David where do you start with a project of this magnitude? What are the initial discussions to be had between you and the design team at M&S?
Tailoring has always been a passion of mine, and as the designer of my loungewear and underwear collection, I have always wanted to progress to design a small tailoring capsule collection - it seemed the perfect time, after becoming the Ambassador of Tailoring at M&S a year ago. Our initial discussions began with brainstorming my favourite tailoring style details, the heritage of Savile Row, inspiration from classic tailoring, and the versatility of how tailoring is worn today.
Typically tailoring designs start from inspiration boards, mood boards, then illustrations etc. Did you have to go through this process and did you do any illustrating yourself?
The process began with bringing in vintage pieces of tailoring for styling references and inspiration. Once we created the designs, we spent a long time choosing cloths and the finer details, such as side adjusters and lapels etc, as well as ensuring we got the best fit possible.
Can you tell me a bit about your inspiration for the collection, did you pull inspiration from your personal tailoring experiences, M&S archives or tailoring heritage?
The main source of inspiration came from vintage items from my wardrobe – in particular a vintage M&S St Michael suit and vintage pea coats. Key style references included; ticket pocket detail on the suit jacket, an extra button on the waistcoat, broader collars and a longer length silhouette and classic back belt on the coat.
M&S has an incredible heritage in tailoring – introducing leading innovations to the high street such as colour standardisation in 1985 which allowed jackets and trousers to be bought separately for the first time. They have a brilliant team of designers, who I worked through the process with to further understand what was possible and what the customer wants.
How long did it take to develop a collection like this and what hurdles did you face? Were there any designs that didn't make the cut? (Pardon the pun).
I began working with the M&S design team on the collection in November 2017. Using British cloth is an integral part of the collection, and we devoted many hours to finding the best quality cloth at an accessible price to the customer – all the fabrics are woven in the UK.
Did you have an age demographic in mind when curating this collection; and if so how did that factor in to the final designs?
The collection was created with versatility in mind more than anything. The three pieces were created so they can be worn together or separately, dressed up or dressed down, season after season. I hope the collection appeals to men of many styles, ages and lifestyles.
Did you have free range on selecting fabrics and materials for the collection?
The M&S designers and I spent a long time sourcing the right cloth for each of the pieces. Both suits and the coat are crafted from fabric woven in Yorkshire.
The overcoat is also made from wool certified by The Responsible Wool Standard which is a global standard for growing wool with progressive standards in land management and animal welfare and uses technology to trace wool back to the farms where it was sourced.
How did this collaboration differ from any others that you've done previously?
This is my very first tailoring collection - creating my own collection has always been a dream of mine, and this felt like the right time after many years of learning about the craft of tailoring throughout my career. As the Ambassador of Tailoring at M&S I’ve spent a great deal of time with the design team, learning about M&S tailoring and the design process.
What were the most enjoyable parts of the journey? What piece from the collection are you most proud of?
I’m very proud of the collection. I’ve enjoyed seeing the collection come to life throughout the entire process, from initial sketches, fabric swatches, fits, trims and finishing details, to seeing the finished dinner suit, three-piece suit and overcoat. Style and fit are at the heart of the collection, along with premium cuts and quality fabrics, all at an attainable price point. My favourite piece has got to be the overcoat – I love its longer length, broad lapels and the fact that the wool is traceable right back to the network of farms in New Zealand.
Would you do it all again? Can we expect to see another collection after this?
Watch this space!