Jocks&Nerds Revival: Can Print Magazines go Advertisement-Free?

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Jocks & Nerds returns after a 2-year hiatus. Founder and Editor, Marcus Agerman Ross spoke to one of my contributors Pete Brooker about why he has revived the brand and got his take on the current climate for the print industry. 

Why did we take two years out and what have you learnt in your two year sabbatical?

I was forced to close it down because the business didn’t work anymore. When I realised I had to shut it down I realised I was exhausted, physically and emotionally - aside from the financial pain of it all. I always says there’s only one thing harder than running a business and that’s running a business that’s failing. It’s a horrible place to be.

I started working over 20 years ago and, for better or for worse, I saw what I did as journalism and that journalism was something independent - an important view on the world.

That has all been stripped away before our eyes - I don’t think anyone really understood how it happened or how quickly. (When I started Jocks&Nerds Instagram didn’t even exist and smartphones where a totally new thing!!)

I found myself in a tough situation. Middle-aged with professional experience in only one industry - one that essentially no longer exists. The skills people want today are brand new and I find them really boring.

(I was actually looking at the site of a fairly creative company recently - not for work but for something else - I clicked on their jobs board and all the jobs were things like UX developer, coder, etc!!) I genuinely think it’s very hard to be a creative professional right now. There used to be outlets for creativity that might not have paid so well as the commercial work but all of those avenues are being torn down by the new technology.

I looked for work in places where I thought my skill sets and experience would be really valued but I got nowhere. I also looked at working in totally new sectors but nothing was really coming together.

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In that time, I decided to start a Jocks&Nerds radio show on Soho Radio so that we could keep the name alive and some connection with our audience. I think radio/podcasts are about the only place where you can be journalistic and independent right now. There’s no money in it but there’s essentially no cost either so you can reach people fairly easily and say what you want. It doesn’t tick every box for what I want to say as an editor but it is very useful.

Over that period I kept meeting readers and fans of the mag who told me how much they missed and that there was nothing else out there. I realised that although the advertising had gone, the readership still remained and I started to think how I might be able to put something back together. That was really the start of it.

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The word is there will be no advertising this time around in Jocks & Nerds, how do you expect to finance the publication?

I’m incredibly lucky that I have managed to build an incredible team of contributors around Jocks&Nerds who believe passionately in what we are trying to do and that we stand up for something important that no one else is doing right now. They give up their own time, money and energy to help make it happen.

Now I’m printing the magazine digitally which means I don’t have to print more copies than I can sell. The downside of this the unit cost is really high hence the higher cover price but it is the only way to get it out.

In reality I’ll lose money doing it but I can’t see any other way right now. I value complete control and the ability to do something of value over advertising. Besides, advertisers ultimately destroyed what we were doing in the first place so it’s much better not to have them.

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Were you tempted to completely rebrand?

We already have a recognisable name and we’ve built a sizeable, loyal audience over the best part of a decade so it makes sense to continue as Jocks & Nerds. But we have redesigned the magazine and made a new logo.

This is partly down to the fact that the content is slightly different now and we want people to regard it more as a book or periodical than a magazine - it’s designed to be archival and of value on the bookshelf.

I was lucky that the art director who worked with me at the very beginning, Phil Buckingham, was keen to get involved again. He knows the ethos behind the magazine inside out and knows how to work with me so that was really helpful in this process.

What part of the physical print format did you miss most whilst you were away?

I’ve said this many times recently but I think it’s a really important point. Magazines are in many ways completely anachronistic today whilst also being vitally important. There are issues about them being hugely expensive to produce, difficult to distribute, slow, bad for the environment, etc.

Equally, they are important because no new media format is able to do what magazines do. By that I mean if you think of audio (music, radio, etc) and visual (TV and film) the end user experience isn’t really altered. If anything some things are better. Digital radio is crystal clear and podcasts can be listened to on the go.

But magazines which are edited around a theme, idea or view on the world, that use design as an integral part of the editorial voice, that combine imagery and text in a considered way, that have scale and impact - nothing else exists that can do that - so they are important if those things are valued and I mean that from an editor/journalist point of view.

As I said at the top, the business model is broken so I hope there can be a new way forward with printing costs, distribution, etc and a break-up of the tech oligopolies somewhere down the line. Independent voices like ours are being crushed and I think it will set a dangerous precedent for media going forward.

More of this interview can be found on Pete’s site, Human Research.

 

You can find all available stockists for Jocks&Nerds through their website.

It's Time to Talk About Carl

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I was made aware of the defamatory article anonymously and callously published on the medium.com website, which has named my e-commerce business Hawkins & Shepherd and myself personally amongst other businesses and influencers.

I'd like to take this opportunity to clear a few things that have circulated some social commentary since the article was published. It's been a very traumatic week for me personally having to be on the receiving end on what I consider to be a pernicious article, published on an open platform without approval or checks for authenticity.

It's been very tough keeping emotion out of this. Some of the scathing consistent attacks I would even categorise as cyber-bullying. I'll do a follow up article to this about that in due course.

Now I'm a 38 year old man. I've developed a thick skin and can rely on a certain muscle memory to get me through this kind of onslaught. I don't suffer from depression but I feel anxiety pangs like anyone else. 

When my phone pings, my heart races. I don't even want to look at my phone right now.

But some of the bloggers I've spoken to that are implicated in this article have only just turned 20. I've had private conversations with them who are on the verge of having a break down. 

Now I don't want to advocate for one second the flagrant use of ‘Insta fraud’ as it’s been labelled. I think the industry is on the mend. I think it's right to highlight where the regulations need to serve the industry better. I can speak about this because I have reformed. I used to follow and unfollow around two years ago but that's not my scene anymore. 

However, I think this article is more a personal attack, laden with spite, resentment, with a pernicious undercurrent and I want people to realise that we're still dealing with human beings.

People that share and retweet thinking they're throwing a spotlight on the issue of Instafraud, are actually sharing an article that was removed, with unfounded accusations from an anonymous source. It's cut deep into the people that are implicated, and is still having a profound effect. 

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I've not risen to any of the comment threads on social media that are continuing a very aggressive media attack on my name and brand.

Instead I've been spending my time talking to the brands and management companies of whom I've had the pleasure of working for and alongside as an ambassador for many years, reassuring them of the inaccuracies in the article, of which I'll get into soon.

I have a very open and honest relationship with these brands (there names I will refrain from disclosing for now) I've been honoured to work for and I've been overwhelmed with the support I've received in return. You can see some of the messages of support I've received below. 

From one brand:

"A member of our team did see the article, but I’m aware that we’ve already spoken to you about your historical follower pattern. We were satisfied with the conversation we had with you and are happy to continue working with you on projects that we feel you are suited." 

From an agency: 

"Hey Carl. We were made aware of the article last week and having read it we agree it comes from a place of spite. The “facts” presented are heavily laden with opinion, conjecture and are overall slanderous to everybody mentioned.

We also realised it was quickly removed. I think your statement on the article is strong and unemotional which is more than can be said for the original author of the article itself. It’s a shame that you’ve been put in a position whereby you need to address it.

On a personal level it doesn’t change how we view you nor alter how we’d like to work with you moving forward.

If you need anything from us to help support you then just let us know."

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Some of this might sound like lawyer talk, because I wanted to detach my emotions and just deal with the facts.

ADDRESSING COMMENTS IN THE ARTICLE

“Allegedly another one of the biggest cheats in the Men’s fashion space, Carl Thompson is one of the biggest frauds out there in terms of inorganically growing his account. His cheating goes as far back as records go, which is January 2016. From January 2016 until July 2017 he aggressively followed and unfollowed hundreds of people per day, cheating his Instagram and cheating his way to over 54,000 from practically nothing.”

Back in 2016 it wasn’t unusual to follow a lot of accounts. I personally followed thousands of people - every blogger, friend, fashion enthusiast etc, who I knew as part of the Instagram community and who helped to shape my own style.

From around April 2016 to April 2017, I used to follow some accounts and have engaged with them, later unfollowing.

I want to note here that despite what the article says, by that point, I have already amassed around 20-25,000 followers from my consistent men’s fashion Instagram posts, presenting and TV appearances.

Instagram at that time was mainly to promote my business Hawkins & Shepherd, where I invested over £100,000 of my own money, and for the love of the industry and the fashion.

During that time I did not know where the Influencer marketing would go and if I would be a part of it. It was a very new industry with no guidance.

In summary, with all due respect to the anonymous authors, I’m a massive part of this very much nascent industry and I have earned the respect from multiple fashion designers, business owners, journalists, PR’s and other Influencers.

“After the scandal of July 2017, he then appeared to have stopped, and his account has been in decline since, which is no coincidence. His Instagram name comes from the brand he owns (which also has manipulated Google reviews), but he uses this to promote himself as a blogger, and has a blog in his own name, carlthompson.co.uk.”

I have stopped following and unfollowing in April 2017 when I realised that this form of marketing had a serious influence on consumers and that it was something that I wanted to be a part of for the long-term.

In addition, I have been building trusted relationships with brands and wanted to offer a great ROI. My Instagram account did slowly decline for a while, however, I actually have perceived that trend as a good thing because real followers who may have just followed me because I followed them, decided to unfollow.

As the rate of decline was very slow and gradual, I have still been gaining followers and have been retaining ones that truly wanted to engage with my posts. What the article fails to mention is that my Instagram account is growing again and has never been more engaged. I would like to comment here that I have never bought fake followers.

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I would like to point out that the comment regarding my e-commerce business Hawkins & Shepherd being a “complete slander” is based on no evidence whatsoever, which again just highlights  the fact that this article is a personal attack.

Hawkins & Shepherd has 400 reviews, all 100% verified customers that have to be legally registered on the Yotpo review platform that I use. Below is a screenshot of this:

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The Google Reviews that the article has suggested were also manipulated in fact are genuine reviews, most are customers and some are from friends/family that I’ve gifted product to and they have kindly written a review.

“He is one of the most disingenuous and fake Influencers out there. The perfect example is working with several shaving brands, pretending to use their razors and products, then his beard magically stays on his face in the next photo, despite claiming that the razor is good and he’s apparently shaved it off.”

I regard the opening statement  as defamatory with the purported “supporting evidence” taken out of context.

My captions and images have been consistently well received, I have invested  a considerable amount of time and effort in creating these images and in ensuring that the content is exactly what the brands expect and is of an exceptional quality.

“This was comically seen when he posted about Harry’s and more recently Gillette and their razor blades, foaming up his face with razor in hand, and in the very next photo, his facial hair magically re-appeared a day later. Either the razor is not very good, he grows hair like a werewolf or he’s lying. We’ll let you be the judge.”

Whilst I applaud the anonymous author on his/her diligence in finding the one inconsistency from over 1,800 posts on my Instagram channel, posts on my Instagram grid rarely correlate to a physical date/time timeline.

When working with brands many posts have to be vetted and authenticated weeks, sometimes months in advance. The consistency of my beard between posts is arbitrary.

“He holds almost no authority, no influence and is disliked by many of the other men’s fashion bloggers and influencers, for cheating with his Instagram and being incredibly fake. His Instagram engagement is currently at 2.06%, and has been manipulated.”

I have no comment regarding this other than I have evidence to the contrary available to brands on request.

“FAKE INFLUENCER PARTY”

The Hard Rock Hotel invited me as an unpaid guest to create content on their behalf. After seeing the results of the engagement and the quality of the content provided, I was invited to promote their newly opened Hard Rock Hotel in London.

“He has now set up a new ego website, to showcase his arrogance and for people to believe that he’s kind of a big deal. “Who Is Carl Thompson .co.uk” is a website telling you who he actually is.”

The website https://www.whoiscarlthompson.co.uk/ serves as an online visual Media Pack/CV. It serves no other purpose other than to provide detailed information on my portfolio.

“According to it, he’s a TV presenter, model, influencer, photographer, YouTuber, business owner, blogger.”

Each of these are correct and accurate. I’m happy to forward on examples of each on request.

“It seems he craves the fame, being on First Dates along with Dinner Date.”

I make no apologies for appearing on these shows that are watched and adored by millions of viewers.

“According to his Instagram, he’s currently an ambassador for Haigclub, Jo Malone and Kobox. He has worked with Debenhams, House Of Fraser, Panasonic, ECCO Shoes, 360 Coffee, tk Maxx, Lab Series, Kronaby, Starbucks, Philips, Reiss, Burton, Mazda, and many more.”

That is correct and I’m extremely proud to have worked with each of these brands.


FURTHER READING

VOTED TOP 6 MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG IN THE UK 2018

https://www.vuelio.com/uk/blog-awards/shortlist/

TOP 10 UK MEN’S LIFESTYLE BLOG 2017, 2018, 2019.

https://www.vuelio.com/uk/social-media-index/mens-lifestyle-blogs-uk-top-10/

These are all based around official Google blog statistics, domain-authority, quality of writing and imagery. Voted by industry professionals.

MY OWN BLOG STATISTICS PUBLISHED

Earlier this year, I have published my Blog Statistics with screenshots of Google analytic data (I note the extremely low 1.03% bounce rate for the year of 2018).

https://www.carlthompson.co.uk/further-reading-blogs/2019/1/18/carl-thompson-all-the-stats-from-my-blog-revealed

YOUTUBE

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7saYubGIW4nDfajCS9Kkqw?view_as=subscriber

My channel has around 8,800 Subscribers with a very engaged following and has almost 1million views on the videos published.

 

 

 

David Gandy Interview | Discussing The Launch of His Tailoring Collection for M&S - Marks & Spencer

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!

SHOP THE COLLECTION

Introducing Author Christopher Modoo the Urbane Outfitter

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Please allow me to introduce myself…

I am delighted to be contributing to Carl Thompson’s blog. I have known Carl for many years, since we met at a Chester Barrie press day down in Savile Row. I was the senior creative for the brand and Carl was a keen supporter of my work and would always visit the presentations at London Collections: Men (as London Fashion Week was once known).

I have worked in the fashion industry for over twenty-five years. I have no formal training and started my career as a junior salesman in the shirt & tie department of Selfridges. I have always loved clothing and can’t remember an age where I wasn’t aware of what I was wearing. But I never considered that I could make a career from it. At 18, I very lazily applied for a job in a bank after a brief discussion with the school’s career advisor where my options were summarised as “bank or civil service”. So I started as a junior in a suburban High Street bank. I only lasted eighteen months before the lure of the West End called me to Oxford Street.

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My first break was when Thomas Pink opened a concession in Selfridges, I was a fan of their shirts so I wrangled the manager’s job by the age of 22. My love of cloths blossomed as I became aware of all these great classic brands and a large portion of my salary was spent on custom made cloths and good shoes. From Pink’s I moved to Savile Row where I was a salesman/fitter. This is where I became obsessed with textiles. Our shop full of cloth books called “bunches” and I would go through all of them learning about different weights, textures and qualities. There is a lot of knowledge on Savile Row and some very generous characters who are willing to  share it…usually over a pint. I then moved to Ede & Ravenscroft to head up their made-to-measure department. Ede & Ravenscroft are London’s oldest tailors with a heritage and stretches back to 1689. It was fun bringing it into the 20th century and convincing staff that we should fax orders rather than relying on the post! It was here that I really started to understand the rules of classic menswear and when and how to break them. I was very lucky to be promoted to buyer when the position became vacant despite having no buying experience. The retail director mentored me and translated my knowledge of tailoring into a commercial skill. I had the most wonderful decade with Ede & Ravenscroft; I travelled all over Europe, met the Queen and was even introduced to my future wife. But at the age of 39 I was eager to move onto bigger and better things.

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I joined Chester Barrie with the responsibility to oversee every product from morning dress to casual outerwear. We took the brand to trade shows in Florence, New York and Hong Kong, as well as becoming a major fixture on the LCM calendar. This also coincided with the growth in social media. I love the way that it can connect people with a similar interest and how it can champion smaller brands and artisans. I loved sharing new ideas and receiving immediate feedback…usually good. I am no longer with Chester Barrie and have what is known as a “portfolio career” where I split my time between writing online content for magazines and brands, styling, lecturing at a college and starting my own label. I look forward to writing more for Carl and connecting with his followers. I will be writing about classic mens fashion as well as the fashion industry and sharing my experiences from both.

Photo Credit Anna Michell

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.

AN INTERVIEW WITH SIMON CARTER

So who is Simon Carter? A sound businessman and a menswear designer who sold his first product in 1985. He is renowned throughout the UK and an ambassador/advisor to many small businesses, which is when we first got taking. As a small business such as my Hawkins & Shepherd shirtmakers and working every hour possible to grow the business - it is nice to talk through the finer details with someone like Simon who has been successful in the industry for a very long time.

After getting some very sound advise from the man himself, he kindly answered the below questions, that I thought I would share with you.

Q1. How long have you been in the fashion industry? 

31 years.

Q2. How did your career start, what were your goals and looking back now, how has your journey matched up to your goals back then? 

It began as a hobby so my goals were quite modest. My aim 31 years ago was to grow the business so it could move from a hobby to a profession so that's worked out. My goals now are to be a global brand of quality, well made affordable menswear. I'm getting there. 

Q3. What does the Simon Carter name embody? 

A sense of style rather than fashion; a shared aesthetic, a recognition of good design.

Q4. Getting meetings with you is hard! Are you a workaholic or insistent on having a work-life balance? 

I do try to make enough time to enjoy the hard work, though it is fair to say that my working day is very busy and I call it the tyranny of my timetable. 

Q5. For businesses starting up in the industry, can you offer any small gems of advice? 

Build in a wholesale margin, even if you don't plan to wholesale yet. One day you might. Then it'll be too late, as you will have established a price architecture and that's difficult to change. 

Q6. Outside of business, what interests do you have? 

I'm a keen and good croquet player (I've played for England); I love classic cars and architecture. Oh, and good food. 

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOSHUA KANE

Joshua Kane, is taking bespoke tailoring to a whole new level with his exciting, modern twists on classic craftsmanship. With Joshua, what you see is what you get - a successful tailor, designer and businessman built on hard graft, commitment and creativity. It was a pleasure to sit down and talk all things #BloodSweatAndShears...

GROWING UP, WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU WERE OLDER?

Joshua Kane: Interesting question; I had a very diverse route to get into tailoring from playing semi-professional football for Fulham from age 13-18, to skateboarding semi-professionally, playing table tennis to a high level, all manner of sports. So sport, lots of sports, anything competitive, anything I could get addicted to, anything that involved hours and hours of commitment to get to a really high level... for me it was the addiction, something that you can work on perfecting.

WHERE DID YOU STUDY TAILORING?

Joshua Kane: I studied fashion design at Kingston University and in my first year I met my pattern cutting tutor, a chap called Tony who’s a Savile Row pattern cutter. I worked with him within university and also trained with him outside university hours either in his studio or wherever he was working, designing patterns, developing my own style, problem solving and learning by mistake really. Being sort of obsessed with something means that I can never put it down.

I think I've always counted myself as so grateful to be able to do what I do from being in university, to being accepted on the course, to getting the tutors that I got that gave me the training, to meet new amazing people that trained me outside, to getting my first work placement unpaid or whatever, but met amazing people that inspired me. Every aspect has been long hours and really hard work, challenging and frustrating at times but at the back of my head I was always so grateful for what I've got now.

I LOVE YOUR HASHTAG #BLOODSWEATANDSHEARS - WOULD YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF AS A WORKAHOLIC? 

Joshua Kane: That was the mentality that built this place. I started this company and it's still true to today - with no investment, I did it all from my savings and we’re still 100% owned by me I own every piece of product, every piece of furniture, every item, every piece of equipment and that’s just purely down to hard work. My mum painted the banister when we got the shop and one of the team here plastered the walls when she was an intern and now she’s a design assistant here and that's just really the ethos behind it.

Carl Thompson: Is that why you feel so welcoming when you come in?

Joshua Kane: Yeah because it is like a family. There’s a family ethos all the way through it. I like to think of it as the ethos of that old family tailor’s but with modernity. Still charming and beautiful but moving forward with new designs and new creativity but with old mentality. Beautiful construction within tailoring needs to be moved on - either in shape, fabric and cut to keep progressing because if everything stays the same all the time then it's going to get left behind and I think the way that I run the business, the way that we work with our staff, the way that we design the collection, it all comes from the same embodiment.

WHAT INFLUENCES YOUR STYLE AND DO YOU FEEL YOU ARE STILL ADAPTING AND LEARNING?

Joshua Kane: Yeah completely adapting, learning, changing, problem-solving, is key just because I did something last season and it was good doesn’t mean I want to do it the same even if it was the best part of last season it doesn’t mean we should do it the same again we should continue to change and adapt and rework things. If I use the button as an example you know we might have designed a really great button last season but we were ordering that many now we're ordering you know twice as many because we're going to push the collection even further it's actually not even viable to do a button that's that detailed to that many units so you need to consider the design, you need to consider the end purpose and equate that back into the beginning.

WHAT MADE YOU CHOOSE SPITALFIELDS AS APPOSED TO SAVILE ROW FOR YOUR FLAGSHIP STORE?

Joshua Kane: For me, the area is completely synonymous with the garment industry, this is where tailoring really started in East London. You had all of the textiles industry that was based in and around this area for garment production. The whole area is completely synonymous with craft from people in the market from pop-up birthday cards that are immaculately cut to the people making the beautiful cakes and then people curating their old vintage stalls.

Not only that the area is so amazingly regenerating from Belstaff opening on the opposite side to other big houses that I know are opening in the next six months. I saw an opportunity to be a part of something just when it was about to get really exciting and that's what really inspired me it will be the new Bond Street of East London within the next five years and to have our foothold in it now and be a part of it growing and regenerating and doing what I’m sought to preaching about I think is really great rather than just going to Carnaby Street and paying the rent or going to Savile Row and then pitching myself up against the people that have been doing it for hundreds of years I think it almost does them a disservice because they won't necessarily appreciate my aesthetic anyway, whereas maybe it's easier to appreciate each other from afar because we’re that different. You know I wouldn't say a negative word about anyone I love everyone for their own respects and their own heritage but mine is a bit different.

IT'S QUITE RARE THAT I LIKE EVERY PIECE IN A COLLECTION, BUT I COULD SEE MYSELF IN EVERY PIECE OF YOURS. WAS IT YOUR AIM TO CREATE SOMETHING THAT IS BESPOKE AND SO VERY WEARABLE?

Joshua Kane: It's interesting you say that because I always think about the levels of the design parameter that you can play around with. Again a different cutter taught me a really valuable lesson that is sort of repeated everywhere, about understanding what the rules are before being allowed to break them. That can come in so many different ways it’s so much more of a deeper statement than everyone else thinks. I think when they reuse it and the rules don't just have to be that you know the sleeve should finish X number of centimetres from the shirt cuff or the jacket should always be X number of centimetres long, it’s more about understanding a balance of a wardrobe for example, about understanding men's sartorial classic staples, the raincoat, the tailored overcoat, the single breasted coat against the double breasted coat and understanding all of those proportions and then when putting them together how extreme to push the proportions or indeed doing it in one of our more classic suit shapes and doing a really extreme fabric and doing nothing else to it.

It’s understanding that the collection has got to have a beginning, middle and an end, the end pieces are the wow the shock and awe pieces but usually they’re then styled in a way that tone them down and that's understanding the balance of the collection. It's so important to capture the mood of the collection with then how it all goes together.

 

VISIT JOSHUA KANE

Joshua Kane, Flagship Store, 53 Brushfield Street, Old Spitalfields, London, E1 6AA.

Shop Online via joshuakanebespoke.com

PHOTO CREDIT - MATT EDGE