I had a sense that there was an opportunity for formalwear to break with tradition and be more fun – it was so stuffy and boring. I’d had people come into the shop and say they’d bought a scarf from Hermes and could I make a dress shirt and put it on the back? I told them, “Yes, but you’ll have a very sweaty back,” but they said they didn’t care. There was a desire to break rules, but in the best possible way.
I think history had got us very bogged down in the 1950s in terms of formalwear, in there being only one ‘correct’ way. Go back a century and men were dressing like peacocks. Then I started making a lot of moleskin and corduroy suits and someone once told me that I needed to set up a separate label because it wasn’t the same [design] language – and they were right. I’d like to say it’s all been plain sailing since then. But it has been a lot of fun and I still love it.
Do Favourbrook and Oliver Spencer, the brand, reflect two sides of you? Or are they for very different people?
I really see one as being me during the day and one being me if I want to dress up to go out at night. I wear all the stuff. It’s my life and I just hope other people want to be part of that. I don’t pay much attention to fashion. I’m more interested in lifestyle and substance. But above all, it’s got to be about having fun – and we’ve certainly lacked that for the last couple of years. It did seem like a massive leap to launch Oliver Spencer though and, without much money, it took about four years to get off the ground. But I was just cocksure of myself at that age – though, of course, it soaked up a lot of money and was difficult. I’m now an investor in three or four very different menswear businesses and I keep having to remind them that, contrary to expectations, they’re not going to get things done very quickly. It’s a seven-to-10-year process.