The Aesthete: Tim Little talks personal taste

The creative director/owner of heritage footwear brand Grenson treasures his Adidas Golden Boot, vinyl bars – and posh chicken nuggets

Tim Little at home in London
Tim Little at home in London | Image: Trent McMinn

My personal style signifier is a pair of thick, black-rimmed spectacles. It’s been my go-to for about 20 years and I currently wear the Judd from Cubitts. I love the exaggerated look. £125; cubitts.com. 

The last thing I bought and loved was a pair of Grenson ladies’ boots from the early 1900s. When I bought the company it didn’t have an archive – so for the past 15 years I’ve been scouring eBay and talking to customers to find old shoes. Someone wrote in to tell us she had these boots. The stitching is incredibly fine and they’re in amazing condition: when she bought them – presumably from a vintage store – they’d never been worn. I’ve also recently bought a Vespa Elettrica, after seeing so many people on electric scooters on a visit to Shanghai. I’ve ridden a scooter for decades, but I’ll never get tired of turning the throttle and accelerating down the King’s Road – in silence – on this one. Vespa Elettrica, £6,249 OTR; vespa.com.

Daikanyama in Tokyo
Daikanyama in Tokyo | Image: Alamy

And the thing I’m eyeing next is a holiday on Japan’s Guntû cruise ship. It’s more of a floating hotel – 19 beautiful rooms with incredible, minimalist design – which sails slowly around the Seto Inland Sea. My wife, Julia, was alarmed at first; I had to convince her it was nothing like a P&O cruise. From £4,940 pp for three nights; guntu.jp. 

The last item of clothing I added to my wardrobe was a Grégoire bomber jacket from APC. I love the way they do things. The zip, the fabric, the simple aesthetic really appealed. €385; apc.fr.

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An unforgettable place I’ve travelled to in the past year is Chennai in India, because it’s so different to living in London. It’s like a “mind-wash” for me; all my daily baggage disappears and my senses are overcome with all that I’m seeing, hearing and smelling. Tourists don’t rush to it, but I love it for the fact that it’s a serious working city. 

And the best souvenir I’ve brought home is a Golden Boot from my time working for Adidas in Germany. They were an advertising client and when I left that world to start my shoe business, they made me an inscribed Golden Boot identical to those awarded each year to the top scorers in European football. It’s a souvenir of the most intense four years of my life.

Freemans restaurant, New York
Freemans restaurant, New York | Image: Steve Freihon/Tungsten LLC

The best book I’ve read in the past year is London: The Biography by Peter Ackroyd. I’ve been in this city since 1985, and every little fact the author reveals is fascinating. When you read how six or seven hundred years ago it was all mud huts around here, it puts today’s political horror show into perspective. £15.99; penguin.co.uk. 

A recent find is 10 Heddon St, a restaurant in Mayfair. It’s a triumph of modern casual dining with a simple menu and well-chosen music: a bit of 1970s soul, a bit of rap. It drives me nuts when you visit a restaurant that’s all very nice but nobody’s thought about the music. 10heddonst.co.uk. 

Little’s Adidas Golden Boot
Little’s Adidas Golden Boot | Image: Trent McMinn

The grooming staple I’m never without is perfume by Haeckels of Margate. They make scents using materials found at specific locations – plants, concrete, bark, anything – and distil them into unique fragrances. £160 for 100ml; haeckels.co.uk.

My style icon is Miles Davis. I love his music, but he was also stylish and understated. He wore classic tailored suits, and even if he was dressed casually he’d wear a beautiful cashmere sweater and maybe some driving shoes. His whole persona was intelligent, innovative, incredibly talented. He had style with substance. 

Miles Davis, Little’s style icon
Miles Davis, Little’s style icon | Image: David Redfern/Redferns

My favourite apps include SkyView, which shows you the location of every single star when you point your phone at the sky; it mesmerises me. I use Flightradar24 to keep track of the kids when they’re travelling. And for business I couldn’t be without Google Translate. I recently had a meeting with a guy from the Czech Republic where neither of us spoke a word of each other’s language.

The best gift I’ve given recently was a football programme from the day I was born: May 18, 1963. When my dad took my mother to hospital, the doctor told him to come back around 2pm, by which point things would start happening. My dad told them it was a bit tricky because he had tickets for Nottingham Forest vs Spurs. He went to the match and hurried back to the hospital, but I’d already been born. Nowadays people would be horrified. I trawled the internet to find the programme from the match: he was delighted. football-programmes.net. 

Nduja mussels at 10 Heddon St
Nduja mussels at 10 Heddon St

And the best gift I’ve received recently is a collection of 30 to 40 prints from the jazz and blues photographer Terry Cryer. I came to know him late in his life, but had been buying his photographs for 20 years. The walls of my home and office feature his portraits of Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Peter O’Toole… 

If I had to limit my shopping to one neighbourhood in one city, I’d choose Daikanyama, which is effectively Tokyo’s version of Brooklyn. The buildings are low, the atmosphere is peaceful, and I love the higgledy-piggledy layout. I’m a big fan of the incredible bookshop T-Site; it has new and second-hand books, vinyl and an amazing café. There’s also UES clothing, for handmade jeans; Bonjour Records is one of the best vinyl shops you’ll find; and there’s Blue Blue, a clothing shop where all the clothes are one colour – a classic Japanese approach. Blue Blue, bluebluejapan.com. Bonjour Records, bonjour.jp. T-Site, store.tsite.jp. UES, japaneseselvagejeans.com.  

A football programme from the day Little was born
A football programme from the day Little was born

The last music I downloaded was Half Mile Harvest by The Teskey Brothers, a really soulful Australian band.

The last meal that truly impressed me was at The Clove Club in Shoreditch. The chef, Isaac Mchale, is a genius: his food is innovative, interesting and always delicious. They’re famous for a kind of posh chicken nugget served in a basket of straw. I could eat it forever. thecloveclub.com. 

London by Peter Ackroyd: Little’s favourite book this year
London by Peter Ackroyd: Little’s favourite book this year

An object I would never part with is my Peter Sellers print by Terry Cryer. I love Sellers’ style – plus he had big, thick-rimmed glasses like me. He was a genius and a fascinating man, with all the self-confidence and bravery I wish I had. 

If I didn’t live in London, the city I would live in is New York. It’s the only other city in the world where I don’t feel like a tourist. Dinner at Emilio’s Ballato on the Lower East Side is classically American-Italian, while Freemans serves typically Stateside fare with a twist, like Maine lobster and five-cheese macaroni. King restaurant in SoHo is set in a light, airy room and serves simple but delicious food. I think the Museum of Modern Art is one of the world’s finest museums, and the Yankee Stadium has an incredible atmosphere on game nights. Emilio’s Ballato, 55 E Houston St (+1212-274 8881). Freemans, freemansrestaurant.com. King, kingrestaurant.nyc. MoMA, moma.org. Yankee Stadium, mlb.com/yankees. 

 A Vespa Elettrica scooter
A Vespa Elettrica scooter

If I weren’t doing what I do, I would be living my lifelong dream of setting up a vinyl bar in London’s Soho. Japan has them – places like JBS and Grandfather’s: dark basement bars where the owner serves drinks, plays records selected from a wall of vinyl and the waitresses take jukebox requests at your table. I’m too old and tired to do anything serious with my life now. JBS, 1-17-10 Dogenzaka, Shibuya 150-0043, Tokyo (+813-3461 7788). Grandfather’s, grandfather.jp. 

In my fridge you’ll always find good wine – especially a rosé from Tillingham wines of Sussex. They only allow you to buy one bottle at a time as it’s made in such small batches. There’s always something from my father-in-law’s garden (currently green beans), some meat from our local butcher, Macken Brothers and, although our kids are starting to leave the roost, you’ll always find a bottle of Heinz tomato ketchup. Rosé 2018, £215; tillingham.com. mackenbrothers.co.uk. 

The vintage ladies’ boots that Little bought for his shop
The vintage ladies’ boots that Little bought for his shop | Image: Trent McMinn

My favourite room in my house is what used to be the kids’ playroom. Julia and I have recently reclaimed it and divided it with a half-frosted Crittall glass window: one half is her textile studio, the other is a tranquil space which contains all my books and vinyl, and all the pictures we’d bought over the years but never hung. crittall-windows.co.uk. 

The one artist whose work I would collect if I could is Keith Haring. I lived in New York for two years from 1990, and arrived there in the month Haring died. Owning any of his original work, if I could afford to, would remind me of my time there. haring.com. 

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The people I rely on for personal grooming and wellbeing are the masseuses at Heckfield Place in Hampshire, where I enjoy an hour-long full body massage. I used to love a visit to the barber but I don’t have enough hair for that now. £125; heckfieldplace.com.

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