Earlier this week we were invited by Richard and Cosmo Wise of De Rien to visit their studio space over in Hackney Wick and find out more about the brand.
London rag couturiers, Richard and Cosmo Wise’s vintage inspired label, De Rien is a product of the present with lessons from the past. Inspired by period workwear — mainly French from the 1880s through 1940s — along with traditional Japanese boro and sashiko fabrics, the collection boasts a modest take on what the duo call “rag couture”.
De Rien’s studio is split over a multi-level space repurposed from a turn-of-the-century warehouse among Hackney Wick’s industrial estate, where it functions as part storage unit, part studio space and part home. On the two floors you can find fine specimens of their discoveries - examples that have been sympathetically renovated alongside newly-made clothes from patterns based upon old designs using pre-war fabrics, sold under their De Rien label (” It’s nothing” in French). The collection of indigo spans from old French peasant wear to an amass of exceedingly patched up workwear. Eachpiece has a story, and every one speaks of a different life and another world.
Searching rural France and Japan, Cosmo and Richard have amassed a museum-quality collection of glad rags and work clothes that inspired them to pursue a tender aesthetic of loving repair, renewing these garments and giving them a fresh life so their histories and idiosyncrasies can be appreciated by aficionados.
While the duo continue to trade from their humble beginnings at London’s Spitalfields market, it is Cosmo and his partner Kristina that have been the driving force behind the brand’s recent progression. Through a few carefully selected outlets, the pair established a solid foundation and budding following of De Rien. They currently have posts in East London’s Hostem on Redchurch Street and Los Angeles’ Feal Mor on La Brea Avenue, both offering bespoke pieces exclusive to each location.
Each of the bespoke denim jackets is constructed from remnant fabrics from now-closed British and French manufacturers, some predating the Victorian era. Each piece is as charismatic as the next with its own style of darning and repair; Cosmo’s interventions are indistinguishable from those done generations ago. The eye-catching collage of textiles is undeniably contemporary in appearance, sewn together with superlative skill and possessing a certain charisma no mass-produced item could ever match.
In an age of mediocre, disposable High Street fashion, Richard and Cosmo are visionaries who recognize the rich poetry in patched-up old garb, respecting the tales these rags tell of the time when almost everyone had well-made clothes. By appreciating the dignity and restraint in modest garments tailored for working people, they honor the lives of those for whom it was custom to wear clothes out, rather than simply dispensing with last year’s fashions.