An Honest & Modest Interview with Patrick Grant

Patrick Grant is a pretty incredible man, successful, honest and modest. He is a British fashion designer who rejuvenated Savile Row's Norton & Sons in 2005 before relaunching E.Tautz & Sons as a ready-to-wear label in 2009. He was then awarded the Menswear Designer award by the British Fashion Council in 2010. His most recent success story is the Hammond & Co. range which is exclusively sold by British clothing retailer Debenhams in 2013 and still on-going today.

Patrick, if we can just touch upon your history a little. You are the Creative Director of bespoke tailors Norton & Sons of Savile Row. You took the brand on from a point of insolvency, through everything you had at the business selling your house, your car etc. Was there any ever doubt in your mind that you could turn this ailing business around?

It wasn’t quite insolvent but it was in CVA. But no, I didn’t for a second think it wouldn’t work. I believe that most people with an entrepreneurial streak don’t ever think about failure. In hindsight there was a huge risk it would fail, and on several occasions it nearly did, but you shut this from you mind. Its always about moving forward.

What state is Savile Row in currently? Bricks & Mortar are becoming a fragile part of the retail, especially in fashion. Is Savile Row impervious to these kind of fluxes in buying trends, such as people buying suits online, the much maligned Brexit hitting consumer confidence. What's the pulse like on Savile Row like currently?

Savile Row is a unique place, arguably its not really retail at all, certainly amongst the older houses. At Nortons we offer a complete sartorial service. Of course we make beautiful tailored clothes but more than this we are here to help our customers build beautiful wardrobes of clothes. We know about style, and history, and cloth, and sartorial do’s and don’t. Everyone you speak to at Nortons has years of experience on the street, we love menswear, and we’re happy to help our customers in any way we can.

In 2013 you released Hammond & Co, a subsidiary of Norton exclusively through Debenhams. How does a collaboration like that come about? Who approaches who? Please walk us through the process and share some early memories from those early exchanges.

In December 2010 I won menswear designer of the year at the BFA’s. In 2011 Debenhams approached me about doing a tailoring line under my name. I suggested we think a bit bigger and that we do it under the Hammond & Co name, a house that had been part of the Norton & Sons stable since the 1960’s. I had a clear idea of the direction that I wanted and the history of the house gave all of the designer working on it a clear vision of the brand. We spent 18 months working on the collection before it hit stores.

How has that relationship matured over the last 4-5 years and what can we expect to see from the Hammond & Co range in the future?

I work with a brilliant team at Debenhams and I think we’ve created a strong identity for Hammond & Co. We now cover almost every possible aspect of menswear and accessories and the product is I think the best in its price range. But there are always ways we can see to improve it, so over the coming years we’ll work just as hard to fine tune every aspect of the collection, and keep moving it forward so that it remains relevant to the modern British man.

 I think my favourite new piece is the ecru denim jean. Theres something brilliantly utilitarian about it, yet very chic. Arguably the perfect summer trouser.

Penultimately, and slightly tenuously, are you still an avid skier and if so where do you like to ski?

Sadly time never seems to allow. I’ve been abroad skiing just three times in the last decade. I’ve had more ski trips to Scotland than the alps.

Lastly and still rather tenuously, who is your favourite style icon from the silver screen and which Bond do you gravitate towards stylistically?

Ive always had a soft spot for David Niven, not only was he smart, funny and very charming, he had a great way with sportswear. He crops up frequently in Hammond & Co products discussions. If David would wear it we know it’s a winner.

Lazenby didn’t get much of a chance but did pull of a couple of corking looks (his Scottish dresswear was quite a strong look). Both Dalton’s and Brosnan’s wardrobes were pretty dull, and I don’t think I’ve yet seen Daniel Craig wear anything that fits him. But I’d go with either Connery or Moore, both had some brilliant sartorial moments.