What's the best piece of advice you've ever heard?
My dad always said to me “nothing’s a problem, just an opportunity.” Even when things are a bit rough or bad, there are opportunities to make it better and improve, or to learn and move on to something better.
What advice would you give your fifteen-year-old self?
Go home at 11pm!
What's on your bucket list?
To take a year out with the kids and my wife and travel. My kids are both still young at the moment so once they’ve finished primary school, it’s a dream to travel as a family and show them the world by giving them the proper travel experience of backpacking and ‘roughing it’ in some places. I think about it a lot, it’s something to work towards, and fingers crossed it will pay off and we can do it.
“A lot of people can have investment and open a million shops, but slowly growing a business with a strong foundation is the best.”
What is your biggest source of inspiration, both personally and professionally?
Personally, my family, all of them inspire me greatly. Professionally, Ralph Lauren is the pinnacle for menswear. He’s been so clever in how he’s done it. He started by selling ties out of a car in his twenties in Manhattan and has now created something amazing where anyone can buy into the brand but it’s still considered high-end. You can buy anything from a £30 pair of boxer shorts to something for £10,000, and it’s still a luxury brand. That’s a very clever and inspiring strategy.
Who's your favourite storyteller?
There’s a boxing writer called Bob Mee, he’s a historian and I love reading everything he brings out. I’m a huge boxing fan and sports nerd.
What’s your favourite story?
I love anything to do with Muhammad Ali. I love what he stood for. I read a lot of biographies so I like real stories about people growing into life and business.
How did you first learn about what you do?
I used to work for my dad, he used to supply the high street with trimmings, like buttons, linings and canvas, anything that fills a garment. As a summer job, I used to go down to Savile Row and a few other tailors and sell them trimmings when I was 15 or 16 – I think he just wanted to get me out of the office! That’s where I fell in love with what I do now. It was purely visual – I’d see the guys looking so cool and smart and it just looked like a really interesting business. I didn’t know how I’d get into it but I knew I wanted to.
How did you get started?
I worked for a guy I used to see as part of my summer job, a man called Timothy Everest. He worked from a house in Spitalfields, I used to go around there and badger him until he gave me a job! He gave me a shot and it all started from there. My business partner Thom was there at the same time, he was around 19, I was 20, and that’s how it all began.
What advice would you give to someone starting out?
Take your time. Don’t over-expose yourself in whatever you’re doing. Learn the trade. If you want to have the best coffee-house in the world, go and work in a coffee shop. Grow your business organically, based on good results. A lot of people can have investment and open a million shops but I think slowly growing a business with a strong foundation is the best approach.
What's your favourite item in your wardrobe and why?
I’ve got a beautiful light grey, cashmere, double-breasted coat that I’ve have since 2008 and it’s still in incredible condition. I still love wearing it and I think I’ll keep it for as long as it fits me! Even then I’ll let it out if I have to. I rotate the same fabric, but I’ve always got a great navy suit in the wardrobe. It’s a classic and I don’t think you can beat it. When I’m starting out with a customer, I always try and push them into getting a navy suit, as Samuel (Troubadour co-founder) will tell you!
What are your favourite shops around the world and why?
It’s tough as I make most of my clothes, but I love RRL by Ralph Lauren, I love Acne and their simplicity, and I really like Slowear. I take a lot of influence from all three of those brands and companies. They’re fantastic for guys.
What is your favourite city in the world and why?
London. I’ve lived in New York and a couple of other places like Cape Town, but London always draws me back in. It’s a stunning city and I think we’re really lucky to live here. It’s got everything - the hustle and bustle if you want it, but you can also dip out of it. It’s got beautiful architecture and really cool little areas like Notting Hill and Primrose Hill. It’s pretty special, and you don’t realise just how much until you step away.
What is your favourite restaurant in the world and why?
I love any Jean-Georges restaurant, I spend a lot of time in New York where he’s got a lot of great restaurants like ABC Kitchen. In London, I love Granger’s. It’s a really simple and easy restaurant in Notting Hill that does great, healthy food. Mediterraneo and E&O in Notting Hill are also great. Nobu in Park Lane is unbeatable for great sushi – that’s my favourite branch because the atmosphere is great. You can tell I’m a foodie!
If you had unlimited time and unlimited money, where would you go and what would you do?
I would love to build a house on my own island in the Maldives. I’d catch my own fish, take my kids out fishing every day, and wakeboard. Bliss.