Wear it out

Lewis Leathers’ full throttle mix: owner Derek Harris tracks the records that soundtrack his life
By Alex James Taylor | Fashion | 11 April 2016
This article is part of Playlists – Tunes to live by

Tracing their heritage back to 1892, Lewis leathers has been an enduring fixture on the London streets for over 100 years, making them Britain’s oldest manufacturer of motorcycle clothing. Synonymous for their iconic biker-jackets, the brand dressed a nation of rockers, providing the armour for their beachfront scuffles.

Since 2003, the store – just off Tottenham Court Road – has been in the safe hands of proprietor Derek Harris, a lifelong Lewis Leathers wearer and true rock ‘n’ roll aficionado. The latter being a trait hard-wired to your soul when you take the reigns at Lewis Leathers, after all, The Clash, The Sex Pistols, Lou Reed, Ramones and Iggy Pop are just a thin selection of faces whose Lewis Leathers jacket doubled up as a second skin – that blood red lining and leather shell (a minimum of 1.1mm thick Grade 1 hides, never less) will see you through the roughest rides. A symbol of liberation and rebellious counterculture, a winged Lewis Leathers badge is a decoration of the highest degree.

With such a musical pedigree woven into the very fabric of the brand, we thought it only right to ask Harris for a personal playlist of the records that have soundtracked his life and set him on course.

The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash
“One of Cash’s last recorded songs but every bit as good as anything in his incredible back catalogue, made the hairs on my neck stand up the first time I heard it.”

Sunglasses After Dark by The Cramps
“New York rock ‘n’ roll at its highest level, at first listen the Cramps sound appears deranged but was in fact very carefully crafted by Lux and Ivy a pair of rock ” professors.” Battle of the Giants Parts 1 & 2 by Big Youth & U-Roy

Battle of the Giants Parts 1 & 2 by Big Youth & U-Roy 
“In the early 70’s U-Roy was Jamaica’s indisputable number one Dee-Jay, the younger Big Youth rose to fame a couple of years later and was the only person capable of challenging for his crown but instead of battling it out, the two collaborated on this fine piece of work with each showcasing his own toasting style.”

The Clash by The Clash 
“This whole record really impressed me from the moment I first heard it and I still think every track is a classic, biker and Bassist Paul Simonon introduced the band to leather jackets when they visited Lewis Leathers in 1976, not only did they make great rebel music, they knew about style too.”

Cheree by Suicide
“Alan Vega and Martin Rev’s first single, Suicide were New York’s most brutal band in the 70’s but they were also capable of great sensitivity and Cheree is testimony to this.”

Raw Power by Iggy Pop and The Stooges
“Any track from this crucial album is a winner for me, Iggy told me he used to walk from the Raw Power sessions at Whitfield Street Studios to Fulham Rd in the small hours, every day after recording, and he’d get abuse and threats every step of the way, perhaps the inspiration behind this song.”

Miami by The Gun Club
“The late Jeffrey Lee Pierce at his best, these days his music is deservedly gaining wider exposure thanks to Jack White, Henry Rollins and others, I’ll drink to that.”

Super Ape by Lee Perry and The Upsetters
“During the mid 1970’s us Punks listened to a lot of Reggae, in fact I still do. My all time favourite reggae artist is producer Lee Perry, I believe I once read that he produced over 2,000 songs and dub remixes before he burned down his recording studio in 1980, the Super Ape lp/cd is one of his finest works.”

Ramones by Ramones
“The opening track of their first album, a true breath of fresh air in 1976. After enduring endless plays of Peter Frampton’s double live album by fellow students at art school I bought this album in June that year and my world changed forever.”

Good Rockin’ Tomorrow / Rockabilly Uprising by Mac Curtis
“Recommended to me in 1977 by some early Rockabilly friends, very different to the punk music I had been listening to and I liked it straight away. Mac Curtis even inspired me to have a flat top haircut, I was still a punk but now dressed like a Rockabilly, a dangerous thing to do in those days.”

Top image credits: 
Jacket from LEWIS LEATHERS: polo by JOHN VARVATOS FW14: jeans from 7 FOR ALL MANKIND.

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