I've had the privilege of photographing a few recognisable public figures over the years and so I know what comes with that territory. Usually it's a bit of an entourage and a lot of fanfare but less frequently is the subject as humble and warm as Idris Elba. He may have been being pulled left, right and centre but he was calm and collected in his approach when I met up with him this morning. We had a quick photoshoot before the official launch of his first clothing collection with Superdry in their Regent Street store where I also had the chance to ask some questions about the project.
Idris Elba photographed at the Superdry store on 103-113 Regent St, London.
You're a Londoner born and bred, how had the city influenced the collection? Grewing up in East London, style was always a huge part of my life. I believe that the way you dress tells the world who you are. This is a city with so many cultures that it's important to be sure of yourself. I think the collection reflects me completely as there's not a single piece I wouldn't wear myself.
There must be so many offers from fashion brands to do this kind of thing. Why does Superdry feel like the right one to collaborate with? The truth is there are so many opportunities for actors to just be "the face" and take a cheque. I didn't want to do that with this collection. I'm a customer of Superdry anyway and have been for years so when I was approached I thought it could be a great chance to do something special.
How long have you been planning the collection for? It's been a process of about 11 months but once we first met everything rolled really quickly. The design process was a blitz of meetings where both Superdry and myself came with ideas which were merged. I worked closely with my stylist to get the designs right. We spoke a lot about colour, material and fit - those were my main areas of interest.
Does your experience with acting influence you hand in design? As an actor I know what it's like to wear new designs every time I work, so I've got a lot of experience what works for me. It really comes across in our big coats. I've spent far too long working outside in freezing cold conditions and I now fully comprehend it's value. We made overcoats that are properly cosy.
The collection is huge with 250 items available, what makes this special? We really wanted to make this line premium. The idea was to incorporate some incredible coats and beautiful wool items with a focus on the right cut. I think a regular guy will come in here and be able to find something he loves the look of but also an items which will last for a long time. This is about pieces that work season after season. I'm a great believer in quality when it comes to menswear.
Do you have a favourite piece? I like all the knitwear. I spent a lot of time making sure that was right as I wear a lot of it. The standout piece to me is the leather biker jacket though - it's is just the boss.
Who did you have in mind when creating this collection? I'm calling him 'the everyman'. Really everything in the collection I would wear myself but I see it relating so most British gents. We're not into gaudy branding in the UK and so I've created something here which is simple and chilled.
See the full collection online at Superdry.com/Idris.