Last year, Richard Gair suffered kidney failure and was on the brink of death. But a transplant proved the catalyst for the career in fashion he had always yearned for.
The Doncaster designer’s bespoke leather designs are now endorsed by big names in metal such as Saxon and Iron Maiden, and his work is in demand nationally for television dramas.
Thrilled with his success, Richard is keen to share it by opening a creative studio for budding artists from disadvantaged backgrounds, and he plans to take his designs abroad.
Richard, 46, quit his job in The Youth Offending Service some years ago, fearing for his mental health, as he was desperately unhappy. He spiralled further into depression. I
In 2013 he broke his foot and due to his diabetes, developed a condition called Charcot foot.
“I didn’t know I had broken bones and walked around on it for three weeks. I was in a plaster cast for over a year,” he said. Additionally, Richard had the responsibility of caring for his elderly dad, as well as looking after his uncle who suffers from learning disabilities.
“I hid away for 20 years, “Richard said, “I was acting counsellor, mentor and key worker for some really desperate and often damaged young people; I was a sponge for negativity. I was also a carer for my dad and my uncle was now showing signs of dementia. I was so frustrated.
“One day I got a call that my studio was flooded: I rushed home to help my dad, and my car broke down. I just felt despair.”
“Then someone asked me to paint a Metallica design on a leather jacket, and the result was actually very good. I re-discovered my love of art and design. So, I set up GoGairy Hand Painted Leathers, and was planning to do Manchester Fashion Week last year, but was far too ill with complications from kidney failure and diabetes. I had to shelve the plan.”
“Eventually I was referred to Manchester Royal Infirmary where I was told about a combined Kidney and Pancreas Transplant. The surgeon said that he could cure my diabetes- a truly evil disease. He gave me hope.”
In August 2017 Richard underwent the life changing surgery: “It was like I had been given a second chance - a new start,” Richard said.
Focusing on GoGairy Hand Painted Leathers he sold more leather jackets, which retail on average £700, working from a spare room at home, with a team of artists, who, he said: “saved the brand, my sanity, and had a big part in saving my life”. Richard now claims he feels like the superheroes he draws, and is excited for the future.