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Regulars / Bookshelf

Owner of iconic shirt brand Brutus, Jonathan Freedman’s punk and DIY-infused bookshelf

In 1966 Jonathan Freedman’s father, Keith Freedman founded Brutus at 17 years old after he put a full page ad for a white roll neck sweater in Menswear Magazine. From that moment the brand built a cult following among the mods and skinheads who put Brutus at the heart of their subcultures. In 2009 when Jonathan relaunched the brand, a new wave of wearers were born. The school days-themed campaign photographer Lydia Garnett shot for them last year is a great example of the carefree spirit of the brand. This year is Brutus’ 50th birthday so to get a sense of its origins, here Jonathan talks us through his bookshelf that has a distinct punk and DIY influence.

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Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper: Subway Art (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper: Subway Art (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper: Subway Art (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

Henry Chalfant and Martha Cooper: Subway Art

When I first opened Subway Art as a kid in the mid 80s it blew my mind. It documents the graffiti scene in early 80s New York City. The book shows how incredibly gifted, young artists risked life and limb in order to get their names up and their art seen by their peers. It introduced me to the idea that art, music and style was all intertwined, and for me, as an eight year old that was everything.

My friends and I spent hours with highlighters and Tipp-Ex pens trying to recreate our heroes’ work in our school books – and I’m sure Seen, Duster and Dondi had far greater influence on me growing up than the science teachers we weren’t listening to. 

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Ray Petri: Buffalo (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Ray Petri: Buffalo (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Ray Petri: Buffalo (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

Ray Petri: Buffalo

I was introduced to the Buffalo book when I first started working with Barry Kamen who started out as a model for Ray Petri and then became a great artist, stylist and incredible influence. The book is really about bravery. This was the first time people were seeing young mixed race boys and girls on the covers of magazines such as i-D and The Face, and the styling mixed high, unobtainable fashion with sportswear in a very powerful way.

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Brett Easton Ellis: American Psycho (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

Brett Easton Ellis: American Psycho

Brett Easton Ellis is one of my favourite authors and this was the first book I read of his. He writes dark stories with incredible attention to detail.

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Frame and Shigekazu Ohno: Wonderwall (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Frame and Shigekazu Ohno: Wonderwall (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Frame and Shigekazu Ohno: Wonderwall (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

Frame and Shigekazu Ohno: Wonderwall

Wonderwall is a studio in Japan run by Masamichi Katayama who has designed hundreds of cutting edge retail spaces for all the best brands. I came across this book around 15 years ago and was blown away by the attention to detail and clinical designs he was coming up with. He manages to give brands a physical identity and the customer a holistic experience which I think is becoming more and more important in today’s virtual world. When I finally came round to visiting Japan I took myself on a tour of almost every one of his shops and cafes. 

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John Joseph Holt: LAW Magazine, Issue 1 (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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John Joseph Holt: LAW Magazine, Issue 1 (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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John Joseph Holt: LAW Magazine, Issue 1 (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

John Joseph Holt: LAW Magazine, Issue 1

The guys at LAW Magazine are documenting the overlooked in Britain. This is Issue 1 which was brought to me by John Holt the editor-in-chief when he was fresh out of university. It is hand numbered and very rare. I have been working closely with LAW ever since first unwrapping this mag. Even as their notoriety grows and they are in demand from big brands they have managed to keep a humbleness to their aesthetic by putting the importance on the subject first. 

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Michael Cuscuna: The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Michael Cuscuna: The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

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Michael Cuscuna: The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff (photograph by Lydia Garnett)

Michael Cuscuna: The Blue Note Photographs of Francis Wolff

This book documents the story of Blue Note Records from its inception in the late 1930s. The story is fascinating, the records they released transport you to another world and the clothes reflect the ultimate in cool, laid back smokey jazz clubs.