by Sam Le Roy
7 min
Laura Aguilera for CULTED ©

An aura of anticipation and excitement was felt up and down Brick Lane on Saturday night, with London’s youth and fashion enthusiasts gathered in the Truman Brewery for the first en-masse physical event in over a year. Queues round the block were full of familiar faces for many, and all attendants were elated to be out and about at long last to witness Reuben Selby’s SS22 show labelled “Clash”. The London designer presented his second collection (and first one ever in his hometown) together with designer Hannah Sheridan as a comprehensive visual and aural experience through collaborations and partnerships with a diverse spectrum of creatives and brands. 

Large, recycled cardboard sculptures were laid around Truman Brewery, and the show commenced with a dance routine and Maisie Williams’ debutant DJ set. The 39-look collection channels Reuben’s Filipino roots as well as brutalism, martial arts and a number of other inspirations. 95% of the clothing was created using deadstock fabrics from The Fabric House with the remainder being cactus leather from Adriano Di Marti and FLWRDWN wadding from Pangaia. Finishing up the show, Headie One performed a couple tracks from his recent album “EDNA”. 

Laura Aguilera for CULTED ©

The multi-faceted creative behind Contact developed his fledgling label to present a show centered around the name “Clash”, which comes from a vision he had in his mind from the moment his first show in Paris ended. “For some reason this image came into my head straight after the last show had finished and it was the sound of steel hitting itself. That feeling of being quite uncomfortable but being raw and truthful – I kind of resonated with that in so many ways through my experiences and understanding of my identity. What my roots are, that feeling of things colliding and clashing and never being able to understand what I was or how I felt.”, Reuben told us at his studio prior to the show day.

Reuben channels an internal dialogue in his own mind about personal identity, family heritage and aims to provide fresh perspective and challenge norms: When I would see my mum walking down the street in a colorful straw hat it was so normal to her but in a white neighborhood it sticks out so much. These people aren’t appreciating or disapproving of that culture but they’re just seeing it as different. I want to change the norm of putting things in a box of “different” things because that’s really who I am. People will look at me and not understand my identity and it’s just always going to be a dialogue in my head you know? Putting that out into a creative space allows people to see inside of me, it’s almost like a story of empowerment in a way.”

Laura Aguilera for CULTED ©

Last year we saw Reuben Selby shine in Paris during his debut show, but in his own words “we missed out on a lot being in Paris (even though I think we’ll end up in Paris a lot) but there’s some romanticism you can get caught up in there. London has helped get me to where I am today so it’s amazing to be back and showing my collection here.” The show is in collaboration with a number of London creatives including stylist Harry Lambert, of whom Reuben speaks highly: “[He] is styling for me, he gave me an opportunity years ago when there was no reason for him to help me in any form and that’s a consistent story throughout my journey where there are super talented people helping me in so many little ways. He’s doing it again for me now, but now that we’re working together it’s amazing to be a part of. I want to get the creatives in London involved and make something for them.”

The collection also features work by Alexander James, who invited Reuben to an exhibition before the pair fostered a friendship and organic partnership: “Again, it’s one of those things where it’s such a tight community and everyone knows everyone – sometimes it’s good and sometimes it’s bad – I got invited to an exhibition of his and realised it’s just about these personalities that are so open and it was clear to me straight away with Alex and we could talk about anything at all. It never felt strange that Alex was a part of the show and would be painting on my clothes. We had so much fun creating this and it’s been really organic, we had dinner and spoke all night and the next thing we know we’re working on this collection together.”

Alexander James and Reuben Selby by Laura Aguilera for CULTED ©

A number of sponsors came together to facilitate the show’s production, as well as to enable Reuben’s ethos of sustainability. When asked about how this collection falls in line with his personal values on waste and sustainability he said: “It’s just doing the right things really. There’s no waste from this collection so I can quite confidently not have any guilty conscience in whether or not this art is worth creating. I’ve always thought that I’d never create a brand if it was going to contribute to more waste in the industry so there has to be an ethical impact in the way society approaches certain conversations. That in itself can be enough on its own to not have the sustainable aspect but we could try to change the perspective on a conversation, but we’re trying to do both. We work with sponsors to pay for everything (sustainable is more expensive) and we get some valuable partnerships from this. It’s very liberating to have the freedom to work sustainably.”

Reuben’s team is expansive and diverse; the creative vision is shared holistically and everyone gets involved to give their opinions and input. “I wouldn’t be doing this if it was just me. I truly see the team I work with as a collaboration. I feel like everyone sees it in that way, anyone can bring forward an idea and it’ll be welcomed and treated equally to mine” he says, finishing his statement with: “From collaboration we get diversity and excitement. Complexity goes up when more heads are involved and more layers are added, but you also get more clarity and that’s what’s so unique about this show. There’s so much going on but it’s in a way that makes the whole story clearer and it’s so exciting working with different people no matter how we’ve met. Again it’s a personal thing, it’s where I get enjoyment.”

Laura Aguilera for CULTED ©

There’s no doubt we’ll see Reuben Selby’s efforts this year take him and his whole team to new heights in seasons to come, especially after such a strong showing on the weekend. We finished up our interview with Reuben looking forward at the promising future for him and his brand.

“I don’t really have an ambition for it, we take things day by day and keep doing the things that we love. As long as we have a point of view and something to give to a conversation, we’re going to keep going. I think I’ll always have that but if I ever felt like there was nothing to say or give then we wouldn’t do another collection. At that point it’d be time to find a new medium to tell a story. It’s more of an art project than a brand to me. I think at any point we could be more into curating exhibitions maybe, involving more art into the work we do and diving more into my love for painting and creation as a whole. There’s so many ways to look at it and because we’ve not put ourselves into a certain box or category we’re free to take things however we want.

I have ideas for the next show already and it’ll be different from this one for sure – we’ll have to see how it develops in my brain.”

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