Style / December 2019

The Interview: Oliver Spencer

The Rake recently caught up with menswear designer and all-round great guy Oliver Spencer to chat about his eponymous brand and his love of formalwear.

Oliver Spencer is a gentleman. Within the first few moments of his meeting The Rake, the menswear designer shows us around his Bloomsbury studio and brings us a cup of milky tea. This is Oliver Spencer, after all – the man responsible for updating formalwear (with Favourbrook), and for almost single-handedly elevating smart-casual clothing out of the flannel-shirt-and-Timberland’s-only phase of the early Noughties. Having dressed practically every British icon you can think of, and who has been called a ‘genius’, ‘visionary’, and ‘very, very nice man, indeed’, we thought it would be a good time to speak about current projects and inspirations (and everything in-between) while you hover over his knitted jackets and dinner suits with your mouse.

Oliver never originally intended to get into menswear. While at art school, he began trading from a little stall on Portobello Road. After dropping out, he ended up reworking leftover ecclesiastical fabrics into vests, which led to the opening of Favourbrook; a watershed moment in formalwear, which at the time was suffering from the early-90s apathy toward classic styles (this was when Pearl Jam was in the charts, you know). “I wanted to prove formalwear could be expressive,” he tells The Rake, “it didn’t have to play by the rules.” With his help, formalwear found a youthful clientele, especially once Favourbrook appeared in Four Weddings and a Funeral. But before long, he started itching to introduce his vision for casual designs. “It’s the two sides of me,” he admits. “I love both formal clothing and casual clothing, so I’m pleased to have the two brands to express myself with.” Oliver Spencer, the brand, opened in 2002. Since then, it has earned its place among the most highly-respected purveyors of smart-casual clothing on the market. The Rake caught up with Oliver to discuss his latest collection, who he is inspired by, and how he remains a champion of sustainable style.