Sunday, 14 September 2008

Reader's Questions: A budding designer

Just like buses here in the UK we were waiting for a Reader's Question with some trepidation and doubt...then two come at once. We recently posted about Daniel Osburn's move to London and gave him our recommendations on how best to adapt to London life. Then we received an email from Paul Hardy, a reader who, like most of us, is a little bit bored with menswear right now and is keen to push things forward and wants to take matters in his own hands. The timing of this email was perfect. As The Sunday Best's awesome comic shows, the New York Shows were far from spectacular, they demonstrated fine, wearable clothes but quite a few of us want more, Paul certainly does and we love his attitude.

Dear StyleSalvage,

I love your blog please don't stop updating it. Now onto my question. Are you in the fashion business by any chance? Do you know any designers or editors? I am aiming to be in the fashion business (right now I'm just 14). I would be extremely happy if you could get me some advice on the subject. I currently want to be in the field of menswear as its boring right now. Its the same thing over and over again. I want to add uniqueness to it, something different and innovative. Right now I am thinking of a biker jacket in tweed (your thoughts please). What I want to know how I can improve my knowledge of menswear - its designers, its fabrics, its techniques, its history (anything connected to menswear).

Thanks Steve and EJ. Keep up the good blogging.

Yours Truly,



Above is Paul's sketch for his tweed biker jacket, Steve would certainly wear this... Steve fell in love with a Peoples Market biker jacket in grey wool seen in TwoSee but the size gods were against fact he want to wear this right now. Paul is currently learning tailoring (something Steve has talked about for some time and needs to actually do!) and this should inspire us all. Tailoring is something of a dying art form and that is just plain wrong. Have you got any advice for Paul? Are you thinking of taking matters into your own hands and sketching your own visions for the future of menswear?


..... said...

hey cute drawing dude !! is it a gucci one !?

j said...

That's one of life's big disappointments...its so short. I would like to be a fashion designer, but I would like to do many other things as well. But hey, fourteen year old guy...go for it!

Style Salvage Steve said...

You're never too old J...but I know what you mean. I'm 24 and have a long list of things I want to do but life seems to get in the way. I will get a sewing machine in the next couple of weeks though. I want to get more hands on with ym style.

Anonymous said...

Ah! I LOVE his drawing!

modernaged said...

would totally wear it.

Elizabeth said...

That's a great idea for a jacket, and I'm sure I could get Mr.OM into one of those.

Matthew Spade said...

great twist on the leather biker jacket, i would wear it.

steve you must must must get a sewing machine, i did fashion designer for 2 years and i loved just being on my machine, my prob was a wasn't the best at drawing. thats why i got into promotion. so my advice would be to start researching into possible college/uni course, reading as many fashion/photography/design books as possible.

it's so refreshing to here someone so young with an idea of what they would like to get into, i certainly didn't have a clue.

good luck paul.

John said...

Some advice for Paul:

(I am currently in 3rd Year of BA Menswear at LCF)

* Learning Tailoring is a great place to start. If possible, see if you can get some experience in handcraft tailoring, at the level of Savile Row. Having this knowledge and foundation when you come to designing Menswear has been invaluable for me. Getting an apprenticeship at Savile Row is hard, and will take up the best part of up to 7 years – so try and find a course that can teach you the fundamental principles without taking up as much time. LCF have a Diploma in Handcraft Tailoring that only lasts 1 year, during that time you learn to make a Savile Row suit to high standards. It won’t match a Savile Row apprenticeship in quality but is an excellent foundation on which to build. Ultimately, if you want to be a designer (which is more fun and earns you more!) then you won’t be making your clothes forever. But having a good understanding of construction and details should help you a lot in Menswear.

* Get some work experience. Sent a letter off to every brand in the UK who you like, and even some you don’t. You will probably just make the tea for 2 weeks, but you can create some valuable contacts and it will help to get an understanding of how things work behind the scenes.

* Keep drawing! As you probably don’t have the opportunity to study fashion yet at school, work your arse off in art. Keep drawing and drawing and drawing! Do some life drawing, so you can get an understanding of different body shapes. Also draw people with their clothes too, so you can learn how to draw how different fabrics look on the body.

* Fashion is not one subject. You have to be interested in everything creative – it all links together. Fashion, Art, Architecture, Graphic Design all the creative industries weave in with one another. Immerse yourself in all of them. Keep sketchbooks or scrapbooks full of stuff.

* Have a hands-on approach. Go to the top stores in London, and try on the clothes. Talk to the sales staff and explain that you are interested in the clothes, the way they are made, the way they feel on. A lot of the time the high-end stores seem like hostile places, but don’t be afraid to talk to the sales staff there, they can tell you a lot about the clothes.

* Don’t worry about the concept of being ‘in fashion’. As you read this blog I am sure you don’t anyway. Fashion is really about style, and there is no wrong or right way to look. Obsolescence. Look that word up! There is an ugly side to the fashion industry that you can be choose to be a part of, or you can try and break that mould. Just make beautiful clothes!

* Be prepared to encounter some big egos. It is inevitable, in a field that can be very shallow; you can come across a lot of unbearable people. Just keep your head down and work really, really hard, let your clothes do the talking. There are a few big designers out there who made it on ego alone, but the rest of them, the really good ones, worked damn hard.

* If you want to be a designer, then make sure you do a degree that focuses on design, not construction. There are a few out there who do both. Central St. Martins and Royal College of Art have good Menswear BA/MA courses. LCF tend to focus on construction too much in my opinion. And despite the fact they are a fashion college, they don’t seem to have as many good contacts and opportunities that the CSM BA course. There are also a lot of other good ones around, when it comes to it, speak to all of the course directors, ask lots of questions, and also speak to the students – they will know what the course is really like.

Good luck Paul!

Paul Hardy said...

MR. Style- No its not Gucci its one of my drawings.
j- thanks for the encouragement.
Jenny - Thanks, I will draw a look (head to toe) on what this will be worn with if you would like.
Enc- Thanks.
Mat Ahoy - buckets and spades- Thanks for the encouragement.

Side Note (on the drawing) - The weird lines in the middle represent the tweed fabric.
The lining of the tweed would be in blue and white lumberjack checks.
The pockets are those similar to a suit jacket - a chest pocket for a pocket square and the other two pockets are also flap pockets like a suit (only thing biker is the zipper next to the flap).

Paul Hardy said...

John (sorry for not including you on the previous comment. You had published the post when I was writing the comment) - Thank You for the wonderful advice all of it makes sense. About the scrapbook I will start to use one now. Most of what you said was mainly UK although I live in USA but I know the same applies here too.

Jonas Fred said...

Dear Paul,
To make clothes for the future you need to know about clothes from the past (think vintage). Try to read books on the history of menswear and try reading old magazines maybe your father or grandfather has locked up in his attic. Try to draw inspiration from the simple things around you. Look at things in a different way (you can aldready do that for example you tweed biker jacket). I wish you the best of luck for your future in menswear.

Jonas Fred

John said...

Paul, Sorry I presumed UK for some reason. I forgot one other very important thing! Learn to use the industry standard software. Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. Also InDesign might help you with page layouts. You can teach yourself to use these programs if you work hard enough. There are a lot of books out there with tutorials in and things that help you learn the almost infinite possibilities these programs offer you. Look for books that are up to date (CS2 or 3) and have a lot of colour images in. Computer Graphics magazines are good too!

TheSundayBest said...

I have three words for you - mid-range men's accessories. It's such an untapped market that it's practically underground.

Anonymous said...

I also enjoy doing that, sketching ensembles but I'm afraid they're too OTT or in a way in the not wearable sense. I should prolly post them up in my blog.

And a tweed biker jacket sounds like a very good idea! More power to Paul! haha

Style Salvage Steve said...

Wow, I've enjoyed reading all of your comments today. I've wanted the blog to become more of a forum and it's great to have such insightful readers!

Thesundaybest - It is an untapped market, why is that, what scares brands off embarking down this route?

Giancinephile - You should definitely post them on your blog!

Glowing Doll said...

This could work as a ladies jacket too.

Anonymous said...

Hi John,
I'm really interested about what you said about menswear at LCF. I was thinking of applying there next year but you don't seem to think it's such a good place for designers?? What's it like? and do you think you've missed out on something by going there?

John said...


Sorry for forgetting to reply. If you still are watching this thread, send me your email address and I would be happy to email you some advice!



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