Ever since the meritocracy went down the pan, we’ve all been looking for ways to topple the rich and famous. We look on as our man of the hour uses style to get us back on a level playing field.
After a short exchange of mails, I managed to track down Troy Munns, Head of Menswear at my-wardrobe.com, a man who would order an unnecessarily named cocktail – notably a Caipirinha – if allowed. I didn’t, I wanted his full attention.
Despite a spirited infatuation, Troy’s life is far from crapulent. It’s a life filled with the sort of things you would expect a Head of Menswear’s life to be filled with. It hardly leaves any room for a wry outlook; even as he watches the Croydon production of London’s burning from his home window.
Tory – as I aptly call him later on – is let loose on sartorial confessions, swagger jagging, and the bar.
I shuffled around at my desk before asking – what I assumed was – a foolproof question. “So let’s mix things up: can you ask me questions today instead?”
I knew ‘of’ Troy, so I knew I had put this question to a man of 27 (with eight years life experience). A man, not of the Eton School elite, but a man who spent his formative years in Milton Keynes and first learnt of money trading hands when Pepe Jeans were a necessity. His denim is as dark as his shirts simple and his shoes classic; it’s a clean and unfussy look, just as you would expect. Shit. Is it too late to claw that email back?
A few hours later I received a reply, “What are you wearing?” I wasn’t so ready for an easily mistakable advance, so I quickly moved him along, “Er, let’s go back to me asking the questions”.
chunky Aran knits from D&G, and the use of mohair from Marc by Marc Jacobs, real lasting pieces that need to be worn correctly,” he added, rather matter-of-factly. “I’m also very excited about a My-Wardrobe online exclusive from Nicole Farhi; it combines wool, mohair and leather, giving it an unusual and really tactile texture. It arrives in September, and I will be wearing it by October.”I had interviewed Troy just as an X Factor throwback had swaggered her way to the top of the charts. He puts it down to age, but Troy is less reliant on passing trends these days, “I think more about lasting pieces,” he told. “But I do like the fact that guys are getting smarter. A lot of texture is coming through for AW11,
Our conversation inevitably led us to the rise of celebrity style and whether he believes it’s time we look elsewhere – perhaps more celluloid than Cher Lloyd, “I don’t think celebrity style is necessarily a bad thing,” he said, jumping to their defence. “Celebrities pay stylists to make them look good, and more often than not they succeed. There’s no harm in taking that expertise and applying it to yourself; as long as you’re keen to inject your own personality into your outfit, keep you… you.”
Men of Troy’s character are often found in leafy Peckham (although occasionally Soho’s Black’s is his club of choice). There will always remain something to said about a man who favours an elbow patch over patched trousers (but a contrasting sleeve trumps all), winter over summer (as far as menswear is concerned) and would happily take both – or either – lace-ups or slip-ons (as long as there was no Velcro involved). He’s the sort of man that when asked of his wardrobe staple, will bite back ebulliently, “Jeans. I have about 30 pairs in different cuts, colours and washes, these days denim is smart enough for the office, versatile enough to wear with anything”.
After flipping through the back-catalogue of Troy’s personal style – which threw up some interesting revelations (tartan dungarees at the age of three) – he brings it back to business. He lets me in on his work with Lee Douros and Luisa De Paula of the My-Wardrobe buying team, as well as the creative and editorial team in preparing for a re-launch in early 2012. He also discussed elements of their AW11 buys with a child like animation; “I think flashes of colour are going to be great in the 6 long months that we walk around in continual darkness! I love the pink marl knit from Acne – it’s as bright as a knit can get, but also the military-inspired knit from 3.1 Philip Lim – it’s more muted, but it will still stand out in amongst the greys and blacks that we usually see.”
Troy appears to know not only what he does, but also everyone he does it with. A trait many men fail to carry themselves through their sex lives with.
Despite jokes of an affectation towards sobriety, Troy’s track record speaks for itself. But it was to be earlier this year, when he met Sarah Curran, that he would land his big break, “I met Sarah [Curran], and we spent a good hour discussing menswear, the outcome of which, is my current role, which I am really proud to have.”
It’s a role that allows the style of a man – once known for his tartan notoriety – to intertwine with that of My-Wardrobe’s buying manager, Lee Douros. He assures us there’s rarely a boardroom scuffle between them, “When looking at what is going to go on site we look at who our customers are, and what they want,” he said. “For the upcoming season we both agreed that military wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, but then I think it suits the men’s utilitarian outlook, the cuts are always very masculine, and it fits so well with the continued heritage theme. We try to remain objective so we can put together the best edit for the my-wardrobe.com man.”
Our man of the hour understands the reverence paid to anything that can stand the test of time. Like good bourbon – or an even better wardrobe. Heritage brands maintain the ideology that true style never dies, it adapts, but rarely changes. Men have vulcanised the disco trends, so where does it head now? “There has also been a lot more attention to men’s outerwear, with tweeds and wools reflecting in the heritage, but also quilted, padded and puffed coats and jackets bringing more technical elements to a man’s wardrobe,” he describes it as less of a look and more of a lifestyle, one that can only be ascertained from endless hours spent watching emphatically farm-endowed ‘Emmerdale’. “As more brands look to archive for inspiration, the heritage look for men has never been stronger, Major players are Barbour with hunting shirts and knitwear, YMC with some great fairisles and also brands like Nicole Fahri, Marc by Marc Jacobs and Acne, launching some amazing statement knits playing with texture and colour” he added.
In his position, many men look to Troy for a reassuring nod for their efforts. I can’t imagine it’s ever too convenient being spotted in JD’s latest loots. He heralds uniformity just as much as groundbreaking style. It’s the reason he pits Jack White as an unlikely style icon as opposed to Rupert Everett (who he also thinks looks great), “If I were to offer some advice to men, it would be, when it comes to clothes and style, don’t be afraid to try something new and don’t be afraid to ask for advice when you need to.” I felt inclined to agree. The dent to your ego will be a lot smaller than the one taken from an ill-fitting suit. “We have heard from customers that buying online can be tricky, so look to the details in the product descriptions, to give a full idea of the fit, material and feel of a product.”
I learnt a while ago that mentioning kissing in an interview is a bit of a grey area. It’s something that makes PR managers squirm as if it doesn’t come around very often. It’s rarely said in the direction of the interviewee, but after an opening email that could have been taken either way – it was always going to seem that way. Never one to solicit brand damaging, I skirted around questions of copulation.
The plight of men does not end at a poorly laced tie. A lot of conscious fashion choices can be likened to kissing someone in a club when drunk. Great at the time, until you look back on it, or the lights come on. I had to know if Troy had ever had one of these moments, so I put it to him, “I look back on old pictures and cringe, but it’s never about what I wore” he said, leaving me all at sea. “You dress for the time, and just because I wouldn’t wear it now, I was probably very pleased with how I looked at the time!”
Luckily, Troy doesn’t predict looking back on the upcoming seasons with quite such disdain. When looking for a purveyor of what’s ahead, this Hackney export has his money on luxury Japanese label, Comme des Garçons SHIRT, “The clothes have an unconventional twist that sets them apart” he told. “For winter I am looking forward to their colour pops, from shirting to shoes.” But the Garçons-clad, former paperboy never puts all his brogues in one basket, “I’ve seen some pieces that although seem military, they have a more South Pacific feel, the colours seem more nautical, using more greys and blues.”
He tells us that, although he was more often seen in velvet jackets, checks, plaids and brogues, nothing much has changed in thirty-five years. Is this a reflection on the state of menswear or Troy’s pre-progressive style? “Men’s trends between seasons never change dramatically.” But it hasn’t been stagnant, “Colours normally associated with women’s AW wear have crept in with Camel, tobaccos and burgundy across outerwear, chinos and knits,” he went on to add.
It was hard to gauge Troy’s political standing from our exchanges, if anything he was backing Berlusconi at this point. I had told him in my notes I had rearranged his name in to something annoyingly uncreative, Tory (cheesy I know). It led me to push him about the sapless style catered for in politics, “All men could benefit from a decent bag for winter, with enough room for scarves, gloves and all the other layers and items a man of politics needs to carry around,” he forgot expense book. “At least one statement knit – I bought this cream, chunky offering from D&G, and a sturdy, waterproof but still good looking boot, I’d like see the commons opt for these rather handsome brogue boots from Grenson.”
I wouldn’t be so keen to meet the sticky naysayers, but it’s said that more people are going on Facebook these days than watching porn. I’m sure Troy never saw the adult industry shaping his wardrobe, but he still takes guilty pleasures with every SS and AW, “Everyone is now a stylist, a photographer, a designer, and a marketer and bloggers are as important as the fashion editors of magazines and newspapers,” he claimed. “We use Twitter and Facebook to share advice, information and give personality to our brand, and our blog focuses on technical advice on new product, and provides context for some of our brands.” I came to realise, if the same were to be done for porn; it would just become seedy.
Our interview was winding down. Either that or happy hour was about to begin, and stories accumulated in that short 60-minutes are always confidential. It’s an unwritten rule of interviews.
You would be fooled to assume you’ve met every Troy before; you’ve almost certainly met every Tory. He is the man that can attend a breakfast meeting without a morning paper but leave adorned with yours and you wouldn’t feel a cockeyed sense of effrontery; the sort of man that curdles at the thought of jeans and flip-flops – or velveteen (the poor mans velvet) – although in this case, he does. Troy is a refreshing force in men’s fashion, far from farcical and no more sybaritically indulged than is necessary in this industry (although I’m sure his bar-tab refuses to endorse that).