Starting a new fashion brand born out of the success of the 40-or-so rock inspired silk scarves you handmade for your friends the other Christmas sounds pretty idyllic, doesn't it? But that’s exactly how the Rockins seed was sown. Founded and run by London-based couple, Tim Rockins and Jess Morris - Tim being a DJ, artist and musician with 10 years experience designing visuals for Gorillaz, and Jess being a PR pundit with a background working for Agent Provocateur and Vivienne Westwood - the pair have become known for their eclectic and illustrative luxury scarf collections that have been seen around the necks of everyone in the rock ’n' roll biz, from the famed Kate Moss to the legendary Keith Richards.
Now, Rockins scarves are stocked in 250 stores worldwide, and Spring/Summer 2017 see’s the introduction of their first mainline clothing collection. When I ask what inspired the bridge from scarves into the full get-up, Jess tells me that the popular accessories were just the beginning of the archive, “just scarves would never really be enough. It was just the first garment in the Rockins look.” Jess confesses that there is rarely any time that isn't spent working on the brand, and when they’re not at gigs or hanging out with their two rockstar-esque kids, they’ll be found somewhere within their north-west London stomping ground, “We don’t get much further than the Kilburn High Road these days!”, she jokes. We talk to Jess about the pair's favourite records, style idols and what’s next on the cards in the ever-growing Rockins empire.
What were you both like growing up? Have your styles and tastes changed much since your teenage years?
My mum had a second hand shop and I used to work there on Sundays. We’d go to the jumble sales and carboots in the morning, then take everything to the shop in the afternoons. In those days it was amazing, you’d put your arm in and pull out a Victorian blouse or a piece of retro 50’s fabric. I still have dreams about how amazing those jumble sales were! We used to sell to the punks and to the teddy boys and all of the alternative sectors in Portsmouth. Tim is an 80’s kid, I think it’s a good blend. Tim mish-mashes it all together, he wears a leather, a heavily customised jacket with skinny jeans, Vans, a hoody and long hair and a beard.
What was the first record you ever bought?
The first record I ever bought with my own money was Heart of Glass, Blondie. And I think Funky Town was around the same time. Tim’s was KC and The Sunshine Band! He said that was free with a pair of Clark’s shoes!
Who are some of the most memorable names to have sported a Rockins scarf?
We’ve got quite a few big names which is kind of amazing. Keith Richards, Rod Stewart, Jeff Beck, Joan Jett, Steve Tyler. Golden oldies. Joan Jett was amazing. She was sitting with The Who watching a band and wearing Rockins.
Who would you site as your own personal style icons?
Jimmy Page for me. Style-wise, back in the day, I don’t think you could beat Jimmy Page. He just always, always had it right. I mean obviously Marc Bolan looked amazing, David Bowie looked amazing, but there was just something about he way he stood, the way his hair was, just the way he put things together. And Keith! You know. I mean of course there’s loads of girls but it must be the tomboy in me that likes guys in the 70’s. For Tim it’s George Clinton. Yeah, you can’t argue with that, that’s fantastic.
Rock ’n’ roll legends have influenced a lot of your pieces - who were the main muses of behind the SS17 collection?
Dr. Feelgood really. Just with the white. Lee Brilleaux used to wear this white suit going from Canvey Island to London whenever they were doing their gigs, and apparently the car was crap, they had an old Cortina bus or something like that and it used to break down all the time and because he knew how to mend a car, he’d spend half his time underneath the car mending it. He always wore this white suit with a white flair. So that was the starting point.
And the pre-fall collection modelled by Sunflower Beam’s Julia Cummings is great - what was the main inspiration for those designs?
She was amazing to work with on the day of the shoot. We shot it at the Columbia Hotel on Hyde Park. It has amazing rooms that are still untouched, slightly naff but really good. It’s still got those avocado bath suits. She was really nice to work with, she got really involved in the process of the photography. She wanted to check the photos, she checked the lighting, she knew where she was best photographed from. For the collection, we have moved into velvets and cords as well. The green velvet suit is fantastic. It feels so good to wear, it’s that lovely bottle green colour with the flair. I feel a lot more like the Rockins look is really starting to solidify itself.
Who are you listening to at the moment who is currently making music in 2017?
Currently we are listening to pretty much non-stop King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard, we’re still pretty obsessed with them. H.Hawkline. Cate Le Bon. Sunflower Bean. The Lemon Twigs. They’re fantastic and they look amazing. There’s this girl Anna Meredith - she’s done this banging tune, ‘Nautilus’, that’s amazing, we’ve been listening to a lot. Tim’s really into grime so he’s just throwing loads of names at me. P Money. JME. I mean Tim works in the box room at our place because he won’t work in the office with anyone else, he has to be on his own because no one could possibly work near him. He likes to sit there and design in a cacophony of mental, really really loud noise with anything from King Gizzard to grime, usually, or hip-hop. He’s got a much wider taste, I’m a 70’s kid.
Do you think it’s important that fashion and music compliment each other?
It’s certainly important to us. In England, we’ve got great rock and roll heroes. I suppose in British fashion we tend to reference the same people quite a lot, but we have got great reference points, and if they’re not musicians, they’re girlfriends of musicians, or people that certainly we think look the best. But not everybody is as music-nutty as we are, so we’re building a fan base of people who think that that bridge is important. Whether that’s important to the masses or not, I don’t know. We’ll see and we’ll see how well we do it I suppose!
What else can you reveal about what’s in the pipeline for Rockins?
Definitely a shop this year! A pyjamas collection - and when I say a pyjamas collection - it’s going- out pyjamas. They’re leopard skin with shark teeth all around the edges, and great piping. And for the next season, I’m doing a pyjamas collection which is slightly based on the characters from the yellow submarine. Striped trousers, amazing green and purple. They are pyjamas to wear out, whether with a fur coat and trainers or with high heels and a velvet jacket. I’m really excited about the idea of having a shop. It’s going to be really exciting for us to invite people into the world of Rockins.
Photography by Siobhan Bailey Turner.