The Journal: Raffael Flores-Contreas | Raw Meat & Repair Co.

The Journal: Raffael Flores-Contreas | Raw Meat & Repair Co.

A few years back, one of my closest 'non-football liking' friends would get excited over the latest Marvel films. I'd mock and tell him to act like an adult whilst he'd try explain how Thanos gaining all of the Infinity Stones would be catastrophic for us all. 

Six years later or more precisely six years deep of being a dad, I have seen all of the Marvel films in chronological order, own Marvel fleece pyjamas and follow Chris Hemsworth on Instagram. Yeah, I'm now in. 

One of the last films I watched was Spiderman: No Way Home. It went deep on the multiverse and parallel dimensions where a different version of the same person exists. Still here? 

When I started Mallin & Son, I caught a gap, a mood, call it what you will, but we were the first to do what we do in the way that we do it. Little did we know that in that in another multiverse the same journey was happening across the Atlantic Ocean. Raffael Flores-Contreras was catching our eye on Instagram with his uber-cool patches and array of vintage Belstaff pieces we's see across his 'grid'. 

Earlier this year we officially joined forces so we thought it would be good to sit down and have a chat.  

Hello, please introduce yourself.

My name is Raffael Flores-Contreras Founder of the Raw Meat & Repair Co.

And where in the world do we find you today?

I am located in Bushwick, NYC the vibrant neighbourhood, renowned for its artistic spirit and entrepreneurial flair, which perfectly aligns with our brand's ethos of individuality and craftsmanship.

What's your personal background? Do you have fashion in your genes?

I hail from Arequipa, a city situated in the southern part of “Darkest” Perú known for its rich history, culture and textiles. Although I wouldn't say that fashion runs in my family, I had the opportunity to grow up with my grandfather, Savoir, who was always dressed very elegantly to go teach at university. My father, on the other hand, was an "enfant terrible" in his taste for aesthetics and photography, but that's a story for another day.

When did you start Raw Meat & Repair Co. and what inspired the name?

In October of 2022, I founded Raw Meat. During my time working with Belstaff, one of my clients was a creative force from Portsmouth, UK who loved to customize and personalize his garments. He affectionately referred to me as his personal "butcher" and trusted me to work on his garments, which he called "chops," with the same precision as if I were working on a piece of meat. This idea kept me going, and during one of his visits to New York, he mentioned that he foresaw me having my own establishment one day, where I would be "butchering" pieces for him, all while posting about my work on Instagram with the caption: "I've butchered this piece."

I can see you have links to Belstaff's NY workshop.. Can you tell us more about this?

In September 2019, I held the position of head tailor at 3x1, the top bespoke denim company in New York. My mentor was Scott Morrison. One day, a friend requested me to provide a tour of the company to a group of British individuals who were interested in learning more about our work. Unbeknownst to me, it turned out to be my initial interview with the previous Belstaff CEO, Helen Wright. Following that encounter, I was tasked with creating the Workshop at Belstaff. The Workshop's purpose was to act as a connection between Belstaff's customers and the brand's fundamental core values. My objective was to understand their preferences while enhancing the value of their investments by customizing and repairing their garments.

Where did your journey start in the world of textiles/fashion?

It was the year 2008 when the company where I worked as an industrial designer - in watchmaking, accessories, and furniture - closed down. After struggling as a nightlife photographer documenting the underground music scene and as a DJ, I was given an opportunity to work as a manager for a small denim atelier named Denim Therapy. The company was known for providing a platform for industry experts to develop their patterns and sew their projects while also pushing me to learn more about denim as a fabric. Over the next 8 years, I delved deep into the world of denim, learning everything there was to know about it. Little did I know that this little atelier would change my world.

We've spoken previously about taking inspiration from music and more specifically the punk scene, what came first for you? Music or fashion?

Music has played a huge role in my life. Growing up in the 80s, I witnessed my grandparents dancing to some of the best orchestras the world had to offer at the time, such as Paul Mauriat, Ray Coniff, Henry Mancini, Franck Pourcell, Tango, and Peruvian folk music. I also saw my aunts and uncles dancing to rock 'n' roll from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, including but not limited to The Platters, Beatles, The Doors, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Queen, Eagles, ABBA, Boney M, Karen Carpenter, and The Bee Gees - which was my mother's favourite. Being a kid in the 80s, my taste in music was heavily influenced by what my family listened to during these family parties. My father owned a music shop, so he would let me listen to anything I was curious about at the time: Punk music - in the listening booth - such as The Clash, Sex Pistols, The Who, Joy Division, Blondie, and Spanish rock, which also played a huge role in shaping my taste in music. 

It was in the 90s that I got into grunge music as I discovered Nirvana and Rage Against the Machine. That was also the time when New Age music became a significant interest of mine, and I became a huge fan of Enya. I would often rave to music from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Oasis, Wallflowers, Radiohead, Cranberries, and the techno waves. Music helped me pay attention to dress codes and define my perception and aesthetic.

Which bands/artists had a big effect on you?

Artists: Salvador Dali, Debbie Harry, David Bowie, Keith Haring, Basquiat, Warhol and Banksy

Bands: Madness, The Verve, Gogol Bordello, The Strokes, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Hives, Daft Punk, Leningrad and Justice

Which designers inspired and continue to inspire you?

Jean-Paul Gaultier, John Galliano, Thierry Mugler, Vivienne Westwood, Hussein Chalayan, Alexander McQueen, Jeremy Scott, Johji Yamamoto and Issey Miyake in no specific order.

What does a normal day look like for RM&RCo.?

4 hours of sleep every day.

There's a weird juxtaposition I find from speaking with people in the US. You recently shared a clip from a subway station that looks almost exotic to us over here. We grew up with these places on every TV show, music video and films that headed out of the 90s. I can imagine you may take that stuff for granted much in the same way I do rolling countryside and old castles....

I'm captivated by the daily happenings on the NYC train, which is why I share clips of my everyday life. New York is like a movie set no matter where you go, with both the grime and the glam. However, I also dream of visiting a real pub, travelling through the UK by car, and experiencing authentic fish and chips. Spending Christmas and visiting The Goodwood state in the UK is also on my bucket list.

Thinking back to jacket work specifically, we've worked on many from famous musicians to TV presenters to stuntmen to international 'rock stars'. We find that a jacket can tell lots of stories... Do you have one to tell or a favourite from a customer?

Lucky you! I don't recall serving any famous clients, but I do have a special friend who used to be my client and is now a great friend. This friend has the best luck in finding the most amazing collectable jackets, and I get to restore and maintain them. So, lucky me! Even though I try to keep track of who my clients are, nothing comes to mind, or does it?

Do you have a favourite jacket? 

I do, I love my Fieldmaster which slowly is becoming a very special piece because of the work that has been put in there for a while now and my Forrager. 

What does your dream jacket look like?

The ones I make for my clients.

What does the future hold for RM&RCo.?

No one knows. This baby is a little over a year old and has just learned to crawl. Soon enough, the baby will be taking its first steps. I have no rush to make it grow too fast. I believe in letting the baby develop at its own pace, just fast enough to run and fly when it's ready.

Coffee or tea...?

Tea, makes me feel at home.

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