Way back in January of this year, during London Collections:MEN, we had an invite to come along and have a look at a best of British range, yeah OK, be a bit of a break from the treadmill of show after show in the pouring, freezing rain. Yet this invite was from no fashion designer, or cutting edge East London label, no, but from a very bastion of Britishness a quintessential National Treasure, none other then MARKS & SPENCER ! Yep, you’re not mistaken and any of you more loyal readers will note what followed, was yours truly falling in love with a Marks & Spencer product range more then their Christmas Sandwich selection !
Even M&S had underestimated their pulling power, for as we turned up shaking off the excess of the wintery showers, so did Supermodels David Gandy & future face of the collection Oliver Cheshire. Fashion Director of the Sunday Times STYLE Richard Grey, Shortlist’s Style Director, Adrian Clark, British GQ’s Editor, Dylan Jones and a plethora of style press big shots.
The collection is a celebration of the best in British design and manufacture, using some of the industry’s best cloths, suppliers and age old knowledge to produce a collection which is completely contemporary all the whilst drawing on inspiration from stylistic British icons.
The Man behind this concept is Tony O’Connor(see below), the brand’s Head of Design for menswear, who joined the company in 2008 bringing with him a wealth of experience and a strong focus on design and brand clarity and who we caught up with to find out a little bit more about the collection and his good self.
In your words, describe the collection ?
The Best of British collection is an edit of timeless pieces – I would describe them as confident and masculine, constructed in contemporary shapes with an emphasis on traditional British craftsmanship and quality
What was the inspiration for it ?
The M&S archive in Leeds was a key reference point for the collection. We were able to look back at traditional British styles that M&S has made through the decades, and the craftsmanship that went into British made items, to produce an updated collection that not only shows an appreciation for the technical skill involved, but also has a timeless essence that remains relevant today
What are the key pieces in it
The double breasted suits and coats are a key stand out shape for the collection
If you could collaborate with one brand (Who you currently aren’t) who would it be and why ?
Quite honestly, it’s been really exciting working with the British suppliers for this collection, such as Cheshire Bespoke for suits and Cheaney’s for shoes
If you could give your teenage self advice, what would it be ?
Start thinking about what you want to do as a career, explore it and do it! I got into art and photography at an early age, which was a useful start to my career
How did you get into the industry, what was your big break ?
I got a taste for menswear, after getting a Saturday job at a clothing store in Newcastle. Working here helped me decide what to do creatively
What piece of clothing best describes you ?
The formal jacket and the pocket square
What piece of clothing would you relegate to Room 101 ?
What piece of clothing should everyman have in his wardrobe ?
A tuxedo for special occasions
What piece of style advise do you live by ?
Choose British made shoes
Who is your style icon ? Why ?
As young men, Hugh Hefner and Oliver Reed. They had a sexy masculine style.
If you could only wear one brand/Designer for the rest of your life who would it be ? Why ?
Working on a collection born in Britain and with British suppliers has been a lifelong ambition of mine, so it would have to be this brand!
The Best of British collection hits Marks & Spencer Store and website from 10th October.