Kit Neale Talks Attitude, Style and Ray Petri

We’ve invited some of the most influential stylists, menswear designers and editors to guest-write for us here on the Bootmakers Blog. Below, London menswear designer Kit Neale explains his introduction to fashion, his obsession with Ray Petri and how the infamous 80s stylist influenced – and still influences – his work.

I was about thirteen when I first took notice of fashion. I was forced to relocate with my family from South-East London to a small naval town called Gosport on the south coast of England. Suddenly I felt like some kind alien in this town. It was a culture shock and I desperately sought to try and express myself through clothes.

There is an image I remember stumbling across in one of the few good magazines I had access to; on reflection this was probably i-D Magazine. The picture was of a man wearing a green MA1 flying jacket. He wore pristine Levi’s and Timberland boots, in what I later came to understand was a carefully groomed ‘Buffalo’ look. I tried and probably dramatically failed to emulate his style – I just never had the attitude.

The man in the image was Ray Petri – my ‘fashion hero’. Petri was a notorious stylist in the eighties who pioneered a group of visionaries under the Buffalo collective – I have been obsessed ever since. The images he creates are always prominent references to my work. For me, Ray Petri’s unflinchingly tough style epitomises something far beyond fashion. He captures an identity and soul through the way in which each garment is worn. I persist to achieve this one day through my own work.

I guess for Ray Petri the Timberland boot was essential in completing the classic Buffalo look. It is a style icon in its own right that transcends its own popularity as a design. I will never comprehensively understand how Ray Petri achieved such an enigmatic look as hard I may try.

Kit Neale's fashion hero Ray Petri. Photo from the book Buffalo: Ray Petri, published by PowerHouse books.

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