Mr. Start is the brainchild of the real Mr. Start, Philip Start. They debuted their first collection at London Fashion Week this year to rapturous acclaim (check out Matthew’s review of LFW here), mixing a casual approach to tailoring with an emphasis on sharp architecture, in functional fabrics and shapes. They are a brand that are going to be making waves within men’s tailoring this year, and with an increasing weight being place on more refined dressing and sharper lines – whether in your formal or casual wear – the collection couldn’t of been launched at a better time.
We managed to catch up with the man himself between busy meetings to find out a bit more about the brand and where his inspiration came from, as well as what’s next for Mr. Start. Read the full and exclusive interview below…
Mr. Philip Start Exclusive Interview
FashionBeans: Where did you start in retail?
MR. Start: On the King’s Row in the 60s.
FB: Why men’s tailoring? Has it always been a passion? Is there any family connection?
MR. S: I’ve always had an interest since I was a kid. I don’t know where it came from, I was always just interested in it. People I hung around with as a teenager; we were interested in clothes, and music, film, things like that. You always take things from people you admire or music or whatever it is, all the normal influences.
FB: Your clothes have a rogue-ish appeal, like they would fit in at the workplace but at the same time, dysfunctional enough to be worn casually. Is this something that was intentional or was it an organic result of the design process?
MR. S: I suppose it’s partially intended in a sense, because when I think of suits or tailoring I don’t think of them being formal. Formal in the sense of something you have to work or forced to wear it. I think tailoring is adaptable so you can wear it in a casual way, you can still put a suit on and wear it in a way that’s not formal. You can wear it with a pair of trainers or Converse, something like that, a t-shirt, so then it’s not a formal outfit. It’s just a way of dressing to identify yourself.
FB: Your suits have a coquettish, 1960s confidence – does that influence come from your past, or is that just a look that you’ll always been enthusiastic about?
MR. S: People always say that it’s a sort of a 60s feel to it. It’s not intentional, I have to say. We’re a forward looking brand, we’re not a brand that delves into the past and takes things. I mean all tailoring looks the past to some degree, I don’t think there’s a tailor who doesn’t look into the archives and looks what people were doing, but it’s not a specific way of looking at the tailoring to say that we wanted a 60s look. It’s just part of the process that’s created that sharp 60s look because 60s is sort of fashionable and people have re-identified it and applied it to what I’m doing. There’s lots of people doing narrow lapels, I was looking at D&G on Style.com this morning and they were doing narrow lapels and skinny ties, and you wouldn’t necessarily say that’s 60s-ish but I take the point.
FB: What do you think of the Fast Fashion movement (Primark/Peacocks)? Does it dilute fashion as an art? Or bring the passion to more and more people? Can Primark inspire the same as designer brands can?
MS. S: I have to be honest I’ve never been in Primark in my life. I think it’s the modern world, that’s what happening at the moment, people want cheap fashion and fast fashion but I think the love affair is starting to fail because it’s no longer as unique as it was a few years ago. Everyone thought “Let’s go Primark and we can get dressed for nothing.” and I think people come full circle and realise that there’s something wonderful about having something beautifully made, with the right fabric, that they can keep, in a slightly more old fashioned way of looking at things.
Quality counts. Thousands of items that you don’t really like, you only bought them because they were cheap but not satisfactory, and it’s not very ecological to have so many items these days as well. Why do you need so many items? I think people can appreciate something that’s made quite nice and that’ll last compared to something that’s just fast. If I’d have gone into a Primark I probably would’ve been infected the same way anyone else would have been infected. You just sort of grab things and have to have all these things because they’re cheap and then what do you do with them? I’m sure there are some nice things in there as well though.
FB: How do you think Mr Start was received at London Fashion Week? Was it as successful as you had hoped?
MR. S: I think probably it was more successful. I’m not really sure, I only get so much feedback, but judging by the fact that we sold it to good people and they were very happy with it, and the buyers [for these companies] themselves, when they come into stores to buy it, they want it themselves. I think it was well received and I think we handled it well considering it was our first time. We’ve never done it before, and I’ve never had to do it in my life before and the whole team was great.
FB: Was it the highlight of the year?
MR. S: I think it was yeah, in terms of a business point of view, without a doubt.
FB: What’s next for the brand? A move into other areas?
MR. S: There’s a small element of casual wear in terms of outerwear, it’s not particularly casual, but it’s more casual than a suit. I think we’re going to stick with the tailoring ethos, we don’t really want to develop it into a casual wear brand. It’s a tailoring brand first and foremost, I think it’ll stay like that. I mean the tailoring can develop and I don’t think of tailoring being super formal anyway.
We would never do jeans or anything like that. We’re going to introduce stand alone trousers and some knitwear, but by and large it’s going to stay as a tailoring brand.