Been shoe-horning your way into skinny-fit trousers for years? Scott Fraser Simpson has something to say about that. The London-based designer has become well-known for his roomy cuts and isn’t afraid to shout about their numerous benefits.
He started his brand, Scott Fraser Collection, in 2013, and while it didn’t begin as a trouser brand, now both he and his loyal customer base can’t get enough of them. From the photos on this page it’s not hard to see why. Twin-pleated and with a high rise, they hark back to the golden age of Hollywood and can transform even the most sartorially inept man into a Clark Gable-esque stud. Pair them with one of Simpson’s Italian-made knits or Cuban collar shirts, and you’ve got a killer combination.
Like the trousers he makes, Simpson isn’t afraid to make a statement with the way he dresses. FashionBeans sat down with him to get an insight into his style choices, his vintage scooter collection and how best to wear those wide legs.
Name: Scott Fraser Simpson
Based: London, UK
Known For: Updated takes on mid-century classics
Style Heroes: Clark Gable, Gary Grant, James Dean, Steve McQueen
The ethos behind Simpson’s style and his brand is ‘retrospective modernism’, which makes perfect sense. Both the clothes he wears and the ones he designs (which are often the same thing) have vintage sensibilities, but the clothes he makes aren’t reproductions. He takes inspiration from mid-century garments, but you’ll find subtle updates on them that improve on the decades-old designs they’re based on.
The trousers, for example, are cut from lightweight linen or seersucker, and knitwear is crafted from breathable merino wool rather than polyester or rayon, which was the norm back in the day. The former is a particularly important category for Simpson, both in terms of the look he’s become known for and his brand, as 50 per cent of everything he puts out now is trousers.
The idea, according to Simpson, is to “take those foundational details and then contemporise them in a way that doesn’t put two fingers up to the original design, acting like we’re so much better. We respect the past, but we’re going to bring it forwards a bit. We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel, but breathe life into it”.
The Style Signature: Wide-Leg Trousers
Wide cuts have been making the rounds the last few years, and it’s fair to say Simpson was there at the beginning of the resurgence. Men’s fashion had been obsessing over slim and skinny fits for so long, but with menswear taking on a more comfortable focus of late, it makes sense that wide legs are finally getting the attention they deserve.
What’s so good about a wide leg then? Quite a lot, it turns out. “It’s the ease of them, and to be honest they’re just elegant. You can throw a T-shirt on with them and they look banging, they’re comfortable as shit.
“They do things for everyone, they elongate your leg, and they’re like wearing pyjamas, so naturally more people are moving towards them. I’m glad to see it’s coming round. Finally it’s coming around for real. It’s here, I told you all.” We’re sold.
Simpson’s trousers come in a few different styles, from the Tower to the Empire cut, but all of them sit high on the waist and flow elegantly down the legs. They can be worn like jeans – that is, with virtually everything. As it gets colder, layer up on top with a chunky knit and an open chore jacket for a contemporary take on the look.
Scott Fraser Simpson’s 5 Essential Style Tips
The 1973 Vespa 50 Special pictured is one of eight scooters in Simpson’s collection. Like his clothes, they serve a purpose.
“I use my bikes all the time. I couldn’t do my job without them. Recently I was at a belt manufacturer in Walthamstow, then I came down to a factory I’m using in Wapping, then I was in Shoreditch doing a fitting at a studio I’m using, then I went off to Hackney to this fabric wholesaler and then I had to come back to do another fitting. Then I drove to Camberwell.
“Without my scooter, I would be screwed. I put bolts of fabrics on the bike too – I’ve had two rolls once on the side – that was in the early days, but still”. While the scooters look cool, they also do a job. Simpson’s wardrobe is the same.
Invest In Alterations
“The one thing I’ve always said is to get a good alterations tailor. Go and buy vintage if you want and see if it’ll work, but if the fit isn’t right, get it taken in. Not everything is going to be perfect. So that’s the one bit of advice I’ve always said. And find a good mechanic, but that’s another thing.”
“It’s all about finding your own style – you’ve got to be comfortable with it. You should feel confident in your choice, regardless of if you’re confident or not. You just have to go, “Okay, I’m going to wear this, and if it doesn’t work I can just take it off later on tonight”.
“I’ve got a knit shirt at home from the ’50s. It’s got black and white faux pony skin on the front and kind of look likes a cow, Fred Flintstone-style. I really rate it, but my wife is like: ‘you’re going to regret that when you’re older’. If that happens: fuck it, we only live once.”
Re-Think The Suit
“I’ve read articles saying ‘the suit is dead’. But the suit doesn’t always have to live in the exact same guise that it has lived. “It has changed a lot. Menswear will always evolve, and I think it’s good. I’m all for the breaking down of dress codes, and the casual thing. But I also think it doesn’t have to go far where you’re looking like a piece of shit, unless you’re actually going for that look – then you’ve got to do it well.”
“After being quite rigid with the ‘60s modernist sort of look seven or eight years ago I’ve tried to ease off it. And I’m seeing a lot more people just go with what they want.”
Dress With Function In Mind
“What I wear depends on what I’m doing in the day. Lately, because I’m running around trying to go to a factory or fabric warehouse, I’m not going to wear trousers. It’ll be denim, which is hardwearing, but if I’m going to have a meeting with someone, I’ll wear trousers.
“Basically, I try to make sure I dress accordingly to what I’m doing. Sometimes I get caught short and I’m wearing loafers climbing up a 20-foot fabric pile, but I can do a lot in these loafers.”
For more on Scott Fraser Collection, click here. Photography: Charlie Thomas