Same shirt, different way: The Fred Perry polo gets a new lease of life at 60

The Fred Perry polo is 60 but rather than being retired, it's being given a new lease of life by some of its best-known fans, says Rebecca Gonsalves

The Fred Perry polo shirt – in white cotton piqué, crested with a laurel wreath and tipped at the collar with twin bands of colour – has been a style staple since it launched 60 years ago.

One of fashion's most instantly recognisable pieces, it has now been given a creative update by 60 "fans" – stars of fashion, music and sport – who have an affinity or connection with the brand.

Participants – such as musicians Damon Albarn and The Specials, photographers Inez & Vinoodh, and designers Sister by Sibling, Christopher Raeburn and Raf Simons – were all sent a reproduction of the 1952 original shirt and asked to personalise it. The results will be displayed in London's Dover Street Market later this month, in an installation by set designer Andy Hillman. The installation will then travel to the Tokyo branch of the store and its Chinese offshoot IT Beijing Market before the pieces are auctioned in aid of the Amy Winehouse Foundation.

"The Specials' 2 Tone mod image and Fred Perry have been closely linked since we started playing ska back in 1979," says Horace Panter, the bassist of The Specials, who found a second career in art. "A Specials concert is like a Fred Perry convention: it's part of the uniform." Panter drew a collar with red and blue tipping on his blank-canvas T-shirt. "I really like the subtle features of the shirt, especially the thin coloured lines around the collar. They seem like a code, a kind of hip semaphore. The red [ and white] and blue one seems to be the most popular, for obvious reasons. I like to think I've painted an iconic representation… of an icon."

Someone else who has past ties with Fred Perry is Danish designer Peter Jensen, who previously worked on collections for the Blank Canvas line. "It was great fun and a huge success," he says of that work. "It was, I'm not just saying that – we won the Wallpaper* award for best collaboration for the first men's collection we did. I always love it when you hear of companies that have stayed in business for more than a page in i-D. So for me, 60 years of Fred Perry stands for longevity of commitment."

Fred Perry has long been an integral part of so many subcultures and this context was the inspiration behind Sister by Sibling's customisation: "Fred Perry is the Rolls-Royce of polo shirts with a history and respectability you just wouldn't want to mess with," said the trio behind the punk knitwear brand. "Sibling and Sister tend to have a starting point with youth tribes, kids and young adults who have incredibly strong, stylish uniforms. Fred Perry is as much a part of the punk scene as the ska- and skinhead – all of which we reference as they are very much about our own teenage years.

"It was customised just after our spring/summer '13 catwalk presentation so we decided to mix that in. The giant pompon coat became the skirt of the polo shirt: paper raffia strips trapped within knit. Then, in true Sibling manner, we thought, 'Why stop there?' and added it to the cuffs."

Some customisations are more complex than others – birthday messages are scrawled by some, embroidered by others, laurel wreaths feature heavily – such as jeweller Duffy's gold version – while Christopher Raeburn has turned his shirt into a four-legged friend: "It's great to be able to use creativity to support the initiative. I've got an amazing amount of respect for Fred Perry – it's a true British classic."

Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
Isis fighters travel in a vehicle as they take part in a military parade along the streets of Syria's northern Raqqa province
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    BI Developer - £35,000 -£40,000 - Sheffield

    £35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client is...

    Geography Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusias...

    Maths Teacher

    £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

    English Teacher

    £21804 - £31868 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you a dynamic En...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform