How has Oliver Spencer managed to
avoid all of the ironic and garish trademarks of current
Firstly, we don’t put giant
ridiculous logos on our products. I’ve managed to keep it as
tasteful as possible, and I don’t feel the need to follow trends.
Hopefully people like it. If they do, that’s great, and if they
don’t – that’s fine too. But we’re always challenging ourselves. In
terms of casual and tailoring, people tend to wear casual-by-day,
and tailoring-by-night. I think we’re designing more to suit these
needs, like this jacket for example (Oliver reveals a Solms
jacket from the latest season).
What is the inspiration behind
your latest season?
There’s definitely an Alpine theme.
I love being in the mountains and getting lost in nature – St
Moritz, and those types of places especially. Since I was six, I’ve
been visiting with my parents, so it has always been an important,
sentimental place for me. In the AW19 collection, we try and
capture the retro styling of ski resortwear - in particular the
classic ‘jet-set’ looks: you know, striped jumpers, woven
knitwear... That type of image.
Are you an adventurous type of
Well, I love getting lost in the
outdoors (Oliver gets his phone out and shows a photo of him sat
atop a tourer motorcycle in California). People made fun of me
for the monk-straps, by the way. But I can be a bit restless –
keeping up with Jones’s so to speak. If I wasn’t designing clothes,
I’d have been knocking on Norman Foster’s door (the famous British
architect), as architecture and interior design are two of my
biggest passions. More recently though, I co-founded a restaurant
in Wimbledon Village called The Black Radish. It even made
its way into the Michelin Guide.
Your clothes seem
‘trans-generational’. Is that something you consider when
It’s one of my favourite challenges.
I’ve recently dressed Sir Ian McKellen, Bond, and the likes of
Kojey Radical (British rapper) which is great. I love to be able to
dress all the age groups. At the end of the day, we offer lifestyle
with a bit of fashion. All generations can find something in
You’ve been praised for your
adoption of sustainable production.
Everything, from our paper packaging
to our processes of manufacture, is done as ethically as possible.
This includes even our buildings, the way we handle our business,
and of course our clothes.
What are some of the most
memorable experiences from your career?
I have to say, having Paul Weller
appear to greet me backstage at one of my most recent shows was
pretty surreal. That man has serious style, and he looks as cool
today as he did back when he was part of Style Council. I
also had John Bradbury, the drummer from ska legends The
Specials, perform at one of my events, which was particularly
special as we’re both from Derbyshire.
Who do you consider your own
If I’m being honest, it was always
Bryan Ferry (the English singer-songwriter). He continues to have
an effect on me today; I’d like to think he would wear our velvet
jackets. I’m also in love with those old pictures of Yves
Saint-Laurent – you know, back in the day when he was in Marrakesh.
And then, of course, David Niven. He had such an individual way
about him – but also amazing manners. When it comes to icons, I
think it’s a lot to do with character.
You’re rather mythologised in
menswear - as a bit of an icon yourself.
Well, it’s very flattering, and I
like to be well-respected - as respect has less to do with ‘you’,
and more about what you do. I’ve worked so hard to have Oliver
Spencer and Favourbrook respected in the way they are today, and I
love it – rag trade to the end. But, a word of advice for upcoming
designers: always be graceful and kind. Sir Paul Smith was hugely
influential in this way. He warned me from having an inflated ego,
to keep your team small, and as a result I feel that my work
remains personal. It’s me if you know what I mean?