November 05 2012
I set off for Norton’s just before 8am. On the river side of the island, the tide is almost fully out and a large family of ducks are guddling in the shallows. A few swans are drifting, their faces fixed towards the barely risen sun. I head north up the canal, along the eastern edge of the Olympic Park, where dismantling continues apace, before popping over the bridge into Hackney Wick. This semi-derelict little industrial corner is now alive with artists’ studios and cafés and beautiful street art – the benefits of being newly hooked up to the tube, and having views across the canal to the Olympic stadium. I pass over the A12 and into Victoria Park. The park-keeper is blowing leaves with a noisy petrol-blower and the sun slants in low through the grand avenue of bronze-leafed plane trees. Then I follow Regent’s Canal, busy with narrowboaters and a couple of early drunks, as far as Angel, where I join the throng of cyclists negotiating the quiet backstreets of EC1 and WC1.
The wonderful German photographer Horst Friedrichs turns up to shoot a story around a project we’ve done with Royal Salute whisky. Horst has shot at Norton’s once before, but for some reason I hadn’t linked him with the brilliant book Or Glory: 21st Century Rockers. This time the penny drops. He has recently completed a new book chronicling the art of the biker jacket titled Pride and Glory. He gives me a sneak preview; it is very cool.
At lunchtime I pop over to JM Weston on Jermyn St, where the lovely Marion measures my feet. I am giving their new bespoke service a whirl, plumping for a pair of grass-green classic loafers for the summer.
The afternoon is busy; we have a couple of customers in the shop, one new, one who’s been with us for years, and a few browsers (we sell a sock or two). In-between, it’s dealing with the administrative mountain that is an ever-present menace (IT plans, end-of-year accounts, production issues, sales appointments, line planning, partnership deals, collaborations, press stuff).
At just after 4pm, I head back to Wapping to shoot a new campaign for Visit Britain/BA. The advertising agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty has selected eight ambassadors from around the nation, with the idea that we personally welcome visitors (rather unexpectedly in Hindi, Japanese, Cantonese and Russian) to our favourite places in Britain. We shoot one still, and a video. I whitter on about the mountains in Easter Ross and Skye, and beaches in Harris, and east London – the latter less picturesque, but not without its charms. We talk curry and canals – repeatedly, as our upstairs neighbours appear to have chosen today to road-test their clumpiest shoes on the wooden floor directly above our heads.
They depart, and I rapidly finish packing my cases for Hong Kong. I think about making a cheese toastie, but realise I have neither bread nor cheese. Instead, Ikla and I sit and go through the drawings for the women’s shirt line for autumn/winter 2013. We launched this with Isetan in Japan for autumn/winter 2012, and the first UK collection is due to hit Matches and Bluebird in time for Christmas. This, however, rests in the hands of the wonderful people at Smyth & Gibson in Derry, who make all our ready-to-wear shirts.
Finally, once everyone goes home, it’s back to tidying up all the pre-trip odds and ends, and contacting a few folk in Hong Kong that I should have months ago. At about 8pm I turn on the out-of-office, and cycle back along the canal to Three Mills.
On Saturday, I wake before the alarm. It's a fine day and I make coffee
and drink it on the terrace in a jumper. At just after 9am, I take
the car over to Wapping and load the collection in its rather worn, old
Samsonite luggage – handle attached with string. Hand-carrying massive
collections of clothes through the world’s air, rail and subway terminals is one of the joys of fashion at the junior end. I spend the afternoon
reading bits of various books before deciding which to take with me
The Virgin economy cabin contains most of London’s emerging menswear talent; the British Fashion Council should really split us up – they don’t let the Windsors fly like this. The journey to Hong Kong passes quickly enough, but I miss the landing into the old airport, careering down between the towers, so close you could see what the residents were watching on TV. At the other end, I dump the bags at the Mandarin Oriental and head straight up the hill to The Peak for a fashion drink with the boss of Rothschilds. Last time I was here, I jogged/trotted to the top of the hill twice. To look down across the harbour towards Kowloon is to look down upon one of the greatest sights in the man-made world, and, even after 12 hours in an arse-numbing plane seat, it’s worth every minute of the harem-scarem taxi ride it takes to get you there.