Loss and British nostalgia brought designer Adam Jones and this photographer together

Adam Jones met a fan of his work, photographer Marcus Lister, after a chance encounter on Instagram brought them together. Here’s how the two creatives met, and the blossoming friendship that followed…

When Adam Jones, the Welsh founder of the charmingly British eponymous fashion label, did a shoutout on Instagram for the username of someone who had recreated one of his signature garments, photographer Marcus Lister fessed up to designing a jacket in Adam Jones’ DIY style. 

Jones, the London-based Welsh-born designer, uses the nostalgia of the UK’s broken past to inspire his designs and celebrates the mundanities and humours of Britain. He sources vintage found materials to translate the country’s history in textile manufacturing (such as bar towels from a boozer, vintage bedroom blankets, and kitchen tea towels), as his designs sit between the idea of skilfully-made garments and a DIY ethos. This integral spirit is what Lister, who had been a fan of Jones’ work for a while, found a perfect fit for his own home-sewn garment – they both seek to collage the people and places from their past and present in a joint appreciation of the world around them.

Taken by Alex Heron

“Anyone know who Jake is?”, asked Jones on his Insta story next to a picture of Lister walking home in the jacket, which was made from an old Newcastle brown ale beer towel and various patches and pins. “Hey man, that’s me,” he replied. Lister was wearing a Jones-esque jacket that he had made at home after he picked up a sewing machine in lockdown and started to express his creativity in different ways to his day job in photography. 

“The name is actually of my brother who has just recently passed away. He was a massive Newcastle fan with all the badges and I made it for his funeral. I was inspired by your work. I love the fact you have seen this,” Lister told Jones over message. ‘OUR JAKE’ was sewn onto the back as an ode to his brother. “Sorry to hear about your loss mate,” said Jones. “So glad to have found you, my friend had spotted you from inside a taxi on the way back from her birthday. Are you a Newcastle fan? And do you enjoy a brown ale?” 

Taken by Alex Heron.

From this encounter (and through the help of social media), the two met at Jones’ London studio to chat more. Finding mutual ground on the respect they have for the charm of British life, Jones and Lister decided to take some photographs and discuss the brush of fate that had led the two like-minded individuals to cross paths. Lister brought along his camera and Jones brought along a special Adam Jones Studio gift. Here, HUNGER covers the conversation between the two, as they chat about all things new-wave British artists and the commonalities they found through a shared love of Jones’ jackets…

Marcus: I feel like a lot of your stuff is based on British nostalgia. Why do you think that is?

Adam: I reference simpler times in Britain. Living in London and the modern world just doesn’t interest me, so I’m always looking back to the past and clashing the countryside against the city. I’m inspired by lots of things, from my memory of going to my grandma’s house every day after school and dressing in her clothes. Everything in her house is from the seventies. It’s a bit of fake nostalgia because I didn’t even live through some of the times I refer to. Wales, where I’m from, is still stuck in the seventies and that’s mainly where my inspiration comes from.

Marcus: How did you get into fashion? 

Adam: I went to college when I was 16. I did a fashion course that doesn’t even exist anymore. We were taught by old ladies who wore M&S in a proper industrial town. When the old factories were gone they started a fashion course. It is a shame it doesn’t exist anymore because when you go to uni no one actually knows how to sew; no designer makes their own. But I can already do it now so I just thought, ‘why wouldn’t I?’ Rather than paying loads you’ve been taught by these ladies that really know how to make stuff properly. I’m pretty lucky looking back. I just wouldn’t enjoy giving it to somebody else if I didn’t trust them.

Marcus: A lot of your designs use vintage towels and materials. When did you start using these materials?

Adam: It was probably five years ago now in ‘Logo Mania’. It wasn’t fun just to come up with my own thing so I had to think about how I could incorporate text into my work. so I started using things from the past that already exist. 

Marcus: Do you compete a lot with other designers?

Adam: Martine-Rose did similar stuff to me. But we did it at the same time which is a little frustrating because obviously, she is bigger than me, however, I do really respect her work. I genuinely love it, but I don’t want to be influenced by it. 

Marcus: I think it is the same in the art world, similar things just naturally appear at poignant times.

Adam: They do and it’s funny. Everyone makes a little black dress and everyone makes a work jacket, but it’s more noticeable when it’s something so specific. 

Marcus: There are a lot of artists utilising a working-class early British aesthetic at the moment. I’ve got some in my house from when I started following you, which is probably not what you want to hear. But you inspired me and I bought myself a sewing machine in lockdown from Aldi’s middle aisle. I’ve been around pubs and working men’s clubs since I was a kid, so I wanted to recreate my own. Do you look to anyone for inspiration? 

Adam: I like Sarah Lucas the artist. It’s mainly artists rather than designers. I went to the open exhibition she curated in Colchester last Friday. I was embarrassed and asked her for an autograph – I got a bit pissed and got her to sign my cig packet.

So, how did you do your jacket for your brother, then? 

Marcus: My brother had a jacket that I was going to use but I bought one in the end. I got badges of things inspired by him being a massive Newcastle supporter, and a lover of the darts and F1. We are both from Scunthorpe, but our home is Durham. We were really close to my Mam’s side. I was thinking of what the dimensions were to get it framed, but I realised I don’t want it framed and I want people to be able to see the whole thing. 

Adam: Yes I agree, let people see it. How far are Scunthorpe and Durham from each other?

Marcus: Not long, like two hours. Have you ever been to Maplethorpe? It’s near me actually, I would really recommend you go. Everyone drives on mobility scooters. It’s like Skegness on crack.

Adam: [laughs] I haven’t but I want to go to Blackpool this summer. 

Marcus: Do you know Dougie Wallace? He’s done some sick photos of hen and stag do’s in Blackpool. It’s really invasive but classic, a bit like Martin Parr. 

Adam: Nice, I’ll have a look. Are you going away to a seaside town this year?

Marcus: It’s my birthday soon, and my brother’s as well. I said to my Mam that I think we should just go away. I’ve been looking for somewhere cheap but my Mam’s quite funny and has now suggested skiing. But Glasgow looks good, I’d like to go there.

Adam: It’s really good. It’s endless possibilities because everything is a gallery and a studio. It’s a really cool place. I should say thanks to you, you did me a favour with these photos.

Marcus: Well, you haven’t seen what they look like yet. Might not have been a favour at all. Let’s grab a pint soon mate. 

Adam: For sure, I’ll show you around some of the pubs in Deptford!

PhotographerMarcus Lister
WriterElla Chadwick