With my birthday on January 14, I feel like New Year is a particularly poignant time of renewal for me. I love taking a few days around the holidays to reflect on the year gone and set some goals for the year to follow. God may laugh if you tell him your plans but it's always nice to dream.
Looking back on 2014, I find it hard to believe the last 365 days flew past so quickly, probably faster than any other year and one that was filled with adventures I couldn't have even imagined in 2013. As I sit on the first day of January, I'm primarily filled with gratitude. The people who've made me laugh, the experiences we've shared, the love I've felt, the client's who've challenged me to grow creatively and the city that's provided so many opportunities. To review in full would take days, so for now I've pulled together a few key highlights from my year and the year in menswear.
It may seem like the most lackluster discovery of all time but 2014 was the year I discovered the brilliance of navy blue. Despite the fact it seems ubiquitous in menswear, it's actually incredibly difficult to get a good quality navy tone. Whether it's a strong indigo denim or an over-dyed work shirt there are seven brands who nailed it for me this year:
Old Town - Jigsaw - Whistles - Blue Blue Japan - Brooklyn Circus - RRL - Levi's Vintage
The Sartorial 7
Our little menswear collective founded in 2013 grew tremendously in 2014. We started at London Collections: Men in January, collaborating in video with Reiss and ended on an Amsterdam adventure with Atelier Scotch. Check out our new YouTube channel where we've just uploaded all our videos to one place and also our Tumblr here to see the full story.
This year one location in London emerged as a beacon of great menswear: Duke Street. It all started with the Duke Street Emporium - a collaboration between Jigsaw and The Shop at Bluebird which houses an enviable collection of menswear and lifestyle items. Not only is it a pleasure to shop, it's also an ideal meeting spot with Fernandez and Wells coffee inside, just around the corner from Bond Street tube. See my photography from the launch event on the Jigsaw blog here.
The importance of Duke Street was underlined by Private White VC with the opening of their Mayfair store a few doors down. The pioneer in truly British menswear (all items are manufactured in their Manchester factory) has made huge steps forward in the past 12 months and this store is the cherry on the cake. Pop along now to see an exhibition of my photography in store now.
Finally, in September E Tautz opened their first store at number 71 and generously gave the world 2000 square feet of menswear brilliance over 2 floors. That's it. Stick a fork in me. I'm done!
2014 was the year the beard was declared "over" and since shooting the 100 Beards book in 2012, I became a temporary spokesperson for facial hair. After being called for my opinion more than a handful of times I decided to write my official response to peak beard. In short, my experience with those who grow a beard showed me that for most of the men this was a personal transformation. It was a way to come into their own and this reality couldn't be further from the 'hipster-fad' portrayal in the press. If sales of the book are anything to go by there's also been no slowing in interest. The 100 Beards blog is currently sitting at 234 portraits and I've decided that in 2015 I need to to complete the final 100 to reach 300 - watch this space.
As is clear to see from my repeat questioning in the 'GarconJon meets' series, I'm a stickler for print publications. I love the quality of printed word and image on paper, so I've collected 5 that made an impact on me this year. Each are well worth a good coffee and a few hours of your time.
Men in This Town - Faculty Department - Cereal Magazine - Men's File - Man of the World
The Man/Men Project
After a successful launch of our first print publication in June at London Collections: Men, the Man/Men project got fully underway. Working alongside David Evans, 6 months hard graft documenting the state of manufacturing menswear in the UK uncovered a whole world that required exposure. We're now working on issue 2 of the journal and the website will be launching in a matter of weeks at ManMen.uk. Follow us @ManMenUK for updates!
Whenever I'm asked what I consider the best part of being a photographer, I always respond the same way. For me the camera acts a passport that not only takes you into other peoples lives but also around the world. This year I travelled more than ever across Europe and the United States with highlights including Puerto Rico, Milan, Barcelona and my mistress Paris. Here's to embracing all that's new and going even further afield in 2015.