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Oliver Spencer on Fashion

Oliver Spencer on Fashion

Oliver Spencer on Fashion
23 September 2014

Top UK designer Oliver Spencer on style mistakes, the iWatch and Hamilton’s “magnificent” earrings

Do you think British menswear is in a decent state at the moment?

We’re on fire. Everyone in the world looks to us. Ralph Lauren’s built his entire business around ‘How to be English’. The Italians love us. They don’t wear Dolce & Gabbana, they wear Paul Smith and Barbour. For a long time in the UK, there was a huge pool of menswear talent, but no one was telling people about it. But over the past five years, it’s got better and better. Everywhere from London to the provinces, British men are incredibly well dressed.

What’s the most frequent fashion mistake men make?

It all starts with bad, ugly shoes.

Define bad or ugly.

I don’t want to go on record [laughs]. But, look – be fresh. If you wear cheap shoes, they’ve got to be brand new. They’ve got to look sharp and clean. It all starts from the ground up.

What one item should be in every modern man’s wardrobe?

A good blazer always goes down well. Buy it in an interesting cloth that has a bit of texture. Buy it in a royal blue, instead of a navy. Royal blue is the most fantastic colour – it has warmth and depth. The blazer should be unlined, with two or three buttons. Something that feels soft and totally wearable.

This issue’s theme is Seventies style – has that decade had a big influence on your designs?

The way British men dressed [in the Seventies] was out there. Some – the Bay City Rollers, Showaddywaddy – were just so wrong it was unbelievable [laughs]. But then David Bowie was also in his pomp, and he has influenced us all so much. He’s the major style icon.

You dressed The Rolling Stones for a recent tour. Are Mick and Keith difficult with clothes?

It’s mostly Keith who I do, and he’s easy. You’ve just got to understand his style.

How would you describe his particular look?

Luxe boho. It’s just… him. Very British, totally individual. It’s rock’n’roll. You can see he’s comfortable in what he’s wearing and how he’s wearing it, and that’s what it’s all about.

Is there anyone else you’d like to dress?

That’s what I love about my business – we dress everyone from the Stones to Idris Elba. Who would I like to dress? I’ve always thought Bryan Ferry’s cool. I like Bradley Cooper, too.

Which celebrity needs serious help, style-wise?

Oh, I’ll tell you who – Mario.


Yeah, listen, Mario needs some help, but everybody knows that. But, in general, the standard of clothing that sportsmen are wearing is getting better.

Is that due to the ‘David Beckham effect’?

David’s had a good deal to do with it. The guy’s got great taste. Before Beckham, it didn’t go well for footballers [in terms of fashion], as they tended to go over the top. There are still some dodgy shirts on Gary Lineker’s show, though. But I that’s part of the charm [laughs].

Speaking of well-dressed sportsmen, you recently wrote about being bowled over by Lewis Hamilton’s earrings…

Yes! I was at the Belgian grand prix, and Lewis was wearing these magnificent earrings. Big sparkly fellas; quite full-on. I’d seen them in photographs and always thought, “Give it a break, Lewis, you don’t have to wear those.” But in real life, they looked amazing.

What’s been your most embarrassing fashion phase?

There’s a whole part of my life where I was running around in a second-hand, sky-blue linen suit with Jesus Creepers on. That wasn’t my finest moment.

In the Eighties, presumably?

Yes, I was about 17. I also had my hair shaved at the back, and left massively long at the front. People looked at me in a very strange way.

Do any current style trends worry you?

I’m worried about the fact that people are going to start wearing these Apple watches. There are some beautiful timepieces in the world and we don’t need to swap them for an Apple watch that just doesn’t look good. If we’re all going to go around wearing beam-me-up-Scotty-type watches, they need to look beautiful, too.

What’s your ultimate watch?

An Omega Speedmaster. No question. Most fantastic watch ever made. I’ve got a 1968 Speedmaster; I wear it every day.

Many celebrities shopped at your Favourbrook store in Piccadilly. Who was the most famous person you served?

Daniel Day-Lewis came in once, and I thought he was a courier. He was in full motorcycle leathers. I saw this bloke standing there, looking at a velvet jacket, and I was like, “Have you come to pick something up, mate?” Then he turned round and I thought, “Oh f*ck” [laughs]. He said, “Hello, I’m Daniel.” I was thinking, “Yes, I know you are, you’re close to God in my eyes.” Any movie he’s in, I’ll watch. I even sat through that four-hour one about digging gold [laughs]. He dresses well on the red carpet, too.

Oliver Spencer has collaborated with British design house Another Country for a new concept store in Shoreditch;