Friday, 4 September 2015
GarconJon meets Oliver Spencer
In little over a decade Mr Oliver Spencer has established his signature brand as a British staple. I love his designs not only for their workwear inspired practicality but also the easy elegance sewn into every piece. My grey wool wide-leg trousers worn last season to London Collections: Men had a huge level of recognition in January - proof of the excitment currently surrounding the man and his work. It also showed me when you're in the know with Oliver Spencer, there's no second guessing what's in front of your eyes.
With a new range of loungewear launching exclusively with Mr Porter, we photographed the line on location in Spencer's beautiful west London home and I sat down with the man himself to discuss the collection concept and what make's the brand stand out from the crowd.
Oliver Spencer, Designer
What's your star sign? Taurus.
I've got a thing for horoscopes. Do you think yours truly reflects you? One million per cent. I have every character trait of a Taurian. We're compulsive and straight-talking.
Tell me about this loungewear collection. The main collection stands on it's own and has found it's place in the market. Last year Mr Porter approached me to do a special line and I've always thought there are any brands in the market doing 'lounge' properly. This was a great opportunity to make a line of items you can sleep in, walk the dog in and just feel comfortable at home in. Over 2 million people now work from home in the UK so it's all based around super-soft washed, cashmere and pima cottons. It's dreamy to wear.
Who in your life inspires you most? Mr Gilchrist the man on set today constantly inspires me. I love working with him. From the history books I'd say the writer W. Somerset Maugham but also the architect Geoffrey Bawa and artist Ben Nicholson. We must take inspiration from people around us. As a designer that's very important.
Is it the whole spirit of the person that captures your attention or particular work? About 4 years ago I really changed the way I created new work. I used to be very military and workwear inspired but decided to flip it and try something new. It was the year Lucian Freud died actually and we decided to do a wardrobe for him. The wardrobe of an artist. That felt like one of those pivotal breakthrough albums that bands can have in their career.
Describe the Oliver Spencer brand in 5 works. Detailed, considered, colourful, eclectic, clean-lined.
When did you decide you wanted to be a designer? It comes from shopkeeping and my frustration with no being able to get the right product. That goes back about 20 years now.
You've got three boys - how has that influenced your work? Well actually sportswear-wise it has. The eldest is heavily into sport, keeping up with all the trends so that's crept in slightly. They're all interesting in their own way.
Do any of them show signs of following in their fathers footsteps? It's really too early to tell but the youngest is certainly the most business minded and he runs the joint! If I was to give any advice on how be a successful business owner, I would say "be passionate beyond believe".
Strong words! Finally, leave us with some words of style wisdom. Simple. Buy good shoes. Start from the bottom up!
See more below and shop the new Loungewear collection on MrPorter.com here.