March 30, 2015

The number 01582 is the zip code of Luton, the city of which young designer, Raj Mistry, was born. In September 2014, he launched his special collaboration with RAINS. This collaboration is a portrait of the talented and ambitious designer and the story about the elements, which has driven him towards his goals.
Story: Raj Mistry
Photography: Jam Stoker
Luton is a large town 30 miles to the North of London. Home to a wealth of cultures and religions, the town has seen several waves of immigration to the benefit of its diversity and culture. Likewise, it is one of three towns in the UK to hold a white British minority. Luton was the backdrop to my youth. Many years were spent getting to know every aspect of the town, from the obvious to the more subtle.

As a teenager, I always felt like an outsider – an overweight, Indian boy who loved to draw. I sought commonalities in the people around me, especially other young people at my age. I always paid attention to the clothes people wore, and the slight variations they worked into their looks. Although there were many different cultures in Luton, one thing that was common amongst the youth population, was the clothing they wore, and in particular, the sportswear they identified themselves with.
The importance of sportswear was massive – not only was it comfortable and functional, it also provided character and individuality to both the wearer and the wider group of youths. This scene was not only being played out in Luton, but in towns up and down the country. What tracksuit you wore, which brand allegiance you stood beside, what new trainer became the must have item – the significance of even the smallest detail was not omitted. Having this passion in common helped my feelings of difference to others. The love of sportswear went hand in hand with sports itself, most importantly football. It was the national sport and the main pastime of children and teenagers growing up in the town and the local team provided a focal point for this passion. Luton Town F.C. and its distinctive orange, blue, black and white jersey was engrained into everyday life – the team’s highs and lows lived vicariously through the youth population.

Growing older in Luton and looking forward to new opportunities when studying at university, I began to distance myself from Luton. Even though I shared the passions for sportswear and all of the social and cultural aspects this brought to me, I still felt like an outsider. Moving to Scotland to study menswear and talking to other students about their hometown, I was quick to dismiss where I was from and what my youth was like. As time has passed, I have learnt more about myself, both through design and the life experiences I’ve had, and realized that the experiences Luton provided me with has been my guiding motivation. Completing my master’s degree at the Royal College of Art in London, its proximity to Luton meant I was spending more time at home again, but this time, through different eyes. After all, this time, the place I was running away from turned out to be my main inspiration.

My MA collection is named 01582 (the telephone area code for the town) and is a reflection of my experiences growing up in Luton. Taking its color palette from Luton Town F.C.’s jersey and from the sportswear I was heavily influenced by growing up, it is a reflection of the journey I’ve been on and a recognition of the influences upon me over the years. I wanted the garments to convey a sense of attitude and power; exactly like the qualities that sportswear gave me and others all those years ago.
Outerwear was always an important part of outfit growing up – it provided an armour for me to feel safe within and a presence that provided an aura beyond my young years. When creating my MA collection, I wanted to work with a company that truly understood the strength and durability an outerwear garment needs and how it was an integral, if not the most important part of an outfit. My aim was to inject attitude and power flowing from the 01582 collection into the garment - teaming up with Rains provided the perfect opportunity to achieve this. Aside from the English weather and the need for a good raincoat, the quality and detail fund in their outerwear, attributes I was striving to weave into every garment throughout the collection, provided the perfect canvas from which to operate and achieve the look you see here.