London-based brand Scott Fraser Collection has been on my radar for several years with its increasing lineup of beautiful clothes consistent with its maxim of “retrospective modernism”. With a collection tailored to men and women, Scott Fraser Collection offers knitwear, trousers, suits, and more that take inspiration from the golden age of leisure-wear across the mid-20th century.
In 2020, SFC introduced the first of its “Icon Series”, recreating two famous and distinctive shirts worn by Jude Law in The Talented Mr. Ripley. Less than two years later, SFC has expanded its Icon Series by turning its creative abilities toward what may be my favorite movie of all time: Goodfellas.
Richard Bruno’s costume design from this decades-spanning Mafia story has retained its staying power more than 30 years after it premiered, with many appreciating the wiseguys’ wardrobes of silk suits, snappy shoes, and—of course—comfortable knitwear.
This sartorial trio is perfectly encapsulated when we get our first look at Ray Liotta as the young, confident hood Henry Hill. A chyron informs the setting of “Idlewild Airport, 1963” just before we pan up from his croc loafers up the legs of his gray sharkskin suit trousers to his black striped knit shirt as Henry and his volatile pal Tommy (Joe Pesci) await the truck they’re scheduled to hijack.
The moment stuck with me since the first time I saw Goodfellas twenty years ago, sending me on a long hunt to crib the style I had so admired. (Some readers may recall my including this in my list of five “formative” movie suits that led to this blog’s creation!)
I recently had the chance to speak to Scott Simpson, founder of Scott Fraser Collection, both with my friend Pete Brooker in the latest episode of his excellent podcast From Tailors With Love in addition to catching up separately when Scott generously answered some of my burning questions about the creative process behind these beautiful—and much-demanded—shirts.
Can you share some background into how Scott Fraser Collection got started?
I started SFC as a small passion project in 2013 while working 3 jobs, mostly in menswear. It’s grown totally organically from that point and I owe a big part of it to the support from everyone who’s ordered or shared the love for what we do that’s got us and kept us here.
What were the first pieces you added to the collection?
We started out with something simple. It was a piece that I was looking for myself: a classic duffel bag with a single strap, just the right size for me to carry out on my daily missions! I found a small bag maker around the East End of London where I was working at the time. On my lunch breaks I would visit them and ask questions: how could I get this made, what did I need?
I worked back and forth with them tirelessly but it paid off, and at the end of those months I had a bag on my back. Proudly sharing it with people I knew, people would ask me to make them one for them. So I took the decision to start selling them; I built myself a website and the rest is history. Lots of learning and hard work along the way, but I’m blessed to be doing something I love and to create products that I’m passionate about.
It seems like you were ahead of the trend, as I started noticing last year that a lot of more mainstream brands are getting into the retro-inspired knit shirt game. How would you describe the SFC difference?
The difference is that I’ve been on this knit shirt wave for more than ten years. What goes into every piece of SFC knitwear is the 300+ vintage knit shirt collection I’ve compiled in that time—I am obsessed with them! Every single piece that passes through my hands is photographed, studied, color-profiled, and respected for the piece of art in knitwear that they are. In order for me to create something that would be good enough to lay next to the vintage counterparts meant that they would have to be just as good!
So, I’ve spent many years working to find the right factories and knitwear collaborators to distill everything I love (and I think others do to) of these knitted shirts into the SFC knit. From the fit that sits just at the right place on the waist to the right button placement, the technical details, collar-shaping, and souring the finest materials to make them from… the list really could go on!
Quality lasts, and I think that if the SFC knits were to be picked up by someone in 50-60 years time—as I have—that they too would appreciate them and see why they’ve lasted all this time.
What’s your personal favorite piece from the collection, and/or what gets the most wear?
Our trousers and knits are what we’ve become known for. I wear the classic wide-leg pretty much everyday; they’re just the right side of wide-leg and with a neat high-waist.
Naturally, I’m loving the new Goodfellas knits: they both have a strong look for me and wear them differently! I love the Idlewild knit—with the 5 shades of grey and a super technical stripe detail—it’s just so beautiful to me! Plus, having the same pieces used in the film and knowing that everything about them is the same it rocks even harder!
How should wearers take care of their quality knitwear? How would you recommend it be stored, cleaned, and maintained?
I always suggest dry cleaning, there’s something that happens to wool when you wash it in water and it never comes back the same. Top tip: dry cleaning is great as it can help to kill any moth eggs that eat at your precious knits! In order to properly store knitwear always fold it away; hangers make the shoulders stretch and we don’t like that!
A couple years ago, you created a substantial buzz with the “Anzio” and “Ischia” knit shirts that perfectly capture Jude Law’s style in The Talented Mr. Ripley. What was the process for those, and how would you describe the reaction?
The reaction was of a titanic scale, we released it on the crest of COVID as the world was going into lockdowns. It was a time when people felt as though the last thing they wanted was to be trapped inside their homes and unable to travel and I think the Ripley knits acted a sense of escapism for people at that time and they still do; I love seeing where they end up around the world! It’s also a great film and I’d been after the knits I saw Dickie in from the moment I saw film so it was bound to happen at some stage!
I remember you had mentioned to me at the time that Goodfellas would be the next entry to the Icon Series, and it’s finally here! How did you determine which shirts to make?
There are a few pieces in the film, but these two—”Salerno” and “Idlewild”—really stood out to me. Even though the Salerno knit (blue striped short-sleeve) doesn’t feature for too much time in the film, I think it truly encapsulates the whole look of the film for me: casual elegance.
How did the Goodfellas shirt process differ from the Ripley knits?
The Goodfellas knits followed a really interesting process, because we own the originals that are featured in the film. It’s both blessing and curse having the original vintage pieces. Having every single detail in your hands for you to compare against your own version can make for quite a lengthly process for a perfectionist like myself.
The main starting point for us was to send these knits out to our factory so that they could see with their own eyes what we are working towards creating. This is where the hard work started! We started by selecting the yarns, as this is a lengthy process to find the exact colors for each of them. We went to countless suppliers to find different tones. The most difficult color to source was for the blue short-sleeve model, so much so that we ended up having to have our own yarn custom dyed to get it the same color.
On average to create a knit shirt, we find it can take around two samples to get things right. For the Goodfellas knit we had around 8-9 samples before we reached a point where we/I could sleep at night.
What are the shirts made from?
They are made from the finest merino wool.
Let’s break down each of the shirts one by one. First, the black striped shirt which appears twice: most prominently with that gray sharkskin suit and the olive tassel loafers for the 1963 Idlewild Airport intro set to “Stardust”, and then again worn more casually when Henry gets a visit while staying with his mistress.
What were some of the screen-specific details that you wanted to capture? Were there any significant challenges?
One of the hardest details was replicating the vertical stripes on the Idlewild. Having the original knit meant that we were able to achieve this extremely technical—and beautiful—vertical detail that a 2D image just couldn’t give. Finding yarn shades that are the same as the originals in this modern age is a difficult task too.
Next, there was the brilliantly bright blue, white, and red striped short-sleeved shirt that Henry wears open while he and Paulie are scamming their way into a partnership at a pal’s restaurant. This shirt might not even be on screen for a full minute and we never see below the waist, but I know it’s regarded as a top fashion moment from the movie.
Again, what were some of the specific details that you wanted to capture with this shirt?
The Salerno was really interesting knit and the one we started on first as I thought it would take the longest time to get right. There are three things: the stripe placement and thickness was hard and probably an easy thing to overlook but having the original helped greatly. Another was the curved collar and how it falls over the top of the chest; the angle of the collar took a while as knitting in curves isn’t something that it is as easy as knitting in straight lines.
Finally, the shade of mid-blue that is used for the front panel: it was important to find the exact same shade and with that we decided to have our own yarn custom-dyed for us to achieve the same shade as the original.
What has the reaction to the Goodfellas Icon Series been so far?
After releasing the Ripley knits back in June 2020, I realized people were just as obsessed with these knits as I am, there’s an appetite for knit-nerd accuracy and I’m happy to get it right: it’s sort of as a mark of respect to it. The reaction to the Goodfellas knits has been as great though; I think the two films speak to people in different ways.
What do you consider some of the most stylish movies—or TV series—of all time?
I could reel off a long list of films, but I’ll keep it short and sweet as we could be here for a long time:
- Casablanca made me fall in love with a fuller cut, white linen and sent me on my journey obsessing over 1930s and ’40s tailoring.
- Blow: There’s something great about the styling in this film; it always jumps out to me. Period yet with a freshness. It had the whole package and I rate that.
- American Gigolo: I have a love affair with any Armani, this film being one of his spring-boards into the public eye, I can see why! The film is 4/10 at best but the clothes are an 10/10!
What’s next for Scott Fraser Collection?
Right at this moment we are renovating a store in the East End of London; it’s going to be a mixed use space where we can still hold our fitting appointments, collections previews, and run our fulfillment from. We also plan to use it as more of a gallery space, where we will be able to showcase a variety of design and art projects that we’re interested in, as well as using it as a platform for other collaborations with fellow brands and makers. It’s a new space for creation and I’m excited!
Read more about Ray Liotta’s wardrobe during the “Idlewild Airport, 1963” vignette in Goodfellas here.
Disclaimer: This is not a paid promotional post, nor have I received any compensation in any form for writing about this company. I simply respect Scott Fraser Collection’s craftsmanship, and I welcomed the opportunity to learn more about these shirts recreated from my favorite movie.