Howard Mclaren is a name synonymous with effortless style, razor cutting, and R+Co. He has mentored countless artists in brand curation and how to be the coolest cat in the room for over thirty five years. Howard can be found behind the camera shooting his own content, or on stage teaching with the charm and skill of a legend, or making films like The Reset that entertains and pushes boundaries with his views on our industry, while giving a voice to us all. What made Howard who he is today? Youth Cult interviewed him and got some incredible insight into this legendary hairdresser.
Q. What youth did you most identify with in you teens and early twenties?
A. In my early teens, definitely Skin heads. I was attracted to the regimentation of the style.We wore Crombies and Harrington’s and different colored pair of socks for each day of the week. The only other reference I had was my brother, who was older. He was a hippy. I remember him as a Beatle with pointy shoes, that sort of stuff. He was a great reference for me for music. Also at school I had friends who were hippies. In the only sense of the music we listened to, Roxy Music, Velvet Underground, The uniform was everything. I still dress like I did when I was 14, I’ve progressed but I still admire how one put yourself together, and the respect for clothing. I worked three jobs to buy my first suit, I mean I still thought I was king of the hill as well, because I could afford to go and have clothing made to measure clothing by Arthur Black a big time tailor in Glasgow. You could get your initials embroidered on your shirts or suits. So I had both worlds going, The Skinheads and Hippies.
What Bands, Artists, Film Makers, Or Artists Influenced you the most in those early years?
I’m a very curious person, ya know, but I think if anything, music has been the thing that I’ve been attached to for all these years. I’d be waiting for the next record to come out, in the late 70’s with bands like Joy Division; music was the vehicle for me to express myself through. I’ve been collecting records for over 40 years. Gary Newman and Krafwerk when I started to become a punk we didn’t shave our heads. We just wore tight I’ll fitting black suits My friend Ian Stuart introduced me to Dadaism, Bauhaus architecture. Collage was an amazing release, all you need is a pair of scissors or just even rip the paper up, and put things together, it’s how you decide to reconfigure things. That mentality got me in a lot of trouble as a young hairdresser as I would say I don’t like this, it’s horrible… my teachers would say, no it has to be this way. Not to go around being a statement, but be more of a movement. Growing up my brother and I watched the Grey Whistle Test on BBC, where you would see bands like the New York Dolls, The Damned, David Bowie, The Who, Roxy Music, The Stones, The Specials…
Was there any article of clothing that once in your possession gave you your undeniable swagger?
Yeah, as a kid I got into bespoke clothing, tailoring was everything you know, you created your own identity. My first suit took me 6 months to save up for, it was light blue with a white pin stripe. Thirty years later I spent five years and millions of dollars buying suits on Savile row. A good suit is like your armor. I have my own identity and then I put it into what I’m buying”
Did you Bring elements from that time into your creative work? How have you evolved and what has stayed the same?
I left my ego behind. When your not the ringmaster you’re part of the circus. It’s difficult, I spent most of my years impressing my peers and not myself. I worried more about what my peers thought than the people paid me to give them a service. There’s always someone out there who just knows better, there’s always a bigger motherf””””r.
How important is it to you to explore self expression through personal style?
Well, I think if you want to be a leader, you know, you have to understand your abilities. It’s everything,self expression is everything. There’s no limits when it comes to self expression. Through self expression we learn about references, references are everything. Change your beliefs and respect yourself.