The designer shares his career trajectory from mass-producing clothes for Topshop to hand painting shirts of his own.
“I used to work for a company that manufactured clothes for high street clothes in the UK, big volume like Topshop or River Island. At the same time I was putting on these art shows—so I on one hand I was manufacturing lots of clothes, and on the other I was putting together art shows, which I was really passionate about. About a year ago I decided to join the two worlds together and build a brand by making clothes I was proud of, with an artistic focus.
Bruta is like this trans-European word, and in Portuguese it means “damn”, “stupid”, and “crazy”. In Spanish it means “crazy” and in Italian it means “ugly”, so I just thought it was quite nice ironic European name. I’m European, I grew up between France and England, and the collection shows that. London is very urban so I did want it to feel a little bit streetwear in some sense, but then have that same European Romanticism. It’s just my background and what I’ve grown up with.
Friend of a Friend: Who is the quintessential Bruta wearer?
Arthur Yates: We’ve always made sure the brand is unisex because it’s quite natural—I would design shirts that I’d want to wear and my girlfriend would want to wear. If you look at a beautiful painting as a boy or a girl, you like it the same. We figured the same was true with prints. The Bruta wearer is more involved in the arts, so normally people who work in media, fashion, or film end up buying our shirts.
FOAF: What’s the inspiration for the collection?
AY: It was all inspired by the Argentinian gouchos. I went out to Argentina and I was really inspired by stables and gauchos on the farm and the organic and pastoral way of living. I like that we did this all over embroidery, the little roses and such. For some of my favorite garments we had to go to linen shops that normally do tablecloths and bedsheets and stuff like that because they are the only ones that have embroidery machines that can really handle it.
FOAF: What else is inspiring you now?
AY: For the next collection I’m focused on Italy, so I’m just in this mad Italy place at the moment. We’re planning this road trip over the summer and we’re going to shoot our lookbook and were going to go to our favorite little restaurants and drive around. I’m just inspired by everything Italian.
FOAF: And what’s up next?
AY: There are two sides of the business—so we have the core shorts, and then I’ve taken motifs from the collection and put them on to homeware stuff and that’s all hand painted. They’re all one-off pieces and it’s a little bit chaotic and not one of the parts is the same as the other, but we’re going to try to grow both sides of the business and do that thing where everything’s that one-off piece and no one else in the world has that one thing. I think that’s quite an interesting idea and it’s a little bit lost in fashion at the moment. We’re trying to build that homeware side, looking to grow the line into new stuff and challenge ourselves and everyone else.