Collecting is a prevalent hobby in our culture as sometimes weird and quirky items become our affection. Sneakers, clothing, vinyl, toys, cameras, candy bars, regional McDonald’s pies, their innocent nature can sometimes involve a more meaningful existence. Whether subconsciously or through deliberate efforts, the sounds of that vintage vinyl or the construction of that generations-old piece of furniture are not to be overlooked. For YMC’s Fraser Moss, comic books, vintage fashion, vinyl and other general oddball items have all captured his attention over the years. We were interested to see his insights into the art of collecting and how his passions began. For many, it seems that collecting itself holds strong references to one’s childhood and arguably situates itself as one’s own personal way of keeping track of their important times in their lives.
Interview: Eugene Kan
Photography: Edward Chiu
Hello Fraser, could you give a brief introduction about yourself and your role within YMC?
Hi, I’m Fraser Moss, the Design Director and partner at YMC (You Must Create).
As we understand, you’re an avid collector. Was there a particular part of your childhood that spawned this attraction to collecting? Did your parents have any influence on this as well?
The only influence my parents had was my mum buying me my first Marvel comic book when I was about five, which immediately got me hooked. When I was about seven years old, I was in Hay-on-Wye with my father looking in an old junk shop and I came across a pile of Golden Age of Marvel comics all around 2p each, obviously very rare but this pile of 50 or so comics contained Journey Into Mystery #83 which was the first ever appearance of Thor which is worth about £2000 today. I bought this and a handful of others as my father would only let me spend 20p and this is one of my biggest collecting regrets! I sold the Thor comic about two years later for about £300 and the bug started from there.
All in all, what are the types of objects that you collect?
My biggest passion is vinyl, particularly obscure 45s. My taste ranges from 50s Rock n’ Roll, psych, 60s girl group and anything weird and wonderful. I am also always on the lookout for objects and curios mostly for the house, office and vintage clothing. Essentially menswear between 1900 to 1950s.
Within each specific collection, can you narrow down the actual moment in time when these items became of interest?
With records it was in 1974 when I was eight years old buying my first 45 which I think was Sparks – This Town Ain’t Big Enough For The Both Of Us. With clothing it was my first pair of vintage Big E Levi’s from Flip when I was about 16 and with objects, it was when I got my first office when I was doing Professor Head.
As your collection grows, is there ever a moment where you have to ensure you’re collecting for the right reasons? That is your collecting because you really appreciate the item rather than just for the sake of amassing a large collection of items?
Today I am far more picky but perhaps in the past I have bought vinyl not for the sake of it but generally because I want it and maybe not for the right reasons.
Beyond a hobby, is there any societal importance in collecting? Sort of like keeping tabs on culture away from the usual historical topics like economy and war.
For me it is more like a diary of my life, as in I can look at a record and remember the exact place and time of where I bought it and it takes me back to that period.
Do you ever have the desire to share what you’ve amassed? Or do you prefer to keep it private?
I’m always one for sharing my finds, I’m not sure if this is out of generosity or gloating!
How do the sensibilities of collecting spill over into your work with YMC?
Vintage clothing has been influential to my design work and my music has definitely influenced the artwork for our t-shirts in the past.
Has anything you’ve collected over the years that’s non fashion-related made its way into a piece from YMC in terms of detailing?
Yes an Action Man jumpsuit. I had the Action Man since I was a boy and always loved his jumpsuit. It was very minimal almost post punk looking, black with a diagonal zip across his chest and I incorporated this into a leather jacket and knitwear.
What’s your favorite collection?
Always the next one.
Have some of your previous interests waned after many years or are you able to maintain your passion? Do you also find yourself picking up new collecting interests along the way?
Sadly my comic book passion ended in my mid 20s as it was proving too expensive and something had to go and vinyl won the day. My taste fluctuates with the objects and curios I buy for our house. For instance the YMC shop reflects my tastes at the moment, medical studies, taxidermy, skeletons and the house is more of an ongoing project. Seven years ago our house featured only mid-century design and today its far more eclectic.
Do you actively go searching for pieces to add to the collections you maintain, or is it mostly by chance? What has been the most peculiar place in which you found something for your collection?
Its in my nature to be actively looking at all times, for instance when abroad on business, any free time will be spent hunting out flea markets, junk shops etc. and when at home I do the same.
I found an original black leather 3 piece Ligne Roset Togo corner sofa in a vintage military warehouse. I spotted it over the shoulder of the guy serving me behind the desk in a back room amongst all of these stinking combat trousers, parachutes and dirty boots . We still have it as its the ultimate in child proof design.
Was there anything unbeknown to you at the time that you’ve learned through collection? Patience?
Its good for my sanity I find it therapeutic as with my job from a mental point of view, it is 24/7 so when I’m crate digging I can switch off.