Some people start tribute bands, some obsess over bootleg recordings and some follow their idols halfway across the world, but for Ribbens co-founder Richie Deeney, the best way to pay homage to his favourite bands was by starting a clothing brand. All made in England with such positive reference points as Dennis Wilson and Neil Young, Ribbens make the sort of stuff we could rattle on about ‘til the cows come home. Luckily for you, we’re not going to — instead we asked the man himself to shed some light on what Ribbens is.
First things first, what is Ribbens? And where does the name come from?
Ribbens is a British men’s clothing brand. The name came from a Glam band called YOBBO who came out in 1977. They had a one hit wonder called ‘How’s your Dad?’ A great pulsing double drum anthem with a sax’ break throughout. The album the single from was called ‘Ribbens’.
For those who’ve never heard of you, can we have a bit of a back-story? What have you done previously?
Hung out a bit — bit of music, bit of clothes.
Who else is involved?
Emily Naismith, it’s a small team but it’s effective.
The Denny Jacket takes its name from The Beach Boy’s only legitimate surfer, Dennis Wilson. How did you go about capturing the great man in jacket form?
Well music plays a large part in Ribbens, and Dennis and the art of The Beach Boys is something that was a striking, moving force. I have been slightly obsessed over the years with his solo work, plus the songs he wrote with the Beach Boys towards the end. We wanted those clean cut lines and a quality fabric that would age well. The jacket will get better with age as with Denny and his work.
The ‘Shakey collection’ takes its name from Neil Young’s nickname (and has nothing to do with Shakin’ Stevens). What is it about ol’ Shakey that made you want to design a whole range of clothing around him?
Yes, old Shakey. Well what can you say? True legend. He has just kept going; he hasn’t rested or taken any time out and on the whole, produced a lifelong work of beauty. Any of those albums ‘Everybody Knows This is Nowhere’, ‘Tonight’s the Night’, ‘On The Beach’, ‘Zuma’, ‘Ragged Glory’… there is more to it than that which is explained elsewhere but I have always admired and loved his work. The aesthetic in the Ribbens ‘Shakey’ collection is inspired by the albums like ‘Tonight’s the Night’ — where its lank haired, seersucker jacket, the ole jeans with homemade patches, or in ‘On the Beach’ — white slacks, bright yellow blazer and wild pattern shirt. He is a legend and we don’t have many like that anymore.
In a previous interview you mentioned listening to Beat Happening, Sebadoh and Smog — stuff that’s definitely on the lo-fi end of the spectrum. Now we’re not saying you’re playing drums on margarine tubs or anything, but is it fair to say there’s a few parallels with your brand and these fairly DIY bands, or are we over-thinking things?
Ha, yes you are over-thinking things. Firstly our products are not bloody low fi that’s for sure. I spent some time around a few musical and cultural shifts. They’re great bands and still are! We are now living in a world that does sometimes seem a little too easy, culturally. It’s all on tap and online. People don’t have any time to stop and just look at one or two things and say “god that’s fucking ace.” Be it a band, album, film or piece of clothing. The quick disposal of life, music, art doesn’t help us learn from what we have. Those bands were doing it because they could and they had a hunch on what they thought would sound cool and they it did and in that process made some amazing records which later started a scene. We have the same hunch at Ribbens.
What next for Ribbens? More music-tinged gear or are you looking further afield?
Music, films, books, art, wars? We have a SAS inspired jacket that is still to be released called the ‘Land Jacket’. Maybe we could now change it to the ‘Maggie jacket’? Maybe not…