Smart Start

Wednesday 23 February 2011

People

LFW The Daily proudly presents a back-of-the-Mercedes interview with menswear designer Mr Start.

photography by shaniqwa jarvis
interview by brooke rutherford

BR: What inspired you to present this season?

Mr. S: I’ve been designing for three years and I felt it was the push I needed. I think it elevates the brand. I wanted people to perceive it as a designer brand and not a shop brand.

BR: Do you have a signature look?

Mr. S: Sharp tailoring. I don’t like shleppy clothes. I don’t like denim. Men throw on a pair of jeans and they think they’ve done the job. I do like casual dressing but it is possible to dress casual and still look sharp. I think Pharell Williams does it well. Whatever you do, do it sharp. Women love it too!

BR: What was your starting point for A/W 11?

Mr. S: Since we’re about sharp dressing it’s about making a collection that replicates this. Primarily we do suits, but whatever we do, we do it well. We call these “category killers”.  For instance, we’ve just introduced jackets as a new category. Designing menswear requires a different approach to womenswear. It doesn’t change as dramatically, it evolves. I always relate it to architecture: a beautiful building that’s very minimal. Architecture is our guiding light. It’s thinking about an idea and pairing it down to an absolute minimum.

BR: Any hidden details in your pieces?

Mr. S: No. We put pockets where you expect to find a pocket. We do practical clothes, it’s all about the effect rather than trying to create secret pockets for whatever you want to put in there. There are plenty of pockets for that!

BR: What was your biggest challenge with this collection?

Mr. S: Getting it done.

BR: Are you excited for the show?

Mr. S: Yes. Excited and nervous. It’s a bit like jumping into the deep-end of a pool: you’ll either sink or swim. We’ll swim.

BR: Do you think there’s a shift to men wearing formal wear?

Mr. S: I feel that denim sales are waning. At the Brit Awards, everyone was dressed in sharp tailoring. Everyone was wearing a tie. But it’s not your father’s tie. To be smart is cool, I think.

BR: Why now?

Mr. S: I just think people had dressed down for such a long time that it was ridiculous.  Fashion means change and people have to change the way they approach things. It doesn’t have to be classic. For instance, the other day I wore a cotton suit, it wrinkles and it’s casual and completely different. Cotton tailoring can change your look completely. You can wear a t-shirt underneath a cotton suit and omit socks.

BR: London is world-renowned for tailoring and you’re part of this club. How does that feel?

Mr. S: It’s good; we like to be part of the heritage. Although we’re not a heritage brand, we’re a forward looking brand not a backward looking brand. Clothes are all about heritage. The history of men’s tailoring is in uniforms, the First World War, Kings, Hollywood stars. We’re more inspired by people who dressed well like Fred Astaire.

BR: Do you remember your first suit?

Mr. S: Yes. Burtons. It was this Italian-style suit. The trousers were skinny with 14-inch buttons, and the jacket was a very short “bum-freezer.” Bum-freezer because it was cut so high that it exposed your rear. I was 14 years old at the time.

BR: Who would you rather dress: James Bond or Bruce Wayne?

Mr. S: James Bond.

BR: What’s the cheekiest thing you’ve ever done in the back of a car?

Mr. S: Oh my goodness. I haven’t had sex if that’s what you’re asking?

Mercedes-Benz, whose fashionable fleet of cars ensure London Fashion Weekers get around in style, is celebrating its LFW affiliation with the launch of Voices of Fashion, a daily blog with exclusive LFW updates and interviews with the designers who are the voices who define fashion. See voicesoffashion.co.uk

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