out for the Pretty Green Storm Thorgeson & Abbey Road collection arriving soon. Check out the current range of Pretty Green at Atom Retro here.