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Saturday 22 April 2023

In Conversation with Saul Wilks of Creu Clothing

Football and clothing have always been two constants in my life since as long as I can remember. Like many I got involved and downloaded Instagram in around 2012 when at sixth form and it opened my eyes to how many labels and looks there was out there beyond the thing me and my mates were doing at that time. As time passed an underground community of like-minded individuals began to grow on the gram and unlike the days of yesteryear lads from different clubs all over the country where buying, shifting and swapping clothes on what seemed like a daily basis. A united buzz grew for new clothing releases, bands and the ever-changing landscape of the terraces. Since these halcyon days some lads have drifted off, pushed on to something else or just laid low. One fella I've always admired due to the way he speaks about "this thing of ours" and just generally how well he puts clothing together is Newport's finest Saul Wilks. Over the years Saul has DJ'd all over with Boogie Cartel, made clothing with his first brand "Ardour" and has since set up a new label "Creu Clothing" where he's produced some of the most eye-catching, well-made garb this side of the Atlantic. It was a pleasure to catch up with him and talk clothing and football... 

MOU: You've always been impeccably well presented, when did clothes first hit you and what do they mean to you today? 
SW: I have been fascinated by sub cultures from an early age because my parents were original 60s skinheads and later got into northern soul - which they still are today. I grew up around my Dad's record collection and them coming home from all nighters, the stories my Dad would tell me about being a skinhead, the clothes, the fighting. So from an early age I was fascinated by it all. I really got into clothes though when I become intrigued and then obsessed with football terrace culture, that would have been when I was in my early teens. There's a family photograph of me with my brother and I'm in a full check Burberry shirt, I look really young, because I was, I would have been about 14 at the time. I'm 36 now and have lived it everyday. Once you're in, you're in as they say.
MOU: The ever-changing fads of the football scene are constantly moving, where do you see it heading in 2023?
SW: I had this discussion with a mate when we were standing in the away end at Walsall a few weeks ago, he's a proper dresser and has been around since the 80s. We agreed that for the vast majority of 'lads' who go to football these days there is a staple look that lacks originality and panache. I used to actively go out looking for new and unknown labels and there's still plenty about but if you went to football now in something unique and exclusive, there might be a handful of people who'd notice or comment. In the late noughties and 2010's there was a real upsurge in mainly younger lads buying into a new look away from the staple brands that are mostly seen today. That was an exciting time for me, it was aided by shops such as Oi Polloi and earlier, Drooghi. I remember walking into the pub in Newport in an apple green Albam fisherman cagoule, St james Breton, Edwin's and a pair of Superga. I got some stick but to me that was the look at that time, new labels, a different angle on dressing, something new and fresh. Perhaps I've lost some enthusiasm as I've got older and become lazy because I've reverted to dressing in classic old labels like Boneville again, but I rarely go to the football and see lads and think they look cutting edge or different, it doesn't seem as prevalent anymore. 90% dress in the same stuff and it's boring.
MOU: I remember your early exploits with Adour Clothing, how did that all come to fruition? 
SW: I used to write a blog called Sinister Delicious with a mate and we decided to start making clothes as we were both obsessives. We did some good stuff and it was at a time when there were hardly any DIY independent brands about.  
MOU: Your current project is "Creu Clothing" how did this come about? 
SW: When Ardour came to an end I knew I still wanted to be designing and making clothes. It's in my blood, it's a part of my identity. Therefore I started Creu. It was a slow process at first and after my initial return when I put out the Somerton Parka, for varying reasons I stopped for about a year before I picked up again and then started on the road to where it is now, which is a place I'm happy with. It's getting known and respected as a good quality independent made in Britain label and I've gained a loyal customer base, which I'm really proud of.
The Isca Windshirt by Creu Clothing

MOU: You speak so passionately about the materials, inspirations and the looks of your garments, do you feel properly caring about what you're putting out is essential? 
SW: One hundred percent. Everything I do is a reflection of me, my passion, my creativity. I put so much time and hard work into Creu, that's why it takes months between new releases sometimes. The garments need to be perfect for me, I am very picky and often after I've completed something I feel a sense of dissatisfaction as I feel I can improve and do something better. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing, I'm quite hard on myself sometimes, it's not a great trait to have.
MOU: I've loved the stuff you've done with Creu so far, from the colour palettes to the materials used even right down to the labels, do you feel that detail is important when producing clothes? 

SW: Of course. I think when you're putting a lot of energy into something, you're not doing it to produce run of the mill, generic clothing. As I said earlier, I see Creu as a reflection of me. I want it to be the best it can possibly be. I want people who are good enough to invest in something I've created to think it's a beautiful piece of clothing. That's more important to me than any kind of monetary gain.
MOU: Where do you see the brand going in the next few years? 

SW: I would love to just keep progressing it naturally. I don't work to any kind of time scale where I feel the need to keep releasing stuff. I have a full time job and a beautiful family away from Creu so I have to spend my time wisely. If I can release a couple of things a year then I'm happy doing that, if it becomes something bigger then I'm ready for that too but I wouldn't want the pressures of having to rely on Creu to live. I do it because I love it and it gives me a creative outlet, as I said previously, that's more important to me than monetary gain.

MOU: In one sentence describe your current look. 
SW: I have explored numerous looks and labels under the umbrella of 'casual' over the last 24 years. I now love and wear vintage classic labels and mix and match them with more modern interesting bits. I couldn't really describe it better than that to be honest.


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In loving memory of Denise Pottinger